Thursday, February 7, 2008

Rose Gardening While Injured

"Winter teaches us about detachment, numbness. But it’s a way to get through. From winter we learn silence and acceptance and the stillness thickens.”
- Gail Barison,
The Winter Solstice of my Soul





Like larvae in the chrysalis, until the broken bone in my arm heals, my activities are limited. No driving, no sweating, no getting the cast wet. It took two weeks for the swelling in the fingers to go down enough to type with both hands. When I try to hold the lemon still to slice it, a twang in the wrist is my body’s way of lecturing me. This simple task is still too risky.

The normally pleasant weather we enjoy in the hills of southern California means the plants in our gardens require more help to be attractive throughout the year. Nuisances, like snails, never sleep. We must be vigilant or suffer massive proliferation. Some diseases which deep snows would knock down in a colder region, our plants depend on us to rid them of.

Now is normally time intensive in my garden. Not this year. If I am to have any happiness as I recover from this temporary misfortune, I have to accept this time as a physical winter. What is or isn’t done isn’t a question of funding, time or will. My circumstance requires detachment from normal activities.

Acceptance of this quieter time allows the garden to whisper its priorities. What must be done to prevent permanent damage to the garden comes first. Then work and supplements that support general well being will be taken care of. Anything which is just a desire will have to be considered frivolous and unimportant. Adding to the delightful diversions of my paradise will have to wait until this season of my life has turned the corner.

It is encouraging that all my fingers now are limber enough to peck out words on the keyboard. Slowly. With lots of errors to go back to correct. Writing is so much like gardening. You just get started as you are able. Now that I can type, I can garden.

In my garden column I recommend that the most serious pruning of the year, the winter one, is finished by January 30th. Most of the work was done when I fell. The rest I trained a neighbor boy to finish. In many parts of the country, the roses are still held dormant and get a later start on the season than mine will. It will work out.

My helper was taught not to worry about a mistake with the clippers. Roses are very forgiving. Lop off the top of the branches by about a third. Clean out gangly and stems that look diseased or ragged. Make the cuts at an angle just above a grouping of 5 or more leaves, preferably facing outwards.

Then, most importantly- strip all the leaves. Toss them in the trash along with any littering the ground. When the canes look bare as though a winter snow is at their feet: they are ready to be sprayed.

When he was done, I spayed the stems with Immunox® Plus Insect and Disease Control. This will effectively prevent and cure diseases and insects on contact. A systemic, it will continue to protect the plants for up to two weeks.



New leaves are breaking out in crisp, clean shades of green. About a week to ten days later the spraying is repeated. Like scheduled immunizations, I find this routine at the front of the season almost always gets the plants through summer with very little extra need for disease or harmful insect control. Goodbye aphids, hello butterflies.

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