Some people feel where did the summer go while others ponder when is it going to start. It was a strange growing season this year for most around the country. We are hearing of an abundance of green tomatoes still in the garden, and where are all the giant zucchini! As you walk the garden you wonder why are the roses showing signs of giving up for the season, hips are developing at an alarming rate but our tendency is to search for the perfect bloom to stick our nose in for one last reminder of spring not wanting to give up on the end of this season which seems to be coming at an alarming rate. The weather should be an indication that fall is fast approaching as we dig through the closet looking for our light sweaters and jackets to wear in the cool mornings, shedding them throughout the day as the sun comes out to tease us into feeling like summer may still linger for a while.
Hard to imagine it is time to stop applying fertilizer so that you can slow down new growth and help the rose into dormancy. To deadhead or not.... is there time for one last burst of bloom or do we need to let the hips signal to the plant that it is time to start getting ready for winter. Our minds already thinking about next year, what plants are keepers and which ones we need to shovel prune. We start to watch the mail box for the new catalogs which will be coming out soon to entice us into trying some new plant. Do we need to do some winter protection and how are we going to go about it are starting to creep into our thought process. The goal is to prevent the rose bush from freezing and thawing, so waiting for the second hard freeze is a good guide to knowing when the rose is ready to be put to bed. As we watch the plant get ready for sleep the foliage turns and starts to drop off the plant, so begins the task of keeping the ground clean so that disease and pests do not harbor until spring to reappear and infect the newly awakened rose.
The search begins once again for our loppers, making sure they are sharp for the task ahead, that of taking the rose down some so that the wind does not cause the branches to rub against each other causing lesions that will invite disease. An easy job as we do not care about an outside bud, cleaning out the middle for good air circulation or how many canes we intend to keep for our spring bloom. Cutting them back some now also helps in the spring when we want to really prune the rose for the coming season, as we will not have as much debris to contend with, making the task easier.
As we sit and watch the sun filter through the trees drinking that first morning cup of coffee, we spot a hint of color in the garden and wonder if this is the perfect bloom to lighten our heart and keep summer around for just a little longer. A walk through the garden to appreciate the plants efforts to provide beauty for this short while as we await winter and a quick peak into the mail box seems to be in order. Is a sweater needed or do we dare the day to provide a hint of lingering summer warmth?