Rose Trenches

One of our neighbors has told stories about helping to dig trenches for his uncle’s rose garden when he was a teenager. Years later our neighbor bought the property from the family estate after his uncle died. He then raised his own family there and the rose garden was replaced by grass for his children to play on.

That once rose garden of decades past is located on the land right next to our property to the north. My plan is to start a rose garden near there this spring. I’ll have lots of work to do. And, of course, part of that work will be digging trenches for the roses in the fall just like our neighbor’s uncle once did.

So, for the sake of trying to understand what it is to dig a Minnesota rose trench, because it’s not a quick endeavor, I visited the iconic rose garden right next to Lake Harriet this weekend; a sizable lake but a lake so currently frozen that many people were out on the ice. Someone was even riding a bicycle.

Anyway, the thing is, we’re in zone 4 here and given that we regularly reach way below zero degrees Fahrenheit every winter for at least a few weeks it’s unsafe to leave even the heartiest varieties of roses to their own devices in the winter months. You have to protect them by building trenches. (See above) Thankfully though, after my research this weekend I suspect I’ll be able to pull it off come autumn.

The Elizabeth Taylor Hybrid Tea Rose, Doris Day Floribunda Rose, and Mr. Lincoln Hybrid Tea Rose are a few of the initial zone 4 rose choices I like. I might buy two of all three? And I’ll obviously keep the antique peonies and many of the other flowers that already exist on our grounds along with the roses. We also have plans to grow raspberries (a gift from our neighbors) as well. Actually, if we don’t move in a few years we might even build an orangery addition to the kitchen.

But regardless, I’m for certain going to try my hand at roses this year. Definitely! And I’m much less scared now that I’ve seen a trench up close. We’ll see how it goes…

Here’s a photo my mother has of me in the same rose garden when I was 17. That was a very lovely coral colored rose on a very hot day in July…

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