Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pruning the Joseph's Coat

In lieu of messing with the soggy and soil-deficient food garden (I'm not just calling it a veggie garden, as it will have fruit and herbs in it, too), I elected to prune and tie back the "Joseph's Coat" climbing rose in the front flower bed. Once in it, I also decided to dig up the myriad of daylilies and do some general tidying, as I've decided to make this my medicinal and cosmetic herb garden (as well as repository for things like zinnias and daisies and other pretties.)

Before getting started, I snapped a "before" shot, which immediately made me get all arty.

Photography just slays me. I am perfectly capable of seeing the poetry in things, but when I try to capture it on film, it seems so flat to me. For example, seen in person, this dead weed looked like black lace in negative. But here, not so much. It's pretty, I think, but doesn't do as much for me on screen as when I saw it with my eyes.

And then there's the whole lighting thing. It's amazing the difference it can make. Here is basically the same shot of some gorgeous nandina berries; the first was taken in the early morning rainy/mist dealio, the second was taken after the sun had come up and burned off the clouds.

Maybe I need to take a photography class and thereby add yet another hobby to my already full hobby plate. I love the idea of telling a story with words. Anyway, here are more pics from the day:


"Inner Beauty"

"Runneth Over"


"Star Below"

"In a Line"


After all the art, I set to work and dug up all the daylilies. I love me some daylilies, but they line the path through my garden and love to leave smears of rusty red all over your pants when they bloom. And as they are pretty much crotch-level...I'm moving them to a bare patch of yard near the driveway. I'm hoping they'll thrive there even though it is lower light. The great thing about daylilies is that they'll grow no matter where you plop them down, although they are more finicky when it comes to blooming. If they don't bloom well, I can always move them next year.

River decided to scare us blind after the daylily digging, so any more work on the front bed was put off until today, when I tackled the rose bush. "Joseph's Coat" is a climber and technically, you aren't supposed to do a lot of pruning with those. However, this one was neglected last year and I want it to be as beautiful as it can be, so I pruned. First I bound the long stems to the fence with wire. I used 20-gauge for all but the two largest stems--those bad boys were as big around as my wrist. I have no idea the gauge of wire I used for the big ones; it was about as big around as a pipe cleaner. When the big guys were pinned to the wall, I pruned any side shoots that were smaller in diameter to a pen. Most roses send shoots off of old growth, so if you don't prune the little stems, you're going to wind up with small blossoms on spindly stems.

After getting rid of the skinny ones, I bent the tops of the largest stems sideways so that they could be placed on or through the little flower arbor dealy that Will fastened to the top of our fence last year. The idea is that we fasten another one to the other side this year and the large stems will grow between the two to form an arch. That's the theory, anyway.

When that was all settled, I took a few stems with potential and bent them sideways the other way. These stems were lower to the ground, so they were fastened to the actual fence. Climbers send out new stems for blossoms from horizontally-lying stems. If you want strong growth from a climber, you have to make sure that some stems are horizontal; otherwise, you're going to get sort of a viney thing going. I felt kind of sorry for these stems as I had to bend them fiercely and prune them pretty severely because I wanted to limit their growth to new vertical growth which I'll weave into the stems already lying near the top of the fence. I felt less sorry when I spotted this puppy. It's hard to tell, but this is a TRIPLE-HEADED thorn. Crazy.

When all was said and done, the front bed looked pretty much like this:

Pretty tame and definitely easier to walk through (less chance of getting whacked by thorns upside the head.) I need to get rid of some turf grass that I decided would make a lovely walk way (because I'm an idiot), and then I'll be ready to plant once the soil warms up. The great thing about this location is that while it gets less sun than the food garden, it's sheltered from the west winds by the fence and the north winds by the house and the soil tends to retain water much better.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go put peroxide on my scratches!


Tricia said...

Welcome to the GTS. Great photos. I take photos of my garden and the various plants at different times of day too. I'm still trying to figure out what lighting is best for some plants. LOL

I love taking macros of my flowers. It's amazing how much more detail you see.

Is that a rose that's beginning to bud?

Not Hannah said...

Thanks--I feel an obsession coming on! The lighting thing just fascinates me.

It is a rose beginning to bud...and probably that bud was one that fell to my clippers since it's on such a spindly stem. Aw. I feel kind of bad about the pruning now.