In Defense of my David Austins, it’s War!


Guest Post by Tiffany Rosenberger of The Nesting Project Guestdavidaustin

to the mattresses

Taking it to the streets
Coming out swinging

Say it the way you want, but I have
declared WAR on the person who mows our

This idiot recently murdered one (I'm
thinking manslaughter) of my David Austen Roses by mowing over it. (Seriously?
It's a BUSH!!)

But the rose is a fighter…and I respect that.
It put up a new shoot and fought for new life. I then set out to give it all the
attention it needed to get back to full strength. I played the diligent Florence
Nightengale act by watering and feeding it as much as possible. It was doing

Then it was time to mow the lawn

I gave my husband one thing on his to-do
So the mower was instructed to stay clear from my roses specifically. Last night I came
home from seeing Julie & Julia (one of my new favorite movies) and I saw my rose
bush MURDERED again. This time it was first degree murder. A meltdown quickly

To use a reference from my favorite
cult movie “Swingers”,  IT'S ON, my intelligence-challenged mower…IT'S SO
ON….The  alert level has been raised to red. It's now time for horticulture

My top choices are: rocks around
my roses, metal spikes pushed down so he can't see him, and firing him – always
an option but not nearly as fun. 

Photo of David Austin rose by Scoobymoo.

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Susan Harris

Susan’s a garden writer, teacher and activist in the Washington, D.C. area. Co-founder of GardenRant, she also wrote for national gardening magazines and independent garden centers before retiring in 2014. Now she has time for these projects:

  • Founding and now managing the pro-science educational nonprofit GOOD GARDENING VIDEOS that finds and promotes the best videos on YouTube for teaching people to garden.
  • Creating and managing DC GARDENS, the nonprofit campaign to promote the public gardens of the Washington, D.C. area, and gardening by locals.
  • Creating and editing the community website GREENBELT ONLINE to serve her adopted hometown of Greenbelt, Maryland (a “New Deal Utopia” founded in 1937).
  • Also in Greenbelt, MD, writing the e-newsletter and serving on the Board of Directors for the cooperatively-owned music and arts venue and restaurant called the NEW DEAL CAFE.

Contact Susan via email or by leaving a comment here.

Photo by Stephen Brown.


  1. Fire him and mow the lawn yourself. It’s not complicated and is good exercise. While you are mowing, you can check out every bit of your landscape every week.

  2. As a professional landscape designer I know most landscapes must be designed for the least amount of caretaking knowledge.

    In the Atlanta metro area it means a hardworking, non-English speaker without knowledge of plants in this zone & paid hourly.

    Hydrangeas? Do they matter if the caretaker prunes off their buds before blooming? Same for gardenia, azalea, camellia & etc.

    It’s a dream when I know a landscape design will be properly maintained.

    BUT. I have clients in their 80’s. Widowed women. They want to maintain their garden but can’t. Knowing what to do in their landscape doesn’t matter when they cannot communicate properly with the caretakers they can afford in their landscape.

    The problem is pervasive enough I have a lecture title, Gardening For 80. Ironically, that type of landscape is sustainable, organic, low maintenance & a rain garden.

    Off topic, I’ve been to the David Austin nursery in England. GO. It’s stunning.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  3. I fired my lawn guy. It wasn’t weed whacking down my hostas for the millionth time that did it, but when they mowed over my rhododendron bush. I mean really. Who could mow a rhododendron? I admit it was only two feet high. But it was a bush and one near and dear to my heart since I had layered it years ago off one of my other rhododendrons and it was just taking off. I coddled the plant for years before it started to really grow. Sigh. I now have a Neuton which is quieter and better for the environment. And if the lawn doesn’t get mowed every week on schedule anymore, I’m fine with that. I consider it exercise and I listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on my iPod while I mow.

  4. Is your shrub rose plopped into the lawn instead of in a recognized, defined and mulched bed? If the rose is in a bed you can fire him or take him on a personal walking tour of the garden showing him quite specifically what to mow and what not to mow. If your rose is plopped into the lawn then you need to get busy and make it into a proper planting bed.

  5. What’s the point of this post? Unless you are disabled or elderly, if you want it done right either do it yourself or be prepared to hire an actual horticultural professional and pay alot more.

    In the meantime, I’d short pay the invoice for the damaged rose.

    There should be a rant on why so many Americans can’t just mow their own lawn like they did 20 years ago and instead pay someone else to do it and then complain it wasn’t done right. It’s not like we’re talking about heavy duty labor like moving trees or rocks here where you actually might need additional help.

  6. a post complaining about the help?

    what about your maid, your butler? how are they performing, up to your standards?


