January 05 2022

I don’t winter well. The short and cold days chip away at my optimism and energy, perhaps it’s our awareness of time passing that creates this problem. I should take a hint from my gardens where every plant accepts (not mindfully, I don’t suppose) the inevitable changes that the seasons bring. Maybe having a year round sameness would grow old, too. Maybe a pause in the flamboyant show of summer adds to its glory. I don’t know, I’ve never lived anywhere without winter and I probably never will; I find overwhelming heat worse than cold. Plus spring is almost unbearably grand-like a symphony playing before our eyes-one plant after another joining the chorus.

It’s always good to see the swelling leaf buds and sturdy little perennials poking their heads up from the still cool ground in the spring, and even better to be outside watching the show begin.

About this time is when I can see how much damage winter has done to the roses and cut back any dead canes. I continue to be surprised at how wonderfully hardy roses can be for us here in Montana-there are usually only a few canes to cut off because of winter kill. Then I prune a few back part ways to shape the plant evenly.

On one of my frequent walks through a nearby greenhouse (any greenhouse will do) I found a new rose waiting for me called ‘Cape Diamond’, a Hybrid Kordesii rose. These roses began at the Kordes family nursery in Germany-in 1941 Wilhelm Kordes planted seeds of a Max Graf rose and one of those seedlings turned out to be tetraploid-28 chromosomes instead of the usual 14-all the chromosomes from both parents. Rosa Kordesii was considered a new species and crosses easily with modern roses, those crosses being called Hybrid Kordesii roses. Many of the Canadian Explorer Series are such crosses.

So my Cape Diamond rose has a distinguished lineage and just imagine the odds against that genetic change ever happening in the first place. It is very hardy and disease free with four foot or longer arching canes. Also, it blooms a really long time and has a wonderful odor-what more can you ask from a rose that will grow without any special care in Montana?

Like the roses, I emerge from winter only a little worse from wear, ready to reach out for the light, cast off the dregs of winter, and turn my face to the warmth of the sun. I bloom.

Cape Diamond rose, zone 3+, Hybrid Kordesii