The Lucky Gardener

It Must Be Love
October 12, 2011, 20:17
Filed under: garden design, inspiration, spring flowers

It must be love.

Nothing else could justify the presence of roses in my garden.

Let me explain.  Whether driven by personal design style, or an unfounded sense of Plant Kingdom hierarchy, I take pride having excluded certain plants from my landscape designs.

You wouldn’t, for instance, find a Yucca in my beds. Pachysandra wouldn’t be spec’d. And most definitely, prissy Roses were never, ever, a consideration.

With these self-imposed limitations, imagine the predicament I found myself in during a home-improvement project my wife and I undertook a few years ago.

We wanted to close off from view, the exposed underside of our wood deck, and finally finish a project started eight years before.

Tired of looking at the ugly, barren space, we struggled in choosing an approach to make the sixteen foot long, by eight foot tall space seem less imposing. Realizing the problem had no great solution, we feared that the wrong strategy would only make the situation worse.

We decided to install cedar lattice panels as screening, and though we were by no means convinced the choice would be visually satisfying, we felt we picked the best of the worst options.

Unfortunately, when the project was finished we were miserable – it didn’t work. We needed a fix, and quick!

The only solution was to grow something on the structure to disguise it, and in my heart I knew only one plant would really be right – and I didn’t like the answer. By the excited look in her eyes, I immediately knew the same thought had popped into my wife’s head, as well.

“Can climbing roses be trained on the lattice?” she asked.

Before taking time to dream up reasons why not, I heard myself stammer the unimaginable.

“Uh, I guess so”.

My answer triggered a smile that reddened her cheekbones and raised her ears skyward. I, on the other hand, was already dealing with my anxiety of actually being a rose owner.

We planted three climbers and they began to grow, covering the lattice with a profusion of blooms and gentle fragrance. The problem solved, I reluctantly tended to the needs of the vines. The scratches and punctures resulting from their pruning became constant reminders of my generosity in planting them.

One very hot day, after a particularly sacrificial session of cutting back the vines, I felt woozy from blood loss. In that semi-conscious state, a memory appeared of the flowers my wife chose for our wedding and of the vows we took that day.

Regaining strength and becoming aware of my surroundings, it occurred to me that of all the wedding proclamations we voiced, there was one I purposely had not made.

Still somewhat dizzy, and blinded by the day’s unforgiving sunshine, a voice from above commanded me, “I want more!” I was startled by this heavenly directive.

I realized it was just my wife, standing on the deck, shouting down to me.

“I beg your pardon,” I sang, “I never promised you a rose garden!”

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