Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This is What I Mean When I Say "Winter Damage"

Throughout the past few weeks, as I post here about the work that I am doing to reclaim my rose gardens from neglect and weeds, I have been referring to the damage that was done to the roses by the unusually cold winter weather that we had here in Virginia (and in a large part of the rest of the country, too, for that matter).  Here is a good example to illustrate "Winter Damage".

Our subject rose is 'Morning Mist', a lovely single shrub rose introduced by David Austin in 1996.  'Morning Mist' is planted in my English Garden and had grown into a lovely rounded shrub, approximately four feet high and three feet wide.

photo of 'Morning Mist' taken in my garden in 2011.

This is what the bush looked like last week, before I did anything to it.  Looks dead, doesn't it?

Almost everything you see in that photo IS dead.  Careful examination, though, revealed that there were new sprouts emerging from the base of the plant.  (This rose is own-root, not grafted, so whatever sprouts from it is the named variety, not an invading rootstock.)

Pruning was a simple matter of removing whatever was dead and leaving the live parts, and being especially careful not to break off the delicate new sprouts.  When I finished, there wasn't a whole lot of the last year's plant left.  (The 'tall' cane is about one foot high.  The others are a few inches long at most.)

The new shoots are strong and are growing well, so I have no doubt that 'Morning Mist' will soon regain its former size.  It should not have to struggle to do this, because it won't have to duke it out with weeds anymore.


  1. Whooo Hoooo. I think we lost every last rose bush this winter. I am giving them a few weeks to see if there is any growth at all. xo Diana

  2. Hurray, all was not lost and you have new growth. I love that rose.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

  3. Please come work some magic on our winter-damaged wonderland! Please?

  4. I had the same experience in Kansas, Connie. Roses that have grown into nice-sized shrubs over several years all pruned back to nothing. The exceptions were Old Garden Roses, some of the Barden roses, and, to no surprise, some of the Canadians.

  5. Connie, Virginia did have a hard winter and I am glad not everything was lost. We are planning on adding climbing roses to our courtyard and I would love your advise. I am looking for roses that are low maintenance and can take the sun and heat of Florida.

  6. I find these types of posts so extremely helpful - THANK YOU for spelling it out so clearly! I didn't know what I was really looking at with one of my shrub roses, but now I see that I need to whack & weed like crazy ;>]]

  7. I was just out checking on my rose bushes and noticed that one which I though was dead had new sprouts from the base so now I just need to trim back the dead wood and wait to see what happens.

  8. So glad I read this post. I just looked at my roses today and they look very dead too with only a few live shoots. I figured it was the harsh winter, but if yours look like that and you live in Virginia where its warmer, then I guess it should be expected here in Ohio too. The forsythia didn't bloom here this spring and my ivy looks all but dead. I pruned it all the way back to the ground and hope it comes back. Ivy is pretty hardy, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This harsh winter has led to a lot of extra pruning.
    Thanks again for the info Connie!

  9. I have three rose bushes that need the same attention. They are not grafted, so we should be okay once we get things pruned back. It was a tough winter for everyone!


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