The light at the end of the tunnel…

Less than a week till the winter solstice! I strongly believe it heralds the start of winter, season wise, but for me, the worst of winter is the speed with which the sun races across the sky (despite Maui’s efforts a while back). Therefore I celebrate the winter solstice with abandon, as it heralds the days starting to lengthen again.

The chickens are always the first to know among the animals and are such good mathematicians they can count the extra minute or two of daylight and immediately come onto the lay again after their autumn moult. Mine have jumped the gun a bit this year, being very keen chickens, and today beside the 2 eggs my young pullets have continued laying daily, were 2 white eggs I haven’t seen for a couple of months. And people say chickens are stupid!!!

Anyway, enough of this chicken talk and back to roses. I wanted to say something about the toughness of roses. It’s hard to think of a tougher family of plants. They never cease to amaze me with their adaptability and well, toughness. It was strongly brought back to me last week when I was moving some roses from “The Hunk”. We started moving the Hybrid Musks out to their own place, as mentioned earlier, and discovered the extent of the water retention in part of this garden. It is a total mystery to my partner Graham, who is a drainage expert, as to why this is so, but the long and short of it was that we needed to get the roses out before they literally drowned. Digging them out was hardly necessary as the spade went in and they sort of floated to the surface. Most of them were very old hoary grafted roses from my former garden. Without exception they had dropped their old roots and grown their own ones right on the surface in the bark mulch where it was relatively dry. Is that clever or what??? Practically in competition with the chickens on the brain front!

So despite hating wet feet, the roses adapted to make the most of it, the big old grafted roots lower down were rotting away. At the opposite end of the scale in a severe drought roses will be the last family to relent. They let all their older branches die off and maybe select just 1 or 2 of the youngest shoots to survive. Once the rains come they bounce back very quickly.

Roses love the sun! They just can’t get too much of it if their roots are damp, and yet I have seen roses managing to make some flowers in 100% deep shade amongst giant trees. They surely are adaptable.  My recent order of 2 boxes of roses got severely lost last week, a half day trip took 9 days to find me, I felt sure they would be dead…but despite no individual wrapping in the box, their wood still looked plump and alive and having given them a soak for a day or 2 before planting, I have every confidence they will sprout and grow.

I’m hoping to see Lilac Rose in my garden again this spring…my last new plant died before I could get it onto it’s own roots.