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Roses are dangerous business

February 17, 2019

So all my roses are new from last summer and therefore won't be pruned yet, except for a dozen HTs that came with the house with wicked thorns on huge old canes. I had the foresight to ask for those gauntlet rose gloves for Christmas to prepare for my first pruning of these beasts. Well today I did it and wow, it was like they were trying to grab me and hold me hostage. I am going to need a whole rose pruning outfit for next year I think. When I was getting ready for bed I even noticed my arms above the gloves that were covered with a shirt and sweatshirt looked like a cat had attacked me. Needless to say I'm really glad I had those special gloves because if not I wouldn't have survived the ordeal.

Comments (21)

  • mustbnuts zone 9 sunset 9

    Glad to hear that you survived. It sounds brutal!

    pippacovalent thanked mustbnuts zone 9 sunset 9
  • summersrhythm_z6a

    Try beekeepers gloves. It’s time to collect some serious garden gears.

    pippacovalent thanked summersrhythm_z6a
  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR

    If you are warm enough, Pippa, move to Tea roses that don't want pruning.

    pippacovalent thanked Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
  • Moses, Western PA., zone 5/6, USA


    I have a deep bed, 8' deep, so I have to walk into it to work it. Not only must I protect my hands and arms, but my torso and legs. For my arms, I got heavy, thick welder's sleeves. For my legs and thighs I am planning to try galvanized steel furnace ducts in 2' sections, each trimmed to fit leg, then thigh. That's four sections total. Picture the Tin Man from the Wizard Of Ozz, and you'll get the idea. I think the flexible ducts are too lightweight and may constantly snag thorns.

    Strangely, my hands are the least of my worries concerning thorn injuries. They are my arms and legs that get the worst injuries.


    pippacovalent thanked Moses, Western PA., zone 5/6, USA
  • titian1 10b Sydney

    Pippa, I've grown roses for nearly 40 years. I've got scratched plenty, but it's only in the last 2 months that's anything has been a worry. I've had 2 fungal infections in the last two months from rose thorns. The first time it took me a while to realise that the anti-bacterial cream wasn't working. Now, I'm quick to apply an anti-fungal if there's little or no response to the anti-bacterial cream.

    pippacovalent thanked titian1 10b Sydney
  • erasmus_gw

    Titian, what kind of anti-fungal works on that? I have had a number of infections from thorn sticks. Usually mine have been bacterial and some required a trip to the doctor.

    A person could get badly hurt if they fell into a big rose plant. Something I rarely do but should is wear goggles. I have stuck an eye twice while reaching over to weed and not seeing the stick poking up at me.

    For me the best safety precaution is to slow down. Boots can also be good as I have seen some snakes.

    pippacovalent thanked erasmus_gw
  • Kristine LeGault 8a pnw

    Also make sure that you are up to date on your tetnus shot.

    My problem is that I'm out puttzing around in the garden and do something when I am totally unprepared glove or clothing wise.
    that's when I usually end up scratched and punctured when I just randomly go over to pull a weed or deadhead and the next thing I know I've got a big thorn iin my thumb

    pippacovalent thanked Kristine LeGault 8a pnw
  • pippacovalent

    Moses that's quite an image but actually a really good idea!

  • pippacovalent

    Kristine that's what happened to me last summer. I was for the first time starting to spend time with and tend to the roses that came with the house and was stabbed really badly when running drip lines and mulching. Those deep stab wounds were sore for a long time.

  • toolbelt68

    pippacovalent, Check these out, ain’t cheap but they extend from 6 to 10 feet.


    pippacovalent thanked toolbelt68
  • titian1 10b Sydney

    Erasmus, the antifungal cream I've used is called Clonea here. The active ingredient is Clotrimazole.

  • pippacovalent

    Toolbelt those are so cool! I can think of tons of other plants I could use them for too.

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    may want to make sure you're not spraying azoles if you're getting fungal infections, remember that scary article about azole resistant fungus in landscaping!

    pippacovalent thanked Amanda Zone10Socal
  • Sean (Zone 9a, The Netherlands)

    I had a thorn in my finger for over two weeks! You'd think it a simple matter but I HONESTLY could not dislodge it and my finger was swelling up... I ended up seeing my GP to have it removed and my finger disinfected. Since then, I use builder's gloves because I do love my old roses but some of them (like Gloire de Dijon) have velociraptor thorns! It's also a good idea to use loppers (those long-handled shears) for the larger beasts or even just the more vicious ones. Sometimes the closer you are to danger, the further you are from harm but not the case with roses!

    pippacovalent thanked Sean (Zone 9a, The Netherlands)
  • Kristine LeGault 8a pnw

    Yesterday I got to try out my new goat skin gloves. I covered them with my gauntlet gloves and pruned away. My hands felt safe, my legs were another matter

    I need to figure out a better pant option

    pippacovalent thanked Kristine LeGault 8a pnw
  • Sean (Zone 9a, The Netherlands)

    Kristine, we should be able to make you a suit of armour on this side of the Pond! Otherwise, the only think I can think of is a leather apron and knee-length rubber boots. The apron is more popular these days as trendy barbeque kit but to be honest, what you really need is more of a leather gardening skirt that goes all the way around, including the back of your legs. Failing that, there are those vinyl/rubber/PVC aprons that butchers use, if you can find one thick enough (http://www.americanrubberandsupply.com/graphic/photo/products/apron/9.jpg) .... might have some explaining to do to anyone who sees you purchasing it though!

    pippacovalent thanked Sean (Zone 9a, The Netherlands)
  • Kristine LeGault 8a pnw

    Thanks Sean, that paints quite a picture.

    My problem is the impromptu pruning and deadheading . That is when I am barehanded and in a sundress and sandals.

    pippacovalent thanked Kristine LeGault 8a pnw
  • Sean (Zone 9a, The Netherlands)

    Hmmm... seems you have to just scrap the impromptu pruning. For arms, David Austin sells these here in Europe but for legs, you just can't wear a summer dress:

    pippacovalent thanked Sean (Zone 9a, The Netherlands)
  • vaporvac

    I wonder how chaps would work for the legs I just wear heavy jeans. Up top I have an old padded denim jacket that works well in cold weather. In summer I wear another old denim jacket or at least a heavy denim shirt. It's sweltering though in our heat and humidity. The majority of my cuts are on my arms with very few on my legs and even hands, but I almost always wear some sort of gloves. I have a little basket with basic gear for daily walk-abouts . I mostly wear the clothing so I don't have to bother with so much sunscreen. I always wear glasses of some sort and a visored cap.

  • suncoastflowers

    I was wondering about chaps while I was reading this, too, Vaporvac.

  • Perma n’ Posies/9A FL

    What a great thread—so many helpful tips—but also a little scary. Most of my roses are still so innocent...Mrs. B. R. Cant is the only one in the ground for more than two years, and she’s already flaunting some major daggers, so I guess I better start thinking about how I’ll suit up too.

    This one would be a good thread to steer first time inquiries towards—as in, “are you sure this is what you want to plant?” Lol! :-)

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