Thursday, April 21, 2011

Taming the Wild Rose

When we first moved to our little farm, the front yard was nothing but weedy, dry grass and cement sidewalks. There was so much work to do on the house itself that we couldn't afford to spend money on landscaping.  I did all I could do to spruce up the yard...I tromped into the woods and pulled out four wild rose bushes and planted them in a row along the street.  After a little pruning, we had four nice little shrubs in the yard and a lot of cement.  A nice surprise was the abundance of tiny rose hips that each wild rose on the property gave us that year and every year since.  They are one of the highest sources of vitamin c, so make a healthy antioxidant tea when crushed and steeped.

We have been here for almost six years.  Every year I have added more perennials and shade plants, fruit shrubs and trees, and lots of nursery rose bushes.  As the beds became more established, I would transplant one of the wild roses to another bare place on the property to let it fill the space while other plantings would become established. 

I am down to one wild rose in the front yard this year. 

The beds are so full now that transplanting that remaining wild rose tops my gardening To-do list.

The largest wild rose I transplanted to near the patio/farmyard gate and have been training it to grow in an arch over the sidewalk for the last three years.  It's finally there, but takes a lot of pruning to keep it from dangling down and scratching us when we try to go through the gate. 

It isn't called a "wild" rose for nothing, in fact, the foliage of the mountains has only recently turned green, but I have already pruned that rose bush twice this spring.

Another, I had planted within an obelisk in the herb garden when I was getting the structure of the farmyard and beds established.  An overabundance of water Iris has made a nice border for that bed, but the wild rose in the center always grows so out of control that we have trouble walking down the sidewalk without it catching us with its tiny, sharp thorns.  I was trying to walk down that sidewalk the other morning and rather than ducking to get under the long boughs of prickly wild rose, I decided to do something about it once and for all.  I trimmed it into a tree shape, dug it up along with the obelisk, removed the obelisk by taking it apart around the shrub, and transplanted the shrub in a large pot. 

I then took an old shovel handle (I knew I was right not to throw that away and would find a use for it some day) and used it as a large stake to bind the rose canes to.  It worked like a charm and I was left with an attractive wild rose tree which I moved to my yoga patio. 

It will require almost weekly pruning to keep my wild rose tree in shape and because I have pruned it before its one flowering period of the year, I will not get to watch it bloom, but I am very happy with my salvaged, salvaged, and re-salvaged wild rose bush. 

The best part is that my little rose tree was free and has always filled a need in the garden. 

I learned early on that you cannot kill a wild rose, but now I've learned that you can tame one.

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