I think I’ll pay up now.  Last year I waited too long to clean out the rose beds nearest to the house. By the time I got in there – tearing out overgrown vines and bundles of stubborn weeds – I kept getting caught in the prickly rosey bramble.  That clean-up effort took much too long, and I ended up with way too many scratches.  Sad to say, I looked like I got into a fight with a cat – and lost.

So this spring, I suited up, with pruners, rakes, and my sharpest hoe in hands and headed out to tackle the same rose beds. You see, the challenge lies in keeping the English Ivy thriving on the old well and training it onto the side of the house without it invading the rose bed below. (Good luck to me on that.)

It took 3 afternoons to get this job done, starting with the pruning of the roses –Bonica roses in the inner and back part of the bed for height and Fairy roses all along the front for width. I cut them back to the main shoots about 12″-18″ above the soil level.  This may sound extreme – and yes, at the moment the beds do look barren, but believe me, the roses come back bigger and healthier than ever!  The more you prune plants, the more heartily they’ll grow back.

Once they’re cut way back, I can get in there, and with my hoe and small iron rake, I can chop up the viney, weedy ground.  Then the rest of the work is done on my hands and knees – pulling and yanking the Ivy’s runner roots and clumps of weedy grass.  I feed the roses 1 cup of Rose Tone that I sprinkle in a circle around the base of each plant.  With a hoe, or  my hands, I lightly work it into the soil.  It’s a good idea to feed them every 4-6 weeks.  I top off the soil with a coating of pine bark mulch.

(*Mid-season if my roses get black spot or beetle attacks – I spray them with an insecticidal soap.)

Bottom line – now’s the time to get out there and clean out those beds.  May sound like a lot of work today, but the results later in the summer are so well worth it!

Happy gardening!

Love, Nora


  • I adore roses but am completely terrified to plant them! I hear so many stories of the diseases, black spot, etc. We will soon be getting our property graded (we bult our house ) and then its time to create beds and a vegtable garden. I really want to get some roses in there and will research super easy and hardy varieties! Yours look beautiful!!

  • …Do you have a wire support for your ivy growing up onto your house? We have ivy growing up onto our home in several areas and I did not put a wire support in place first, needless to say, my husband gives me grief every chance he gets stating that it will cause damage to our wood clapboard siding, gutters, etc… I do so love the look tho’.

    …You have inspired an idea for me and my well garden. I am in the process of a flowerbed re-do and have been wanting to simplify this particular flowerbed and I love the look of yours. Thank you for the inspiration!

    …Have a great weekend!

    …Peace & blessings. :o)

  • Dear Nora, I feel compelled to share with you my experience with Bayer Advanced Systemic rose and flower care. I have a cottage in New Harbor, Maine where I live six months of the year. Five years ago, while I was not at the cottage, my gardener used the Bayer granules around the roses. She watered in the granules as per instructions on label. Two week later, I arrived at the cottage with my two Corgis and my Beagle.All dogs were outside on an invisible fence. All three rooted around and ate the Bayer product . One Corgi was immediately extremely sick: and the other Corgi and Beagle soon presented with the same symptoms. We rushed them to Portland to the wonderful emergency hospital where the vets did everything possible to save the dogs. Duncan died within minutes.Dudly died several months later: and Gracie lives on with a compromised kidney system.The vets at the hospital did an autopsy on Duncan and removed a vial of the Bayer product from his stomach.In addition to the horrific trauma of the loss of my beloved dogs,my vet bills were over twelve thousand dollars.I hired an attorney in Portland to sue the BAYER COMPANY to force them to change the label on the product and to recover the vet bills.We won the case and Bayer did change SOME of the ingredients. However. the product still on the market is VERY DANGEROUS. The label says it is safe to enter the treated area after the product has dried. No true…especially for the granules. Read the precautions. Please read the article I am sending and also note that the Bayer company has tested their product on dogs to see how much is dangerous. May I also note that many,many dogs used in labs are Beagles !!!Also note, the granules are NOT to be sold in New York. I do love your blog and simply wanted to share my sad but important experience. Jinny McMillan http://www.kellysolutions.com/erenewals/documentsubmit/KellyData%5CND%5Cpesticide%5CMSDS%5C72155%5C72155-21%5C72155-21_BA_ALL_IN_ONE_ROSE___FLOWER_CARE_CONC_9_14_9_10_20_2005_8_51_18_AMSecured.Pdf

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