This is Winter?

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2005 – 10:29 p.m.

2005-01-12 10:29

Ok, it has been a LONG time since I wrote. While things have been busy, they really haven’t been THAT busy so … Mea Culpa. (I somehow feel like I going to confessional… “Forgive me diary; it has been 70 days since my last posting…”) On to the Roses!

Since my last writing, I have done a number of things with the roses but much of it does run together in the mind (it HAS been since the first week of November) …

  • The weather has generally been VERY mild this fall. I think we have had about three cold snaps or so and the rest has been above normal temps. It was 70 degrees today. Therefore, I did not do my early winter pruning. With as warm as it has been, I figure that if I pruned back to the 36-48 inches as would ordinarily do about christmas time, it would stimulate growth and then when it got really cold, I would have LOTS of die-back. At this point, I will probably do all my pruning in the spring, when the forsythia bloom.
  • I did get in two spraying of Lime-Sulfur spray this winter. The first was in mid december and the second was on the 3rd of January (about three weeks apart). Hopefully that will help cut down on the black spot this coming year.
  • We did get some cold weather right before Christmas. The lows were in the mid-teens and there was at least one day when the temp didn’t get above freezing all day. With so many bushes in above ground pots, I was afraid that these bushes would be particularly prone to cold damage. I made sure that everything was well watered (a hydrated bush is better able to withstand the cold… and damp soil is likely to remain “warmer” than dry soil… it one of those physics things or is it chemistry… heat of fusion and all that… it takes about 80 calories/g of water to convert it from solid to liquid (both at 0 C) so it would take “removing” the same amount of heat to freeze the water. Until that amount has been removed, it is not really possible for the soil to go below 0 degrees C. Therefore, the more water in the soil, the more “cold” must be applied before it freezes… and therefore it will say “warmer” or should I say, won’t get as cold….This is also why the citrus growers in florida spray their trees with water (thus coating the trees with ice) when it supposed to get below freezing…. That and it reduces the damage from dehydration in the cold…) But enough physics lessons and back to the roses! So before the first hard freeze, I put pine straw around above-ground pots to protect them. I bought 8 bales of pine straw and used 5 of them. The rest I will use later in the winter and in the spring when I replace the mulch. Oh, and I did a bunch of weeding in the process.
  • One of the things I realized as I was looking at the garden this fall was I had gotten to the point that I didn’t remember the names of all the bushes. Some of the bushes that I got from Astor Perry’s yard for Muir’s yard were not what they were labeled but there also was the fact that some of the labels were not that readable in the first place or had gotten buried under the mulch. Anyway, before I applied the mulch, I took about 90 minutes and drew a map of the garden noting the names of the roses I was able to identify. Turns out that was most of them. In a similar vein, the roses I got at Roses Unlimited last spring and buried the pots in the ground were hard to identify without digging down around the base to read the tag. So, now I have a nice hand drawn map with things noted. Next step is to print labels and put out real readable labels (I did learn that Sharpie is not light stable and fades completely in sunlight. I ordered a bunch of new labels from this fall so I can make good labels.
  • I orders some stuff from… I got a gallon of Indicate 5 which you add to your spray water to buffer the solution to the optimal pH for the application of chemicals, It also serves as a wetting agent, reducing the surface tension of the water so that it spreads out and doesn’t bead-up on the leaves. In addition to the marker tags mentioned above, I decided to try a product called Vita-Grow Anti-Wilt. You apply spray it on cuttings to prevent them from drying out. This may allow me to do cuttings without having to put the cuttings in bags or cover them with bottles, or other measure to simulate a high-humidity greenhouse. Last items I order were a pair of Wonderlite bulbs (see below for why…)

An Experiment in Forcing Roses

I signed up to teach my rose classes at Winter University and I am planning re-assemble my poster for a display at Kingdom A&S Festival in March. Turns out that the spray adhesive started failing on the poster so now I need to reapply it (actually I bought a brandnew can) so the pages don’t fall off. However, what would be REALLY great would be to have some roses BLOOMING to show. this led me to the idea of trying to force some period roses. I have some Rosa Mundi in pots so I would just need to bring them in the house. Even if all I get is leaves, it will be better than the bare sticks that one would ordinarily have at the begining of March. I don’t think I can get results in time for Winter University and I need to get started with it. So! I got two growlights and I will bring two pots with Rosa Mundi as well as another gallica like Tuscany and maybe the Alba semiplena or the Autumn Damask. I really don’t have any small HT or the like in pots so it might be hard to get something to compare against but then, I could just go buy some cut roses if I want to do that comparison. Anyway, I am going to set up the lights in the kitchen by the window and see about putting them on timers so that they are on from 5am-9am then 4pm-9pm. I may want to just run them from 5am to 9pm. I think that the house should be warm enough so I will not really need to add additional heat, partiularly since I will be adding the heat from the two 160 watt bulbs to the room. Water, on the other hand, may be the big thing. I need to make sure the plants stay sufficiently hydrated. I need to check some of my books to see if they have any suggetions. I do remember seeing a book (that I don’t have) about growing roses under glass so I will need to see if I can find a copy of that. Anyway, it should be interesting.

At the same time I am trying to force roses, I may try a hand at doing some cuttings. This is why I got the anti-wilt stuff.

Anyway, this has gotten long enough.. I will try not to leave it so long between entries in the future.

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