The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Big Rose Pruning - Big Rain To Follow

This is how a KnockOut row will look when pruned.
They do not prune themselves, but really respond to
mulching, watering, and frequent trimming.

Spring has arrived in Springdale, Arkansas. Most of the leaves are bagged and gone (into our Wild Garden) and roses are selling at Walmart.

Our roses broke out of winter dormancy, many with last summer's roses withered at the top, still trying to form a hip (seedpod). Pruning late in the season prompts fresh growth, not a good idea as the frost approaches. That is why we prune early and often in the growing season. Roses respond to pruning by growing faster underground and on top. Pruning also identifies dead wood that needs to be cut away.

KnockOut roses were at least five feet tall. We cut them back by 50%. They will regain their height quickly, as our landscaper neighbor discovered. When he suggested they needed pruning last year, they were already back to their original height and growing even more, with 50 blooms on each of 8 bushes. I cut them back just as much each time, and they grew back just as quickly.

Lyle Lovett is one style to use
for Crepe Myrtle bushes.
LI laughed when he saw mine, newly trimmed,
but admitted it looked great in bloom.


People also leave the spent flowers and seeds on their crepe myrtle, a neglected bush because it is drought tolerant and prone to rampant growth. By pruning, mulching, and watering it, we get enormous bright blossoms glowing in the bright sun. At first the bush needed considerable pruning just to get it off the mailbox near the sidewalk, Next we made the bottom branches bare of growth, to show off the bark. Energy for blooming is expended at the top for that Lyle Lovett look, with long-lasting blooms.

Early Spring Preparation

Here are some ideas:

  • Prune roses as soon as they break dormancy. Take the cuttings away completely. John 15:1-10.
  • Trim other flowering bushes.
  • Instead of raking away leaves and mulch, add to the piles beneath bushes and watch the organic matter shrink. The soil creatures devour organic matter in the spring and feed the soil by this process. Then they hold this nutrition and share it back and forth with the roots getting fed.
  • Obtain flat dishes that will capture rain and water from soaker hoses. This brings and sustains a larger toad population. They hydrate in shallow pools of water.
  • Ask children to bring toads to your yard for a bounty. I am providing $1 per toad, with a limit of 1,000 toads.
  • Increase the population of logs on the ground. These are ideal for fostering conditions toads love, and toads take shelter there. Add to the shelter population with rotten wood that falls from aging trees. 
  • Create a paradise for birds, with plenty of suet, sunflower seeds, watering places, piles of sticks, and collections of lint and string. Birds love short pieces of twine and string for nesting. Lint and leaves make good nest liners. I caught Mrs. Robin with leaves in her mouth. Instead of flying off empty, she held on and paced back and forth. She was not about to give up that carpeting for her nest.
  • Leave an area untouched, so beneficial insects can live and breed there.


One of the great thrills of gardening comes from changing the conditions and providing a new place for a variety of plants to grow. I saw that I had sunny places that only grew weeds, shady places that needed a lot of pruning above.  We slowly turned half the backyard into grass covered with flattened cardboard boxes. This spring we added about 60 bags of autumn leaves to the cardboard layer. Beneath is soft, rich, compost formed by the lawn rotting into the ground from lack of sunlight. Since we have clay soil, that mixture is especially rich.

One Facebook friend was offended that I planted a rose garden under our maple in the front. That went against all the rules. That area before was choked with weeds, greenery from weeds, and maple volunteers. Planting the first 10 roses was hellish, but we ended up with a circle of blooming roses, mulched with shredded cyprus in between. This year the maple rose garden gets a second circle of roses and caladiums growing up among them.

Crepe Myrtle bloom.


A bad rose garden under a tree is better than the Dogpatch look of a neglect, and our little rose garden did well from pruning above and watering below. When I watered the maple tree garden, I also sprayed the crepe myrtle up and down. That is way neighbors stop and talk about that bush instead of pitying me.

I goofed where I let roses grow among other plants. They were gradually engulfed by growth, just like Mark 4 (Matthew 13). However, they will move to the maple tree garden, forming a a new circle.

Learn rose names.
Bride's Dream is perhaps the largest
of all rose flowers. I ended up
with two of them for $5 each.