It finally got warm around here. A little too warm. Near (or slightly above) 90 at our home three days in a row. Not today, of course, when I had planned a little garden tea with my mother and one of our children! Today we’ll be lucky to reach 70.

Still, the warmth was wonderful for my joints, and the sun did wonders for my energy level and mood.


I’ll take some photos of the fully finished look on the next sunny day (which will show off the flowers a lot better), but here are some shots of the before, during, and almost-done back patio.

Before: overgrown roses that had literally bent the supports I had them on. They were taking up the original 4-foot wide planter and more than two of the four foot walkway.

The roses (three separate bushes of the same heirloom type (possibly climbing Cecile Brunner – a variety from 1894) are entangled and even falling over. They are as tall as the gutter on the edge of the house *about 8 feet tall* the rest of the image is the blue-painted back wall of the house, the long (48 feet long) and narrow (8 feet wide) patio, and the border of white iris (and weeds!) that are exuberantly overgrowing the length of the original bed (about 30 x 8 feet).

During: We began by putting together a large garden arch. It was expensive, and frankly not worth the money, but once it was up I wasn’t going to take it back down. There were issues with the basic machining (some of the nuts welded to parts of the frame were misaligned resulting in a few panels having only 2 of the three bolts), as well as inadequate strength in the stakes that are supposed to anchor this to the ground. I’ll add some rebar to the structure later as reinforcement. Also, it was brutally difficult to maneuver into place – partly because it was flimsy but also partly because at 2 feet wide it’s not completely stable until completely constructed and the ground isn’t entirely level at this point in the yard. And it is entirely too big and unwieldy to build and then move into place in one piece, even with 3 people. I LOVE the design… but next time I think will just pay a local artisan to weld or make garden art.

The arch in place, showing how the four-foot wide “wings” attach to the actual 8-foot wide arch. The rose hasn’t yet been pruned, but has been removed from its supports so now sprawls on the ground to either side of the structure. The arch, being 8 feet wide, allows for me to add some pavers and a little bench or planter box to the right of the walkway later this year or early next. The clematis at the end of the patio (which needs its arch reinforced or replaced – reasonable after 15+ years of use) and the rest of the back patio garden can be seen beyond the arch.

After: The severely pruned roses untangled and woven into/tied to the arch. The flowers that remain should do well, but I removed at least twice as many as remain! Yes, there are lovely bouquets in the house and on the outside tables for now… I worry that I removed too much, but since time and healthy constraints limited the “when” this will have to do. Given the cool weather for most of the spring and today and continued cool expected the rest of this week, the plants should survive and might even put on a second growth of shoots and leaves once I add the organic material and fertilizer (mushroom compost now, then a foliar feed of fish fertilizer in a couple weeks).

Image shows the wide-open walkway (much better for wheelchairs!) and the expanded view from one end of the patio (by the dining room) to the other (with the gate to Wally’s enclosure). Once things were clear, I immediately watered all the plants (it wasn’t yet noon) before the heat of the day hit that side of the house. I was able to tie and arrange the canes of the rose so most of the roses are on the top of the structure, leaving the base of the planting bed open enough for me to work in the rest of the week to both amend the soil (it has been 8 years since we last did much to it) and to plant some filler/groundcovers to help insulate the roses’ roots from weather extremes.

Here are just some of the prunings in a mop bucket filled with water, I am lucky to have oodles of spare vases… which I will use later if they haven’t wilted to make the rooms in the house a little prettier.

Pink roses filling and spilling out of a gray mop bucket (about 5 gallon size), partially propped up by the four legs of a stool that lost its seat. What the image cannot convey is the lovely, light scent of this heirloom rose. The entire house smelled so lovely when I brought them inside.

Pics of bouquets …

bud vase with two pale pink blooms and four buds on a dark glass shelf against a white wall that has a wooden-framed map from an antique atlas
Vase filled with light pink rose flowers on a small green bistro table on the front patio with plants in shades of green in foreground and background.
Closeup of vase from above with a brown alder leaf and a cluster of ornamental maple seeds (“whirligigs”) on the table. The most-prominent rose shows a spiral of petals arranged around a conical center (not fully open yet). The stems of all the roses are seen through the clear glass of the vase.
The vase on the back patio with three-day old blooms starting to droop. The most-prominent rose is fully open and shows the yellow center. It is surrounded by several buds and another rose that has started to drop its petals. These are in close focus with the white table and the patio blurred.

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