I just got back from Chicago, with tons of notes, some samples and a day of excellent sniffage with Ina of Aromascope. But that post isn’t ready yet, so instead I’m going to tell a little story …
I ordered (among other things) two climbing roses from Heirloom Roses last spring. Heirloom sells old, hardy and unusual roses, including some highly fragrant ones. I chose Summer Wine (pictured here from their website) because they were beautiful, highly rated for their perfume, and because they’re continuous bloomers. I planned to plant one on either side of the steps of our screened back porch, so that their glory and fragrance would be nearby for most of the summer.
I am probably not the first person to open the shipping box when it arrives, revealing puny, 6-inch sticks, and think, puh-lease. It’ll be two years before those babies are big enough to climb onto anything. After all, I learned to garden in the high desert of the Southwest, where a lack of moisture guarantees plants that grow a lot more slowly. So I dutifully followed the meticulous planting instructions, dug giant holes (in my case, with a pickaxe and a lot of cursing), planted them in good organic material, and then more or less forgot about them except for the occasional watering.
I got the first inkling of the flaw in my thinking in April, when Number One Son came in shrieking with a huge rose thorn broken off in the sole of his foot (and what a slice of heaven that was to remove, let me tell you.) At that point it was hard to miss the fact that the climbers had shot themselves, oh, eight feet skyward, and then, having discovered that the Gardening Slag failed to give them anything to climb onto, flopped over unceremoniously onto the lawn, where they were making plans to extend their empire into the neighbors’ yard.
It was clear to me that the two adorable fan trellises I’d bought for them were not going to do the job staked into the ground. So I came up with the genius plan to mount the trellises off the ground, bolted to the back porch in an elevated position. Of course, the only tiny flaw in this plan was that I had to climb basically into the rose bushes to mount the trellises.
I started early in the morning, figuring I had an hour or two of hard work ahead of me. I put on my sturdy gardening gloves and my doofy garden togs (maximum sun coverage) and stupid hat, got out the wire, the brackets, the screws, etc., and dove in.
As the day wore on into the afternoon, I began to wish for something a little sturdier than my regular gardening outfit — something more along the lines of, say, the outfits worn by the French Riot Police, complete with helmet, face mask, mace and possibly a truncheon. I had to stop periodically to try, delicately, to disengage myself from countless thorns digging into me from various canes, to the point that I could no longer move. I’d suck the blood off various body parts and take deep cleansing breaths and remind myself that, really, this was a good idea and I shouldn’t cut those sumbitches right down to the ground and go have a beer instead.
After five hours, my efforts were rewarded. The canes, already heavily budding, were more or less subdued, twined upright in beautiful, arching bunches in the general vicinity of the trellises. I took a victory shower, dabbed my wounds, and had that beer, admiring my handiwork.
Now, several weeks later, they greet me every morning with a fresh display at eye-level when I come out with my coffee. I have no idea where they think they’re going, and at this rate they’ll eat the back of the house, and maybe a kid or two, but man, they are a sight to behold.