Rose Lily

P90601KWhat a delightful surprise! It happens sometimes here in the rose garden. It may not look like much, as a short stemmed single lily floret that is mostly overwhelmed by the English lavender that I held back with my boot for this picture. It should be three feet tall or so, with several florets. The surprise is that no one planted it. Well, at least no one planted it recently. This rose garden has more history than is obvious from what blooms here now.
Old pictures show that it was formerly an extravagant perennial bed, with an abundance of canna, dahlia, penstemon, pelargonium, Shasta daisy, Japanese anemone, various iris, and of course, various lilies. Lower annuals were cycled through the seasons at the front edge. Only a few roses bloomed against the low wall at the rear. Soil was likely regularly amended with compost and fertilizer. Someone put significant effort into maintaining it.
Nearby redwoods appreciated all the effort, and extended their roots into the fertilized, richly amended and regularly irrigated soil. Their growing canopies extended over and shaded the upper portion of the perennial bed so that all but daylilies and Japanese anemone were replaced with ferns. Perennials that got dug and stored for their dormant seasons were later installed elsewhere as it became obvious that they would not be happy here.
Because the few roses did not seem to mind the redwood roots, a few more, as well as English lavender, were added in informal rows to replace deteriorating perennials. Annuals require more effort than they did originally, but are still cycled through the seasons in a narrow row at the front edge. The rose garden now seems to have always been here, as if intentionally planned. Every once in a while, we find reminders of extravagant history.

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Six on Saturday: Abbreviated Rose Parade

 

There are a few other roses that I could have gotten pictures of in order to submit a complete set of six, but I wanted to show off just these four that bloom in what is known as the ‘rose bed’. A fifth purple cultivar was not blooming when I got these pictures. What seems to be a sixth cultivar that I did not get a picture of is really suckers of ‘Doctor Huey’ understock that appeared far enough away from the original plant to not be a problem.

There are several rose shrubs and standards (trees) in the rose bed, but they are limited to these five and a half distinct and mostly unidentified cultivars. They are the most prominently located roses that I work with. The other roses are in other landscapes, or at the yard of the maintenance shops. Two of the larger groups of roses are uniform beds of carpet roses, which I am really none too keen on.

1. The few rose standards (trees) seem to be floribundas. This one looks familiar, but not familiar enough for me to guess the name of it.P90525

2. I would guess that this hybrid tea rose that grows in a shrub form is ‘Double Delight’. It does happen to be quite pleasantly fragrant.P90525+

3. This one seems to be a floribunda like the standards (trees) but grows in shrub form like #2 above. I do not believe it is notably fragrant.P90525++

4. I would guess that this one is the common floribunda ‘Iceberg’, growing as a standard. One is a double graft with a purple floribunda.P90525+++

5. Well, that was it. The fifth purple cultivar is not blooming, and ‘Doctor Huey’ bloomed only once for the year. This nearby yellow calla is irrelevant.P90525++++

6. This piece of dead madrone is just as irrelevant, but I though it was amusingly sculptural. I probably should have been more careful while cutting it apart.P90525+++++

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Wild Roses

60518Compared to extensively bred garden varieties, wild roses are not much to look at. Their tiny flowers do not get much wider than two inches, and may not get much wider than those of blackberry, with only about five petals. Flower color ranges only between pale luminescent white and pale pink. Bloom is typically rather brief in mid spring. Only a few healthy specimens bloom again later.

The main advantage to wild roses is that they are ‘wild’. Once established, they do not need much more water than they get from annual rainfall. Without pruning, canes of larger varieties develop into intimidating thickets that bloom annually. Smaller types stay short, but are intimidatingly thorny nonetheless. The deciduous foliage is not bothered too much by mildew, blackspot or insects.

Some types of wild roses appreciate a bit of pampering that might be offensive to other wild plants and most natives. Winter pruning, occasional summer watering, and perhaps a bit of fertilizer improve bloom. Alternatively, pruning after spring bloom may stimulate a second phase of bloom. Long canes can grow roots where they touch the ground, and grow into new spreading plants.

