The roses, of course.
We have seven Lady Banks rose bushes growing around the privacy walls in our backyard. Here in suburban Phoenix, where houses are large and lot sizes are small, and homes are packed like sardines into subdevelopments, privacy walls are not optional, and most are like ours: six foot cinder block monstrosities. I'd just as soon have a split-rail fence and be able to interact with my neighbors, but that's not how it's done around here.
So, trying to make the best of a less-than-optimal situation, we planted the Lady Banks' knowing they would grow up the wall. The problem is, instead of staking them out to spread and cover as much cinder block as possible, DH trellised them. It's not what I wanted but at the time I was busy having a baby (that would be DD) and since I wasn't going to do the work myself I didn't argue the point. After eight years, we had rose bushes that were growing up and out, but still each only managed to cover a relatively small amount of wall:
Let me stress that these are really lovely, hardy plants, covering themselves with lots of little white blossoms every spring. There's nothing wrong with them, they just weren't the way I wanted them to be. So when a big wind storm blew through a few weeks ago, and knocked three of the bushes off their trellises, DH decided that now would be as good a time as any to train them along the wall, instead of up a trellis. He's done four so far:
It's not a complicated process, but it does take a little time: chop off the top of the bush, then prune and separate the canes. Drill pilot holes for the lead anchors, tap them in, screw in the eye hooks, and fasten the canes to the hooks. The kind and helpful people at Whitfill Nursery assured me that 1) it was easy enough for us to do and 2) a landscape maintenance company would charge us a fortune to do it. Fortunately they were right about the first point, especially given the reassurance that it's very difficult to kill these plants. They bounce back very quickly. Here's a plant that DH trained last Saturday:
And here's one he did two weeks ago; you can see how much new growth this one is already showing:
In short order, our walls will be more green -- and evergreen, here, too, as the Lady Banks don't die off in winter -- than cinder block, and our poor lizards' will have more shade than they know what to do with. Just now they're wildly scampering for cover along the back wall, because all that lush foliage they're used to is gone.
It is deeply satisfying to see something done that has been subtly nagging at me for years now. What is even more delightful about this whole process is that DH is the one who suggested it. Whether the idea of training the roses along the walls came to him from thin air or he remembered that it was something I'd always wanted to do makes no difference to me -- it's finally happening, and when it's finished and the roses have grown back in, it will make a really lovely change in the backyard. Psyched!