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  • Writer's picture Jana

They're Back and Better Than Ever!

It's been a full three months since we went through the agony of cutting back all 250 rose bushes in our garden. It's not an experience I shall soon forget or more likely, ever forget. For a person who never gardened in her life (nor had much interest in doing so), up until a year ago, investing in 250 rose bushes was ambitious, to say the least. As I reflect upon the experience, I liken it to having children (especially the pregnancy and childbirth part). Despite the joy, you do find yourself having thoughts along the way such as, "Wow, it's a good thing I didn't know how difficult this was going to be or I might not have done it." I have decided that sometimes (or maybe even most of the time) we are just better off not knowing what lies ahead. When I first fell in love with roses last June, I bought twelve bushes. Within a week, I bought twelve more. Well, you get the picture. Within a few months, I had created The Rose Garden West. I couldn't have been more clueless as to all the work those bushes would soon entail. They looked so pretty at the nursery, but I never bothered to ask if you had to do anything special to keep them looking like that. As I wrote in my January blog, if I had known that I was adopting 250 more children when I bought those bushes, I might have thought twice about it. But like children, rose bushes planted in your garden are not returnable so you just have to deal with it. And like my children, in addition to all the work they generate, they bring me immeasurable joy.

Rewinding a few months to January, once we cut the roses back and implemented all the other laborious steps involved in caring for them in the fallow season, I was able to breathe for about 5 weeks. Then, right around Valentine's Day, it was time for their first feeding. That went pretty well and was fairly painless compared to what we had already endured in January. It was still quite a bit of work, don't get me wrong, but doable.

Then came the fun part. Watching our roses "come back to life," so to speak. Each day when I came home from my morning walks I would wander around the garden and check on my 250 adopted children. It was miraculous to watch the tiny leaves growing back. That simple transformation was so gratifying.

Then, the buds started to appear. That too was wondrous. Each day I would run into the house, upon returning from my walk and surveying the garden, to inform the kids of how the roses were doing and the changes that had taken place from the day before. Catherine, of course, was always the most eager to come out and see their latest progress.

Right around St. Patrick's Day, we did our second feeding. It was much easier this time, not only because I knew what I was doing, but also because I could see the fruits of my labor paying off which motivated me to keep up the hard work.

Then one day in late March I spotted the first flower blooming. It was a rather insignificant white bloom on one of my icebergs, but it was gratifying nonetheless. It was the moment I had been waiting for, all those months. I called the kids out and we were giddy at the sight of this lone white rose blossom.

I must admit that when we hacked those bushes down to nearly nothing in early January I was quite nervous. I thought, "What if they don't grow back? What if I did something wrong and ruined them all? I was genuinely worried and stayed worried for quite a while until I saw those first leaves start to appear. Yay, I didn't kill my roses, I rejoiced!

The irony is that not only do I not kill off my roses, but they look even better than they did last year. They look like those too-good-to-be-true roses you see on the Jackson Perkins website. Our (mostly mine and Catherine's) hard work paid off and our roses are nothing short of magnificent. Now I feel like a full-fledged gardener. My precious roses helped me to gain confidence in something I didn't think I could do, much less enjoy.

As we picked our first big harvest yesterday, brought them in the house, and put them out everywhere to enjoy, I realized how much I had missed my beloved roses over these past months. Having them around the house, in nearly every room, fills it with such beauty and joy. Yet, even though I have missed their presence, both in the house and out in the garden, over the past months, I don't think I would appreciate them as much now, had I not been without them. For me, absence has most certainly made the heart grow fonder.

Just a few of our many bushes that are now in full bloom.

Catherine and Garin helped me to gather the roses. In total we cut close to 100 roses to bring in the house.

This was the leaf-removing assembly line. We were all careful to wear our gloves as we removed the leaves and readied the roses to come in the house.

Here are the piles, leaves removed, and ready to come in the house. The next step was for Catherine and me to choose the perfect vases to place them in. Garin opted out of of this step saying that he didn't find that part to be interesting.

Catherine and I were so excited to use the new set of vases that we found when we were shopping at the antique store yesterday. The soft green color is so pleasing and they have a sweet bird motif on them. They coordinated so well with both the painting and gorgeous antique chest that were passed down to me from my mother.

We placed this huge bunch in in the center of the living room coffee table in

one of our favorite vases, a pink glass vintage one that I found on Etsy,

We then went on to place the vases throughout house. It was so much fun deciding where they should all go. This vase we placed in the powder room.

This bunch was perfect for my bathroom, where I can wake up to them every morning.

This last little bunch went perfectly on my bedside table where I can smell and enjoy them each night before I go to sleep.

These two large vases filled with an array of varieties and shades of pink worked perfectly in the center of the kitchen island, where we can enjoy them all day!

Finally, Catherine surprised me by placing this All American Beauty on my desk, in an antique silver vase.

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