Roses Can Not Be Neglected

P80602+Roses are not for the meek. They are too demanding, too sensitive, too thorny, and without their flowers, they are not even very attractive. They have no business in a low-maintenance landscape, or in a landscape maintained by mow, blow and go gardeners. Those who want to grow rose plants for their flowers should be ready to give them what they want, and to prune them aggressively.

The most aggressive pruning gets done during winter dormancy. That process alone can be quite intimidating for those who are just getting acquainted with roses. After seeing them grow through the year, it seems counterproductive to prune big plants back to only a few short canes. Yet, by now, those canes should have produced much taller new canes that are already blooming profusely.

Now it is time to prune roses again, or will be time to do so soon. Deteriorating flowers need to be pruned away to promote continued bloom, a process known as ‘deadheading’. Otherwise, the fruiting structures that develop, known as ‘rose hips’, divert resources and inhibit bloom. Of course, blooms taken as cut flowers leave no hips, but they might leave stubs that may need grooming.

The popular technique of pruning back to the fifth leaf below a hip is not necessarily what roses want. It probably originated from the recommendation of pruning back to a low leaf with five leaflets because the buds associated with upper leaves with three or less leaflets are not as likely to develop into productive stems. However, pruning a bit too low is probably better than pruning too high.

When cutting roses to bring in, it is better to cut long stems, and then shorten them later if necessary. Each stem should be cut just above a leaf so that the bud in the leaf axil can develop into a new stem without much of a stub above it. The cut stem left behind on the plant should not be so long that it extends too far above the canes that were pruned over winter, or becomes crowded.

Crowded stems inhibit growth of vigorous blooming canes, and are more susceptible to rust, mildew and blackspot.P80602++

The Seventh On Saturday

P90511KThis is the one that got away; or actually, the one that was never caught. It bloomed after I got the pictures for the ‘Six on Saturday’ post for this morning. It could be the same unopened bud in picture #3 of the Six on Saturday post, as it is now blooming. If not the same bud, it is on the same plant, and now looks even more like the common ‘Simplicity’ rose. It is not my favorite, but I did not select it.
That is how the recovery nursery works. It is where we bring salvageable plants that need to be removed from their landscapes. Some were in the way of other projects. Some were not the right plants for their particular situations. Some were even donated by neighbors who thought we might be able to utilize them somewhere in the landscapes.
Some of plants brought in are not there long. They might get groomed and then moved directly to a more appropriate situation. That happens more during winter, when we dig up dormant plants and relocate them while the weather is still cool and rainy. We did this with a big overgrown forsythia that was dug and divided into five or so new plants before getting relocated into a new landscape. It helps is we can delay relocation until winter.
There are many potentially salvageable plants that must be moved at a particular time, even if it is not while they are dormant. They get groomed and canned (potted), and can take their time to recover before we put them back into the landscapes. Unfortunately, many do not recover adequately. Some end up staying too long because we can not find homes for them. After several years, the roses will finally be going to a new home soon.

Six on Saturday: The Yard

 

This is no home garden. It is the yard outside the various shops of the Maintenance Department where I work part time. It contains some of the salvageable plant material that we try to recycle from some of the landscapes from which it must be removed. Over winter, some plants get dug and relocated directly, rather than come to the yard. Otherwise, plants come here to get canned (potted) to recover, and then find a home.

Because no one sees our yard, we need not maintain it like we maintain the rest of the landscapes. Consequently, it collects a few weeds. Also, because there are other shops in the same buildings, there are a few unexpected odds and ends left strewn about by other types of professionals, such as the electrician. Hence, #6.

1. You know, when I took this picture, I though that the annual grassy weeds somehow looked pretty in front of the wild cucumber vine on the cyclone fence. I’m not the artsy sort; so will not try to explain it.P90511

2. Mixed in with the wild cucumber vine, which incidentally makes not edible cucumbers, this potato vine blooms, but incidentally makes not potatoes. Of course, I never dug it up to confirm that claim.P90511+

3. This rose, which might be ‘Simplicity’, has been here for a few years. No one remembers where it came from. It was supposed to get planted into a landscape while it was still dormant. Too late now.P90511++

