Roses On The Mend

007Once the piles of snow melted this spring, the rose news was not so good.  All of my roses were holding onto their dead leaves for dear life-as if our terrible winter caught them completely off guard.  This scene just about broke my heart. A good part of the heartbreak was the uncertainty about the future.  Were my roses dead? The early spring was cold and unfriendly.  The garden was groggy, and slow to wake up.  This story was a story about uncertainty that went on for weeks.

AQpril 26 2014a (17)I did not touch them-that was pure instinct.  It looked as though every cane was dead. The idea of giving up this old rose garden was very tough to take. The late spring meant we have had an incredibly busy spring at work.  I quit looking at the roses, and hoped for a miracle.  Hoping for a miracle-what else was there to be done?

ROSES 2014 (2)More than a few readers of this blog have suggested that our foul winter meant the roses got a rejuvenation pruning.  This is polite talk for dead back to the ground. Dead back to the ground, I have learned, does not mean dead.  I am glad I have been to busy to fuss over them. It took well into May to see what was gone for good, and what would survive. I watered deeply when it was hot and dry-that’s all. Today’s story? Most of the climbers died back to the ground.  The few canes of Jeannie Le Joie that survived are bravely blooming.  All of the climbers, including Eden, are coming back strong, from the root. Only one shrub rose is dead.  Two of them I suspected were dead send up new canes jut a week ago.   I decided not to cut back the dead climbing canes.  My idea is to attach the new canes coming on from the ground to the trellis made by the old canes.  How do those surviving canes look today? Not gorgeous.  Just brave.

ROSES 2014 (4)My Carefree Beauty and Sally Holmes roses are coming back strong from below ground.  The foliage is glossy green, and full sized.  A scant month ago I was sure this garden would need to be replanted from start to finish.  Not so.  The will to live is a very strong will indeed. Any plant that is challenged by a brutal winter, or a lack of water, or a swarm of Japanese beetles-plants respond on their own schedule. The first and the last word belongs to nature. The Carefree Beauty roses I have blooming now are indeed a little miracle.

ROSES 2014 (6) I am delighted about this turn of events.  The two burned spots in the boxwood is the only winter damage I have to any of my boxwood. I was lucky in that regard. The roses are almost 5 feet tall.  The Japanese anemone and boltonia are spreading their wings, with all the space and sun they have now.

Sept 8, 2013 (182)I took the following pictures last June. This June is remarkably different, but I wonder if that winter rejuvenation pruning to prove to be all for the better. I have the feeling I will have beautiful roses again.  It just may take a while.

Sept 8, 2013 (184)Roses blooming

Sept 8, 2013 (153)Roses

Sept 8, 2013 (160) I am pleased the roses are on the mend.




  1. Yes, we all need to be rejuvenated. Have a new beginning. New trim to show our beauty within. Lovely! Enjoy the new look of your roses Deborah!

  2. Yep, I think all our roses got a little rejuvenation pruning! Of my 19 roses, only 2 fairy roses, Dr. Huey and Lady Elsie May were oblivious to the dreaded polar vortex. They’ll all come back in due time!

  3. Between the cold weather and the plague of Japanese beetles I have abandoned my roses. Perhaps in another life, I’ll live in Southern France, with roses everywhere.

  4. I’m going to try praying mantis pods in the roses to combat Japanese beatles. Wish me luck.

  5. i totally lost a blaze climber and a david austin “hertitage”. sad face! but, although all died back to the ground, my queen elizabeth, julia child, rio samba & pink peace are all making a comeback and popping out some blooms. the winter hardly fazed the knock out roses i use more as landscape plants. mother nature keeps things interesting!

  6. I used 8 Japanese Beetle traps scattered around my 2 3/4 acres. Took 2 years of this intensity to result in 1 Japanese Beetle seen for the next 2 summers.

  7. My experience echoes yours. Roses, pyracantha, holly, ivy, japonica all struggling back from near death and now seemingly invigorated. What can we do to help them besides watering? extra fertilizer?

  8. From Texas a hearty “YeeHaw! So happy for you.

  9. What a wonderful story of optimism and growth!

  10. Beautiful ! Please do let me now the names of the climbing vine roses and the rose bushes in the picture.

    • Deborah Silver says

      The climbers are Eden and Jeannie le Joie. The shrub roses are Carefree Beauty, Sally Holmes, and Earthsong. best, Deborah

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