Battle of the Roses – Part 1

Sunday, Mar. 02, 2008 – 10:23 p.m.

2008-03-02 10:23

So in case you haven’t figured it out, having a girlfriend, particularly one that lives 5 hours away, tends to take time away from tending the roses (and writing this blog). Oh, I score points big time when I bring roses from my garden to her. In fact, I have now spoiled her… I will never be able to get florist roses for her. [sigh] I really didn’t do much in the rose garden other than pick roses since my last entry. I think I sprayed a couple of times in the fall. I did do a lime-sulphur dormant spray the first weekend of January but only once. Oh well.

The Drought

We have been experiencing an exceptional drought for the past 6 months or so. At this point, we are in stage 2 water restrictions which means that, technically, I am not allowed to do any watering of landscape stuff (even by hand, I think). Since I have unhooked the hoses for the winter, this is not that much of a problem but if the weather continues to be as mild as it has been, the roses will start to suffer if we don’t have consistent rain.

Rose Rescue from Walmart

I have had three of the mini bushes (those I took to Pennsic) in the house for the winter and two of them actually started blooming recently. I actually was able to take Sophie roses from my garden for Valentine’s Day! I didn’t actually plan that but since they were blooming… [grin]

On to the rose rescue…. So there I was at the Super Walmart at 11:30pm on Feb 14. I needed a toggle bolt to re-attach a counter unit to the wall because the screw that HAD been holding it to the walk had come out of the drywall… and it needed to be done THEN because I was having a new range delivered the next day. So there I was at Walmart, heading for the hardware section… which took me by the gardening section where I noticed a bunch of miniature roses on the half-price shelf. A couple of them looked pretty nice, including a nice pink that is more in the range of a miniflora (and maybe even floribunda size) rather than a true mini. I got two plants that were on the verge of croaking do to lack of water. When I got them home, I soaked them in the sink and pruned off the dried leaves. Both appear to be doing well now though one of them seems to have powdery mildew, which I need to treat.

Saturday was pruning day

Ok, so it’s the first weekend in March and this is the only weekend I really have to do pruning until the end of March… and that will probably be too late. Thing have been pretty mild this winter so stuff is budding and starting to grow. Oh, and I did check and I do have ONE bloom on my forsythia (my signal that it is pruning time). This year, I am going to work on getting some of bushes that have gotten a bit … wild in their growth… under control. I did the roses along the fence to start and that meant that the Old Blush was the first target for the “You WILL go only where I say…” program. I got it where is doesn’t go in the path any more (so I will now be able to mow without having to either dodge and contort to avoid the reaching canes or move them out of the way.) The Madame Berkeley is doing quite will but kind of growing into the Queen Elizabeth so Madame Berkeley also got trimmed back. Next I went on to the bed with the two The Fairy bushes and I spent most of the rest of my pruning working on and around them.

I need better armor

Doing battle against The Fairy bushes (and the White Pet) made me realize that I had done a good job to prepare… I was wearing an old sweatshirt, hat, heavy leather gloves, and new pruning sleeves. The sleeves work great! In the past, I have had lots of scratches on my forearms but not this year! and they work much better than “gauntlet gloves” which don’t form-fit to my arms the way these pruning sleeves do, so the edges of the gauntlet gloves catch on more things. In addition, I don’t really think I have small hands but even size medium mens gloves are generally too big for me. Just try to find “small” mens gloves! For some reason, stores don’t stock them (or they only stock a few and sell out quickly…. you would think that in this day of computerization of inventory, Home Depot would notice such a thing and stock more… so I guess they (the stores) just don’t stock them… so we are forced to buy gloves that are too big for us…) Ok, got off on a rant there… I am back.

Even with the improved glove configuration, I still ended up feeling like I needed more protection. I was continually getting my hat and upper arm/back/chest caught on the bushes. In addition, I should use something on my knees that is thorn-proof. There were several times that I managed to kneel on old canes sitting in the grass and that was no fun.