4. This rose might be ‘Medallion’, but it is hard to say for certain. It is not as big as it should be. It was supposed to get planted while dormant too. There actually is a landscape that can use both of them.P90511+++

5. Shasta daisy has been blooming for a while now. You would think that it would be easy to find a home for this one, but it is still in the yard. It is big enough to divide into more plants if still here this winter.P90511++++

6. Spring bulbs are done now.P90511+++++

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Attack Roses While They Sleep

8bd4This theme may be getting a bit redundant about now. There is just so much that needs to be done in the garden through winter for what will bloom in spring and summer. We plant new fruit trees, and prune mature ones. When we finish planting spring bulbs, we can start planting summer bulbs. Berries, rhubarb and grapes all get planted. With all this going on, it is also time to prune roses.

Like so many fruit trees through the past few centuries, modern roses were bred to maximize production. Instead of big and abundant fruit, they produce big and colorful flowers. Such enhanced production is more than overgrown rose plants can sustain. Pruning eliminates superfluous stems to concentrate resources into fewer but more vigorous stems, and flowers of superior quality.

Pruning also eliminates diseased, damaged, dead and dying stems; which are known as the ‘four Ds’. Foliage falls from the stems naturally through winter, but should be raked and disposed of because it can spread disease to new foliage in the spring. (Dormant fungal spores and bacteria overwinter in fallen foliage.) Foliage that clings to stems after pruning should be plucked away.

Pruning should ideally be done by the time buds begin to swell in late winter. Of course this is not as easy as it sounds in the mild local climate. Buds swell early, and may even start to grow before rose flowers from the previous season finish blooming! Modern ‘carpet’ roses and a few other shrubby types barely go dormant, but fortunately, they do not need such meticulous pruning anyway.

Hybrid tea roses need the most severe pruning, which leaves only three to seven canes approximately two feet high. These canes should ideally be unbranched below where they get pruned, and be spaced somewhat evenly around the center. Stout canes that grew last summer from the base of each plant are best. However, canes below graft unions are suckers that need to be removed.

Floribunda roses are pruned similarly, but can retain a few more canes. Some grandiflora roses are allowed to get significantly taller, with new canes on top of canes from the previous year, which may already be on top of canes from another previous year. It may take a while before they develop replacement canes from the base. Climbing roses likewise retain old canes for a few years.

Tree roses should be pruned as if the upper graft union is at ground level, so that canes should be about two feet high above the graft union. (Although, tree rose canes are usually pruned shorter.) Carpet roses and a few bramble types only need to be pruned low, but cane quality is not so important. They are not grafted, so can not develop suckers.

Metallic Roses

P90203‘Sterling Silver’ and ‘Stainless Steel’ are two hybrid tea roses that were quite popular decades ago. ‘Copper’ and ‘Aluminum’ are not. However, I did happen to write a bit about the aluminum roses in the picture above on the Facebook page of Felton League on January 28, and included a link to an older article that featured a picture of copper roses. They are not at all relevant to horticulture, but are interesting nonetheless.

Felton League is an informational forum for the distinguished small group of displaced or socially outcast people and their friends in Felton, California. That is how it is described on Facebook. Those who are more directly familiar with us know us as a community group that not only advocates for the local homeless, but also provides compelling insight into homeless culture, and confronts the trend of animosity and hostility for anyone perceived to be homeless.

This is the post on Felton League from January 28:

Some of us participate in the River Cleanups here and elsewhere in Santa Cruz County. Some regularly collect trash for disposal throughout the year. One takes trash collection a step further by creating these metallic roses from some of the collected debris. They were featured in this article about garden art that was published in local newspapers between San Francisco and Beverly Hills in the summer of 2017; https://tonytomeo.com/2018/07/12/be-tactful-with-garden-art/ . (Not all of the articles used this illustration. The link is for the article as it was posted last July, about a year after it was published.) The copper roses of the original article were made from copper pipe. The newer silvery roses are made from flashing found in the San Lorenzo River. The thorny stems are made from scraps of fencing material that resembles a fine gauge of hog wire, that was found closer to Zayante Creek. The leaves are wired on with random bits of copper wire. These roses are often sold to tourists and local merchants to finance the banquets hosted by ‘Let’s Have Soup’ in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

Prune Now For Roses Later

70524thumb+The main problems with roses locally are not related to climate, soil, insects or disease. Warm and semi-arid climates of California happen to be some of the best places in the World for roses. Sure, many roses have problems with insects such as aphid, and diseases such as powdery mildew, but primarily because such pathogens proliferate among roses that are not pruned properly.

