We moved into our house two years ago in mid-February. A few weeks later, our neighbor knocked on the door holding clippers, a miniature saw, and a book on caring for roses. “It’s pruning time,” she said, gesturing toward my backyard, which is teeming with rose bushes.
I’d never pruned anything before. I watched as she demonstrated the technique on a few bushes.
“Cut off anything that’s dead or diseased, anything that’s skinnier than a pencil, and anything that’s growing inward,” she said, as she snipped, clipped, and sawed a bush down to a few woody stubs.
I spent over a month pruning the roses that spring, examining each plant before making any cuts. Each one felt like a jigsaw puzzle.
Several weeks after her demonstration, my neighbor walked by and saw me hovering over the bush in the front yard. “Don’t worry. You’ll get more confident when you see them grow back this summer.”
I wasn’t so sure. “Where would you cut this one?” I asked tentatively.
But then the next January, I walked through the city rose garden. Those plants, which were gigantic walls of roses in the summer, were all pruned down to just a few woody stems.
So the next February when I returned to the garden with my clipping shears, I had no fear.
It took me less than a week to trim all of the bushes, and they were significantly more, well, pruned this time. And sure enough, by mid-June, my backyard was full of gigantic blooming bushes just like the city rose garden was.
At first pruning felt counter-intuitive to me. I was sure that I would hurt or kill the plants by cutting them back so far.
But as I return to the garden for my third year, the process feels more intuitive and even like an apt metaphor for life.
Sometimes you have to be fearless about cutting out what you don’t need so that you can make space for more things to grow.
This post is for Steady Mom’s Thirty Minute Blog Challenge.