Training a Rose

The bulk of the main root hid beneath the rotting wood deck, waiting to be discovered.  It was big and dark as a beef bone. For years someone chopped it off at soil level to keep it from crowding out the vegetable garden, so for years the energy of the plant burrowed back into the root. Last spring, spying a few red leaves poking up next to the chives plant, I recognized a rose bush trying to live.

iStock_000004257765SmallWhat a find I thought!  At first I tried to move it, but the root was too big and deep, so I marked the spot with a stick:  Rose bush. Do not cut!

Getting to know our new garden has been like excavating the gardens of Babylon.  A long time ago someone with expert gardening knowledge set the bones and structure in place.  Large willows anchor the soggy back corners, soaking up extra water in the spring. Red twig dogwoods border the back and sides with a flush of color in the winter. Crabapple trees lean over the lawn to show off their colors and pines trees provide crunch underfoot with needles and cones. In the shadows wild ginger and sweet woodruff  sit quietly while the peonies and iris bend to the sun.

Although the garden clearly started out well, over time and across multiple owners, it suffered from the disastrous effects of an over zealous lawn service. All the shrubs had bad haircuts, wearing stubby branches that sprouted out at the ends with witches brooms. I figured the most humane thing to do was just let the whole thing grow.

Almost immediately the knotted forsythia threw out its wiry arms in a sun salute. The stunted privets poured forth graceful boughs that make them the beauties of the backyard despite their lowly reputation.  The burning bush shot up and out like the flamethrower it wants to be.

All in all it is a happy garden now, especially in the pink flush of late spring.

The school year is almost over for my daughter, a bud of a woman herself, waiting for her opportunity to burst out and claim her own life. Being fifteen she wobbles on the stepping stones between adolescence and young adulthood, calling me Mama one moment and snapping at me the next. There are thorns beneath that flower, too.

We play this game back and forth. I say something I think is helpful and she lashes out. I am hurt and she tiptoes back.  Our voices rise a few notes in apology and life continues. All is soon forgotten.

I remember myself at her age, excited and scared at the same time, looking for some sort of guidance, but not asking for any.

Last summer the rose root revealed its true self.  It is not a dainty tea, a tough rugosa, or even a rangy rambler.  It is a climber. In its second year of freedom it grew ten feet. Over winter it did not lose one single cane. Its flowers are blood red.

This is the year the garden will shine, I think to myself.  This is the summer I have waited  and worked for, moving plants to better spots, dividing up unruly ones, allowing others to stay where they are, like the rose.

The bulk of the work  is done and I wait for the heavy pink rose  buds to ferment to red. Its strong canes wave like  thorny tentacles in the wind,  as if searching for something sturdy to lean onto, although it doesn’t seem to need anything.

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79 Responses to Training a Rose

  1. claywatkins says:

    Oh, how fun to garden and plan. I enjoy cooking and looking at the garden, unfortunately, I am expected to work on the kitchen AND the garden. What a beautiful day to enjoy the garden while eating dinner.

  2. MartyW47 says:

    I tried training a rose bush once… Talk about a lesson in futility, they get sit and stay quick enough, but speak seems beyond them and they absolutely will not heel under any circumstances… ;)

  3. I love this beautiful post, Mimi. It resonates on so many levels and the comparison with your daughter is lovely. Great writing!

  4. ebroihier says:

    Love this one and its connection to Molly Rose.

  5. Jim Foulkes says:

    I’d like to mention that the deck is nolonger rotten. It looks rather nice next to the garden.

  6. Lovely post. We just bought some roses this weekend and I have been contemplating on how I have to tame them so they don’t get unruly and take over the spot we put them in! I can also relate to the feeling of moving around plants and diving up unruly ones! :) Congrats in being FP!

  7. Beautiful! Your description of your experience with gardening makes me want to give it a try someday. Adolescence is tough! I remember struggling so much in that time. My husband and I work with teenagers (lived in and ran a treatment home for 3 years and since have a 16 yr old and 18 yr old boy we have taken into our home for the past couple years. Sometimes I feel so ill-equipped, too young, and not loving enough. Thank you for sharing your story in this beautiful way and may you and your daughter be blessed with a beautiful relationship that lasts a lifetime and beyond.
    Blessings
    -Jen
    http://thelilyandthemarrow.wordpress.com/

  8. Wise words on 15-year-old girls. Thank you.

  9. scribblechic says:

    “… wobbles on the stepping stones between adolescence and young adulthood…” Lovely turn of phrase. The parallels between gardening and motherhood were exquisite.

