Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mowing Multiflora Roses

With rain in the forecast, I thought I had better begin cutting on the last big Multiflora Rose thicket. The roses grow in a low lying area that could actually get too wet for mowing if the rain should be heavy. I got JR all tuned up and we headed out.

Here I am at the gates of the last big rose stronghold. The walk out made it clear to me that the weather was too warm for even the light jacket I had hoped to use as protection from the thorns. Knowing what I was in for, I left the jacket behind and closed on the roses.

Where do you begin on a mess like this? Those rose canes are over my head. A small corner of my mind is hoping JR will die when I put him into gear, but I know that’s not going to happen. When attacking a monster, you go straight for the heart. I just aimed for the middle of the thicket and charged in. First blood, mine, was drawn when I was five feet in. I could tell it was going to be an interesting afternoon.

It doesn’t look quite so formidable now. Through a series of advances and retreats, I managed to carve out an opening in the middle of the patch. I think I’ve got the roses on the run.

JR discharges chewed up plant material to the right, so I adopted a counter clockwise attack pattern. I advanced to the point where rose canes to the left threatened to tear away part of my anatomy. Then I would back out, shift left and attack the next bunch.

Soon the roses looked less like a menace and more like a job that was going to get done.

Where once there were roses, we now have a dance floor. The roses grew so thickly in this area that I didn’t bother to mark the stumps with flags. When I return next spring to spray the sprouts, I’ll lay out a grid pattern so I’m sure all the roses get a taste of glyphosate.

The ground has been left with a thick covering of chopped rose canes. The canes decompose quickly. The thorns are more durable and seem to remain potent for a couple of years after the canes are gone. Dead thorns have a habit of breaking their points off below the skin and are more aggravating to deal with than living thorns.

I was able to remove some of the older, more decomposed fallen trees. I’ll have to come back with the saw to work on the others before I can get to the last of the roses.

That’s it for this day. I’m bleeding from both arms, right ear, back and left thigh, but I’m feeling good about the days effort. As I head back to the barn, I leave quite a different scene behind. As is normal after clearing, I’m anxious to see how well native plants respond to the removal of the exotic invasives. Tomorrow I’ll go to work on the roses in the more wooded section of the field.


  1. Wow, I'm impressed, too. I like your approach, though, going straight for the heart. :) Nice job.

  2. Hi Steve...reads just like a war story...he can out bleeding and torn but won the war!!
    I think there is a movie "War of the Roses" Ha Ha...but I don't know what its about!!
    Good job you and JR.did!!

  3. Will you spray them with a selective or broad-spectrum?

  4. Thanks, Native Plant Girl. It may not sound like it, but I really enjoy getting out there and removing rose bushes. Even so, I wouldn’t mind at all to have them all disappear.

    Hi, Lois. I do like to be direct and not beat around the bush.

    Thanks, grammie g. JR had a great time, but when we got back to the barn, I found that he was suffering from a punctured tire. He’ll be laid up for a couple of days until I fix the puncture.

    Hi, Ted. I’ll spray with glyphosate when the roses sprout back in the spring. Fortunately, Multiflora Rose is extremely easy to control this way and the risk of spraying non-target plants is slight.