Thursday, June 17

Un-Gardener on a Rescue Mission

Fern Glen Inn •
Reading though this blog, it's easy to see some themes emerge. I write often about food and cooking; hiking and other outdoor activities; local wildlife of both the animal and plant variety. I write about these things so often because I enjoy them immensely. One thing I don't write about is gardening.

The reason, quite simply, is that I don't like to garden. I wish I did. I was born into a family of green-thumbs, a family well-populated with hearty growers of produce gardens, fruit trees, flower beds and house plants. Somehow I missed that gene.

I'm not an anti-gardener (I admire gardens and gardeners too much for that); I consider myself an un-gardener. I follow a strategy of benign neglect and will happily eat or admire most anything that chooses to put down roots and make a go of it here.

I love the grasses, flowers and plants that grow naturally and abundantly of their own accord. Contained—just barely—by rock borders in the lawn or at the edge of the woods, they create height, texture and colour as lovely as it is unplanned. They add their own brushstroke to the canvas that is this property. I like that. I try not to mess with it too much. Whatever grows, grows. Whatever doesn't, well, maybe it wasn't meant to.

Or so it was until the wild rose bush that runs like a hedge at the front of the Coach House became sickly. Ever since our first year here, I've love that bush. Its vibrant green leaves and brilliant magenta flowers put on a showy display non-stop from June through September. Now, though still blooming, many of the leaves have turned mottled and brown. It did this last year and I thought it was due to the unusually cool and wet summer we had. But here it is mid-June and it's started again.

So I decided I would have to take action and try to save it. Mount a rescue mission. I know, theoretically, that cutting back a plant will encourage denser, bushier, healthier growth. Armed with shears and clippers, I started cutting away. Under the top layer of foliage, most of the branches (canes?) were horizontal from growing outward toward the open side, and many of them brittle and dead. I cut away all the dead stuff and cut back the sickly stuff. I removed more than I left, by the looks of it, and now there are bald patches in the bed amid nearly-bare stalks of shrubs. I really hope this is one of those situations where things have to get worse before they get better. And that the "better" comes soon!

We've had a day and a half of rain since operation Rose Rescue, plus gorgeous sunshine today. Most of the leaves that do remain look perky and well. I'm feeling optimistic that this wild rose hedge will survive my "helping" it. Any words of wisdom or advice from real gardeners out there are most welcome!

Oh, and for the record: wading chest-high through prickly branches and hauling out thorny canes has done NOTHING to convince me to expand my gardening efforts. An un-gardener I remain.

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