The mahonia has a fine, sweet scent. The winter honeysuckle is well into bloom now, and I reveled in the fragrance of that. Some of the crocuses have been eaten, but enough are left that you can see that some are the 'Pickwick' type -- we seem to have more of those than anything. There are also pale violet ones and purple ones.
I started pruning with the White Rose of York. It's easier to tell dead canes from live canes on that one and the Jacobite rose than on some. Aside from it being eight feet tall, it's not hard to take off the thinner of the dead canes. With the Old Garden Roses, I just remove the deadwood before they bloom. You're supposed to really prune them after they bloom, since they bloom on old wood, the same as most spring-flowering shrubs. I moved on to the sweet briar, which is a nasty job. I cut out a few dead branches and twigs, but got less and less ambition to really go into the middle of the briar as the canes caught in my hair and on my clothes. I had put on my calfskin leather gloves before starting this project, but some of the thorns were even going through them.
The Jacobite rose was next, and it wasn't bad. It's tall and gaunt like the White Rose of York. The only difference between them is the number of petals each respective type has, but I think the fully-double flowers of the Jacobite rose have a sweeter scent, and the flowers last longer, too. I looked at the Red Rose of Lancaster, a.k.a. the Apothecary Rose, and took off a little deadwood, but I also took off a brown cane at the base, and the cambrium in it was green and the center pure white. I decided to wait until the rose had leafed out so I didn't take off any more live canes. I also decided to wait with 'Mme. Plantier'. The old canes are grey, but the thin twigs at the ends of the canes are green. It's hard to tell with that one, since most of the canes are arched over close to the ground, so it's more horizontal than vertical.
I worked on 'Kazanlik', a.k.a. 'Trigintipetala', which had a few good long canes. I'd like to see more bloom on that this year. That's supposed to be the type of rose used to make attar of roses. It has a nice fragrance, but I still think the fragrance of 'Mme. Zoetmans' is the best of any I have. 'Fantin-Latour' seems to have come through the winter in much the same shape as it went in to it. It gets blackspot badly, and I think that weakens it. The mystery pink rose looked like it was thriving. I got it at [local independent garden center], and it didn't have a tag. There was a stray tag nearby which said 'Konigen von Danemark', but 'Konigen von Danemark' isn't remontant, and the mystery pink rose is. Also, I finally got 'Konigen von Danemark', and it's definitely different from the mystery pink rose -- different leaves, different fragrance, different growth habit, even somewhat different flower shape, though the color is not dissimilar. I'm not sure what the story is with 'Konigen von Danemark' this year. It's got one cane that's possibly alive, and three slender, thorny little canes coming up from the middle, which I'm afraid might be sweet briar. The roses I've gotten from the Herb Sale are apparently budded onto sweet briar understock. I've got to get more own-root roses.
'Botzaris' has a lot of grass mixed up into it -- it's a spreading plant, and I should have put mulch down around it. But some of its canes were starting to show leaf buds. 'Maiden's Blush' is still falling over Rosa Mundi. A number of the 'Maiden's Blush' canes seem to be alive, and there are green twigs on the tips of some of the old grey canes. Since Rosa Mundi is a color sport of the Red Rose of Lancaster, it's just as hard to tell at this point if the canes are alive. Presumably some are, though between half and two-thirds have sported back to plain dark pink. 'Mme. Legras de St. Germain' was just kind of sitting there. I figured I'd give it a while to see if it decides to leaf out, and whether it will have a few flowers. It's stayed alive for a few years, but it hasn't really taken off like some of the roses have. I decided to wait on pruning 'Ispahan'. That one gets a lot of twiggy growth, and the flower buds on those twigs. Also, as I mentioned, the size of it is just scary.
I headed back towards 'Armide', which is back behind the sweet shrub. There's a sweet briar back there, too, where my first effort to grow 'Celsiana' failed. Some claim that 'Armide' is the same rose as 'Mme. Plantier'. The little white flowers and twiggy growth are certainly extremely similar, but my 'Armide' is more upright than 'Mme. Plantier'. I enjoy them both, whether they're the same thing or not.
"Mme. Ernst Calvat' was showing leaf buds. All of its canes seem to have survived. It was in a pot, albeit a really big pot. I'm still not sure what happened to 'Mme. Isaac Pereire'. It got cut off way low down somehow, and it was trying to come back, then it died. I'd get it again. I'm not sure what happened to all the saffron crocus I planted around it, either. 'Teasing Georgia', 'Cardinal de Richelieu', and Rosa rugosa 'Alba' were showing swelling leaf buds. 'Roseraie de l'Hay' has plenty of leaf buds as well. I think it's part rugosa, which would explain all the thorns, but the blossoms are supposed to smell really good.
I pruned off the dead branches of the thyme. It's already starting to show live leaves. I love how it cascades down over the edge of the big pot it's in. The spearmint is starting to come up, and I found a little patch of lemon balm in the herb garden. I have sweet pea seeds and poppy seeds, and should be planting them now. Maybe tomorrow, if it's still relatively nice out.