2018 Diary of Activities in 
the Rose Garden of
Kitty and Bob Belendez
Santa Clarita, California 

By Kitty Belendez
Master Rosarian

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March 20, 2018   We are taking advantage of several days of clear skies to get some work done in the garden. We got a bit behind last week because of the rains. On Sunday we applied 9 bags of 1 cubic foot composted chicken manure (Gardeners brand) all around the garden. We were lucky to find the chicken manure at the local Home Depot since OSH was the only place until they closed the Santa Clarita store a couple years ago. Yesterday we applied liquid fertilizer throughout, consisting of Grow More 8-10-8, fish emulsion, iron, seaweed, and SuperThrive. We went through four 60-gallon tanks of liquid fertilizer that we apply with our submersible pump (aka sump pump) with hose attached. It takes about 2 hours to liquid feed 240 gallons to our 300 roses. This morning we set our alarm for 6:35 am and quickly jumped out of bed to see if we have clear skys conducive to spraying the roses. Weather predictions say rain later today so as long as the spray material dries well, it will do its work. I sprayed for mildew and insects, especially to control chilli thrips this time of year. Of note is the “poodle growth” at the top of many bushes that was caused by the extreme cold snap immediately following very warm weather in January. Poor roses simply do not know what to do. This will cause many short-stemmed roses, but hopefully with sunshine longer stems will eventually push through and reach for the sky.

March 14, 2018     There hasn’t been much going on this week. I wanted to feed and spray the roses again but we’ve had drizzly days and nights so further rose care will need to wait until we have sufficient sunshine. Meanwhile we’ve been puttering around in the garden, pulling a few weeds, and checking on the rose cuttings. Because of the colder weather now, foliage growth has come to a screeching slow down. We can’t worry much about it because the roses will bloom when the weather is how they prefer it. I’ve been spending most of my time this week on the computer, working on the April issue of Rose Ecstasy newsletter. Had some technical issues that I’ve been struggling with for a couple of days, but I think I have found a work-around. PDF imports are not always compatible with Quark Xpress.

March 8, 2018   We took advantage of the nice 75-degree weather to get a few things accomplished this week. Yesterday we fertilized with a concoction of fish emulsion, liquid seaweed, iron, 10-8-10 Grow More water soluble, and some SuperThrive. We used our sump pump in the 55-gallon container, and filled it up 4 times to cover our entire front and back gardens. Today we got up at 6:30 am to spray all of the roses with my Spray Boss (14-gallon battery-operated sprayer on wheels). I applied a mixture of Compass for mildew and spot diseases, and Merit for chilli thrips and aphids. While making my rounds I noticed that St Patrick got the brunt of the frost damage from two weeks ago. All four bushes have damage on the emerging foliage. Also, I noticed some odd-looking black markings on the foliage of Neil Diamond, which is the only rose in my garden affected. It looks like either downy mildew or cercospora. I'm doubting it was caused by dormant oil +Orthene that I sprayed last month to combat San Jose & Red Scale insect damage because I have seen a little bit of that on other roses that were dormant sprayed in my garden. Dormant spray damaged causes new emerging growth to look puckered and splotched with yellow circles caused by the oil when the weather got too hot when sprayed (it hit 85 degrees last month). 

March 2, 2018    We are getting some rain today. We need it to wash through the soil since I plan to begin feeding and spraying next week. So far I have not seen any insects nor disease indications but I need to keep a diligent eye on things. I suspect I might see a tiny bit of chilli thrips damage beginning to surface, but I don't know for sure since they are not visible without a microscope. I do see a tiny bit of dormant spray damage on the foliage, but it was necessary to spray for scale insect, so it was worth the risk of dormant spraying when it was warm late January. Meanwhile, Bob has my sprayer and the sump pump feeder at the ready for when the weather clears next week. And I picked a small amount of emerging weed seedlings. Get ahead of it.

February 21, 2018   After enjoying warm weather all winter, often in the 80-degree range, winter finally arrived in Southern California on February 20, 21, and 22. Mornings have hit as low as 30 degrees. So far, no damage to the rose foliage that’s been pushing out for several weeks. But we had to move some newly budded roses onto the patio to keep frost off of the bud graft. As we did in past years, we put the 1-gallon pots onto our little red wagon, and put them into sun during the day, and pulled them back onto the patio at night.

February 17, 2018   We had to move the pots away from the pool temporarily while the pool is being refurbished. The pool had to be completely drained before they could work on it. We didn’t have to cover the roses, but there was a little plaster dust around the yard from the pool sanding. Not to worry, it washed right off with the hose. Of bigger concern, after we refilled the pool, is getting the chemicals adjusted to the correct pH, calcium, and chlorine levels. Apparently, our water has changed over the years, depending on rain and water source, so this can adversely affect our pool. I never knew it is so complicated. But thankfully, our guys at Mac’s Pool & Spa have been very helpful in getting it done correctly.

February 13, 2018     Well, it did indeed drizzle a little bit last night, just enough to wash in the Preen so it can get to work preventing weed seeds from emerging. Preen is NOT at all like RoundUp that kills weeds. In fact, RoundUp is not allowed in my garden because it also kills roses. So instead we try to pull weeds when they are tiny and apply Preen that does not hurt our roses. We took some time to go to Home Depot and bought some new wood to refurbish our rose container rack in the back yard. Bob is very handy, so he whipped it out in about an hour. It took more time to go to Home Depot than it took to refurbish the rack. The project cost less than $100. 

February 12, 2018     I applied the Preen weed emergent this morning before it got too breezy. It only took an hour to get it applied to both the front and back yards. The timing was great because the breezes didn’t kick up until I was finished. It is supposed to rain later today, so instead of watering the Preen in, I am hoping it will drizzle a little bit tonight.

