On Friday, I had looked at the Lady Banks rose in the back yard because it is generally a very early bloomer, generally a week or so ahead of anything else. It did have one maybe two small clusters of blooms open but I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see many more blooms at all coming on it. The bush looks like it has good growth with lots of green; I just didn’t see many bloom buds at all. Maybe that has to do with the cold winter and rather rapid transition to spring in the last couple of weeks or maybe I need to give it more phosphorus.
Back to the Cherokee Rose… As I have mentioned before, this bush was grown from a cutting I took from the bush at my former in-laws house in Ocean Springs, MS, after the house was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina in 2o05. It wasn’t until two years ago that it bloomed. Looking back at the post about it first blooming, I chuckled when I noticed that post was almost exactly two years ago (April 17, 2013). I guess I will have to mark my calendar: the Cherokee Rose blooms mid April.
Work in the Garden
So this was a garden work weekend. I have a specific list of tasks that I wanted to accomplish and, I pretty much succeeded in completing that list:
- Getting the Soil Tested: One of the things that I realized I have never had done is have the soil tested (“Bad Consulting Rosarian! no biscuit.”) . All plants need the major nutrients of nitrogen (N), phosphorus, and potassium (K), as well as minor nutrients like magnesium, iron, and sulfur plus it is well documented that things like the pH of the soil can make a big difference in nutrient uptake in plants. I never got around to getting it tested and the NC Dept of Agriculture will do it FOR FREE for sample collected in NC.(at least, between the months of April and October; they recently instituted a new rule that if you submit your samples between November and March, it costs $4/sample). This NC Dept of Ag soil testing service is really for farmers who produce crops, but anyone in NC can ask for this service. I decided that I wanted each rose bed to be tested separately; so , following the instructions from the Dept of Ag, for each bed, I collected samples from different parts of that rose bed and mixed them together in a clean bucket. The samples were all taken from about 4″ below the surface level. So now I have 6 buckets of soil that represent an “average” soil from each bed. I was surprised by the differences in the soil between the beds. The OGR bed was the wettest.Using the cardboard sample containers the Dept of Ag provides, I need to fill each sample box up to a provided line, close it, and pack it in a box with the other filled sample boxes, and ship the samples,( among with a filled out form) to the Dept of Ag Lab, and in a couple of weeks, I should get my reports back
- Dig out and pot any roses remaining in the jungle bed. As I have mentioned before, one of the beds is severely overrun by weeds. A couple of years ago, I dug up a bunch of rose bushes and put them in pots to preserve them…. but that only really works if you then do stuff like water the bushes in the pots. Well, it was winter at the time and I had already coiled up the watering hoses and turned off the water supply. I did not pay attention to the pots and most of the potted bushes died. [sigh] Well, over the last couple of years,there were still some vestiges of the roses still growing in the bed (all of them Rosa Mundi) so I decided to try again and dig up and put the salvaged roses in pots. I ended up with sets of bushes in 6 pots. This time, however, I took the next step and set up the hoses so that the pots stay watered.
- Setting up the water timer and the hoses to the beds. In years past, I would forget to disconnect the water timer from faucet and drain the hoses that run from the timer to the different rose beds. While I WOULD turn off the water, what would often end up happening would be that the remaining water in the timer and the different hose connectors would freeze and I would have to replace that connector or the whole water timer. [sigh] This year I remember to tidy everything up before the deep cold hit.
Now that the weather is getting warm, it was time to lay out the hoses again. I did find that some of the fittings did need to be replaced but generally fewer that in years past. Of course, getting the hoses connected was a critical pre-req to the previous step of providing irrigation to the salvaged roses in pots.
- Miracle-gro on previously potted bushes. Now that the weather is warm and everything is starting to grow, I took the time to mix up some Miracle-gro rose food and put it on the cuttings of the Cherokee rose that I did last fall and over-wintered as well as the other small potted roses (two Knockout, a Rosa Mundi, a start that I got two years ago from the yard of my aunt and uncle in Madison, WI, and a couple of minis from the grocery store that I have managed to keep going.) Giving them a good feed at this point should help them get a good start for the year.
- Weeding, Pruning, and Cleaning up. Once I had the water stuff set up, I returned to the perpetual task of weeding and pruning. I also found that I had not actually cleaned up all the stuff I pruned last week so I also had to clean up that as well. Can I just say that it does pay to be thorough when cleaning up rose clippings. Kneeling or putting your hand down on forgotten rose stems can be a painful experience. All in all, the OGR and Souvenir de la Malmaison beds are weeded and the bushes pruned (though the Fairy bush that’s stuck in there may need some additional work). The bed by the fence also looks pretty good from a weed point of view though the Old Blush and Madame Berkeley still need some pruning. I did also take a crack at pruning the White Pet and The Fairy bushes but they are going to need more work, preferably with long sleeves on. That also leave the bed with the big patch of irises along with the Flower Carpet that rooted through the bottom of it’s pot, that still needs attention. I am planning on moving the irises to the tree area and that’s a project in its own right… maybe that’s another thing I can have someone else actually do. This bed also has the Autumn Damask that I got last year. Hmmm… I should take a closer look at that bush to see if it has any blooms coming.
Pics of the New Rose Bushes
It struck me that I forgot to post the pictures of the new bushes I got two weeks ago:
In the picture on the left, going from left to right, the bushes are: Two Apothecary Roses, Cabbage Rose, and Great Maidens Blush. The photo on the right are the modern roses I also got (again from left to right): Royal Dane and Bright Fire.
Ok, done for now….