Bearing the scars

An afternoon spent grappling with a client’s massively overgrown climbing rose (variety unkown – or rather, lost in the mists of time) has left me tired and bleeding. The end result, with the rose cut back to a sensible framework, tied-in and away from the gutters and windows it had previously enveloped, is satisfactory. It’s an old plant, so I am hopeful it will have the strength to withstand my fairly serious pruning and that next summer will see a new and vigorous plant covered in flowers – as opposed to the straggly plant, matted with dead twiggage, whose flowers were visible only from the air.

In amongst said rose was a mass of Russian Vine (Fallopia baldschuanica), which also had to be removed – in fact I stripped that out first in order to get the measure of the rose. Horrible, horrible plant. It still covers the side of the client’s house, round the corner from the rose, and it will need concerted effort to get it down without taking the barge boards with it.

I don’t like wearing gloves when I am gardening. They get in the way too much, are seldom actually thornproof, and then end up getting lost (only in ones, of course, leaving an assortment of singletons which might then periodically get cleared from the shed). I do make an exception when dealing with roses, especially thorny old climbers like today’s. Even so, whilst my hands remained unscathed, I am now sporting a couple of truly spectacular scars on my right forearm. As I say, even pretty tough leather gauntlets are never really thornproof in my experience: and they only reach so far up beyond the wrist.

I remember my father wearing an old pair of motorcycling gloves in the garden when I was a boy: perhaps they were more effective, as we had plenty of blackberry bushes.

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