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.
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.
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.
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.
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