Volunteer At Filoli

Rose gardens require significant effort.

(This article posted in 2012, so much of its information is now outdated.)

How could so many public gardens throughout the area get all the work that needs to be done in winter? There are roses to prune in both of the Rose Gardens of San Jose. Fruit trees in the Historic Orchard of Guadalupe Gardens need to be pruned. Even Village Harvest of Palo Alto needs to collect citrus fruits that ripen through winter. All this works gets done only because there are so many generous volunteers to help.

The gardens of Filoli are fortunate to get so many volunteers through the year. Nonetheless, the extra pruning that the deciduous fruit trees need in winter reminds us that more volunteers are often welcome. Not only are there big collections of modern and classic apple and pear trees at Filoli, but many are espaliered onto trellis-like supports. (‘Espalier’ trees are pruned onto trellises, fences, walls or other lateral supports, so that they can attain considerable width without much depth from front to rear, conserving space.)

The New Volunteer Recruitment Open House at Filoli is not until January 21. However, those interested in attending must register in only the next few days, before 4:00 p.m. on January 13! Registration can be arranged at volunteer@filoli.org or by telephoning 650 – 364 8300 extension 300, and leaving one’s name and daytime telephone number. The New Volunteer Recruitment Open House will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on January 21, at the Visitor and Education Center of Filoli, located at 86 Canada Road in Woodside.

Guests will learn about the many different opportunities to volunteer. More than 1,200 volunteers presently help sustain Filoli in areas such as house and garden self guided docents, member services, visitor services, the Ambassador Program, the Cafe and the Garden Shop.

Besides the sixteen acres of English Renaissance gardens that display an expansive horticultural collection, the 654 acre Filoli property includes a 36,000 square foot residence furnished with an extensive collection of 17th and 18th century English antiques, and is recognized as one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century. More information can be found at http://www.filoli.org.

California Wild Rose

California wild rose hips remain long after bloom, as well as foliage, is gone.

Prickly thickets of California wild rose, Rosa californica, are not often much to look at, even while adorned with small and sparse pink roses in spring and summer. The fragrant flowers can actually range in color from white to rich pink, and may have more petals, but are not abundant enough to be very impressive at any one time. In autumn though, all the flowers that bloomed in the previous few months leave bright orange or red fruiting structures known as ‘hips’, that linger on the bare canes through winter.

The rose hips of California wild roses had historically been used to make herbal tea because they contain so much vitamin C and have a pleasant flavor. (California wild rose is a ‘tea’ rose but not a hybrid ‘T’ rose.) They can also be made into jelly or sauce. The only problem is that birds like them too, so often take them before anyone else has a chance to.

Dormant Pruning For Roses

Proper pruning during winter promotes the best roses during summer.

(This recycled article is eleven years old. Therefore, the event that it describes is no longer relevant.)

Just about anyone can plant roses in the garden, and care for them for at least the first year. Pruning them properly while they are dormant in winter in order to get them to perform satisfactorily every subsequent year is what most of us who grow roses have difficulty with. Like deciduous fruit trees, roses should not be planted and expected to perform with minimal attention. They certainly should not be pruned with hedge shears!

The once modern, but increasingly old-fashioned, hybrid T roses have traditionally been the most common victims of inadequate pruning, since they need such aggressive pruning every winter to prevent overgrowth that interferes with healthy cane growth and bloom. More modern cultivars (cultivated varieties) designed to resemble older roses, as well as reintroduced old fashioned roses are generally not so demanding, but likewise perform best with proper dormant pruning. There are slightly, and not so slightly, different ways to prune the different types of roses. Even the ‘low maintenance’ carpet roses should be pruned to some degree.

Fortunately for those of us who are just learning about roses, the first of several free rose pruning lessons in the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden began this morning, January 4. These hands-on lessons continue at 9:00 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday until late February. Participants meet in the center of the Garden. The minimum age to attend is sixteen; but minors without parental supervision require a signed minor release form that can be obtained from the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy.

