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April 2014

Kissed by a Rose

or... Scratching My Way Back to the Garden

Today I was kissed by a Ballerina – rose, that is. My Ballerina has been blooming and growing uninhibited for three years, unpruned, unfertilized, but always admired. She’s about four feet tall, almost as wide and blooms non-stop from June to frost.

Ballerina flew home as a foot-long, bare-root offspring of my sister-in-law, Rosalie’s, mother rose on the Northern California Coast. It, like all plants I carry home from wherever I go, got stashed in the overhead for the trip back to New Jersey.

On my day to return home via the Sacramento Airport, I was full body scanned by a smiling enforcer. Could it have been that, along with my two-week trip ticket, my carry-on was devoid of clothing but filled with the Ballerina, succulents (gifts from friends and one plucked from a precipice overhanging the rocky coast) and turkey mugs?

With arching, slender branches and tiny leaf buds and thorns that just wouldn’t let me go, my young shrub got her first pruning and kissed me often leaving faint red traces on my skin. (Maybe now we are blood sisters.) I wanted to prune her right, having just attended a rose pruning lecture by Jeff Van Pelt who once cared for The Rudolph van der Goot Rose Garden at Colonial Park in NJ.

He would be proud. First I looked down upon her and chose three thick branches that would be her infrastructure. I nibbled at her for an hour, slowly shaping her into a “V,” cutting out the dead, diseased and crossing stems.

But Nature is wise. Ballerina’s hold on my naked hands reversed my tentative attitude and away I cut, happily removing larger branches close, I think, to what Mr. Van Pelt espoused: “Trim back to the lowest bud pointing in the right direction.” His words rang in my head. Thank God for “rote.”

Out came big chunks to make room for my hand until Ballerina was elegant and clean. The experience brought so much to mind like when there is pain, physical or emotional, Nature steps in and enables you to handle the situation. In this case, cuts from my rose changed my hesitant approach to one of fearlessness and determination.

Since then, I have joyously pruned a friend’s monster red Knock Out Rose.

I can’t wait to get back to my whole garden. It was a very good day.

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