Pine Straw as Mulch in Your Garden

pine straw 2

I was reading an old issue of Horticulture magazine and came across a question, “Will applying pine straw to my landscape beds acidify the soil?”

Here is what the article says: “According to a study of mulches in the Journal of Arboriculture, using pine straw can indeed lower the pH of soil. Florida researchers found that a 3.5-inch layer of pine needles decomposed more rapidly than any of the bark and wood chip mulches tested, reducing in depth by half in a single year, and, in the process, lowering the underlying soil pH from 5 to 4.4. Pine needles makes an excellent mulch for acid loving rhododendrons, camellias, and blueberries. When used as a mulch for other plants, a scattering of ground limestone should offset any pH drop. To be sure that the pH of the soil in your garden beds remains at the optimal level, have your soil tested every few years by your local cooperative extension service or other professional testing laboratory.”

I wonder if this was the reason why my neighbor’s roses which I planted fare poorly than the one I have in my yard. Hers was mulched with pine straw by the HOA and mine is with black cedar mulch paid by me. I take care of both beds and they both received the same amount of care except for the mulch. My side looks much better than my neighbor and I could not figure out why. So this must be the reason why.

Until Next time. Stop and Smell the Roses.

Rosalinda R Morgan

Author & Garden Writer

Proven Products for Rose Gardeners

Veterans' Honor 2

If you are looking for some great products for rose gardeners, here are some that have undergone extensive testing by ARS members and found to be of high quality:

 

  • Bayer Advanced All-in-One Rose and Flower care
  • Garden Safe Brand Rose and Flower Insect Killer
  • Mills Easy Feed 20-10-6
  • Mills Magic Rose Mix
  • Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Roses
  • Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food

 

Other products that I have used and recommend highly:

 

Until Next time. Stop and Smell the Roses

Rosalinda R Morgan

Author & Garden Writer

The Hildesheim Rose

Hildesheim Rose

I heard it all the time that the rose is difficult to grow and yet the Hildesheim Rose is estimated at approximately 1,000 years old. It is said to be the oldest rosebush in the world.  It is the one climbing the wall of the apse of the Cathedral of Hildesheim in their courtyard at Hildesheim, Germany. It is a symbol of the city of Hildesheim and its prosperity. According to the legend, as long as the rose keeps blooming, Hildesheim will not decline. During World War II in 1945 allied bombers destroyed the cathedral yet the rose not only survived the bomb attacks but it grew new shoots just a few weeks later and soon was growing strong as ever.   It has withstood war, drought, pestilence and poison gas to bloom serenely every summer against the Cathedral wall.

There are several mythical explanations of the origin of this rose.  The most appealing story is that of Emperor Louis who became separated from his men while out hunting for deer.  Night was falling and the snow was blowing fiercely about him as he hung his crucifix on a thorn tree, knelt and prayed for help.  Worn out from his exertion he curled up in the snow and slept.  The next morning he awoke to find his crucifix hanging from a rose tree in full bloom.  And through the leafless forest he saw his companions walking toward him.  In thanksgiving he built a chapel on the spot.  The chapel grew in size until it became the great Cathedral of Hildesheim against which the rose still blooms.

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda, The Rose Lady

Author and Garden Writer

 

 

The Green Rose

Is there a pot of gold for us lovers of roses? For all the Irish in all of us and lovers of roses, let us think green, not a shamrock but a green rose. Not St. Patrick rose which only has a tint of green, but a real Green Rose.

 The Green Rose

 

At one of the meetings of the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society, I won a unique rose called Viridiflora ‘Rosa Monstrosa’, otherwise known as Green Rose. Records say Green Rose has been in cultivation as early as 1743 and is a sport from Rosa Indica (The China Rose of England and the Daily Rose of America).

 

The Green Rose is a small plant that grows to 3’ tall and has few thorns. It can be grown in a pot, and is rarely out of “blooms”. The buds are small, oval, of soft bluish green color but unless you know what you’re looking for, it is hard to find the bud since the bush is totally green. The “blooms” are usually formed in clusters continually throughout the season and look wonderful. The petals of the bloom revert back to leaves (petals are modified leaves). The bloom does not have reproductive organs. As you would expect from an Old Garden Rose, Green Rose is fragrant too. It has a spicy fragrance. The Green Rose is an oddity and people either love it or hate it.

 

So for rose lovers, take pride. We have our own green to celebrate. It is a wonderful rose to use as a filler material in arrangements or as a landscape rose. But I’m sure some visitors to your garden will undoubtedly say “That’s not a rose.  You got to be kidding.” or worst yet, “That is the ugliest flower I’ve ever seen. Why do you give it space?” Because it is a great conversation piece to say the least. Plant it and you might like it. It is worth a try. Just as when you present your friend with a perfect red rose and they ask “Is that real?” I bet you this same person will tell you this rose is not real. But it is a real rose. The Green Rose is just that, a green rose.

