Friday, March 14, 2008

Of Roses and Spring

Yesterday was one of the prettiest days we've had yet this year, just over 60 degrees. I took advantage of the nice weather to prune the roses around the deck. Even though the NatureScapes crew takes care of the plants, pruning the roses is a task that I reserve for myself. It's not that I told the crew that the roses are my thing, it just happened that way years ago and it's grown to something approaching tradition.

It's my annual spring ritual of renewal and my chance to reflect on my roses. Without the leaves, I get to see what a good or poor job I did in pruning last year and I get the chance to make corrections and to guide the roses along for the coming year. I always feel some remorse in cutting out one of the big canes that has bloomed so beautifully for so many years, but I keep reminding myself that it will be OK—after all, that's why I brought along all those young canes: as replacements for the old ones to reinvigorate the plants.

Pruning has its meditative qualities and I understand why Jim Law at Linden Vineyards has told me, "I really don't mind pruning; it gives me a chance to get organized for the coming year." Still, while I was pruning, I kept thinking how behind I am—surely all my friends have their vineyards pruned by now—and that I should have finished pruning a month ago.

And then my thoughts turned to the mint that is just peeking up through the mulch under the roses while its bedmate the chives are not yet to be seen. I am anticipating their cheerful lavender blooms already even though I know that we still have two more months to go before our frost date. And glancing at the rosemary, I am encouraged that perhaps it has overwintered, surely a longshot in our climate.

This nice weather makes me want to get my herbs in and going, but it won't do any good just yet. We're sure to have a good spell of nasty weather before we get to our safe growing season. But still, I can look forward to the new and annual herbs that Tricia and I have discussed for our beds and planters this year: Thai basil, opal basil, chervil, lemon verbena, dill, and tarragon. Oh how I want an omelette aux fines herbes right now!

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