Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Roses - Gotta Have One or One Hundred

It's not often to see a garden, private or public that doesn't have a rose shrub growing somewhere. They easily have a place in freestyle cottage-styled landscapes that include long blooming daisies, asters, old-fashioned hollyhock, iris and spireas. But don't discount them inter-planted with native plants, in rock gardens or areas that include Plant Select® plants and herbs - roses are herbs, after all.

Before I tell you about my favorite rose bushes, I'd like to extend a warm invitation to attend a very fun, plus educational rose event that is taking place this Saturday, April 1, 2017 at Denver Botanic Gardens in Mitchell Hall from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. It is the Denver Rose Society's annual SymROSEium, sort of a play on words - get it - a symposium about roses! Every year the DRS hosts this three-hour gathering to learn, connect and support the society with good stuff for sale like bare-root roses, fertilizer and memberships (belonging to a plant society is good for the soul, so please join us). 

This year's program features two great speakers - Carol O'Meara from Colorado State University Extension with a program on the arrival of Japanese beetles to our gardens . Tammy Jansen, ace rose gardener and past president of the DRS will give a presentation entitled - "Practically Perfect, Ideal Roses for YOUR Garden and their Secrets for Success." There's no fee to attend, just pay entrance to Denver Botanic Gardens unless a member of the Denver Rose Society or the gardens. They also have reciprocal entry for members of other plant groups, just show them your card if you have this mutual agreement. 

For additional information click here - April 1, 2017 Educational SymROSEium.

Now for a couple of my favorite roses, the first one happens to be part of the Plant Select® program. Plant Select® is the place to find rock-star plants that perform very well in Colorado's high elevation, low water - low humidity and tough growing conditions (did I mention clay soils).

Photo from Plant Select®
I enjoy seeing large scale roses like the popular 'Rosa rubrifolia' aka red leaf rose naturalized in a good sized landscape, back dropped with subtle, yet commanding blue to green shades of conifers. The trees are a given four season of evergreen interest while the never demur 'Rosa rubrifolia' delights us viewers with emerging spring purple foliage with narrow star-like single vivid-pink flowers in May to June. Enjoy the one-time spring season of bloom, but look forward to not having to worry about diseases, watering too much or shaping or pruning through the growing season. 

The show continues in to fall with red to bronze colored nearly thornless canes that perfectly contrast with the abundant orange hips that keeps birds focused into early winter. And never worry about cold weather die back, red leaf roses are hardy to zone two - that's a minus forty degrees! Yes, they'll work just as well in smaller landscapes, but you'll probably just need one with a height of six to eight feet and a spread of five to seven feet (block out that neighbor who sees right into your back patio). They are sold in just about every reputable garden center up and down the Front Range, mail order too.

Photo by Anna L., Denver Rose Society
Roses evoke memories, many of them from childhood or from relatives who loved growing them. My ninety-two year old Mother loves hybrid tea roses (and grows them well in her zone 3/4 Billings garden). Her list includes 'Double Delight,' 'Chrysler Imperial,' and 'Tiffany.' Of the three, I also adore 'Double Delight' because my Mom's sister - my Aunt Martha also loved it.  She grew 'Double Delight' for years when she lived near SouthGlenn Mall (back when it was still a mall). The fragrance was a welcome heavenly spice that floated through her courtyard garden all summer. She rarely missed displaying a full bloom in a pretty rose bowl on her low marble top table. She fussed a little bit over her 'Double Delight' with regular fertilizer and winter mulch, but the anticipation of the creamy-blushing-red large blooms kept her (and her niece) happy for many, many years in her small patio home. I miss her.  

Hope to see you on Saturday, please tell me about your favorite rose.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Should we Toss in some Seeds?

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most concerned, I'd say many gardeners are at an eleven with worry over the lack of water this winter. Not to make light of this situation, but "eleven" reminds me of a famous movie scene from Spinal Tap - These go to 11.

There's not a thing we can do about warm, dry weather except pull out the hoses and water the most vulnerable dry soil areas of the landscape - new tree plantings, new anything that was planted last summer or fall and don't forget south and west facing lawns. I'm just as focused on the birds, they seem parched and so thankful when I fill up the saucer on the top of the bird bath each day with fresh water. The saucer is much easier to deal with than frozen water in the concrete bird bath. 
One easy way to keep plants and soil cool is to add more mulch. A thicker layer of mulch will keep beds colder longer. This was reinforced earlier today in the vegetable garden when I pulled back a thick layer of mulch on one of the raised beds to toss in some spinach and radish seeds.

Not only was the soil cold to the touch, but areas were still thawing out and wet. The worms and centipedes were having a party under the darkness of the blanket of packed leaves and grass tucked over them last fall. They didn't seem too happy to be exposed to light, but in good stride they just wiggled at me without a blink and took a dive downward. By the time I grabbed my camera for a still shot most of them had retreated.  


By the reading on my soil thermometer it's still too cold for direct seeding (35-40 degrees minimum for the most hardy cool season vegetables). The bed where I just pulled back the mulch read 24 degrees at only a depth of two inches. In contrast, a close by unmulched raised bed that is fully exposed to the sun with a mostly decomposed fall cover crop was 30 degrees. I better wait to toss in the seeds, but I can cover the area in plastic to warm it up and who knows, if this summer weather continues I might be serving Easter egg radishes by Easter!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Warm Season Vegetable Seeding Chart

Tomato seedling about to get potted up to next size
Below is the fourth in a series of seeding charts. This one is for warm season vegetables. Most indoor seeded warm season crops need 6-8 weeks to grow to transplant size prior to getting moved outside and getting acclimated to life in your real world garden or container - called hardening off. Peppers and eggplant need a couple more weeks so can them started soon (like yesterday).
Also notice that some vegetables can be directly seeded in the ground (green beans, corn, squash) - well after the last spring frost when soils and temperatures have warmed up. So if you don't have seeds purchased for May planting, get going!