It’s rose pruning time in Southern California. Shouldn’t they stop blooming first?

I’ve been enjoying frequent afternoon walks in one of my favorite local parks. Lacy Park (San Marino) is over thirty acres of space known for its extensive variety of trees, as well as a lovely rose garden. The park has two walking loops, with the outer loop well shaded by trees, and it’s an enjoyable place for exercise, if I don’t get too distracted by the squirrels and friendly people walking their dogs.

The center green of the park was once a lake, fed by springs and streams that flowed from the mountains. The Gabrielino-Tongva people relied on the area for water. Later when the Spanish Mission San Gabriel came to the area in the 1770s the lower end of the lake was dammed to provide power for a saw mill, wool works and tannery. Water was also pumped through a grist mill.

With my interest in local history I enjoy walking in this park and paying attention to the surroundings.

I did get a little distracted today. Although we’re barely into winter, I caught a little early spring fever. Today was cut back the roses day. In Southern California roses are best pruned between the first of January through February. Generally within one month of the pruning the roses will begin to put out new growth, and as soon as that happens, in my mind it’s spring!

The park grass is brown, many of the trees still bare, and there isn’t much flowering, but the landscapers were in full tilt preparing the beds for what’s to come. I found some lovely blooms that didn’t receive the message that it’s winter and time for them to get a short nap. Even a few stray Iris looked healthy and happy despite the fact that they have usually died back long before Christmas.

I’ll take a photo from time to time and share the park as it comes back to life. The rose garden should be beautiful in another two months, and the grass will turn green and better frame the small grove of palm trees.

There are so many trees in this lovely park, many originally donated by Henry Huntington. One caught my eye today because of its unusual name–Hackberry! What’s a hackberry?

Celtis australis deciduous Celtis australis

Celtis australis is also known as the European nettle tree, the Mediterranean hackberry, lote tree, or honey berry. The tree is bare right now, but I’ll be looking for signs of life. It should produce small, dark-purple berries that hang in clusters, attracting birds and other wildlife.

So the park is in transition and I’ll be enjoying the changes while I walk the outer loop. I’d probably get a lot more exercise if I didn’t stop every few minutes to read the plant and tree markers. When the grounds are more lush with spring and summer foliage the markers are more difficult to read.

Maybe next time I’ll show you the memorial to General George S. Patton, a native of San Marino. I can feel another history lesson coming on!

37 thoughts on “It’s rose pruning time in Southern California. Shouldn’t they stop blooming first?

    • I’m so glad I can take you with me on my little field trips, Charlie! It’s really enjoyable to me, too, to see life in your part of the world. I actually think our locations have a lot in common…at least in our climates. Well, at different times of year, though! :-)

  1. We just cut back even though there were still a few roses left (sniff). It is all for the best but things look a little bleak in the garden…

    But spring is already on its way…

  2. It’s so much fun for me to read your posts about that area since I lived in Pasadena for several years in the 1980s and 90s. I loved the roses that grew in my garden and I have never had roses that those again. Must be the perfect soil and climate for them.

    • It’s so delightful to know that you enjoy seeing “home” again when I post some photos, Inger. I know you have a lovely home today, but a little piece of us always stays connected to other places where we’ve had roots, I think! :-) Roses do tremendously well in Southern California, don’t they! And year round, too. I always say that we have climate going for us, despite the many other factors that can be a little frustrating! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. When I had my rose garden, it always made me so sad to prune them, but I did it. This looks like the perfect place to walk. Always a new discovery.

    General Patton’s grandson is in my Rotary Club. He’s an honorary member, and I haven’t seen him in a while, but the stories he tells about Patton are quite something, and by that I mean shocking.

    • Wow! How interesting! You’ll have to tell him that I visit his great-grandparents, and grandmother’s graves regularly! They are buried in San Gabriel! Now I can’t wait to share what I will share soon…you’ll have to show him! Isn’t this interesting!

    • Winter must feel so long, Kate! Our winter’s aren’t very long. I have learned by reading the things you and others on the east coast share that I need to complain a lot less! I get moody if I go a few days without sun…I know how bad that sounds! LOL!