Participants should bring bypass shears, leather gloves, closed-toe shoes and preferably a water bottle. Those who lack shears or gloves can borrow what they need at the Garden. The Heritage Rose Garden is located on West Taylor Street near Walnut Street in San Jose. Parking can be found on Seymour, Taylor or Walnut Streets. More information can be obtained by email to Emily of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy at emily@grpg.org or by telephoning 298 7657.

The Heritage Rose Garden is the most complete collection of old world roses, the ancestors of modern roses, in the world! Although it lacks modern cultivars, it exhibits a remarkably extensive variety of roses, with all sorts of growth habits. There really is no other garden where one can prune roses with the same basic techniques in so many different ways.

Incidentally, modern hybrid T roses derive their designation from the ‘T budding’ technique employed to attach the scion (upper blooming portion) to the understock (roots), not because the rose hips (fruiting structures) are used to make tea. However, all sorts of roses, including floribundas, polyanthas, grandifloras and all sorts of climbing roses, are budded by the same means; and many hybrid T roses are actually grown on their own roots and not budded onto understock at all. The designation of hybrid T seems somewhat out dated, but is still effective.

Six on Saturday: Oh Deer!

Deer have avoided the primary rose garden for longer than anyone can remember. They avoid a large colony of carpet roses nearby also. (The carpet roses were relocated across the road from where they were, but did not go far.) I thought that some old canned roses could be about as safe in another landscape less than half a mile of winding road away. I was wrong. The primary phase of bloom was harvested by neighbors who walk past that landscape. Subsequent phases are mostly consumed by deer. I was surprised to find that these flowers lasted long enough to deteriorate.

1. There is not much vegetation that deer will not eat. New Zealand flax is one of the few species they ignore. It is primarily a foliar plant though. Bloom looks like dinky bananas.

2. Carpet roses often manage to bloom regardless of the voraciousness of deer. Bloom is generally too profuse for deer to eat all the flowers. Unfortunately, I loathe carpet roses.

3. I believe that the color of this particular rose could be described as ‘peach’. I am not at all proficient with color, so this is merely a guess. This cultivar seems to be a floribunda.

4. This rose initially blooms brighter yellow before fading like this. Of course, I have not seen it fade much in the past. I am impressed that this flower lasted long enough to fade.

5. Two buds peeking over the edge suggest that this pink rose is a floribunda too, like the peach rose #3 above. I can not identify any of the cultivars of any of these recycled roses.

6. Rhody apparently shares my disdain for carpet roses. I realize that this is not the most flattering picture, but I also realize that the worst picture of Rhody is the best of my Six.

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/

Six on Saturday: Lily Rose and Flowering Pear

Lily Rose Depp was just a little tyke when her father, Johnny Depp, graciously financed the installation of a herd of flowering pear trees as street trees in the neighborhood where she attended school with my niece. Lily Rose is such a delightful and horticultural name. I happen to be very fond of lilies. I also happen to be very fond of roses. I just do not like them together in the same garden.

1. Before it began to deteriorate, this lily looked like Patrick Star, the next door neighbor and best friend of Spongebob Squarepants, or perhaps Carl Junior in drag. It lives in the rose garden.

2. ‘Apricot Candy’ is a rose that I am not familiar with, but it lives here now. It is a hybrid tea rose, which I prefer. I also like the name. Apricots were a primary crop for the Santa Clara Valley.

3. This and #1 above continue to bloom within the rose garden, many years after almost all of the other perennials were removed from the site so that it could be redeveloped as a rose garden.

4. ‘Iceberg’, although white, is not my favorite rose for this week. As reliable and prolific as it is, I still find it to be mundane and cliché. Regardless, it is one of the best within our rose garden.

5. This is my favorite lily this week, not because of the color, but because it is ‘not’ within the rose garden. It is across the road, in a small garden of mostly perennials, where good lilies belong.

