Taking on ‘New Dawn’

Rosa 'New Dawn':  behind all that charm is a monster
Rosa 'New Dawn': behind all that charm lies a monster

It began innocently enough.  I was out in the lower garden trying to find a spot or two to incorporate the spring vegetables.   HH offered to simply make me a new spot, but I know my limitations.  That would mean new soil, new fencing, a new raised bed.  Someday I will be old, and I won’t want to take care of all this “new.”  So, I was standing in the middle of one of the rectangular beds next to Rosa ‘New Dawn’.  Her rampant growth looked pretty, but it had eaten the entire back fence causing it to lean.  Because of her tremendous size, she was also shading the very beds I want for my spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, potatoes, pole beans, etc.  I took a step, and she snagged my ankle with one of her long canes making it bleed.

That tore it.  I thought “Wench, you’re going down.”

Actually, I thought much worse, but you can use your imagination.  I stomped up the hill to the house. and grabbed the Felco #F-8 Ergonomic Pruners Diva gave me for Christmas.  Note:  my other Felcos are still good, but after 15 years of use, Diva thought they looked shabby.  I called to HH, who happened to be on the roof, that I needed the long-handled Fiskars  30-Inch Bypass Loppers. We couldn’t find any but the short handled Fiskars 21-Inch Bypass Loppers.  Yes, believe me, with all the trees we have, we have three sets of loppers, and we wear out at least one set a year. I took the shorter ones and began an afternoon of pain, not for the rose, but for me.  ‘New Dawn’ is covered in horrible, straight thorns which tore my jeans, my shirt, arms and even my upper lip.  I look like I’ve been in a cat fight with Sophie.

Thorny Wench
Thorny wench

About mid-afternoon, I came in for lunch and a quick rest.  Spurred on by my Plurk buddies, I went back outside to finish her.  I wish I had talked to them first.  Mary Ann suggested a Milwaukee Sawzall Reciprocating Saw.  Here are the piles of rose canes.

Three piles of rose canes
Three piles of rose canes

Here is another view through the broken arbor.  Oh, I didn’t mention the arbor did I?  She pulled it down with her big, bad self.

View from under the arbor
View from under the arbor

Here is the final result.

The end result
The end result

Again, note:  I’m not suggesting you start pruning your rosebushes and especially not your climbers.  Climbing roses should be pruned after they bloom.  I only did this because I know ‘New Dawn’ is as strong as nails.  She probably won’t bloom much this year, but she will recover.

Yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I would.


  1. OMG! What a shock! I was browsing the web and caught your image of your picturesque arbor laden with a magnificently dense cascade of one of my favorites, New Dawn roses! Then I read the poor thing was massacred! She fought hard to save herself. I personally don’t have the heart to destroy such stunning beauty.

    Oh, Jeanne, don’t worry. She’ll be back with a vengeance soon enough. By the end of the season, she’ll be climbing right up the arbor. 🙂 ~~Dee

  2. I’m going to have to do something similar soon in order to rescue the roof of my garden shed from thorns – and it’s going to be agony. (Proabably physical as well as emotional!)


    Esther Montgomery´s last blog post..THE GARDEN FORK

  3. lynn says:

    Hi Dee,
    As much as New Dawn needed pruning, I think I’d miss her at peak bloom as the photo is SOOO pretty! Like you said, though, it’s tough and will come back. I did that to my John Cabot and will miss it’s height this season.

    lynn´s last blog post..Held My Breath in Wonder…

  4. debra says:

    hi dee, this is a great post that reminds me of the resilience of roses. they are tougher than many people think. you have the scars to prove it, i’m sure! New Dawn isn’t gone, she’s just “tamed” (for now!).
    xoxo miss you, Deb

    debra´s last blog post..Musings from Debra

  5. “Thorny wench” – oh, Dee, you have me chuckling. I love pruning. Feels good, doesn’t it?

  6. Brenda Kula says:

    Well, I hope that after Oklahoma’s weather last night, you don’t have more than than down.

    Brenda Kula´s last blog post..Stormy Weather

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I was glad to read on your twitter side bar that you weren’t affected by the tornados. I was wondering about you.

    Hi Lisa, yes, my family lives north and east of where the tornados hit. However, several of my friends were affected.~~Dee

  8. jodi says:

    Not sure I would have recovered quick so quickly as you OR the rose. Pruning over-achieving roses is hard work. My mother has ‘William Booth’ and another explorer (forget which right at the moment) and both try to become triffids every year, and guess who prunes them/gives blood? Not my mother.

    jodi´s last blog post..Guess who’s coming to Supper/Dinner/Lunch/Not-Lunch

    Hi Jodi, Ack, I’m glad I don’t have to prune your mother’s rose bushes too. I have too many myself. I have scratches, and people do stare, but I just smile and don’t tell them unless they ask. I guess I’m ornery like my grandpa always said. 🙂 ~~Dee

  9. Lori says:

    Wow, that’s quite a job. How did you manage to remain unscathed?

    I desperately need to prune my rose Maggie I’m growing as a climber against the fence, but I haven’t the slightest idea where to start with climbers! I am completely intimidated, but wow, clearly, it could be so much worse! 🙂

    Lori´s last blog post..Narcissus tazetta ‘Ziva’

    Hi Lori, don’t worry about hurting Maggie if she isn’t grafted. Just go for it. I didn’t remain unscathed. I am covered in scratches, but it was so worth it.~~Dee

  10. Jean says:

    You are one courageous woman! I’m sure that was like going into battle, and unfortunately you paid with your body! But sometimes these things just have to go, at least for a while. Good luck keeping her in check. 🙂

    Jean´s last blog post..Frugality in my Garden

    Hi Jean, yes she’s an awful nightmare, but so pretty in the spring. 🙂 ~~Dee

  11. Wow, been there, done that…had to laugh, I did a post like this one last year. http://compostinmyshoe.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-dawns-demise.html

    compostinmyshoe´s last blog post..Visual Feast

    Ah, so you know exactly what I went through. 🙂 ~~Dee

  12. deb says:

    Got to go out and do the same thing to my Dr. Van Fleet. I hope to come away without any injuries.

    Hi Deb, I think he’s more of a gentleman than ‘New Dawn.’ Good luck.~~Dee

  13. VW says:

    Holy schmoly – those are giant piles of rose canes! Good for you for showing Miss Prickly who’s boss. Pruning is so therapeutic. It should be part of mental health treatments. So nice that you have a tough-as-nails climber who will come back from the hackfest just fine – VW

    VW´s last blog post..New Hardy Agapanthus for Zone 5

    Hi VW, I still wouldn’t recommend her to anyone. She’s a bad girl.~~Dee

  14. Holy cow, that’s a scary looking wench indeed. I’m not sure I would have had your courage…

    Susan Tomlinson´s last blog post..A detective story…

    Hi Susan, I don’t know about courage. It was mostly frustration, and yes, it is therapeutic to prune. 🙂 ~~Dee

  15. Katie says:

    Oh my! You weren’t kidding. Sorry she took down the arbor.

    Katie´s last blog post..Malted Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Hi Katie, I never really liked that arbor anyway.~~Dee

  16. Pam/Digging says:

    Whew, that sounds as painful as agave wrestling. I’m glad you survived–and won.

    Pam/Digging´s last blog post..Corralling the garbage bins

    Pam, I believe it’s very much the same. I so did, and I’m glad you got your agave at your new house.~~Dee

  17. Racquel says:

    What a massive undertaking Dee! I used a reciprocating saw to cut my Buddleia back and it make quick & easy work of it.

    Racquel´s last blog post..Here’s a useful tool for the garden…

    I think I will too next time. If there is a next time.~~Dee

  18. kerri says:

    Goodness Dee, I’m glad you survived the ordeal! Cleaning up those canes looks like a dangerous job too. New Dawn is on my wish list. I doubt it would grow to such gigantic proportions here. But now I’m wondering….

    kerri´s last blog post..Our Feathered Friends

    Kerri, I must say go to the rose chat rooms and see what they say about your climate. She’s a very bad actor here, along with ‘Mermaid.’ I got rid of ‘Mermaid’ for similar reasons.~~Dee

  19. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh my gosh. What a pile of thorns you have there. Oh my gosh how are you gonna get rid of all that prickly debris? Nothing like a good prunin’ to get the ole blood pumping. I hope you aren’t too sore tackling such a big job first thing this year. Good for you.

    Hi Lisa, we have a tractor with a loader bucket. HH will be putting those babies into a brush pile. I’m not going near them again. 🙂 ~~Dee

  20. You sure showed ‘New Dawn’ whose garden it is! Go veggies!!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog post..Channeling Amelia Bedelia to Rotate Crops

    Carol, yeah, I am WOMAN, hear me roar. 🙂 ~~Dee

  21. Gail says:

    Dee, Wow! That’s a lot of rose to take down! I am glad to know she can take a drastic pruning and come back…I have a smaller version of the Thorny Maiden New Dawn to tackle! gail

    Gail´s last blog post..If You Were Here Today

    Gail, all I can say is keep up with her. She tries to take over starting the third year.~~Dee

  22. Marnie says:

    I wish we could get roses to grow a fraction of that size in the north. My New Dawn never got taller than 8-feet and 12-canes was about the max.

    She did have thorns like dragon claws;)

    Yes, Marnie, roses are difficult in the north especially the climbers. I’m sorry. I hate those thorns. That’s for sure.~~Dee

  23. Leslie says:

    Wow! I hope my New Dawn does well…but maybe not THAT well! It’s only a year old…

    Leslie, just keep an eye on here. It’s the third year that gets ya.~~Dee

  24. New Dawn is such a sweet-looking rose – and I adore her – but she needs a lot of space. Which you’ve proved. And you’re right – she will recover.

    Katarina (Roses and stuff)´s last blog post..Blooming Friday: First bulbs

    She’s a demon, but a pretty one at that.~~Dee

  25. What a huge amount of canes to get down, Dee – and the thorns look terrible. You did a great job!

    The lovely ‘New Dawn’ was on my someday list, but was just crossed off. Two ‘Mutabilis’ will provide enough pruning fun in future!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Annie, when people visit and tell me how much they adore her, I just say I wouldn’t plant her again. Too many nice climbers out there.~~Dee

  26. nola says:

    You are one brave lady; I wouldn’t have had the nerve to prune that severely. But you know way more about roses, I am a novice, an unsuccessful one at that. Those are some pretty menacing looking thorns, almost lethal!

    nola´s last blog post..Color In The Front

    Hi Nola, thank you. I’m not brave. I’m just tenacious. Aggressive roses on their own roots recover nicely, I promise. I’ll be beating back again someday. 🙂 ~~Dee

  27. Diana says:

    Wow. You are woman, hear you roar! You’re making me rethink planting a climbing rose to go up a wall in the back. And I love your comment about being old and not in the mood to take care of all of the “new.” Very insightful.

    Diana´s last blog post..Hallelujah ~~ Half …

    Hi Diana, don’t rethink the climber. There are lots of mannerly climbers, and I know most of them. Just tell me what color you want, and I’ll steer you away from the beasties.~~Dee

  28. It’s what’s known as tough love, huh, Dee? You gotta be tough enough to dish it out, and the plant’s got to be tough enough to take it. Hope you enjoy those vegetables. Talk about blood, sweat and tears!

    Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening´s last blog post..Welcome, Syracuse readers

    Hi Kathy, I can’t wait to grow veggies again. I’ll let you know how it goes.~~Dee

  29. M A says:

    Holy smoke! You did rip her down good! Doncha feel good??

    M A´s last blog post..Gardeners I’d invite to dinner

    Yes, Mary Ann, it so does. Good for the soul.~~Dee

  30. CurtissAnn says:

    Oh, Myword. You are brave, as Nola says, and amazing with fortitude. Here I am inside– hearing the high plains wind buffet the house. No way am I poking my nose outside.

    Maybe that’s why I don’t have a garden.

    CurtissAnn´s last blog post..Monday’s Fair Light– Garden Dinner Party!

    You have roses though, my dear.~~Dee

  31. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    What a beast! This post demonstrates clearly why I not a big fan of Roses. I love them in other people’s gardens, where they can do the difficult work of getting completely beat up while trying to rein it in. I hope you don’t have any parties to attend in the near future.

    MMD, funny you should say that. I have one Friday night, but I’ll wear sleeves. 🙂 ~~Dee

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