Yes, the main problems with roses are a direct result of improper pruning. Without adequate pruning, roses become overgrown thickets that shelter the pathogens that afflict them, but also lack the vigor to be resistant to damage. Like so many other domesticated plants, they were bred for maximum production of unnaturally big flowers, at the expense of natural resistance to pathogens.

Pruning eliminates superfluous growth and improves air circulation, which interferes with the proliferation of most types of pathogens. Most pathogens overwinter in fallen foliage that should get removed in the process. Pruning also concentrates growth of the next season into fewer new stems, which stimulates vigorous growth that hopefully grows faster than the pathogens that infest it.

Roses should be pruned while dormant in winter, after defoliation, and before buds start to swell at the end of winter. Hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses should be pruned back to only about three to six canes that grew from the base during the previous year. Older canes should be removed. Remaining canes should be only about two feet tall, and cut just above a healthy bud. Any growth below the graft union (where the basal canes originate) are genetically different suckers (from the understock or rootstock) that must be removed.

As growth resumes in spring, well pruned plants will produce fewer stems and blooms that are significantly more vigorous than those of inadequately pruned plants. Overgrown and inadequately pruned plants must spread their resources thin amongst more but significantly weaker stem growth that is much more likely to be damaged by pathogens. Aggressive pruning now pays off later.

The Rose And Fall . . .

p90113Winter is for pruning. Any good native of the Santa Clara Valley knows that. It starts as soon as the first deciduous fruit trees defoliate and continues to the last minute rush to finish before the buds start to swell at the end of winter. It may seem like there would be no last minute rush now that all the orchards are gone, but there is so much in landscapes to prune that prioritizing and scheduling pruning takes a bit of effort. Just like we know that apples and pears can be pruned slightly later than apricots and prunes, in the landscape, we know that sycamores might be delayed until the birches are done. Naturally, I feel compelled to prune the flowering cherries and fosythias, but am almost content to wait until after they finish blooming in early spring. Of course, I cringe as I write this.
Roses are getting pruned now. I first finished a few scrawny hybrid tea roses, including a few ‘tree roses’. They really should be relocated to a sunnier spot, but not this year. Afterward, I did a row of climbing roses that are not exactly climbing the fence that they were planted against. They really should be moved too, but like the others, not this year. I still need to prune a bank covered with modern carpet roses. I am none too keen on them. Actually, I rather dislike them. However, of all the roses, they are the only ones that happen to be in the right situation, and are doing a nice job.
Just before I started with the first batch of hybrid tea roses, I pruned a single potted hybrid tea rose that is all alone on a deck across the street. I wanted to get it done when I thought about it so that I would not forget about it in the process of pruning everything else. It had bothered me for some time because it was so tall. I mean, I could not reach the top of it. The blooms up there were closer to upstairs windows than to anyone wanting to seem them from ground level. The supporting lower canes were bare of foliage, but well armed with nasty thorns. Honestly, I thought that the deck would have been more inviting without it.
Pruning it was rather simple; just three major cuts. Since the rose is where people mingle, I chopped the thorns just so that they are not so sharp. The remaining three canes were older than one year, but did not seem too terribly old. In fact, there was still a bud to cut back to on one of the canes. For the other two, I had to cut back to old petiole scars, expecting that dormant buds are still in there. That was about it.
The problem that I was not aware of is that the rose was left that tall intentionally because a former gardener liked it that way! Now I feel badly. I really thought that it had just been neglected. Like I mentioned, the canes did not seem to be several years old. They must have replaced older canes in just the last few years. Regardless, I can not put it back. In the partial shade there, it will probably grow back as tall within the year. I hope that the former gardener does not find out about it before then. I know that if someone did that to a roses that I had pruned in a specific manner, I would be really angry about it.p90113+