Thursday, March 16, 2017

Care of Roses

March is an excellent time, weather permitting, to clean rose beds of leaves and debris from the previous winter. Spores of the three most common molds that prey on the rose in Colorado, powdery mildew, black spot and rust, overwinter on dead leaves. 

Middle to late April, after the last frost, is considered the best time to prune and first feed roses.  There are people who do prune in autumn. Roses that bloom once a season are pruned after they have bloomed – some as late as the end of June. Tall roses threatened by wind and snowfall would benefit from pruning anytime to protect them from exposure.  With our unseasonably warm weather, many of us are seeing a great deal of new foliage emerging on canes suggesting that early pruning might be in order.  Common sense is the rose gardener’s best guide.

The process of pruning is very straightforward.  All dead and diseased canes should be removed initially.  Where disease is prevalent and before moving to a healthy rose or other plant in the garden, clippers and hands should be washed with hot water and soap, and then rinsed with rubbing alcohol.  Gloves should be changed.

Roses like air and light.  The gardener is wise to leave plenty of space between the rose and surrounding plants when pruning.  Opening up the center of the rose also allows for good air flow and light.

The preferred shape of the rose, its size and the number of roses or other plants in any given garden all will determine how much pruning a rose will need from season to season.  A rule of thumb is that no more than a third of a healthy cane should be pruned away in most cases.  A diagonal cut is made just above an outfacing eye bud (about a ¼ inch) located below an emergence of healthy new growth.  A drop of water soluble Elmer’s Glue applied to the freshly cut cane will protect it from carpenter bees and other boring insects.  When the rose has died back to the ground the cane should be cut back to the available new growth accordingly. 

There is no mystery to growing lovely roses.  They require pruning once a season; feeding every 4-6 weeks before August 15th; deadheading as needed to keep blooming; and proper watering.  Depending upon soil structure and weather, an inch per week during growing season is standard. As with any other shrub or plant, check soil moisture before watering. Roses don’t like wet feet.

The roses featured here are, in order of appearance:  Just Joey, hybrid tea; Scentimental, floribunda; Vavoom, floribunda; the Crimson Fairy Rose, ground cover; Neptune, hybrid tea; Remember Me, hybrid tea.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


I am watering today. I am afraid Spring is here. Its early, too warm and Goddess help us if a heavy snow and/or serious freeze occurs. Early tulips are coming on strong. Crocus and the dwarf iris are opening quickly. These latter two enjoy the cold, and often bloom in snow. Still in all, the season is early. If this is the course of this year, the onset of summer and its heat could be rapid and unprecedented.
It is time to put aside everything save the care of the Earth. The gardening occupations to which I am committed throughout the season promise to be busy and richly rewarding this year. The Colorado Master Gardeners, the Shakespeare Gardens and my own many roses and perennials will take up a great deal of my time.
It is about beauty after all. In that spirit, as I step out into an early - in more ways then one - Spring afternoon while sensing the Summer approaching in the gentle breeze, may I present the elegant and graceful Delphinium. This is the Court Series; King Arthur (royal purple), Sir Galahad (white) and Queen Guinevere (lavender). There is a fourth, Sir Lancelot who is bright red, and sadly not in my garden.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Black Jade

This is Black Jade a lovely, miniature rose that is very hardy and remarkably disease resistant - as miniature roses tend to be in my experience. Her small perfectly formed blooms are black-red and velvety. Mildly scented, she is a repeat bloomer with glossy dark green leaves on a medium size and bushy plant.