Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snow Laden Roses - Boughed But Not Beaten

By Guest Writer Terri Clark

World Rose Convention city, Vancouver, is known for its temperate climate where extremes are usually reached only at the upper altitudes. Back in the early 1970s, the precursor organization to Tourism Vancouver used to famously tout that when you visited our “city beautiful”, you could golf in the early morning, sail at lunchtime and ski in the afternoon. Such was our ordained Camelot, weather-wise at least.

So too for avid gardeners who realized that Zone 8 plants could edge their way through a Vancouver winter given a little TLC, or at the very least good drainage, so often the key to survival in a wet but cold climate.

But Mother Nature rules in the end and even before winter had fully been declared, she started thumping evergreen Vancouver with innumerable substantial snow storms pre and post Christmas 2008.

Our family had escaped to New England for the holidays and upon our return two weeks later, could nary recognize a rose bush in the garden due to thick layers of snow and ice that had face-planted them earth-side. The elegant and ruby-coloured arms of my most prized Rosa mutabilis, hard to find commercially, was totally prone as were so many others. Fortunately for me, early November had seen major pruning of my climbing rose with sturdy ties holding them skyward.

But what to do with the flattened rose canes? Experience has taught me that time does heal many wounds especially where actual “breaks” have not occurred. The snow is gradually melting now and I have assessed the damage. Broken canes or splits have been cleanly pruned back to just below the injury and boughed ones staked up until their “strength” returns. Once spring comes, the entire inventory will be reviewed for general health and shape and perhaps be further coiffed.

In the worse case scenario, where roses were lost to extremely cold temperatures, just think of all the new opportunities that await you. Gardens by their nature are organic and change is the optimum word. Do what you can to patch-up your injured rose friends but take solace in a future filled with new varieties!

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