By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Mother’s Day is just three weeks away and almost all mothers love flowers, especially roses. Watters has stocked up with hundreds upon hundreds of roses in preparation for Mother’s Day, and the choices can be overwhelming. To help uncomplicate the issue, I just posted on my blog an explanation of the four major rose types. Look in on it for more on the different types of roses.
Smokin’ Hot Tea Rose is a new rose that has me really excited this spring. This rose is the proof of the old adage ‘there’s no smoke without fire’. You clearly can see the smoky purple overlay on the fiery orange petals of Smokin’ Hot. Quite unique! Bring the fire indoors with an attractive bouquet of these novel flowers produced singly on long stems. The plant is a bouquet factory producing flowers that will look gorgeous on a table or fireplace mantel. Hundreds of new roses have landed at the garden center, but make sure to take a closer look at this hot new rose. $36 for a gift size bush ~ perfect for Mother’s Day.
There are 4 magic ‘ingredients’ for developing a thriving rose garden filled with happy roses.
#1 Soil – Roses prefer a soil pH ranging from 6.5 to 6.8. When improving the soil it is important to incorporate the appropriate soil amendments. It is essential to use ‘Soil Sulfur’ every spring and Watters acidifying ‘All Purpose Plant Food‘ 7-4-4 every other month during the growing season. As roses need soils with good drainage, incorporating Watters ‘Premium Mulch’ into the planting holes guarantees the best garden drainage as well as better blooms.
#2 Irrigation – Water requirements vary depending on the season and its conditions. For a good start deeply water rose bushes twice weekly. Monitor the health and vigor of your plants and adjust irrigation as conditions change. Roses need to breath between water cycles, so it is best to err on the dry side rather than keeping roses soaking wet. Older roses appreciate deep, once per week watering during the growing season. Add them to the irrigation system that takes care of your trees and they will be really happy. Morning water is best. Avoid late evening irrigation, which could foster powdery mildew.
#3 Spacing –Roses need to “breathe”, so don’t plant them too closely together. Grouping roses without sufficient space between them may foster powdery mildew. Follow spacing requirements for each particular variety when planting rosebushes. Planning to plant them with four-foot spacings is a good rule of thumb.
#4 Sun – Give your roses at least six hours of sunlight each day. If possible, let the morning provide the bulk of those six hours, since the afternoon sun can cause flowers to fade more quickly than the morning’s cooler exposure.
Twins have a way of feeding off each other that creates mischief and excitement, and I’m recalling an incident that was a day for our family memory book. At age two, while we weren’t looking, our twin daughters took their mother’s “good” scissors. With baskets in their little hands they proceeded to systematically cut off every flower in the family gardens, including the low-lying roses. When they were finished nothing but green remained on those flower bushes!
With great pride they presented baskets full of flowers to their mother. As the family flower grower, at first I was horrified but soon gathered my thoughts: that’s what flowers are for, to bring pleasure. Right? Also, one of the heights of parenthood is to instill in one’s children that sense of wonder found in a garden, and an appreciation of beauty, fragrance, and color. Right? So I simply poured plant food onto the flowerbeds and within two weeks they were in full bloom and ready for picking again. The twins probably don’t remember, but their mother and I certainly do.
As a grandfather, my goal is to instill in my grandchildren this same sense of wonder and joy to be discovered in a garden. We must be influencing our first grandchild in the right direction. My grandson’s nickname is ‘Garden Guy Junior’, and we have a lot of fun together picking flowers, vegetables, and fruits. It’s comforting to know that a loving tradition is moving on to our next generation.
Until next week, I’ll see you at Watters Garden Center.