Frost Bytes: Autumn 2012

Frost lingers in the forecast:  light this time, but sure to get heavier soon.  The roses are still green with leaves, but they’ve stopped making new shoots.  And bambi has stopped nibbling them. Soon cold weather will complete the job bambi abandoned to move south for the winter.

The fall orders are already in at the trendy mail-order rose nurseries, even before some others got their catalogues on line for the season. Knowing that we can expand the boundary of the rose garden by placing a new bed  here or there, we dream of new roses blooming in the garden.

We make lists of roses and draw diagrams of where to sink them into the soil. Sometimes we simultaneously hope that three new roses will fill up this end of the garden and that all twenty six on the wish list could fit in just half that space.  We know that late fall and early spring will take us out there to pre-dig every hole and fill it with soil amendments to enrich impoverished sand or clay – if the new roses are to have a chance here.  We know the whole enterprise rests on shaky assumptions about how fit the roses are for the place and on how fit we are to deal with all the problems they might present. For roses, despite their thorns, are needy plants.