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Russell's Cottage Rose

These past few weeks I have been working around my garden trying to get my roses pruned. I always seem to forget how many there are until it is time for this spring ritual and no matter how many times I do this, it is never easy to make the first cut. But what I know for sure is you can't spare the knife if you want good roses.

My old-fashioned shrub roses needed the most attention. One of my favorites, Russell's Cottage or Russelliana as it is also called, tumbles over the fence by my front gate. It has become huge, easily 12 feet tall by 10 feet wide. A beauty to behold when it is in full bloom - a real feast for the eyes and nose!

Russell's Cottage Rose To get this rose ready for spring bloom I first remove all the dead and diseased canes as well as a few of the really old branches. I always cut these stems off at the base of the plant. This promotes new growth and opens the center to more light and better air circulation, discouraging fungal diseases like black spot. As I thin the branches you can almost see the old gal smile.

I further reduce the plant by pruning back about 1/3 of the tip growth making each cut about 1/2 inch above a bud.

Now the plant is ready for spring. I'm looking forward to seeing it come alive with a surge of new canes, lush foliage and fragrant, cerise colored blooms.