cimg5344-2Winter in Southern California can be a bit warm at times.  Like today, it was sunny and 70 degrees most of the day.  I decided to take full advantage of the day by doing some much needed clean-up in the front yard.  I have several Iceberg roses in the front yard and while I realize that to some, Iceberg’s are more a flowering shrub than a real rose,  I find the abundant blooming pattern and ease of care to be an ideal rose for my busy life.  I mean, after all, I work full time and try to keep domestic bliss by doing all of the cooking and most of the cleaning.  Anyway, back to the front yard.  I like to prune the roses by cutting each branch to within about 2 feet from the base.  It’s nice to remove some of the branches that are small and spindly.  I also make sure that when I cut the branch I leave a little eye (the small piece that peeks out of the base of a leaf).  The eye needs to face outward, not inward for the next growth to grow gracefully.   I like to remove all leaves on the bush—this often takes care of problems later down the line, like rust and mildew.  I spread a layer of compost around the base of the roses and spray with Volk oil, which is supposed to keep insects at bay.

I also trimmed my Lace Cascade (a climbing rose related to Iceberg roses).  I have the climbing rose trained to go over the wooden beam  that frames the entrance walkway to our home.  I remove all of the leaves and trim all of the dead wood.  I cut back the small branches that grow off of the main stalks, to within 3 inches.

There is a pepper tree in the front yard that my husband and I will be pruning within the next few weeks.  All in all cleaning up the garden in Winter, if you aren’t living in snow, always feels good.  I think the garden reflects ‘winter’ in spirit if not with a fresh sprinkling of snow, by its starkness.  I guess I have to look for winter where ever I can.