Saturday, March 7, 2009

War of the Roses and Clematis

I have no energy to post on the stuff that's really got me thinking today - because I've become a casualty of the undeclared war of the roses and clematis.

Today was stunningly beautiful, and so our whole family trooped out to the yard to try and undo the winter's damage. Well, two of us tried; the other two, the small ones, played with household chemicals and made rockets blast off with Alka-seltzer tablets. On balance, this was probably less risky than entrusting them with pruning shears.

My mission was to save my poor diseased clematis. If you've been with me since summer, you might recall some of the pictures I posted here. Well, I have a confession: Like more conventional porn, my garden porn is cleverly cropped to hide imperfections. While I haven't stooped to airbrushing (yet!), I did conceal the fungus-ridden foliage on my clematis.

So I determined to prune them all hard (not just the jackmanii, which expects a hard pruning) and hope that what grows back will be less fungified. It took a few hours and I felt like I was performing an amputation, but I pruned my darlings back to short (4- to 6-inch) stumps, bagged up all the nasty foliage, and removed a bit of topsoil to boot. Now I'm praying to the Ceiling Cat that my plan works.

The only problem? My clematis shares space with the roses. All the garden guides will tell you that clematis and roses are excellent partners. I'm sure that the authors of said guides let their hired help do the pruning.

Because it was a bloody mess - quite literally. Even though I waited until my husband had first pruned the roses, I ended up with scratches and fragments of thorns in my arms, a deep cut in one finger (how I got that one, I can't even say), and a thorn under a thumbnail. Yes, that was as hideous as it sounds. I think I shouted some words that I usually avoid saying in front of the kids, but I really don't know, because I was seeing swirls and starbursts of yellow, orange, and red and trying not to scream a second time.

Oh, and I got a mild sunburn, too - while working in the shade, in Ohio, on the seventh day of March. I'm actually kind of tickled about this, since it really is mild and it seems just as happily anomalous as the perfect day that just ended.

I'm so grateful that I had the energy to work in my garden. I'm paying for it tonight, and I'll likely be kaput tomorrow, but it buoys my hope that I'll keep on healing. (In case you were wondering, I'm not back to "normal," though I'm continuously improving. The fatigue is the worst of my remaining symptoms.)

Since the only thing to show for my work is some black dirt and a blank trellis, here's a more photogenic alternative: an update on the crocus that popped up a week ago. It's no longer alone, so you can expect more pictures in the days ahead. If you click to embiggen the photo, you'll see the tracery of russet veins on the petals.

No comments: