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Noon Edition

"Pruning In March," A Poem By Vita Sackville West

Vita Sackville West was a British writer as well as an accomplished gardener. Here is her poem “Pruning in March.”

Malapert March is parent to all these,

The sowing- time, when warmth begins to creep

Into the soil, as he who handles earth,

With his bare hand well knows, and, stooping feels

The sun on his bare nape, and as he kneels

On pad of sacking knows the stir of birth…..

So does the good gardener sense propitious time

And sows when seeds may grow

In the warm soil that follows on the rime

And on the breaking frost and on the snow.

And then in safety shall he prune

The rose with slicing knife above the bud

Slanting and clean; and soon

See the small vigour of the canted shoots

Strike outwards in their search for light and air,

Lifted above the dung about their roots,

Lifted above the mud.

Yet, unlike fashion’s votary, beware

Of pruning so that but the stumps remain,

Miserly inches for the little gain

Of larger flowers, exhibitions boast.

There is an old saying that the time to prune the roses is when the forsythia blooms. Here in my Midwestern garden our forsythia blooms in March, providing a helpful reminder that it is time to remove the dead wood on the rose bushes.

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