By Gaird Hamilton
National Award of Merit Winner
With the rain pelting down and the wind whipping the tops of the basically bloomless roses covering a vast portion of our yard, “why all these roses” can be a silent question in our brains. We can easily visualize all of the work involved in pruning, spraying, weeding, fertilizing, and so forth, and it is hard to see in our heads just how gorgeous they will be during their long season of bloom. Like that old saying in sports, “what have you done for me lately”? While this kind of thinking isn’t really fair to the roses, we may fall victim to this attitude from time to time during the short stormy days of winter.
Probably the best cure for this type of thought is if we have a great big album of pictures of our roses in full bloom in all of their glory. There is no flower that can beat the rose when it comes to beauty and also length of bloom cycle. If we have no such pictures, try and remember those pleasant days with friends when we showed them our garden, or had a barbeque in the yard. Maybe we won a trophy or two at the rose show which would help our memory, or thinking of all of the bouquets which brightened our house during the year.
If we are still having our doubts it may be that we have one of several problems which can affect rose growers. We may have over extended ourselves in our eagerness to have all of the new beauties which are shown in those great looking catalogs. In this case we may have gotten to the point where we just have more roses than we can handle and still enjoy them. This is not a step to be taken lightly, but if such proves to be the case rather than learn to resent the time taken by our roses it would be better to downsize. By carefully analyzing just which roses are bringing us the most pleasure, and which have failed to live up to their advanced billing, we can get our rose garden back in the area of pleasure.
This is not the fault of the roses, it is merely a trait which we have tended to develop in all phases of our lives here in this affluent country. Sometimes we get so many possessions that we are almost overwhelmed by them. Our time can also be overused by a multitude of activities. Just remember one thing when we are solving these problems. Roses and gardens in general are a wonderful place to unwind, to find peace and tranquility. That is what it should be all about. We should be able to commune with our inner beings while pursuing our activities in the garden whether it be working or walking, or sitting, or lying there watching the bees and hummingbirds. This is a place to forget war, forget the problems at work, forget the long commute, or anything else which is causing stress to us.
Our rose garden, to fulfill all of these missions, must be fitted to us and our needs. It should be big enough to give us the exercise we need, enough to keep us busy when we should be busy. Roses are wonderfully tolerant in their demands on us. If we want to have them be plants which cause the cars to slow down as they drive by, and people to admire month after month, they take quite a bit of pruning, spraying, fertilizing, mulching, weeding, and so on. If we are willing to take some defect but still have some very nice additions to our yard then we just have to at least prune, fertilize, and hopefully take out the worst weeds. Most of us are probably somewhere in between. Roses are the symbol of love. Grow them in such a way that we can feel love, show love, and love what we are doing.