Gardening Magazine

Monday Flowers – Christmas Roses

By Julie King

When Roses cease to bloom, Sir,
And Violets are done-
When Bumblebees in solemn flight
Have passed beyond the Sun-
The hand that paused to gather
Upon this Summer's day-
Will idle lie-in Auburn-
Then take my flowers-pray!

Emily Dickinson 1858I almost didn't make it here today - between departing children, Christmas decorating, writing cards, wrapping presents and an unexpected visit to the vet this afternoon (nothing serious), time has slipped through my fingers. Saturday marked the first really big storm of the winter - a howling wind and heavy rain combined with chilly temperatures made trips out to the garden extremely unappealing. Yesterday dawned bright and sunny and I spent the morning at Blackthorpe Barn, which has a very good Christmas craft fair. Feeling in a festive mood when I returned home I headed straight outside to pick some greenery for the front door and flowers for todays vase. I had intended to use my first Paperwhites for todays arrangement and I did cut a handful from the greenhouse for a small jar in the kitchen. However when I saw the number of roses that were still hanging on in the cold temperatures I had a change of heart and cut them to bring inside. How much nicer to have these last precious blooms inside for a few days rather than out in the garden where I rarely see them at this dark time of year.Monday Flowers – Christmas RosesBy the time I had brought everything inside the light was fading rapidly and I had to wait until I got back from my pilates class today to take the photographs. Today was another gem of a December morning with an ice blue sky and brilliant sunshine. For the purposes of flower photography bright sunlight is almost as bad as electric light though, casting harsh shadows and distorting delicate colours. If I had had more time I would have softened the light with a reflector or tried other windows for a better picture, but with the daylight rapidly slipping away I just did the best I could.Monday Flowers – Christmas RosesI don't think I have ever had roses so close to Christmas before - perhaps an odd bloom but not enough to fill a vase. These roses were all buds yesterday, curled tight against the chilly temperatures, but they have opened out overnight in my warm kitchen. They have very little scent - perhaps the cold is the cause although this doesn't stop the winter flowers from pumping out their strong scent. Also I doubt they will last very long - they are much more fragile than summer roses and the colours are nothing like their variety suggests - again an effect of the time of year I expect.Monday Flowers – Christmas RosesTo add a little extra interest I have included a couple of heads of hydrangeas - cut fresh from the garden - and a few stems of rosemary which I love at this time of year.Monday Flowers – Christmas RosesAs ever it is the droop that really steals my heart! I am so glad that I did not start pruning my roses when I was tidying around them in November. Rose wisdom suggests that it is good to prune back by a third in the autumn to stop your roses being blown about in winter winds and possibly damaging the roots. Whilst I cannot argue with the science I actually love the look of my fully grown roses in the winter beds and am even more delighted when they continue to flower as they have done this year. I will start to prune my roses in February with the aim of finishing all the bushes by mid March. All they will need then is a good feed to encourage lots of blooms again in June. Monday Flowers – Christmas RosesIt is hard to believe that we are so close to the shortest day now. The garden really feels like it is asleep and I am spending a very limited amount of time out there. The next couple of weeks will fly by as we enjoy concerts, films and gatherings and celebrate not just Christmas and the New Year, but also my daughter's birthday - what a busy week that will be! I know that many gardeners will be back out in their gardens on Boxing Day, but for me it will be January before I head out to tidy the greenhouse and start to think about sowing seeds. It always amazes me how much the light changes during January. The days are still short but it is not the length of the day but the quality of the light that steadily improves. Right now the days draw in straight after lunch. It is as though the sunlight is switched off outside at 2pm however lovely the day. By mid January I can stay working outside quite happily until well into the afternoon and if the sun is shining there can even be a little warmth for an hour or two. Of course there is plenty of winter still left and quite probably a few falls of snow, but in between I am looking forward to spending my days outside again tidying the beds and sowing seeds in preparation for spring. With the longer days comes the first of the flowers - snowdrops by the second week in January, hellebores in increasing numbers throughout the month, Paperwhites to scent the greenhouse and a whole range of winter flowering shrubs ready to be brought inside to force into early blooms - there is much to look forward to!This will be my last Monday Flowers for this year as next week will be very busy. I will be back before Christmas with a festive post to share my Christmas decorations and Monday Flowers will be back on 7th January. I hope you have enjoyed today's fragile late roses and please do pop over to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to see what she has made this week. Monday Flowers – Christmas Roses Insert your profile info here, by going to Users -> Your Profile -> Biographical Info. Profile image (avatar) comes from Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam faucibus ornare lectus nec cursus.

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