The big news is that I have been thinking about putting in a new rose bed for three years and finally took steps to make it happen! There are so many large roses I want to grow, but had no ground to plant so it was grass reduction time! As you can see by the grass in the photo, western Washington has a dry summer. The weather people are saying we have had no rain here for 36 days and counting. I water veggies and roses, not the grass. That is a common attitude of gardeners in my county. The rain will return in September and hang around for nine months, grass returns and needs mowing.
My action plan is to dig out the mature asparagus, now in the fern stage, then get four yards of good garden soil to mix with the existing very sandy, native soil. In early September, I expect to plant a few large roses currently in containers but most of the planting will be in March 2018.
This has been one late rose growing season in Western Washington. Last year my first bloom was April 20, 2016 and this year we are at least three weeks past that date and my garden is seeing a lot of very tight buds and blind shoots. I went out during a brief dry period to capture a few images to help you understand. Paul Zimmerman wrote the following for Fine Gardening magazine: A blind shoot is a stem that grows and grows but a flower never appears at the end of it. There are a few reasons why this happens. The most common one is a late frost in spring that kills the tiny rose buds before they can fully form. Other causes can be lack of nutrients, shortage of light and tiny midges.
In my garden It could have been late frost or shortage of light this spring. We have broken many records for excess rainfall/lack of sunshine. The rose variety in the photos is ‘Whirlaway’.
What is your tolerance for insect damage and fungal disease on roses?
It is a personal question and the answer can change depending on the uncontrollable factor of weather or the amount of time you have to devote to roses or your personal philosophy of what is the right way for you to garden.
I prefer to not use insecticides in my garden because I have fruit trees and mason bees that I nurture for pollination of my fruit. When aphids come to visit my roses, I often see ladybugs working on them, but I often get my hose with a medium spray nozzle and blast aphids with water for a few days in a row. The aphids fall to the ground and since they cannot fly, most do not return. If they are not removed, aphids continue to reproduce and damage roses.
If we have a hot dry June and July and I suspect spider mites will be active. Again, get the hose out with a spray nozzle. Spraying water and a slight rubbing of the leaves, especially on the undersides will deter the spider mites. So the word “spray” is not a bad word in my garden. I spray water, I spray liquid seaweed, I have been known to spray chelated iron and products approved for organic gardening.
Fungal diseases can do a lot of damage is a relatively short period of time. Once you see the damage, you cannot return the foliage to perfect again. As soon as a fungal disease shows, it is best to trim off (not tear off) the disease and do what you can to stop it from spreading. Some roses are resistant to fungal disease by hybridization. That is why you may see one or two roses badly defoliated (in a public garden for example) while others in the area stay clean.
The photos are examples of the continuum of possibilities for your rose garden. The amount of time you have to spend in the garden may change from year to year. Do not get discouraged if pests and disease appear. Contact a local Consulting Rosarian for help.
Roses will uptake maximum nutrients when the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5. This reading changes in different locations of the garden. Other factors that change pH include use of chemical fertilizer and when the pH is tested, before, during or after the rainy season. West of the Cascades, the native soil tends to be acidic. (East of the Cascades the soil is alkaline) My Kitsap garden beds have had readings on October 2, 2016 between ph 4.5, pH 5.0 and pH 6.2. I applied granulated lime according to directions on the bag after these readings. You may have heard that lime is a slow acting soil amendment. I waited three months, until late December, to find pH in all rose beds to be pH 6.3 and pH 6.6.
I did not think this chart would project very well in the Rainier Room and even if it were projected, it seems to me to be something to study to fully understand.
The excitement is building now that the holidays are behind us. The 2017 Northwest Flower and Garden Show will be here before we realize it. This is the traditional kick off to spring in Seattle. Speakers and vendors crowd the convention center for a jam packed five days of garden glory. I love the display gardens to get inspired for the growing season. This year I will be speaking about roses on Saturday to kick off the the bare root rose growing season. I am so excited I can hardly wait. My program is finished and gets tweeked every week.
Let me start this discussion by pointing out that some roses are protected by plant patents. David Austin roses and many Weeks modern varieties fall in this category. It is illegal to propagate roses with plant patents. The large rose producers need to protect their investments in roses with plant patents. That said, many old garden roses, polyanthas and miniature roses do not have plant patents. Do your research before propagating roses.
I am not into budding onto rootstock, but I have had modest success with starting hardwood cuttings in fall. I credit my success to the continual rain in the Pacific Northwest providing the outdoor moisture. My method is simple: hardwood cuttings, rooting hormone powder and small potting mix filled containers. Roots form within two months but the starts will not be potted up until next summer or fall.
Hardwood cuttings 10/9/16 (left) and hardwood cuttings fall 2015. (Right)
This gardening season I have been thinking about my rose growing hobby a lot. I like rose horticulture exhibiting, making arrangements and growing the miniature and miniflora roses and I am moderately successful, especially since the move from the short growing season in Minnesota to western Washington. To do really well, a person needs some type of florist frig or other not frost-free frig that will stay at 36* F to hold roses for a week or so before a show. It will keep a perfect bloom in that state for days until needed. All the really good rose exhibitors have a special frig. I do not have such a frig. The frig really only needs to be using electricity for a month or so in June then a month in Sept. to cover all the rose shows in the Pacific Northwest. So I have been wondering, do I want to get such a frig? Do I want to continue showing roses at this level? How many more years would I really want to be showing roses? Would it be worth the effort? What do I really get out of all this? Heaven knows I don’t need more trophies and stuff. I like the recognition and thrill of getting on the head table. I only need one up there for it to be a success. I like being with rose people and judging. Judging is where the real action is, IMHO. So I am conflicted. I like my humble shrub roses with their full fluffy variety of colors. They are not show roses for the most part. Dr. Buck and David Austin are well represented in my rose collection. I am also trying a few of the Kordes varieties this year because of their reputation for disease resistance. So where does this bring me? I will probably continue life without a frig, but I would take one if it magically appeared.
Top row L to R:Honey Perfume, April Moon, Joy a miniature show rose on its second flush, Lena, a cute shrub born in Minnesota.
Bottom: Serendipity and Aunt Honey by Griffin Buck.
Competition roses in the Pacific Northwest are amazing! I recently returned from Vancouver, WA where I participated in the American Rose Society, Pacific Northwest District rose show. There were two main categories of competition: Horticulture and Arrangements. In horticulture, the hybrid tea rose is always the top winner and is awarded Queen, King, Princess. (I like that Queen is the best 😀) My favorite competition has always been making arrangements according to the guidelines of the American Rose Society. I still get a kick out of growing the roses and doing something pretty with them. Being recognized by my peers for good work is great too. It was a satisfying rose show for me.
I won the PNW trophy for my Oriental free style, naturalistic design using two containers. The roses are the David Austin variety ‘Graham Thomas’.
copyright Elena Williams
I was awarded a blue ribbon for a miniature mass design (10 inches). The roses are ‘Jeanne Lajoie’. I made several other designs winning blue and red ribbons.
Six years ago, Orion Roses in Minnesota had a going out business sale and I purchased several roses thinking this one was ‘Celestial’. It is not pink or ‘Celestial’ but since they business is gone, I have no idea what the identity of the rose is. It is quite large, drops it’s petals cleanly and forms oval hips and fills a space but I wanted a re-blooming rose in this location. Do you recognize this rose?