War of Roses – Victory! by Lady Jane Guay DECEMBER 31, 2017




I came in with guns blazing.

Twenty five acres, suddenly at my fingertips, to tame to my heart’s desire.

A vegetable garden here, a lily pad there, hedge trimming here, shrub pruning there…

In just over six years the lessons seem and feel infinite, but yet, each one gives me more courage to move forward more boldly.

Something always surprises me, and unsurprisingly, I never fail to be surprised…

This fall nature was very generous with bug-free time before the frost set in.

It was easily into December that I was removing pesky sucker-laden-stumps from my new rose garden area and from our vista.

Because our property can loosely be described as abandoned farm land, we are plagued by unexotic weeds, rampant prickly ash and buck thorn encroaching on our yard area.

Six years ago it was the poison parsnip war and stinging nettles strobing on our radar…

Nobody tells you it takes easily more than a year to fully eliminate those baddies.

And, nobody tells you the serious welts and scars those jerk weeds are capable of causing.

Near the end of this November, as I was removing buckthorn stumps, I found an amazing well of good dirt that I used to shore up all the rose bushes we currently have (I lost track of all the losses a couple seasons ago, although, if I can withstand the pain of looking one day, they are all listed in year’s past garden diagrams…). In the newest area, The Rosary (2017), we have 11 different specimen, along our fence line, where most of my lessons have happened, there are currently 19, and over by the vegetable garden, where originally there were 6, 2 still survive (they are not doing as well as I thought they would by now for being planted almost 4 years ago, but they are still alive!), and 1 of those 6 is currently living along the fence line forming part of the 19.

One of the double-edged blessings of our property is that we reside on a remarkably low spot. So, while many of our neighbours felt the full-fledged summer drought in 2016, we coasted through it rather smoothly. However, come each and every spring, all the melt and surface water seem to flow directly to our property. A wonderful thing, if anticipated.

Our driveway and fields serve as auxiliary streams and creeks during this time of year, and our yard and property are completely saturated until late May. (This, and during a wet late-fall, I have learned, is the most wonderful time to remove dormant stumps and tap rooted weeds, with amazingly much more ease than during their “awake” period…)

So, the bad part about all this water, is not being prepared for it… I have planted roses and lost roses, but the spring of 2016 was by far the most painful. I had not fully accounted for the spring flooding and planted easily over a dozen English and Antique rose specimen slightly below ground level. As the ground thawed and the water came, the roses drowned. I was able to save a few by building emergency trenches through the driveway (that a few of our friends bottomed out their cars on…), and diverting some of the water away from our precious shrubs. I feel like the survivors of that spring are going to age well with us.

While clearing the stumps, I couldn’t help but notice how great that loose dirt was that I was left with. I skipped my way over to the wheel barrow and happily filled it with a new extension of my winter 2017 plan. Not only did I ensure all the roses were planted in well-amended soil, that they are not, however slightly, planted below ground level, but, that they are all mounded (and tamped!) well above the graft knuckle with beautiful soil, all cozied in for the winter.

There was this particular morning I woke up where all my efforts really began to make sense, in the summer of 2015. It was a hot, humid, sunny day. There was not even a whisper of a breeze. I awoke to our home thickly saturated with the intoxicating smell of fresh English roses and lavender.

I blinked twice. Was this a dream? It wasn’t. It was better. This was our home.

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