Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Icy Job

Trimmed 'Iceberg' yesterday.

That is to say, I was the one with the secateurs, and 'Iceberg' was the rose bush that got smaller.

I can't really say I pruned it. The darn thing was sprawled across both of the paths that meet at its corner, lying in wait for any ankles that might be going, or trying to go, by. It is much too big and too sprawly for that spot, but is so healthy, and blooms so exuberantly for nearly a month every summer, that I just can't remove it. I didn't intend to have a monster rose in that corner but there it is, sort of like an Uncle Fred who has to be invited to family events but whose behavior than causes eyes to roll and voices to sharpen. I actually wanted 'Seafoam', but the nursery man told me 'Iceberg' was just the same. Right.

I thought at first maybe I could get in underneath and remove some of the longer canes, but that wasn't possible. It was a tangle of canes, most of them over 6 feet long, and there was no way I could get a hand or arm underneath without serious injury. Iceberg is one of those bushes that has stiff curved thorns, which catch and grab whatever gets close. The many canes all criss-cross into a dense tangle. Reaching in and cutting out canes at ground level is nerve-wracking. You work your hand in very carefully, secateurs at the ready, and a twig springs back and embeds itself in your wrist, you jerk your arm back and three more twigs catch hold. Since you're holding several canes back with your other hand, you now need a third hand to work the first one free....  I had heavy leather gloves on, and a long-sleeved shirt, but even so I got half a dozen long scratches and any number of pokes before I was done. After that I wasn't about to  carefully cut back each spent flower cluster, so just cut everything that extended beyond an imaginary circle about 6 feet across or higher up than about 3 feet. Now it looks like a turned-out pudding, but at least you can get past it without bloodshed. Usually.

I wonder if it was 'Iceberg' that gave someone the idea of the 'pavement rose'? Or is mine the only 'Iceberg' in the world that wants to be a ground cover?

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