Christmas is next week and the winter solstice is a few days away. The days are short and temperatures are sharply colder. Our gardens have been winterized and the roses are sound asleep with visions of blue ribbons dancing in their bud unions. The season is over.
The older I get the faster seasons go by – 2011 came and went in a blink. And as much as I enjoy rose gardening, by this time each year I’m ready for a few months off.
I started closing our gardens in mid-November by packing the potted roses closely together in cribs where they spend the winter. By Thanksgiving, our garden roses were completely dormant even though they didn’t look it. I lightly prune them, leaving heavy pruning until spring. I broadcast an application of lime on each bed – rain and snow will wash it in.
Then I waited…and waited…and waited for consistently cold weather before I hilled up each rose with 12 inches or so of horse manure, finally getting my chance last week. This winter cover will ensure that all roses remain dormant during freeze/thaw cycles that occur in January and February as well as providing an important organic amendment to garden soil next spring.
Raking leaves is another story – an end-of-season ritual that I do not enjoy. In years past, it took me two long weekends of raking and bending and bagging all the leaves on the property, leaving me tired and weary. This year, instead of discarding all the oak and maple leaves, I shredded them and made compost. I was amazed at how much easier it was to process leaves as compost rather than as a waste product. More on this experiment later this winter.
Each season is different from all past seasons. Plants never behave the way they’re supposed to. New roses get planted and old ones get the boot. Maybe a dramatic weather event like a springtime hailstorm or late winter blizzard or a week of drenching rain or a month of hot dry weather happened, affecting the gardens – and us – for the rest of the season. This year it was a heavy fallen branch from a late night wind storm that damaged the garden last June as well as Hurricane Irene in August whose winds literally blew the second bloom cycle away.
But all that is past and now we look towards 2012. We’re excited about a new season of lectures including a return to the Boston Flower Show and an invitation to speak in Manhattan. Then it’s off to Paris later in the spring.
Our 2012 lecture schedule is now posted at http://www.rosesolutions.net