Ten years ago, at the very bottom edge of the garden, I had planted a grouping of hardy Canadian Explorer roses. Because they are way off by themselves they get no particular attention or care. The last few years I had noticed that they were looking increasingly ragged. But you know the story – out of sight, out of mind.
Such neglect can continue only so long. And today was the day I faced off with the disaster.
Here are ‘John Cabot’, ‘John Franklin’, and ‘William Baffin’ after four years in the ground, planted with lots of compost and given plenty of water.
‘John Cabot’ used to be the best of these roses – five feet tall, nine feet across, and full of eye-catching bloom at the very beginning of the spring flush.
Today, as my tired body is reminding me, I spent six hours cleaning up poor bedraggled ‘John Cabot’. After too many years with not enough water, this magnificent plant was 80% dead wood. The blooms that did manage an appearance were simply lost in this skeletal forest.
The dead wood removed from this single plant:
And what is left of poor old John
From ugly duckling to baby swan, six hours of labor later.
Lest you think I will abandon this plant to a repeat of this outrage, the watering regime for the Explorers has also been rebuilt. I’d like to say it was conscientious rose husbandry which led to this, but really it was not. A couple of key drip fittings snapped off and repairs were unavoidable. But these necessary repairs then led to recognition that these large plants had truly outgrown their allotment.
Cabot is reborn.
Next will be Baffin.