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February 4, 2009 > Pat Kite's Garden: Rose trimming time

Pat Kite's Garden: Rose trimming time

By Pat Kite

It is time to cut back your roses. If you are a perfection person, check out a library book on roses or call a good garden center. A book will contain pictures and instruction, and the garden center may know where there are correct pruning classes.

People often ask what technique I employ. Like George Washington and the cherry tree, I cannot tell a lie. I go out with big lopper shears and trim my many rose bushes way down, hackety hack. Then, armed with dense garden gloves, I cut away excess inward-facing twigs and branches. This is supposed to get rose branches to grow outward and give the bush a better shape. My rose bushes go whichever way they want no matter what I do, but as long as I get roses almost all year, I am happy.

Did you know in ancient times Greeks would deliberately burn their rose bushes? This was purported to prevent the main stem from getting woody and encourage a good crop of roses the following year. Roses are among the oldest known flowers and have been prized from ancient times. In long-ago Rome there were rose pudding, rose honey, rose vinegar, crystallized rose petals, as well as rose water baths, fountains and swimming pools.

Lacking today's various forms of aphrodisiacs and Viagra, there were also rose titillating techniques. When Cleopatra met her prospective beau, Antony, she did so standing in a carpet of roses up to her knees. That was for starters. As her amorous intentions grew, she covered her bed every day with fresh roses. One would presume the thorns had been removed, but to each their own.

The rose is the flower of love and, like many flowers, has mythical origins. Chloris, the Greek flower goddess, was saddened to find a lifeless nymph in the woods. Sure the nymph could transform into a flower, she called in her celestial team. Aphrodite, goddess of love, gave the flower beauty. Dionysus, god of wine, added nectar for sweet scent. The three Graces showered the new flower with joy, charm and brightness. Zephyr, the West Wind, blew away the clouds, allowing Apollo, the sun god, to shine and make the flower bloom. So, in long-ago and far-away tales, the Rose was born.

I find roses among the easiest plants to grow if you have any sun at all. There are miniature ones, ground covers, hybrid teas for cutting, bushy floribundas, and climbers. They are available in inexpensive, bare-root form right now. A friend told me I must have a pretty rose in my room at all times - that I deserve this. So do you.

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