6. ‘Proud Land’, although not white like ‘Iceberg’ above, is my favorite rose this week. The rich red is exemplary of the color that red roses should be. This is one of three that I planted in 1984!

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


In A Vase On Monday: Mothers’ Day

Yesterday was my first Mothers’ Day without my mother. I got her roses though. I mean I dug and canned the roses from her rose garden last winter. They live here now. Most were rather shabby and old, and probably should not have been salvaged. Nonetheless, they are all remarkably healthy now, even if only four bloomed so far. These are the same four that I got pictures of earlier, for Six On Saturday two days ago, so are somewhat faded now. Since these are the first blooms on elderly plants that, although healthy, are recovering from brutal transplant, the stems are quite puny. I gingerly set them in one of my mother’s Waterford vases, with nothing else. They would have disintegrated if I had tried to ‘arrange’ them. Instead, I simply left them facing away from each other in four different directions. Even if they had been in better condition, I really do not know much about arranging flowers. I only grow them.

‘Proud Land’ is my favorite of the entire rose garden, and the oldest of the original roses. I planted the first in about 1984, and added two more during the following winter.

‘Heaven on Earth’ is too billowy and pale pink for me, but I got it now anyway. The color was richer earlier.

‘Apricot Candy’ really was apricot colored not too long ago.

‘Julia Childs’ is surprisingly fragrant. It was likely a gift from Filoli, where my mother volunteered.

In A Vase On Monday, which is also known simply as IAVOM, is graciously hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden. Anyone can participate. I did, at least this once. Simply arrange flowers or other material from the garden in a vase, and share pictures of it with commentary and a link back to Rambling in the Garden. Also, leave a comment at Rambling in the Garden with a link back to your post.

Six on Saturday: Roses for Momma

Actually, four of these ‘Six’ roses are ‘from’ rather than ‘for’ Momma. They came from my Mother’s rose garden. I never sent roses to my mother for Mothers’ Day, which is tomorrow, because she had more than I did. Besides, roses from a horticulturist would be rather mundane. Instead, I gave her rooted cuttings of all sorts of odds and ends, such as angels’ trumpet, pink jasmine, forsythia, flowering quince and a minute olive tree. Of course, only angels’ trumpet had yet to bloom. Red Souvine, ‘Roses for Momma’ composer, might have had something to say about that.

1. Double Delight is presently blooming quite abundantly at work. The yellow is normally more whitish. The pink is normally more reddish. We really have no idea what cultivar this is though.


2. Amber Queen is also unidentifiable, and is also blooming remarkably well in the same small rose garden as Double Delight. I am impressed by how well they perform here, in a bit of shade.

3. Julia Childs resembles Amber Queen up close like this. It was a gift from Filoli. My mother volunteered there after retirement. Actually, a few items in my mother’s garden came from Filoli.

4. Apricot Candy might have been another gift from Filoli. The name is so appropriate for a garden in the Santa Clara Valley. I rather like the simplicity, although the flowers should be fluffier.

5. Heaven on Earth is one that I would not have selected. Yuck. Yet, my mother gave it a prominent situation, but never allowed me to add a most elegant John F. Kennedy rose to the garden!

6. Proud Land was one rose that I agreed on! There are three! They are the only remnants of the original roses that I planted within a few years of 1985. The flowers are typically more billowy.

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


Cecile Brunner Rose

Cecile Brunner rose is elegantly simple.

Few modern rose cultivars are as tolerant of neglect as Cecile Brunner rose. Furthermore, few recover as efficiently from renovation after many years of neglect. Old overgrown thicket growth that might be unsightly while bare through winter can be spectacular in bloom. Alternatively, it does not mind aggressive pruning, even if only stumps remain. It easily regenerates with fresh new canes.

Bloom is nicely profuse early in summer. The individual fluffy pink flowers are not much more than two inches wide, but are rarely alone. They develop in big and possibly billowy clusters. The faint fragrance is easy to ignore, but appealing to some. After primary bloom, subsequent bloom is sporadic. Green stems are less prickly than stems of most other roses. Foliage is rather light green.