Sunday’s work

The weather this weekend was just about perfect for pruning roses and working in the yard. Sunny with a high in the upper 50s to low 60s. Cool enough that wearing a sweatshirt with a long sleeve shirt under was just the right amount but warm enough that one didn’t need anything else. Other than the fact that I had to spend my morning working on the computer for work, you could not have asked for a better day. Anyway, I got started about 1pm and work until about 4pm. I continued to work on the bed with the Madame Hardy and Rosa mundi in it. It had gotten overrun with wiregrass (at least that’s what I call it) over the summer/fall. It dies back in the winter (but the runners are still there so it will be back with a vengeance come spring. So I had to pull a bunch of that out from around the Rembrandt, Rosa mundi, French Lace, and Glowing Peace. I had pruned back the French Lace and Glowing Peace yesterday but had not cleared out a lot of the weeds and stuff. One of the things is that the Rosa mundi has spread throughout most of the bed and has been crowding the French Lace and Glowing Peace (it has so overwhelmed the Dolly Parton bush that I think that rose is pretty much shot). So I got the new shovel I got at auction at the winter district meeting (Did I mention that I went to the Winter meeting of the Carolina District of the ARS in Charleston SC the last weekend of January?) and dug up the different bunches of Rosa mundi that had cropped up around things. In a number of cases, the clumps had sufficient roots that I was able to pot them. I ended up with about a dozen pots of Rosa mundi (which I will probably plant at the Steel Creek property this summer). I also spread organic fertilizer and some 13-13-13 inorganic throughout the entire bed and put down 6.5 bags of pine bark (all I had but sufficient for the bed.) So, for future reference… The rose beds take btw 6 and 7 bags of pine bark mulch. Good thing to know… I also put fertilizer down in the bed with the Iceberg/The Fairy/White Pet/King of Hearts/Perfect Moment/Artistry but need to get mulch to do that bed this week (that’s something that I could do in the morning one day this week… assuming I remember to go get another load of bags of mulch.) I also need to fertilize the bed by the fence… and remulch it. [sigh]

I also found that I need to replace one of the landscape timbers in the bed with the Rosa mundi. Several of the top timbers in several beds are needing replacement but this one has completely rotted away. I cleaned that up, dug up more Rosa mundi (part of the dozen pots) and dug up the grass that had grown up in one of the seams where this timber had rotted away. That needed to be done a while ago! Looks a lot better now.

Since I had pretty much filled up the trash cans yesterday and even had a pile of big long canes I just threw in a pile in the back of the truck (I figured if I was going to run the trash cans over to the city recycling center, where they also take yard trash, I didn’t need to chop everything up.), it was going to be difficult to do much more hard pruning. Still I managed to also fill up most of one of those brown paper yard waste bags with what came out of the Rosa mundi bed (dead grass, weeds, dead/broken Rosa mundi canes, other prunings that I noticed along the way). Still, since I was running over to the recycling center with a load of yard waste, I would take some other big stuff. In particular, the OGR bed has a couple of cases of bushes that have got “hog wild” and need to be cut back significantly. In particular, the two noisette roses (Alistair Stella Gray and Crepuscule… particularly the latter) had grown … quite well. They are actually on (and overflowing) the metal obelisk-shaped trellises. For the Alistair Stella Gray, there was one low cane that I was always having to dodge when mowing. As for the Crepuscule, it was trying to “merge” with the Climbing Souvenir de Malmaison in the center bed; basically you could no longer walk between the two bushes. Unacceptable! So, the offending canes (pretty big ones) had to go… I still need to address the S. de Malmaison and do some additional work on Crepuscule but at least you can now walk between the beds without risking getting permanently entangled. On a sad note, I found that the Eugene de Beauharnais and the Austrian Copper bushes had died. [big frown] The Austrian Copper was one of my period bushes and I had actually found it at Walmart. Guess I need go to Walmart and look for a replacement. The Eugene de B. was just in a bad place; it never did grow well because it got overshadowed by the bushes around it. Oh well. I thought that was a nice rose. Oh, I also checked/pruned the bushes in the woods area (Nur Mahal, Rosa alba semiplena, NOT-Nur Mahal). They actually seem to be doing ok… not much die back this winter. I do need to put fertilizer on these bushes as well.

State of the Garden

Ok, so given all the work I put in this weekend, here is how the garden is shaping up:

