The weather on Sunday was ideal for working in the yard, sunny and about 60 degrees, just the right temp for wearing a long sleeve shirt without excessive sweating. I pulled out my pruners and leather gauntlet gloves and headed outside.
One of the first tasks, one that had been on my lists since December, was to prune all of last years lantana canes off close to the ground. Every year it dies back over the winter leaving these long woody stems surrounding the mailbox. i managed to fill up one whole trashcan with just the lantana stems.
Next on my agenda was the Cherokee rose in the bed by the kitchen door. I had noticed that a lot of the canes had died in the cold weather we had in December and January. Ok… time to just wade in and start cutting. In the end, I found that all the canes had died or were so close it was only a matter of time. Even with the 4 weeks of warm weather in February, I was not seeing any new growth. I also noticed that the pot it was in had finally split and started to break apart. Not good, that meant that the root ball had been exposed to all the cold weather!
This is the rose I grew from a cutting taken from the Bradburn house in Ocean Springs MS, after Hurricaine Katrina. I had rooted it and it had prospered but I had never really intended for it to grow in that place in what had, at the time, been an herb garden. It got big and rooted out of the bottom of the pot. I also did not have a particular spot where I wanted to put it in the ground. It got big enough and established in the ground to where it was just easier to leave it where it was.
Well, now I had my chance…. I had pruned it way back. Now it was just had a big lump with some 2 or 3 inch cane ends sticking out. I went to Lowes and got large plastic "half a barrel" pot and bag of good organic potting soil. Talking a shovel I dug around where the plastic pot had been and lifted out the plug of soil. Once I had it out of the flower bed, I manage to remove most of the remaining plastic pot. The only point I could not get to was the bottom of the former pot , which was thoroughly embedded in the root ball. Given how root bound it was, I tried to loosen up the roots around the sides; I ended up using a knife to slash through about 1/2 inch deep around the sides. In the new pot, I added a bottom layer of soil over the a square of Better-Than-Rocks mesh. This is the first time I have tried this product so I am interested to see how well it works. Putting the rose into the pot, I filled around it with soil, watering it in as I went. As it was, the bag of potting soil was just the right amount.
At this point, I have done about all I can do for the this bush. From here it is keep it watered, cover/protect it if we get a serious freeze, and hope.
Fortunately I have also rooted a number of cuttings from the bush in the last couple of years. Most of them went to M. but I do have one and it seems to be doing fairly well.
I will leave the pruning of the roses in the existing beds for another post.