Shrubs are vigorous but compact. They may not get much taller than two feet. Most stay less than four feet tall. However, there are actually a few cultivars that are known as ‘Cecile Brunner’. Those that are most familiar are climbing types that can easily get higher than twenty feet. Their bloom is sparse after profuse early summer bloom. Some might bloom rather profusely again for autumn.

Pruning Roses During Winter Dormancy

Pruning now promotes better bloom later.

Contrary to what the pleasant weather suggests, it is still winter. Most plants are resisting the temptation to break dormancy prematurely. They must know that the days are still short, regardless of the weather. Most plants are surprisingly proficient with scheduling. Nonetheless, dormant pruning should happen sooner than later. This includes pruning roses. They have been ready for a while.

Technically, roses are ready for pruning as soon as they begin to defoliate. Also technically, rose pruning can be as late as the buds of the bare stems remain dormant. Later pruning is preferable in some regions where pruning wounds are susceptible to pathogens. Such delay is riskier here where mild weather can disrupt dormancy prematurely. Wounds are less vulnerable to pathogens.

Pruning roses is about as important as pruning deciduous fruit trees. Without adequate pruning, rose plants become too overgrown to perform properly. Crowded stems are unable to elongate as they should. Diseases and insects proliferate in congested foliage, and damage bloom. Specialized pruning concentrates resources into fewer but significantly more vigorous stems and flowers.

Although the technique may seem to be drastic, pruning roses is not very complicated. Hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda roses should retain only three to six of their most vigorous canes. The canes should be only about two feet tall, and cut just above a healthy bud. If possible, they should be canes that grew during the previous year, from bottom to top. Older canes should be removed.

Pruning roses of other classifications may be slightly different. Some types may retain more canes. Climbing types likely retain old canes for several years before replacement. Carpet roses and other ungrafted roses can be cut nearly to the ground, leaving no canes at all. Tree roses are like bush types, but on top of short trunks. New canes grow from their graft unions on top of the trunks.

Of course, potentially vigorous sucker growth that develops from below the graft union of any grafted rose must go.

Bare Root Stock Makes Sense

Snowball bush is available bare root.

Winter has potential to be a slow season for gardening. Simple gardens may not require much dormant pruning. Established gardens may not require much planting. Where winters are cold and perhaps snowy, no one wants to go outside anyway. Those who go out may not be able to accomplish much. Nonetheless, winter is the season for planting bare root stock, which is now available.

Bare root stock starts to move into nurseries before the last Christmas trees move out. Growers start to dig and package it as it goes dormant for winter. They separate it completely from the soil it grew in, leaving the roots bare. Some bare root stock is available with bags of damp sawdust protecting its roots. Most goes into bins of damp sand to protect the roots while at retail nurseries.

Unlike canned (potted) nursery stock, bare root stock must get into the garden as soon as possible. It will not survive long if it gets warm enough to start growing prior to planting. Nor will it survive if roots desiccate. Unbagged bare root stock can soak in water for a limited time. For planting, roots should flare outwardly. Soil amendment should be limited. Graft unions must be above grade.

Bare root stock is lightweight, compact, and easy to handle in bulk. Therefore, it is less expensive than canned stock. It is also easier to get home and plant. Because so many individual plants fit into limited space, many more cultivars are available from nurseries. Even more are available by mail order. Bare root stock disperses roots and gets growing more efficiently than canned stock.

Deciduous fruit trees might be the most popular bare root stock. This includes apple, pear, persimmon, fig, mulberry, walnut, pomegranate and the stone fruits. (Apricot, cherry, peach, plum, prune and nectarine are stone fruits.) Grape, currant, gooseberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry bare root stock are also available. So are perennial rhubarb, asparagus, artichoke and strawberry.

Ornamental bare root stock includes rose, snowball bush, forsythia, wisteria, flowering crabapple, poplar and many more.