Skip to Content

Rose Gardening: My Break from Knitting

Some Mondays are so Mondayish, and sometimes the urge to garden is so powerful, that I don’t even stop to change out of my work clothes. I had one of those days this week, and when I realized it had been a long while since I shared here about my roses, I decided to write about it. Here are some thoughts about rose gardening after nearly four years of experimenting.

An overgrown climbing rose bush in front of a house with brick siding, a brick chimney, and white trim along the eaves. The rose bush has several clusters of pale peach roses.
My Wollerton Old Hall is shockingly overgrown and tangled up with Roald Dahl, but I kind of like the chaos

Rose Gardening in an Ongoing Pandemic

It’s been more than two years of pandemic life now, and my relationship with my rose garden has ebbed and flowed during that time. This past winter was a particularly rough period as Omicron surged around us and the world felt especially bleak.

I was so glum that I didn’t even prune most of my rose bushes.

Yep. You read that right. I managed to prune about three of them, and then I just… gave up. I was too tired and too sad and too focused on just making it through.

Cases dropped again, and the sun came out, and I found myself back out in the garden periodically. My roses are badly overgrown, but they also had a beautiful first flush. The once-a-year bloomers had a great time, and I managed to sit outside and enjoy them while they were in full bloom.

Lesson learned: sometimes doing things imperfectly will still lead to beautiful results.

A cluster of pale peach roses with extremely round, globe-like shapes. The petals have darker pink edges. The roses are very far into their bloom and are nearly ready to shatter.
You can tell from the pink edging on these Wollerton Old Hall blooms that we’ve had some damp weather lately.

Rose Gardening is an Escape into Something Tactile

One of the reasons I love knitting is that, after years of a very cerebral job, it felt nice to have something to do with my hands. It’s also really satisfying to work and see the visible results of that work.

Knitting is still my number-one relaxation hobby, but sometimes I need to use different muscle groups or get up out of my armchair (grumblegrumble). Gardening has helped fill that need.

It has a lot of the same joys that I find in knitting. Gardening in general, and rose gardening in particular, is very tactile, with lots of different sensations (some of them more painful than others–buy gloves, friends!). You can easily see the progress you make. It’s rewarding.

And in times like these, where things feel extra uncertain in the outside world, I feel extra comforted by the touchable nature of plants.

Three yellow roses with full, cupped-shape blooms are in focus at the front of the image. Blurred in the background is the rest of the bush.
My Claire Austin is three years old now, but still blooms very yellow before fading to a softer butter color. These blooms are the last of the first flush.

The Pleasure of Growing Beautiful Things

I’ve written before about how I believe in using beautiful things rather than saving them, and how nice it is to just let things be beautiful for their own sake. I feel that most especially when I’m out in the garden.

At first blush, roses don’t really serve much purpose beyond ornamentation. Sure, you can make rosewater and perfume and sachets with them, and tending to them is good for the mental health, but they’re not like a vegetable patch, you know?

And yet, I found that I don’t enjoy growing vegetable the way I enjoy growing roses. Sometimes, it’s nice to just have something whose real purpose is just to be beautiful. It’s normal and human to crave a little beauty in your life. The roses are happy to oblige.

A blonde, white woman with long hair smiles with her mouth closed next to a few clusters of peach roses.
Do normal people take pictures with their roses? I don’t even know anymore, but here I am, makeup-free and wild-haired, just glad to be among the blooms again.

If you’re curious about some of my favorite rose-gardening tools, here’s a round-up of the things I use most! These are affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy something through those links, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will always identify affiliate links for you. Thanks for supporting my work!

My favorite pruning snips: the Felco F-8

Many other rosarians also swear by the Felco F-2

My favorite liquid fish-based fertilizer

My favorite organic mineral fertilizer

My current favorite leather gardening gloves

The rose gardening guidebook from David Austin is full of tips and tricks

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.