  7. You get what pay for.
    If your hired help ( note that I am not calling him a gardener) cannot identify one of the most common landscape plants then he is not a professional gardener nor even slightly skilled and experienced in the area of garden maintenance.

    You don’t have to declare war.
    You simply have to make better choices in who you hire to do your work for you.

  8. Did you guys miss it? The mower is her husband. This is meant to be humorous. If he is anything like my dear husband he probably goes into the mower zen zone. It is peaceful and isolated in the mower zone. No one can contact you. You are in charge. You can see that you actually completed a task. You can stand back and say looks good. Or it could be an evil spouse plot. You know, where you keep messing up a simple task until your spouse takes it over.

  9. Did I misunderstand that your husband was mowing? My husband felled a tree while I was out. I came back and it was lying across the lawn, across the garden. Crushed everything in its path, which was all replaceable except the Carole Mackie daphne. And she lived, although she has a case of scoliosis she’ll never recover come.

    I sat in the car a few minutes, then got out and walked around and around. Then I just laughed. What’s a woman to do?
    It’s just time and money.

    Although some other posters are being awfully crabby and critical, the point about placement and mulch is well taken. You might also insist he not inbibe any alcohol before mowing, no matter how hot it is. If his carelessness is due to lack of attention, unless you have two acres mow it yourself.

    No matter what anyone says, he mowed it down, not you and it wasn’t your fault. But it is just a plant, not your first born!


  10. I would fire the turkey and get someone else. That being said, I almost fired both husband and son who weed eatered my Clematis plants over and over. They just didn’t get it.
    And shame on you who look down your nose and say “mow it yourself”. There are dozens of reasons someone may not mow their own lawn, including work schedules, medical reasons, and maybe just choosing to use limited non work hours to be with family or children.

  11. I love all the comments! Even the crabby ones. I really would never refer to anyone as the help… There is a back story to this that (hindsight) I should have included in the post but thought it (the rant) would become unfocused….

    The guy who is mowing our yard is doing so only b/c
    1. He was trying to find a car for his teenage son (he mows lots of other peoples yards) and we were getting a new car and gave him our used one in exchange for mowing. We have no garage and no where to put our lawn mower. My husband was housing it at his parents house and getting it every weekend to mow our lawn.
    Just seemed like a good situation to trade services.

    Like Marie, it is now more of a funny story. Sorry if I conveyed it any differently than I truly meant it. But thanks for all the suggestions….

  12. I have a similar problem with my pest control guy. In the desert we have zillions of crickets bringing scorpions with them so we need pest control. I have gone to placing rebar in the ground at certain points to keep the hoses and other devices away from my house and plants. I am planning on using large pots at some point to help keep them at bay.

    By the way, in the desert the David Austin roses generally do well. Even in the scorching heat and UV rays it flowered off and on all summer.

  13. My husband mows the lawn, and it’s a manual one, so he can’t get into trouble with that. Even the weed-whacker he’s pretty tame with.

    But when I see him come around the corner with the saw or the hedge pruners… You can’t just ask someone to trim back your hedges, you have to be specific — my hedge looked like it was set to go into Army Basic Training with that haircut!

    And then my mother-in-law, who I put outside to stop her from cleaning my house (because I don’t do it well enough) — what she did to my hydrangeas should at least be a misdemeanor.

    This is why the vegetable garden has a gate around it, and only I’m allowed to do anything inside that gated area!

  14. I am a recent reader and a friend of this poster. I am appalled at the self righteous, judgmental and discourteous tone of some of the commenters.

    Here’s the thing – We all have a right to enjoy our gardens. Whether we can spend all day in it, or a few hours a week in it.

    No one should be made to feel guilty for using the hard earned money that they make to pay someone to provide them a service.
    And when anyone contracts someone to provide them that service, they have every right to expect that it will be done right. Why would anyone pay to get a half-assed job? We can get that for free!

    Now, my friend has a better sense of humor than I do ; and perhaps I am doubly appalled because I personally know that in trying to do a good thing and help someone out she got the shaft, not once, but TWICE! The second time, HERE on this blog that she enjoys to frequent and encouraged me to read.

    And for the record, the rosebush in question? There’s NO WAY the mower could have mistakenly mowed it over as many times as he has. NONE. I could see it from my house!

  15. buy several yards of the wire fencing (about 2′ high, usually green) available from any hardware store or bigbox garden center. Place it around the plant you ant to protect so that all of the branches are within the wire. Push the wire prongs all the way into the ground so that the bottome tier of horizontal wire is flush with the ground.
    Chances are that the dunce who would run over a shrub won’t see the wire barrier either. If he approaches too close to the plant with a string trimmer or mower, hilarity will ensue. And possibly also a trip to the emergency room.

