Friday, January 15, 2010

The Zen of Pruning Roses


A dozen rosebushes dot the landscape around my house, and it’s a January ritual to prune them. This is an art form I’m trying to master.

I’m not terribly good at it. The techniques I learned from a book are sound, but my execution needs practice. Every January, I practice.

The idea is to thin the canes to let light in, to promote growth in the direction you desire, to shape the bush in a pleasing way, and to get rid of old wood. Roses are not friendly creatures. It’s bloody work sometimes.

Every cane needs to be considered, every cut thought through. You have to look at canes from different angles, study their health, ponder the “eyes” that will become buds. You can’t be making tomorrow’s grocery list in your mind. You have to concentrate on the rose completely.

At least I do, even after 20 years of pruning roses. Pruning roses is a state of mind. You study the past, envision the future, imagine relationships among the lines of the rose. All of this is done while the plant is resting, for the sake of the future you can only imagine.

You can’t wonder about Haiti while you prune a rose. I have done what I can about the devastation in Haiti. Here’s the link to the Salvation Army’s Haiti efforts.

My old house was wrecked in the Northridge earthquake, and I know what it feels like when the earth heaves. The catastrophe in Haiti is unimaginable.

But this afternoon was a meditation on life. Feelings vanish while pruning roses. It’s about symmetry, and growth, and the promise of spring.

19 comments:

the walking man said...

You have found Zen in a rose bush.

Brian Miller said...

pruning, when not done hack and slash, but more like art is a great meditation. i am doing what i can as well, but my thoughts still linger.

happy weekend to you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely post, i know what you mean too, you find a different plane when doing something like pruning that needs concentration but still somehow leaves space for contemplation too

Woman in a Window said...

That, my dear, is one heckuva metaphor. I'm not sure I am ever up for such forethought.

my best
erin

Shadow said...

pruning roses is something i have never quite mastered...

big Jenn said...

I love plants. Roses are such fickle creatures. They're like the spoiled princes of the garden. They're always "Me, me, me, or else I'll throw a tantrum." Ahh, but so worth the effort you have to just love them! jeNN

Roxy said...

I tried pruning roses a time or two, but didn't practice doing it often enough to get good at it.

The story from Haiti is so sad, so tragic. My heart goes out to the people there.

Sending you warm hugs and wishes for a nice weekend!

Kristin H. said...

I had no idea there was so much involved in rose care. I love it when I learn something new.

Thanks, C. :)

Kim A. said...

I feel the same way when I am crocheting, or planning the spring garden, or designing a website. Being here...now...all of me. And ditto about haiti..living my life and all that it means is the best way I can honor those who are hurting now. Yep..good one today.

namaste

Alice Audrey said...

This explains the gnarlly condition of my rose bushes. Oh, wait. I was suppose to prune?

Lou said...

I try not to touch flowers, lest they wither and die.

The images from Haiti are making me feel helpless..but each person helping, a little bit..it can be done.

sarah said...

how do you prune without getting hurt yourself. This looks so painful. It made me think about God pruning us...'while we're resting.' Ouch. Sarah

Prayer Girl said...

Roses and rose bushes always remind me of my mom and dad. They always grew rose bushes whether it was up in Washington, D.C. or down here in Florida. They loved them, cherished them, and they flourished.

PG

Karen said...

Great post, Chris, and at just the right time. You always hit it right on the head.

KB said...

I'll keep this in mind when it's time to prune my roses.

Steve E said...

Pruning roses: Now I believe I know how. Like reading how to play a violin, I don't think reading will do the job.

Haiti: I know the fear of huddling in a shaking, shivering house, while a 140 mph hurricane roars outside, no
power, no water, only thing left is...what? ...GOD???

Also about: "...pruning roses. It’s about symmetry, and growth, and the promise of spring."

Sounds to me like Good Orderly Direction, or G.O.D.

Peggy said...

I just discovered your blog site. I would like to spend more time exploring. Being out in my yard and garden has always been soothing, comforting, therapeutic for me. We still have several inches of snow on the ground, but the chinook wind and warmer temperatures today gave me hope that new life is coming.

Tall Kay said...

I had no idea there was an art to pruning the roses. I just whack 'em way back and they always seem to come back beautiful. Mine are still blooming, so it looks I'll wait a few more weeks.

Thanks for the link to offer support to Haiti victims. If we can each do just a little, it can help so many.

Secretia said...

I used to feel that need to concentrate years ago while cleaning sharp slicing machines in the grocery store where I worked, if you didn't focus 100%, you would get cut.

Secretia

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