 

“May the sun shine warm upon your face

And

May the rains fall softly upon your rose beds.”

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

 

Contrary to popular belief, roses are not that difficult to grow. Why do you think Roses have been around for millions of years?  All they need are food, water and sunlight.  Just like you and me. If you supply their basic needs, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful and fragrant flowers like the Green Rose. Unlike other plants that only bloom once a year like azaleas, roses bloom all season long. If you keep on pruning them, you’ll get another bloom in 5-6 weeks.

If you have any questions on roses, ask the Rose Gardening World group on Facebook, they will share their rose knowledge with you. Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/128765990560518/

Happy Rose Gardening!!! 

Time To Prune Your Roses

If you look at the calendar, Spring begins on March 20 but for lovers of roses, spring comes when that yellow-flowered shrub called Forsythia starts to bloom.  Pruning roses is a rite of spring for rosarians. In the South, I was told to prune on the last week in February. Then our season begins.  Some rosarians start early which is not such a bad idea especially if you have plenty of roses to prune.   You can always cut more later but you have a head start.

We prune our roses for several reasons – to keep our roses healthy, to control its excessive growth and to shape the bush for a better display.

Before we rush out there in the garden, make sure you have all the right equipment.  A good pair of bypass pruner preferably Felco. No 2 is recommended. Keep your pruner very sharp.  A sharp pruner is less taxing to your hand and creates less bruising on your roses.  For cutting larger canes, a lopper is a better choice.  Their longer handles make it easier to cut through thicker canes.  You should also have a pruning saw for those extra thick canes.

Also, of utmost importance is to wear gloves.  A good leather glove is a must to protect yourself from too many scratches.  Long sleeved shirts or jackets will protect your arms and wrists.  Hat is also important to protect your face from the sun and to protect your head if you are balding.  Make sure your tetanus booster shot is up to date.

Your first agenda is to cut the dead, diseased and damaged canes. Cut until you see the white or cream colored pith.  If necessary, you can go down to almost near the bud union.  Roses will bloom on a dark colored pith but once the weather warms, the canes die back or become unproductive. Don’t go crazy looking for white pith on “Peace” rose.  It does not have white pith.  After getting rid of the dead and diseased canes, begin cutting the longer canes first and get them out of your way.  Pay close attention to what you are doing.  Work from the outside in.  Remember that you are surrounded with thorns so be very careful.

Cut above the leaf with five leaflets to about ¼ inch from the bud.  If longer, the cane can die back and if shorter, new growth might break off in the wind.  Cut to an outward facing bud so a new growth will face outward too.  With few exception, like roses that tend to grow sideways, cut in the direction you want the branch to grow.  Roses like The McCartney Rose, First Prize and Just Joey tend to sprawl so prune them to an inside facing bud.    Always remember to aim at an open space in the bush.  Make the cut on a slant so water drains off.  Seal with Elmer’s glue to prevent the cane borer from burrowing into the newly cut canes.

You also want to open the center of the bush for good air circulation to ward off diseases.  Cut long and straggly canes and canes that are crossing or touching each other leaving the stronger canes.  Leave three or four good healthy canes.  If only one cane is available, cut it lower to encourage new growth from the bud union.

On Hybrid Teas, Grandiflora, and some Floribundas, remove stems smaller than a pencil because they will not produce good blooms for cutting.  For exhibitors, cutting back to 6 to 12 inches length will produce stronger canes and good quality blooms.  Miniature roses are pruned the same way as Hybrid Teas.  If you find this too tedious, you can go drastic and use a hedge pruner and prune to 5” high.  Mother Nature is very forgiving and usually corrects our mistakes so don’t worry too much.

Remove all blind shoots.  These are branches that taper down to almost nothing.  Remove spurs.  These are short growths only a few inches long that have hardened off and taper down to a point.  They will not flower.

Prune to desired height you want for your rose.  Some rosarians want their roses tall.  I want my roses short and compact looking so I can look down on them instead of stretching my neck to appreciate their beauty. I usually cut to about a foot high except for the shrub types which can go from 18 inches to 24 inches tall.

After you are done pruning, remove every leaf.  These old leaves are the reservoir for black spot and mildew.  You might also want to start your spraying program with dormant oil to take care of the overwintering insects.  Also, spread a cupful of Epsom salt around each bush for better growth.  Then you can relax a little bit while waiting for the new growth to arrive.

Before and After Pruning

Rose Bush Before and After Puning.

 

Until next time. Stop and Smell the Roses.

Rosalinda, The Rose Lady

 

Rosalinda R Morgan

Author and Garden Writer

 

 

 

ROSE COMPANION PLANTS – SPRING BULBS

Do roses need companion plants? Absolutely. More and more gardeners are utilizing companion plants with roses. It is proven that monoculture of roses invites more harmful insects into a rose garden. The results is spraying more and more chemicals to drive the harmful insects away. On the other hand, we are killing the beneficial insects in the process.

