Knocking out the Knock-outs

My home is 100 years old. I know this because I looked it up on the tax rolls last year. In October we celebrated with a large backyard party complete with Mexican food truck and Japanese lanterns. We had a good time. 

But in any home of our home’s stature, there are some plants that seem to have been around just as long as it has. Case in point would be the huge hackberry trees. Given their basic uselessness, one wonders why they were ever planted in the first place, except that the shade they provide (less and less each year) is welcome in summer. 

Other plants of longevity are the rose bushes. The remaining ones were here when we took possession 40 years ago and were very mature then. Let’s just say they’re 60. And they’ve had a hard life. In order to accommodate fruit trees, we moved them to the front flower beds. Twenty years later, we moved the remaining three red ones to the backyard in order to accommodate modern landscaping. Alas, only two remain. 

But the one I want to write about is the pink one. The one that disappeared one day from the front beds. It was 35 years ago, give or take. One day it was there and the next–it wasn’t! Well, it was, but it had been chopped into a pile of thorns and leaves and fragile pink petals. I immediately had my suspicions and confirmed them when I confronted the five-year-old. The rose bush had made the mistake of “biting” him and he’d attacked it with his plastic hoe and it went down. 

I was reminded of this this week as I was doing my annual rose trimming. I know how to shape the original roses and they were done, leaving only the overgrown Knock-Out roses. They were new to me when the landscaper planted them 12 years ago. They’re not a pretty rose, but they are prolific and full of color. And they have very large thorns. 

So when I was entangled in one of them, attempting to cut out the dead branches so I could see what was salvageable and it attacked me and “bit” me and wouldn’t let go, I summoned my inner child and lopped off that particular limb. It wasn’t big; it made no difference to the shape of the bush. But it had stuck me and it was now gone, just one more piece of rose in the box. 

Had I spoken already to a friend of mine who’s a Master Gardener, I’d have known to just cut the entire rose bush by 1/3 to 1/2. It would have been easier. 

It could still be done.

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