Early mornings are the best. (Once you wake up, that is.) A fall morning with roses is even better, despite cold fingers and nose.
I’ve come out to clip the leaves and buds off the roses. I hate to take the buds off, since the roses have been blooming all over. However, they need to prepare for winter, not expend energy in blooms that will be blasted by frost. The leaves have to go, too, so diseases and bugs on them are out of the garden for good.
I start work on the Zephirine Drouhin climbers. I like them because they are thornless. Ladybugs are huddled between the newest leaves. Once in a while, as I prune, the cane will bounce and the bug is catapulted into the air. “Sorry!” I cry.
When all the rose canes are bare, I take out any excess canes, leaving only healthy, large canes, then spray them and the ground around them with lime sulfur on a warm afternoon. After the ground freezes, I’ll mulch them.
It is quiet in the garden. A little junco, the first I’ve seen this year, hops through the leaves, then takes off. Chickadees whistle; nuthatches say “nah, nah” in soft voices.
By lunchtime, my coat is off. The ladybugs become industrious. They scurry up canes and when they get to the top, they open their popcorn-shell wings and zoom off. They know there’s not much time before the real cold hits.
The honeybees, too, are all business. They don’t particularly like the fact that I’ve been snipping blossoms. “What’s going on here?” they demand, hovering inches from my nose. I scoot back and take a short run, and they go on to new business.
Thought fades into the rhythm of the clippers. It’s hard to be businesslike, especially when “Folsom Prison Blues” is drifting through my head for the 1,285,386th time. “I hang my head down and cry.” I guess it beats hearing the Raisin Bran jingle over and over.
But there’s another song I’m hearing as maple leaves drift by in a glory of sunset colors. Summer days are gone, they say. Summer days are gone.
More information in Rose to the Occasion.