  10. I have been working on our Iceberg Roses. It’s been really interesting trying to tame them. But the good thing is, never stop budding!

  11. franhunne4u says:

    Never give in to truth if that compromises a story ;)

  12. This Is my first time visiting your blog. Im happy I found it. You have a true gift. A true writer. Best wishes with your garden and daughter.

  13. The Rider says:

    Beautiful post, love the photo…

  14. Savannah Lee says:

    This is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Describing your growing garden in search for space, light and nurture. I can see that you do the same with your daughter.. giving her room to grow and blossom. Great job, Momma.

  15. Britt says:

    Sweet peony wishes from my garden to yours. This is just so, so good: “…the most humane thing to do was just let the whole thing grow.” Patience and love. A delight to read.

  16. segmation says:

    I love gardening. To me the best is watching my plants grow! Sounds like you love this also, right?

  17. i remember gardening and tending to roses as a child with my grand-dad. your love for your garden shows through so well just as it does for your girl. sweet post. congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  18. Your post about the rose in your garden is what lead me to your blog. The story about your rose reminded me of a post I wrote about a yellow rose that grows wild by the side of the road. I pass it everyday on the way to and from work. One morning it was in full bloom and it brightened my day.

    In the story about your rose, in my mind I could see the picture you painted of your garden in words. Sounds like a very beautiful garden. Your garden picture brightened my day. Thanks!

  19. How lovely to have good foundation plants. Loved your comparison to your daughter who is ready to burst out.

  20. This is a great and insightful post. You’re story is inspiring both in gardening and life. Thanks for posting this!

  21. Stuck says:

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Browsed the selections and chose the rose because I am a gardener, too. You had me from the start. Lovely piece. Thank you for sharing!

  22. Kris says:

    Thanks for renewing my appreciation for roses!

  23. anna belle says:

    nice article, lovely as a rose the way you write

  24. limseemin says:

    I dont like gardening but the rose attract me to try to do so…

  25. MikeW says:

    Thanks for fortifying parents with your beautiful writing. I share that interest in my own blog.

    • You have a great and inspiring blog. I am not athletic at all (see my blog post called ‘On being Unathletic”) however I do know about the 14′ers since we used to live in CO. What a place to get in shape! Thanks for reading and commenting! You must have a little girl????

  26. Becky says:

    Ohhhh, I remember when my daughter was 15. Those were some tough, but precious days. She’s 29 now, married, with a baby of her own. Just like your roses in your garden, she has surprised me and has turned into a beautiful rose. I really enjoyed reading this post. Very well done.

  27. Arindam says:

    Love the thoughts behind this post. Nicely done!!

  28. Beautiful! I’d nearly forgotten the smell of my grandmother’s garden, and the vulnerability of a tender adolescence. Thanks for reminding me.

  29. Sarah says:

    How lovely to find your blog. Your post resonated with me on many levels. I too have been discovering my garden and love the joy of discovering little gems (the most recent being a little peach tree). The comparison you made about your daughter is just lovely. Beautiful writing. I’m off to browse your other posts now!

  30. Renee Rowell says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve been on my own blog as I have been doing a great deal of rethinking, reorganizing, a.k.a centralizing my focus. As I was working on it this morning and visiting Freshly Pressed, I found you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your beautiful post. It actually goes right along with some things a dear friend of mine and I have been discussing, so it was a great blessing to pick up on that kindred spirit.

    There are so many similarities and so many life lesson comparisons in gardening and raising children. You so beautifully captured it in this post.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    Blessings!

    • What a lovely message to find in my inbox this morning! thank you for reading my blog and responding so kindly. -Mimi

      • Renee Rowell says:

        You’re very welcomed!

        I am very active on Facebook, would you mind if I shared the link to this post on my page? I have several friends I know would be just as blessed by your post as I am.

        Blessings!

      • I would be honored Renee! Now, I must go explore your blog. I already have seen some beautiful pictures. -Mimi

      • Renee Rowell says:

        Great! I know so many who will be blessed by your post. My blog is still a bit young. In addition, I took some time to regroup, rethink & reorganize, so you will notice a large gap since last Feb. However, I’ve been doing a lot of writing, & I will definitely be posting more very soon.

        Blessings!

  31. I love your post. And, I love to garden, too.

  32. Ama says:

    I have a “lowly reputation” with plants and animals…I’m not good with either, the poetry and the obvious love for your garden has made me more tolerant of my neighbor’s new white pigeon. Keep writing…it works!

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