A Frosty Cold One?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

St. Patrick Tree Rose-Bird Back 40
The dead of winter really doesn't offer much in the way of garden blogging topics. There are chores to take care of, of course. If you're going to have a garden, you're going to have an endless list of chores that seems to grow with every passing year. You just can't "plant and ferget" as some people would think.

Sacramento Bee Garden writer (when are we going to add Editor to her title, hmm???) recently hosted a Garden Writing Workshop for bloggers like me, called "Germinating Ideas for Your Blog." Unfortunately, when one is fortunate enough to serve in the Office of Senate Republican Leader, one has no time for such outside endeavors. Maintaining a blog like this becomes a real chore. Sadly, I would miss this gathering as I've been forced to miss others.

Tree Rose in winter-Bird Back 40
But it does bring an interesting question to mind: Where do I find topics to write about? Let's be honest here friends, one can only write so much prose about heirloom tomatoes. After awhile, it just gets boring. And the last crime I want to commit is that of boredom.

I'm a fan of photos in the blog. I need and want color. It helps tell a story that mere words cannot. Therefore, if I see a particular picture in the Bird Back 40 -- like the one above or the other to your left -- that begins the process of "blog idea germination." But I also need more than just pictures -- I need a story to go with it. Sometimes -- if I'm very lucky -- the story carries a second meaning.

These photos represent the current state of the two tree roses that I have planted in the backyard. One is a Weeks "two-fer" (two different varieties of roses grafted onto the same root stock). The other is a St. Patrick, a birthday gift for the wife that is Venus several years ago when she was mourning the loss of her mother, Patricia, from cancer.

Tears of a Tree Rose
The photos you see represent the current state of both roses. I recently cut them back. And if you're wondering if roses *cry* -- well -- wonder no longer. The ice you see forming at the end of each cut represents sap escaping from a fresh cut -- a rose tear caught in the moment so to speak. It begs the question of "a frosty cold one?" Indeed.

I won't lie. Both of these roses gave me plenty of trouble at first. We get a lot of strong spring and summer winds blowing through our Sacramento River bottom home. Strong winds and tree roses do not mix. The stalks either bend or, in some cases, snap right in two. That's how the Weeks "Two-Fer" adopted the rather unfortunate name of "Two-Pieces." A spring wind snapped it in half during the first spring bloom.


Weeks "Two-Fer" 2009
But -- where there's a will? There's a way. The wood stakes that I had been using just weren't strong enough to support a tree rose full of blooms. Wood tends to bend -- and when wood stakes bend -- so do tree roses. One good blow from the north and SNAP! It's an emergency trip to the nearest nursery to hunt for a suitable replacement.

The nursery also carried the fix I was looking for in the form of strong metal stakes, sets of foam holders that attached to both stake and tree rose, plus some strong green gardening tape to hold it all together. I installed the fix last spring after the first big bloom, when once again the Weeks "Two-Fer" began leaning dangerously to the left.

I'm happy to report that the fix actually worked. The tree roses haven't been a problem since both stakes were pounded into the ground and fastened to each rose. They stopped waving too and fro during those surprise spring and winter windstorms. They took every gust like a champion. The stake "fix" also allowed the base of each tree rose to grow thicker and stronger.

It's my hope then that this "fix" is a permanent one. You see -- there are other -- more important duties to take care of on winter weekends like this. It's not necessarily garden related -- mind you -- but if you're a fan of a certain football team that resides in San Francisco, weekends like this have become very important.

There's not as much time for gardening on days like these. Not when Alex Smith is doing his best "Joe Montana" impression. The days of listening to the 49ers lose yet another game while working in the backyard are long gone. There's something special going on in the City by the Bay, kids.

As you might be able to tell from the photo, the question of "a frosty cold one?" takes on an entirely different meaning...

Indeed. That's where blog ideas are born.