    And yes, I have done this. It worked.

  16. I would so love to have someone at our place to cut the grass, but I trust no one enough to do it,(yet)!
    My garden is a weekend/retirement refuge from the city. I am building the “bones” of the garden now, hoping that they will be established once we are living there full time. Because of that, there are unprotected plants, right out in the open. No one is as careful as you are.
    The garden is 3/4 of an acre and takes me 3-4 hours to cut. And until, all my hedges, trees and shrubs are large enough to be noticed, or protected by some kind of edging, I will continue to cut it myself. Perhaps one day, my lawnprince will come. (A girl can dream, can’t she).

  17. I have always mowed my own lawn, As a result, I have always designed my lawn for ease of mowing; no acute angles, no mowing around shrubs plopped in the middle of it. I haven’t seen your lawn, so I’m only guessing, but maybe you should think about reshaping it.

  18. I’ll never understand it, but some people just don’t see plants underfoot. Two years ago we had the gutters replaced and the contractors stomped a yearling beauty bush into the ground and stuck their ladder in the middle of a Carefree Beauty rose — and these two plants were in the middle of a fenced garden in the front yard.

    This year’s insult is to two very large, old PeeGee hydrangeas on the southwest side of my house. We share a lawn strip with the neighbor on that side. Neighbor mows once a week with a reel mower — and every week, he MOWS OVER the drooping ends of the hydrangea and mows some of the flowerheads right off it.

    Um, neighbor? There’s only mulch under that shrub. NO GRASS.

    Apparently, some people are just oblivious to their surroundings.

  19. I baffled as to why you gave the mower a second chance to destroy your rose? I would not be nearly so nice about it. I would have fired him on the spot. I am of the opinion that a person that mows lawns for a living is obligated to know what should be mowed and what should not–and if there’s a question, ask before mowing!!

    And, if it really is your husband your talking about then I say take the mower away from him and hire a true lawn mower!! And maybe he needs to be taken back for a driving test just to make sure your neighbors are still safe!

    And…before your friend jumps down my throat I want to add that I’m saying this with a sense of humor.

  20. I would go buy a new David Austin rose to replace the one that was slaughtered, and then substract the cist of the new rose from the bill.

    At least you can replace your rose bush. I came home from a 3 week vacation to discover the girl next door, who I paid $80 to water my bonsai, did so haphazzardly. Some were watered, some were neglected to a summery burnt crisp. Out of 103 bonsai in training and in show quality standard, 33 died. My bonsai collection, with some trees I worked on for 10 years, had been devalued by nearly $4,000. My prize maple worth $600 is one that is still barely clinging to life, but is barely worth $25 in it’s present state.

  21. Good morning Tiffany it sounds like you were trying to do a good thing for a guy trying to get a car for his son…just a thought since it’s the boy who will be driving the car maybe he should be doing the mowing …if he’s old enough to drive he’s old enough to know the joys of grass mowing. He might as well learn now that “cars don’t grow on trees”..then you can be the one to properly train him as to how you like your lawn cut since the father seems to have a” I don’t care attitude about it.”..anyway good luck.

  22. I love these posts! I empathize with the writer trying to be funny. People are not always receptive to humor (or reason).

    I am training 3 boys to mow and trim, and the death toll is astounding…

  23. I don’t think the mower was her husband. I think the mower was someone that was tasked by the husband, who may or may not know a David Austin from an Austin Powers. There is a slight “Oh, the help one gets these days” tone and I am not terribly sympathetic since I gave up the gas mower for the holier-than-them push mower. Not only do the plants not get mowed, barely any grass either.

  24. I agree with the previous commentor who said that you should probably make the patch of lawn where your rose is growing into a proper bed with mulch and borders!

    David will thank you as will the non-pro dude who obviously can’t mow his way out of a potato sack.

    And YES, Jo Ann, the teenager should be earning his own cash! If you’re not hiring to a real professional and are just doing a good deed, have the teen do it. Probably more trainable.

    That said, good deeds like that can come back to bite you in more ways than you think.

    If some dude without insurance or a real business is mowing and using the string-trimmer, then who pays for it when the mower sends a pebble flying into the neighbor’s BMW, or worse, his eye? It isn’t going to be the guy who can’t afford to buy his son a used car!

    There are reasons people hire skilled/ insured professionals, and while the lawn care industry is full of no-hopers, there are always the shining stars who care about what they do and do a conscientious job.

    All you people howling that everyone should do their own work can bite me, too. Did you sew your own shirt you put on this morning or slaughter your own breakfast sausages?

    C’mon. Hiring skilled people to do work you are not efficient at, so you can do work that you either love or make a great profit from is just good common sense.

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