Almost Done!

The end of February looms and I’m almost done with the pruning in my personal gardens and the gardens I tend at Zilker Botanical Gardens.  I waited as long as a could before I started pruning, but almost waited too late.  Spring has sprung in mild Austin and I need to wack back the remaining plants that I intend to prune.

I pruned the roses  in my gardens last week.  Most had been blooming for a few weeks, so it hurt to cut back such beautiful flowers.  Gardening sometimes resembles parenting:  the difficult and painful things that you occasionally must do, are often the most important for nurturing growth and blooms.

Philosophical musings aside, the Mutabils (Rosa ‘Mutabilis) was big and full of darling blooms.

It had even developed new stems.

But it’s pruned back and now ready for new beginnings and a long year of growth and blooms.

The Knockout Rose (Rosa ‘Knock Out’) produced  lovelies for my kitchen table and to enjoy outdoors,

but it too is reduced to mere sticks.

I’m more careful with this rose than I am with my others (although I don’t think it’s  necessary because this rose is a tough one).  I clean (disinfect) and sharpen the pruners before I start with this rose.  I take care to prune the branches cleanly above a leaf node.

The node is the pinkish bump to the right of the cut, above the thorn.

The Belinda’s Dream Rose is a new one in my gardens, so I’m leaving it as is.

But at Zilker Botanical Gardens, there are two in the one of the beds I tend.   I pruned both down to their major three or four branches.

The other roses in my personal gardens, the Martha Gonzales and the Old Gay Hill, are treated like I treat my hardy native shrubs–I thwack away with abandon!  I transplanted both of these last year,

so they haven’t grown much.  But I did prune them back a little,

so they’ll be ready for growth in the coming year.  The Old Gay Hill still had buds n’ blooms, so I left them–there’s no need to be heartless, after all.

I cut back the Martha Gonzales Roses at Howson Library Garden last week as well.    This photo is on the City of Austin Grow Green Resources page, under the “Landscape Design” section and can be seen when you click the “Classic” design.

There are a total of eight roses at Howson. This view is of the four at the southern end of the area where the roses are planted.  This photo shows the roses in early fall and by the end of the growing season, they’re even larger.  I didn’t take a photo before I pruned them back last week.  (Oh, no!  That would have made too much sense!)   But, I did take a picture once I pruned.  This is the same angle now, after pruning:

and from the front.

The Martha Gonzales is such a hardy rose that the gardener doesn’t have to be particularly careful about cutting.  I clip off any dead branches, but other than trimming them to roughly the same height and shaping and tidying a bit, not much more is required during pruning time for this beautiful rose.

Pruning roses is easier if you keep the pruners clean and very sharp.  It’s also a great idea for Central Texas gardeners to plant roses that are hardy and tough and don’t require much water.  Check out the “Native and Adapted Landscape Plants Guide”  under “Plants” on the Grow Green Resources page for some examples of suitable roses for our area or visit one of Austin’s excellent independent nurseries for guidance on what roses to plant.

It’s not too late to prune and it’s time to plant some pretty roses in your garden.

8 thoughts on “Almost Done!

  1. I’m a fan of Martha Gonzales too. I just transplanted one last week and can’t wait to see it thrive in its new home. It had too much shade previously. Belinda’s dream seems to be popular with a lot of gardeners in Austin but I’m not familiar with it. Seems like Pam posted a picture of one last year and it is lovely.


  2. Good luck with your transplanted Martha Gonzales–they are wonderful plants. It will be happy with more sun. The Belinda’s Dream just has the most luscious and fragrant rose. I’m eager for mine to bloom and I hope it’s in a spot with enough sun.


  3. Hi Tina, love your blog! I stumbled on it when looking for info on the Martha Gonzales Rose. I bought a couple of them at Red Barn about 6 weeks ago, planted them in a good, sunny spot, with Rose Magic and compost. At first they both bloomed, but now the blooms have stopped and I don’t know what’s wrong. I haven’t watered much because we’ve had so much rain, I don’t want to overdo it. Any ideas? I have never grown roses before, so I feel a little in over my head, even with this supposedly easy-to-grow rose. Thanks in advance!


  4. Thank you, Mary. Most roses will go through a bloom and rest cycle and that may be what’s happening with yours. I’m not familiar with Rose Magic, but sometimes the heavy fertilizers will “force” blooming and then the plant really needs a rest. What I do with mine is to fill some empty milk gallons with fish emulsion (Alaska brand is commonly available) and Medina Hasta-Grow or pure liquid seaweed. Honestly, I don’t measure–probably a couple of tablespoons for the fish goo and a similar amount for the seaweed or Hasta-Grow. I usually use 1/2 to gallon drench on roses about once/month March-October. It doesn’t take much time–maybe 15 minutes or so for my 7 or 8 roses. Also, at least for now, dead-head the spent blooms, which will encourage new growth. Although, eventually, as your Martha”s age, you’ll likely have so many blooms, you won’t have time to dead-head all the spent blooms–that’s a good problem to have. Composting is always a good thing to do. Be patient and I’ll bet your roses will be just fine!


  5. Thanks so much, Tina! Great info, and helps put my mind at ease a bit. These are rose bushes I planted for my two toddler girls on the youngest’s 1st birthday, so I already have a sentimental attachment to them. 🙂 I’m going to go tenderly deadhead them now.


    • You’re more than welcome. That’s so sweet that you planted them for your daughters–just have your little ones be careful around the thorns as you don’t want little fingers (or anything else) to get hurt. However, you don’t have to be tender with the roses–they’re tough!


      • Hi Tina,
        Just wanted to update you on my Martha’s. I hit them with some Sea Tea (which I arrived at after searching for the fish emulsion and liquid seaweed) and gave them a lot of attention for a while. Soon afterward they both just exploded with blooms. I think I might have been overwatering a little when I first planted them. They seem very healthy and happy these days, though they appear to be in another rest cycle. I wish I had taken a picture when they were so gorgeous, but I’m sure they will be again.
        Thanks again for your advice and encouragement! I am enjoying keeping up with your blog.
        Mary Linton


  6. Thanks so much, Mary. It’s nice to know someone is reading. :)) “Exploded with blooms” is a good description of what Martha Gonzalez roses do! I’m so glad that you’re enjoying yours and that they’re behaving themselves for you. They will rest and the blooms will be a bit smaller during the summer, but there should be another beautiful blooming season come autumn. Ahh, autumn–it seems so far away. And no worries about babying them–just moderate watering and occasional feeding and they’re happy. Good luck on the gardening front!


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