    • Winter is very short, Meg. And not very severe, but we do have a certain rhythm to the seasons that although subtle, are noticeable. I’m enjoying paying attention to the living things in the park that are dormant now, and will begin to come to life soon! It’s so nice of you to show interest! :-)

    • Oh I’ll bet that your lime tree is great! I can’t imagine living in Florida without a nice lime tree. I have been thinking of planting a dwarf lime in a container. Now would probably be a good time! I’ll bet the fragrance is springtime early! :-)

  4. Your gardening season is so different! I don’t even try roses because they are too high maintenance to keep growing except for a few hardy types. I can’t imagine pruning in January. Is their growth quite prolific? Thea

    • Roses can really do well year-round in our Mediterranean climate, Thea. We don’t have to prune the roses back too much, just clean them up a bit! :-) Probably the biggest issue is that they require a lot of water, and we do have drought conditions much of the time!

  5. I could look and hear about your roses there in S. CA every day, Debra. Ours will just be showing a bit of green when yours are in full bloom. I do hope you will chronicle them as you do your walk-abouts. I do know the Hackberry. Its back is rather smooth, isn’t it? It reminds me of the Cooper Beech. This sounds like a very peaceful place to walk around, Debra. Enjoy!

    • You are a great deal more knowledgeable about trees than I am, Penny. I have recently decided I really might learn a little more when I’m admiring, so while walking I have been reading the tree markers. I’m hoping some of what I read will stick! I don’t know the Cooper Beech, and I had never heard of the Hackberry until the other day. This park has so many different species and I’m amazed they all can co-exist. It is a very peaceful place to walk, and after the holidays, that’s precisely what I need to do! I need that exercise! :-)

  6. Although you’re many weeks ahead of us, it is good to hear that rose pruning has begun somewhere. We’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, feel free to take us on any or all walks around the parks that you like.
    Coincidentally, my family has a connection with San Marino — not yours but the republic in Italy.

    • I think I am noticing roses this time of year more than ever because I have been alerted to how much you and others with shorter growing seasons really appreciate your gardens, John. I’ve recently been aware that I don’t always acknowledge how uplifting it is, and although most gardens are looking like they could use a little TLC, we still have green and many flowers. I haven’t yet cut my own roses back and I can see many still beautiful blossoms from where I’m sitting now.It has been a good thing for me to share the rhythms of the west coast seasons and to get appreciative feedback. It has caused me to also look at things with a different eye, and to notice details I have previously overlooked. I know you love your beautiful roses. If you are ever able to come to this area I just must put a “roses and garden tour” together for you! :-) Meanwhile, I’ll send photos! Have a good weekend, John!

    • Good question about the water! I’m sure the water originally came from the mountain run-off. The Mission was supplied water directly from the mountains and caught in basins. But I’m doing some studying of the water systems in this area because there are many stories that have me curious. I’ll be taking photos from time to time at the park to show it in its more beautiful stages. Thanks for visiting with me! :-)

  7. Roses in winter! I’m experiencing serious weather envy here, Debra. :-) Our roses didn’t even bloom very well in the summer last year, though a few late buds lingered unopened til the end of the year. Your climate is so very different from ours.

    • We do indeed have very different climates, don’t we, Perpetua! We have our beautiful roses in winter, but from what I’ve seen you have a particularly lovely landscape that I would find so wonderful. I might have to make an adjustment to so much rain! I think one of my favorite things about blogging is peeking in on what others call “home” and to imagine how we all live in our respective environments. Armchair travel! :-)

  8. Hi Debra! Happy new year greetings from this side of the valley! This park sounds really lovely.
    I love the picture of the yellow rose!

    On my favorite 4 mile walk in my neighborhood I noticed that the gardens with the *best* roses had all been pruned in the past few days. I always stop to smell and admire the roses and the gardens look bare without them, but I shouldn’t complain – they’ll be blooming in just a few short weeks.

    On this morning’s walk I was thrilled to notice a magnolia tree was beginning to blossom.
    I also remember you mentioning Patton before.

    • I’m glad to know you like palm trees, too, Kristy. I have grown up with them everywhere and have only recently really started paying close attention to how varied and beautiful they are. Funny how all of a sudden they have my attention! Hope you’ve had a good weekend!

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