Q: The roses that I cut back nearly to the ground last fall were busily sprouting new leaves earlier this spring. The roses that I left standing 3 or 4 feet high looked dead. Did I screw up?

ó K.F., Akron

A: No, you didnít. Rose canes left standing are often damaged by our winter weather, and this year was especially bad. But even roses that appear to be dead may have survived.

You want to remove all the dead growth, even if you need to cut the rose all the way back to the ground. But donít assume canes are dead just because theyíre brown, gray or even black, said Peter Schneider, a noted rose collector from Portage Countyís Freedom Township. Whatís important is the pith inside the cane, he said. If itís creamy white, the cane is healthy.

Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to mbrecken@thebeaconjournal.com. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.