Pruning the China roses

Unlike hybrid tea roses, which stand erect in a line like soldiers at inspection, antique roses are bushy. Even the climbers are pretty bushy. And when you prune them, as I did our three Chinas this afternoon, you don’t have to be finicky.

Lopping off a third of the bush is the rule. Now we’ll sit back and expect our antique rose bushes to start blooming like crazy in March. Earlier if we’re lucky. And continue, at intervals, the rest of the year. I’m tempted, however, to dig up Louis Phillipe whose red blooms have always been too sparse to satisfy me and replace it with the Bourbon antique Souvenir de la Malmaison.

Had a Souvenir back in ’07, I see in my archives, whose pictures unfortunately did not make the forced transition from Yahoo to WordPress in 2013. But in ’09 the neighbor on the other side of the fence laid down a bunch of herbicide to kill something and it leeched through the soil and wiped out Souvenir. Then a replacement got run over by the landscaper’s mower and finally the neighborhood deer (courtesy of the city council which refuses to do anything about them) got in the backyard and ate it down to nothing. They think roses are candy. The deer, not the politicians.

Karma, you say? It was, after all, to commemorate my Mississippi great, great grandmother who mentions her’s in her pocket diary of the 1850s. She was a slave owner. Well, we all have our faults. So I’m going to try again. Maybe.

At the very least, I could follow the lead of Austin gardener Pam Penick and erect a bottle tree. Since bottle trees supposedly were invented by Southern slaves, maybe there’d be some redemption there. Maybe even enough to spare a new rancho edition of Souvenir de la Malmaison from assorted catastrophes. Eh?

4 responses to “Pruning the China roses

  1. I wouldn’t feel too bad Stanley, everyone on earth is descended from both slaves and slave owners. At least for a time we shook off our bindings. I like the bottle tree.

  2. Yeah, I think I have mentioned here and/or at my place that I quit on roses. Just too much pampering required. However, I read in the paper today that “new” varieties are out that don’t require so much hassle.

    I’m willing to water and pamper the first year after I plant something, but if it can’t make it after that, I have a badass lawnmower, and I’m not afraid to use it.

    • No pampering required for antique roses. You might water, in a drought, but otherwise leave them alone. They’ve been blooming in the wild, neglected around abandoned homesteads, for decades and more.

  3. Since you are known to have that green thumb, I doubt you will go for a bottle tree. I might, although the number of bottles I would be proud to present has become small.