the zen of pruning roses

It’s been a few years since I had a pruning job. I forgot how joyful the simple process can be. The weather has gotten colder and the leaves have fallen off the roses, the perfect time to break out the pruners. Note,”pruners,” if you think pruning roses is about breaking out the hedge trimmers, you’re wrong. It’s much more than that.

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It’s about sliding your hands down the stem to find buds you can’t see. Feeling for which direction the bump in the stem is pointing and either accepting the position or moving further down. You’ll mostly want to cut right above the buds facing outwards from the plants but I leave a few on the inside to fill the center so it’s not completely void of foliage.

Pruning roses is about peaking underneath the top leaves to find the stems breaking through the soil and underneath the graft, yelling “you chopped my head off!” These shoots that come from below the graft aren’t the rose you necessarily desire but they don’t know that. They just have a will to live but you must remove them or they will take over. You remove them to form the shape, to prevent overcrowding of stems and leaves that can cause poor airflow and disease.

You’ll want to take a step back from the beautiful specimen to examine it’s form. Often you can get so consumed in the pruning that you don’t know what it looks like from a regular viewing distance and not from the twelve inches your eyes are seeing it from. You may find a branch that you missed, a rose that wasn’t deadheaded, or a shape that just seems slightly off. I believe rose pruning has parallels to life. We can get so caught up in our day to day that we don’t take a step back to take a look at the larger picture. Maybe we need to trim something that is not serving us or change ever so slightly the direction of our life.

fort worth botanic garden in texas

last week, while visiting family, i got the pleasure to visit the fort worth botanic garden in texas. it was the final day of my tri.p i wasn’t at the top of my game. this time of year in texas, the air is humid and the temperature had been floating around 100 degrees. all the businesses in texas like to keep the temperature around a freezing 60 degrees (at least compared to weather outside!). the combination of switching from hot and humid to cold and dry finally gave me a sore throat and aches all over my body. my body was telling me no, don’t go! but i forged ahead.

the fort worth botanic garden is the oldest botanical garden in texas, originating in 1934. that’s make it about 80 years old this year. it’s open daily and most of the gardens here are open to the public for free. some of the gardens such as the conservatory (very cool!) cost two dollars (worth it!) and the japanese garden cost five dollars for adults.

i wasn’t thrilled by the cookie cutter annual plantings. i did enjoy the native forest walk and i felt the conservatory was the best part. if you have kids, the forest walk is great because there is plenty of educational signs and activities to interact with. one of my cousins favorites were the tubes that would relay the sound to a different part of the garden (think tin cans and a string). one thing i did not like about the gardens were that the signs for the plants were absent. the conservatory did the best job providing signs for each of the plants. they may forego putting labeled signs out because most people only want to admire the beauty and not know the name. being from california, it was not easy for me to identify all the native plants.  i would recommend going to fort worth botanic garden if you’re in the neighborhood. if you’re a plant lover or looking for some low cost fun, try the fort worth botanical gardens!

road trip to the russian wilderness

for the last five days, my partner and i spent our time in northern california in the russian wilderness. it’s a picturesque and not very crowded part of california. the company was great, the views were spectacular, the food was delicious and the air was intoxicating. we could have spent a month out there (and i plan to in the future) but we had to come back two days short of a week. we saw some beautiful wildflowers, skinny dipped in lakes at 8000′, and hiked along some of the rugged pacific crest trail.

i’ve spent the last six plus years working for different plant nurseries and just recently took a break. i find it ironic that during our busiest time of the year, the wildflowers were always in full bloom. we weren’t allowed to take vacation during this season. i always had some resentment about that. i would remember how much fun i would have taking native plant trips with my professor stew winchester. we would explore the corners of california and study every plant we came across. i felt so much joy getting connected with plants outside of the plastic containers at the nursery. sure, i’ve been creating my own gardens and landscaping yards but it’s not the same as getting out into the wild and creating an intimate relationship with them on their terms, being free from customers and having no containers to water. this trip was nothing short of incredible and it mind sound cliche, but it refreshed my whole mind, body and spirit. these are the trips i will remember for a lifetime and it’s part of why i’m enjoying living as a gypsy.

life is good…

here are some pictures from the trip…

Regional Parks Botanical Garden at Tilden in Berkeley, California

Spring is a great time to invite your neighbors or friends who aren’t necessarily interested in plants to take a hike through a local park or botanical garden. Even if their interest lies far away from the ‘natural’ world, the showy blooms of many of our native and non native flowers will spark their interest for an hour or two. Who knows? Maybe they will catch the plant bug. I know for me, once I’m introduce to something, I began to have more appeciation for what it is, whether it be a plant, mushroom, make-up technique, fast car, anything!

I visited the Botanical Garden at Tilden in Berkeley with my friend Samantha the other day. This place has been around since 1940 and it shows. There is an amazing display of plants from all regions of California. It’s a great way to see the state’s flora in one place. Did I mention it’s free?!? There is also tours on Saturday and Sundays.

Here are a few pictures from a recent visit to the gardens…