  • Peace is not looking too good, probably because it is overshadowed by the Old Blush.
  • King of Hearts, Artistry, Dolly Parton, and the ordinal Double Delight are all looking like they may not make it through the season.
  • Eugene de Beauharnais was planted in the bed with most of the other OGRs and had gotten overshadowed by Cardinal Richelieu (gallica) and Celsiana (damask). This year I was finally going to move it elsewhere. Too late. It bit the dust over the winter. [sigh]
  • As I mentioned before, Austrian Copper is dead.
  • Sombreuil cutting may not make it. I knew I should have put it in the ground last summer. I almost did but I broke my shovel trying to dig up the old Lady Banks rose (the one that didn’t make it after the transplant).
  • Old Blush and Madame Berkeley may need some additional work from the “inside the yard” side of the fence. I might need to think about putting up something like a trellis that Old Blush can go up and over so it’s up a little higher.
  • I still need to do some additional pruning on the 2 The Fairy bushes. I cleaned them up from underneath but I am thinking I should get out the electric hedge pruners and have a go at them.
  • Iceberg still needs some thinning out. It did pretty well getting up above its neighbors last year so I think I did a pretty good prune job last year.
  • Europeana is another one that looks like it might need to be replaced at some point in the next couple of years.
  • One thought: I should just dig up all the Rosa Mundi in the bed, get a bunch of manure and other soil supplement and completely redo the area between the Madame Hardy and Rembrandt. In truth, I don’t think the soil that got put in there was all that good. The French Lace and Glowing Peace are ok to leave alone but I think Dolly Parton would just go. It has never done well and probably should just get shovel pruned.
  • Still have two large beds and the center diamond bed to do. The center is both easy and hard. The Climbing S. de Malmaison is there and it is another bush that needs a lesson in manners. Still it is going pretty well and doesn’t have much weed underneath. Again, the soil also probably needs a fair amount of supplement. I did plant the Jude the Obscure at one end and it seems to be doing ok and I will just leave it to get established. At the other end are several roses that are in pot (though the pots are actually in the ground). Small pots. These are the Rosa moschata plants. They need to be ELSEWHERE. They may get big so they need to go someplace where they have room to grow. What a quandary. There is another pot under there but I am not sure exactly what it is… maybe Champneys’ Pink Cluster. I did have one of those at one time.
  • The ORG bed…. there are still some control issues that need to be addressed and of course, I need to go in and cut out the deadwood… and fertilize and put down mulch.
  • Voodoo and Francis Dubreuil are both not looking that great. They may need to be replaced. At the very least, I may need to repot the Francis Dubreuil, just to get rid of the weeds infesting it. There is also a Flower Carpet rose that needs to go elsewhere… hmmmm.. maybe to Muir’s. Voodoo is one I really like but it was a box rose and I didn’t know enough at the time to NOT plant it in the box. Oh, I am pretty sure the box is long gone but it never did get that great of a start so maybe it should just be replace with a new one.
  • The Irises… [sigh] need to thin both bunches of irises. The bearded iris is so bound up in that end of the bed, it is crowding the Suffolk bush. The Siberian iris need their last year’s growth removed and they also need to be thinned. Maybe I should just dig them ALL up, divide them, and replant a smaller bunch.
  • The Lady Banks rose, rescued from S. Edisto and planted by the “barn”, is doing well. Needs to be fed and I have a trellis to train it up… if I would just get it set up.
  • The Ocean Springs Cherokee Rose is doing ok in its pot sitting in the herb bed but it does need to get in the ground… before it suffers the same kind of fate as the Sombreuil cutting.
  • As I mentioned before, I have several minis inside for the winter. Because the weather has been so nice the last two days, I put them out to get full sun. Today, I actually set them ascending up the back steps by the kitchen door. That was quite attractive and I may do that permanently once the weather is nice. I would definitely need to remember to water them if I did so, however.

Pruning of Muir’s Roses

One of my tasks this weekend has been to dog-sit Emerson while Muir is in Germany visiting her sister. He must have thought I was really boring with all my time in the yard but not playing with him. Anyway, I took the opportunity to come up and prune Muir’s roses. I would have had even fewer opportunities to do her’s than mine! At least with mine, I could go out and do a little bit each morning before work.

[Sigh] Muir’s roses took a hard hit over the past year. They didn’t get sprayed more than once or twice last year and, I think, didn’t really get watered either. I had to prune all the bushes pretty hard and at least one of them (Alex’s Red) didn’t make it through the winter. At least 5 of them (Voodoo, Victorian Spice, Perfume Magic, Betty Boop, and Rio Samba) look marginal and may need to be replaced. Some of the others, like Bobo and Jema, were pruned really hard and may not actually survive the summer. Actually, the Double Delight may be the best looking of the bushes. In any case, I think more disease resistant varieties need to be investigated… may be some Knockout or the like are needed. In addition, if/when new bushes are planted, they need to be farther from the gi-normous lavender bushes. The lavender bushes ALSO need to be pruned back. This may be another place where the easiest tool to use would be the electric hedge trimmer.

Ok, that is definitely ENOUGH FOR NOW. [Post it and move on!]

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