Archive for March, 2011

New Life!

New Life! By Bill Blok
Our 2010 rose seed crop has started to produce new plants. The seeds we planted in early December, have started germinating around or shortly after Feb. 1. After sowing the seeds in our seed boxes in early December, they were placed in our cold, under the front porch, fruit cellar. When we returned from our winter stay in Florida in late January, we saw no sign of emerging seedlings. Around the 1st of February, when we still saw no emerging seedlings, we moved one of the boxes (mostly cross-pollinated seed) to the somewhat warmer main basement.
After about a week in the warmer main basement, we began to see emerging seedlings. Shortly afterwards, we also moved our 2nd box from the cold room to the main basement. Now we are seeing some germination in the 2nd box (mostly open pollinated seed) also.
As of Feb. 23, we have transplanted 40 seedlings to individual 3.5 inch seed pots. Its always interesting to see the new generation of roses starting to develop. So far they look pretty much alike. It is hard to believe that in only about another 6 weeks, or about May 1, we will begin to see all the different baby blooms that will be developing by that time.

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March Rose Gardening

March Rose Gardening
It is March! In Michigan, that is usually our first chance to get outside and to get our rose gardens ready for spring. If we are planning to plant new roses this spring, we need to get outside and decide where we want to plant them. When I used to order numerous new bare root plants, I usually ordered them for planting during the last week of March. Early planting, with heavy mulch or soil mounds, gives the new plants time to get their roots established before the warm growing weather arrives in mid to late April.
If you want to mail order bare-root plants this spring, you need to get your orders in soon. Remember, Jackson & Perkins is no longer in business. Edmunds Roses is probably one of the largest U.S. rose retailers still in the bare-root rose business. With the decrease in the value of our dollar, Canadian nurseries will be more expensive to buy from than in the past.
If you plan to buy dormant roses from local garden centers or box stores, the selection of varieties will probably be lower than ever, and you need to buy early to minimize damage to those plants from drying out, or from too warm store temperatures. Greenhouse started potted roses are more expensive, and may not be available until mid-May.
Local rose gardeners, especially those who exhibit roses, often replace established rose varieties with newer roses they want to try out. The result is that they often have surplus roses that they make available at low prices. The Blok surplus roses are usually listed in our March & April newsletters as “Contribution Roses” and are available for a contribution to the Grand Valley Rose Society on a first come, first served basis.
The actual rose garden work we can do in March depends a lot on the weather. In years when we had mild temperatures and little snow in March, we have built and prepared whole rose beds in February. In others years, when the snow lingered, we needed to wait for a snow melt to start getting things ready for planting. The earliest I have ever planted bare-root roses is in mid-February. That happened some years ago when Silverado and another rose I can’t remember, first became available from a California nursery, which only shipped in February.
Fortunately, the soil was not frozen, and we just had to remove the snow layer, dig the hole, plant the rose, and recover with soil and snow. Not a lot of fun, but it shows what a dedicated rosarian will go through just to get the latest “hot” rose.
Though I no longer build whole rose beds in March, I still get out there when weather permits, to dig and renovate rose spots that I did not renovate last fall after transplanting our surplus rose bushes. Wheelbarrows are handy for mixing. I dig out the old garden soil, mix it with organic mulch, and lime if necessary, and pile it back in the hole. Early renovation allows the soil mix to settle, for more secure planting later on.
March is a good time to cut back winter blackened canes on plants that were not covered by cones. When the frosted canes are exposed to the warmer weather of early spring, they turn an unsightly black. Removing the black ends of the canes, improves the appearance of the rose beds, and also saves pruning and removal time later.
March is also a good time to do general clean up, including the shredding of canes left over from last fall’s rose pruning. If we have other pleasant days after the other cleanup work is finished, I usually use those times to start pruning the miniature roses. In our garden, most miniatures don’t have winter cover, and pruning can begin when the opportunity presents itself.
Removing Winter Cover
When is the time to remove winter protection from roses? Because the April Newsletter probably will not be out until almost mid-April, I am addressing that topic in this, our March Newsletter.
Rosarians differ quite a bit in when they remove winter protection, especially in regard to the removal of rose cones. Some, like the Bloks, often have them off as early as the 1st week of April. Others leave them on until nearly the 1st week of May. Still others remove in mid-April, but keep them at the ready, so that they can replace them when a night frost threatens.
Generally speaking, I do not remove cones until April, but in unusually warm spells, I have removed cones as early as March 30, but usually it is a week or so later.
I tend to remove cones a week or so before I remove soil mounds because on warm sunny days the air under cones heats more rapidly than the soil of a soil mound. Cone heated air may cause more rapid development of growth under a cone. This may expose the plants to more frost or sun damage when the cones are removed later.
Weather reports are not always reliable, but if, after April 1, the forecast predicts frost free, or nearly frost free days and nights for the next 8 days, I usually remove the rose cones. Once removed, the cones are immediately stored in our attic, and do not leave the attic again until the following November.
Soil and mulch mounds can wait a bit longer than cones. The old rule “Remove soil mounds when the golden forsythia blooms“ is still a good rule for removing soil mounds..

