Sunday, April 24, 2016

My floral Valentine

For years, I've been growing increasingly frustrated with the rosebush in our back yard. For one thing, it wasn't really not so much a bush as a vine, so every summer its branches got insanely long and flopped over under the weight of the blossoms, exposing bare spots underneath and getting in the way every time you tried to open the patio door. No matter how rigorously I pruned it back in the winter, I just couldn't get it to grow evenly and compactly.

Then, by the time fall came, these branches would be not only long and straggly, but also nearly bald, having lost all their leaves to black spot. In 2014, I tried pre-emptively spraying it all season long with a baking-soda solution I'd seen recommended on numerous gardening sites. That didn't work, so I switched to a commercial fungicide. That still didn't work, so in 2015, I started spraying the bush with fungicide every week as soon as it developed its first leaves. And when that still didn't work, I decided I'd had it with this bush, and I was going to cut the whole thing down and replace it with a nice, compact, easy-care rosebush with a good reputation for black spot resistance.

So this year for Valentine's Day, Brian gave me a card that said, "Dear Valentine" on the front and had this drawing inside:


In other words, he literally promised me a rose garden. He couldn't very well give me the rosebush itself as a present in the middle of February, but he gave me his word that this year, for sure, the old rosebush would go and a new one would take its place. He even came up with a design for extending our patio to help the new bush blend into its surroundings. (And, if you look carefully at the picture, you can see that he included our two kitties peering out the glass door at the new addition to the yard.)

Now, as I've noted, Brian and I are normally a bit slow when it comes to getting projects done around the house and yard. But Brian promised that this particular project would get done this spring, and he was as good as his word. Earlier this month, we went out to a local garden center and bought a Knock Out rosebush—a variety that's compact, easy to care for, and very resistant to diseases, including black spot. And last weekend, when the weather was clear, we got it into the ground.


As you can see, Brian also stuck to his original design idea about extending the patio. He figured if he was going to do it at all, it would be a lot easier to do it before putting the rosebush in the ground than after, so he spend some time digging into the slope next to the patio and building a small dry-stone wall using some of the leftover pavers from our patio project.

The unusual thing about this job was that it was kind of done from the top down: he started by laying out the pavers directly on the ground around the planting area, and when he reached a spot where the ground was too low to support them, he dug out the dirt until there was room to add another layer of bricks underneath. He also didn't attempt to use any sort of mortar, so the only thing really holding the wall in place is the weight of the bricks and the dirt piled against them. And because the pavers aren't completely identical in size and shape—as we discovered when laying the patio itself—they didn't quite meet up evenly on all four sides. So the finished wall isn't exactly level, and there's one spot against the wall where Brian had to lay a brick in edgewise to fill in a gap. But you'd never notice it from a distance.

So there it is: my new rose garden. Now all I have to do is wait for them to start blooming. The plant was big enough when we bought it that I'm hoping for blooms the first year, but we might have to wait until next year for Brian's sketch to be realized in full.
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