Only die-hard exhibitors are having a garden exclusively planted with roses. Spraying insecticides seems the norm for them to have that perfect bloom. With the devastating effect on our environment and possibly our health, isn’t it about time we find an alternative to combat the harmful insects. Companion plantings have proven to be the answer.

One of the reasons why some gardeners are not inclined to growing roses is the perception that to grow roses, you have to spray. We have created that perception that roses need a lot of care by our constant use of pesticides. These same gardeners like other plants because it gives them diversity in the garden. But why are they not planting roses?

I like companion plants. I grow them with my roses. If you look at the picture of my previous garden, even the formal beds had companion plants. Spring bulbs heralded the start of the season.

NY Garden

Planting spring bulbs in the rose garden? Certainly. Other plants? Why not? If you have not done it, you should at least try. I love all kinds of plants and I want to have them all. Some of them I use as a compliment to my roses when I do arrangements.

My garden starts its blooming cycle in early spring when spring bulbs herald the arrival of spring. Daffodils and tulips of all kinds fight for attention. There are spaces between your roses that can accommodate these spring beauties without competing with your roses. By the time the roses come into bloom the spring flowers will be gone.

As you can see from the picture above which was my garden in New York, the center beds are formal parterres with only roses but in spring, you would see red and yellow tulips in between the roses. The side beds are informal English gardens planted with roses, perennials, shrubs and more spring bulbs. In early spring, the gardens were ablaze with spring flowers. They cannot hurt your rose garden. It will only enhance its beauty. Spring bulbs make your rose garden come alive even before the roses start leafing out.

NY Perennial Bed

To make a colorful display in spring, you have to plant in the fall. Catalogs are the best sources because they offer more selections than local nurseries. When you browse through the garden catalogs, look for fabulous colors of spring bulbs to add to your rose garden. To orchestrate the spring bulbs to bloom continuously before the roses take over, stagger the planting of the bulbs.

In NY, I must have thousands of spring bulbs planted over the years. Here in Charleston where I live in a townhouse, I started adding tulips a couple of years ago. A big box of spring bulbs arrived a few days ago and will be planted soon. Since winter  has been very cold lately, more tulips come up in spring. Pictured below is my front yard in Johns Island.

SC Garden

I like Red Impression tulips and Tahiti daffodils which have huge flowers, good for garden display and for cuttings. Squirrels love tulips but not daffodils and stash them away in the fall. To prevent squirrels from digging up your tulips, spread cayenne pepper over the tulip bulbs before you cover them with soil. Squirrels hate cayenne pepper and run for their lives when they smell it.

Tulip leaves wither faster than daffodils. The leaves start to turn yellow as the roses are leafing out so then I cut them all off. The daffodils stay in the perennial border where I have some shrub roses, Old Garden Roses and perennials and that way, they don’t look so bedraggled while they are drying out.

So be bold and experiment. Plant spring bulbs around your roses and you’ll double your gardening pleasure. Plant companion plants to reduce the use of pesticides and save the Earth.

Your rose garden will look magnificent even before the roses reign supreme.

Winners of the 3rd Annual Biltmore International Rose Trials

Winners of the 3rd Annual Biltmore International Rose Trials

 

Biltmore’s trials are a sustainable trial using natural fertilizers and no spray. They are judged for growth habit and vigor, buds and flowers, recurrent bloom, resistance to disease and fragrance.

The 2015 winners are:

 Queen of Elizabeth Rose from Help Me Find

Photo from HelpMeFind

‘Queen Elizabeth’ a grandiflora rose bred by Dr. Walter E. Lammerts in 1954

The Award of Excellence for Best Established Rose

 

 ‘Savannah’ (KORviros) bred by Kordes Rosen in Germany

George & Edith Vanderbilt Award for Most Outstanding Rose of the Trials (Best in Show)

The Pauline Merrell Award for Best Hybrid Tea

The Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil Award for Most Fragrant Rose

‘Tequila Gold’ (MEIpojona) bred by Meilland International in France

The Edith Wharton Award for Best Floribunda

‘Flying Kiss’ (P1144PCL) bred by Ping Lim. Based at Altman Plants, Vista, CA

The Gilded Age Award for Best Climber

‘Peachy Keen’ (RADgor) bred by Bill Radler of Milwaukee, WI

The Chauncey Beadle Award for Best Shrub Rose

The Lord Burleigh Award for Most Disease Resistant

‘Popcorn Drift’ (NOVarospop) bred by NovaFlora, LLC in West Grove, PA

The Honorable John Cecil for Open Group

‘Phloxy Baby’ (RADcleome) bred by Bill Radler of Wilwaukee, WI

The William Cecil Award for Best Growth Habit