Still time to order Nor’ East Roses

Nor’East Rose Sale
There is still time to order new roses from our Nor’East Sale list that was sent out with the February Newsletter. If you submit your order and the covering check, you have until March 25 to buy at the “Early Bird” price of $5 per plant. That is a very good price for quality plants from known varieties. You might find cheaper miniatures in your big box stores, but usually they are varieties no one has ever heard of, rather than proven winners.

Blok Surplus Roses

Contribution Roses
The following is a list of Blok surplus large roses that are available from our garden for a suggested contribution of $3.00 per plant to the G.V. Rose Society.
Most were dug up last fall and are buried for the winter in our vegetable garden. A few may still be covered in their old spots in our rose garden. Available varieties include::
Hybrid Teas: Classic Beauty (orange/gold),
Standing Ovation (r/b), Silverado (m/b), Aint She Sweet (or), and Sheer Bliss (w).
Floribundas: Mardi Gras (o/y), and White Lickorice (y). Shrub: Pink Homerun.
Our surplus miniature roses are buried in pots, and are usually available after they have grown a bit, usually in late April. We expect to publish a list of varieties for miniatures in our April Newsletter.
You can call about availability, but the usual rule is first come, first served. Bill B.

The Great Lakes District Spring Convention

Another important rose activity that is scheduled for the coming month, is the Spring Convention, to be held in Bad Axe, MI. This is a combination educational and social event that occurs each spring. This year it is to be held in Bad Axe, on April 8 & 9 (Friday & Saturday). Most of the activities occur on Saturday, but most of the rosarians that come from the west side of the state, drive up on Friday afternoon, and stay in one of the motels in town. Typical of these conventions, there is a “Welcome” gathering on Friday evening, which includes a light pick-up meal, and lots of fellowship with other rosarians.
The Saturday events include several educational seminars, a noon lunch, and a (hopefully) short business meeting.
Irv Ignash is the father figure of the Bad Axe society. He is one of the Grand Old men of the Great Lakes District. In late years he has been suffering from numerous physical ailments. We hope he will be well enough to enjoy this convention with the rest of us.

John Ball Spring Pruning

John Ball Spring Pruning
We have scheduled our Spring Pruning and Cleanup for Saturday, April 16, starting at around 9:00 AM. Bring a good pruner, sturdy gloves, a pruning bucket, and a kneeling pad. Rakes to spread the mulch, and weeding claws are also useful. In case it is raining or stormy, we will postpone until April 23. If you are wondering, call me, Bill Blok before 8:30. We will do what we can between 9 AM and 11:30. W. B.

Mark Your Calendars!

Please note these Events:
The Grand Valley Rose Society Meeting: Tuesday, March 15, 7 PM, at the Meijer Gardens, Lower level. Program: “My Favorite Rose Pics” by Harlan Schumaker.
Time for Sharing: Harlan Schumaker. Refreshments: Joan Stoffer.
Also note:
The Great Lakes District Spring Convention: April 8 & 9, Franklin Inn, Bad Axe, MI.

The John Ball Park Rose Garden, Pruning & Clean-up. Saturday, April 16 at 9 PM.
Alternate bad weather date: Saturday, April 23.

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