February 10, 2018   We’ve been busy all week tending to our swimming pool, trying to get the chemicals corrected. We will need to have the plaster sanded and then acid washed. Geez, like we have nothing better to do. Well today we applied epsom salts (a handful to every bush), and 1/4 cup of Gardner & Bloome organic fertilizer to every bush as well (1/8th cup to miniatures and small bushes). We did a little weeding here and there throughout the front garden, and will do the back tomorrow. Hope to apply some Preen weed pre-emergent this week if the weather allows. 

February 7, 2018   Received my order for 100 pieces of Tall Rose Labels from Paw Paw Everlast (in Michigan). These are my favorite signs to make rose labels for my rose bushes because they last for years unless “somebody” whacks them with a weedwhacker or a power hedger! I buy the better quality version that costs a little bit more, about 63 cents each. The stakes are stainless steel, and the plates are heavy duty zinc. Then I use a Brother labeler to make labels with an adhesive backing. If you buy the correct refill tape, they never fade and will stick on the name plates for many years. I have some that are 25 years old and only had to replace the name plate because the stake either finally corroded or the plate was bent out of shape by the gardener. So that’s why I buy the heavier duty version they offer now.

February 5, 2018   The weather has been very warm, in the 80’s, and even 85 one day. This is unseasonably warm for this time of year. Bob applied dry alfalfa pellets today. We bought a 50 lb. sack at Fox Feed. A big handful around every rose bush and inside the containerized roses. We used up almost the entire bag, just a little bit remaining. I might as well finish it off, no point in storing a gallon of alfalfa pellets. When he was done, then I waterered it all well so that the alfalfa could begin disintegrating and do their good work. Earthworms love the alfalfa pellets. I have put the water sprinklers back on but so far only 3 times a week. This waters most of my roses except we still have to hand water the containerized roses.

February 2, 2018     Today Bob applied 10 large bags of Kelloggs Gromulch, a large shovelful around each rose bush. When he was finished, I watered it all in real good so that the mulch will not blow away. Every large rose bush has a plastic ring placed around it, and the pots don’t need rings. The rings keep all the water and nutrients up close to the roses. We bought a little battery-powered saw to remove old dead wood from mature rose bushes. Bob loves his tools, and this is a great one that makes quick work of removing old wood.

January 30, 2018     Following a visit from my favorite entomologist, I applied two applications of dormant spray a week apart. Both contained horticultural oil plus Orthene. Hopefully, this will knock down the scale insect over the winter that have decided they love my rose garden. Both San Jose Scale and Red Scale. I sometimes also get Cotton Cushion Scale too, but they are easier to knock down and don’t seem to be as destructive as the others. This dormant spray will also help to control chilli thrips, but not entirely as I know I will have to spray imidacloprid and spinosad when April rolls around.

January 21, 2018   We are finally in the home stretch of pruning our 300 rose bushes. We’ve had great weather all month, with only one day of rain to damper our enthusiasm, so we have gotten a lot accomplished. As of today we still have about 65 roses remaining to prune, but most of those are the smaller miniatures and miniflora roses in 7, 10, or 20 gallon containers. This morning is around 42 degrees, but by 1:00 it finally “warmed” up to 55 degrees so that Bob could feel comfortable enough to go outside and whack away at more roses. Just a little thinning out and fine-tuning to do over the next few days, then I get the sprayer out of the garage to apply a dormant horticulural oil to all the rose bushes.

January 14, 2018   We had a very huge and successful Rose Care Seminar at the Senior Center today. 65 persons were in attendance and they enjoyed watching Bob trim rose bushes with a battery-powered hedge trimmer. Of course, they all stared in disbelief at how he could be so cruel to roses. So I explained that we had been doing this method for years and our roses survive despite our “brutality.” Lots of roses and other rose goodies were on our raffle table.

January 13, 2018  Yesterday we had our annual gig at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was nice and sunny and lots of people stopped by to talk roses. In fact, a crowd was waiting for us when we arrived at 10 am. Bob demonstrated trimming roses, while our other Consulting Rosarians and assistants helped customers to select packaged bareroot roses. The folks at Green Thumb were gracious hosts and had an hourly drawing where customers could win roses, or fertilizer, or other garden items just by writing their name on the visitor’s list. All of our members got their annual 10% discount cards as well. Thanks to manager Bryan Payne for his kind generosity and to all his staff that helped out. We also want to thank the generosity of Kelloggs for donating bags of Gardner and Bloome fertilizer when customers bought a rose bush that day.

January 12, 2018   We finally began pruning some of the tall hybrid tea roses in the front yard. Of course, Bob is using his battery-powered hedge trimmer which makes the job a lot faster and easier. We are cutting a bit lower than last year because they grew too tall this year so the winds whipped the tall canes to shreds. Then I follow behind him and rake up the debris, and put it in the large green waste barrels, whick by the way we borrowed some barrels from our friendly neighbors. Four 80-gallon green waste barrels last week. Then I trim off the frayed edges of the canes. We also trimmed some of the potted miniflora roses that are located along the driveway. I was horrified to find more scale insect on some of my roses in the front yard, so I sent a sample cane to Baldo Villegas so he can look at it up close. I’m guessing a combination of San Jose Scale and perhaps something else along with it.

January 9, 2018    We are off to a great start to the new year. Although we already had two days of rain and some high winds last week, our weather is sunny this week so we jumped at the chance to get some pruning done a little earlier than usual this year. We finished almost all of the floribundas in the parkway (except the single-petaled roses such as Puanani and Playgirl, which we will save until last. We got all of the polyanthas trimmed, finished most of the shrubs except several huge shrubs such as Golden Celebration and Abraham Darby. I always enjoy pruning some of the tall antique roses such as Yolande d’Aragin, Baronne Prevost, and Anna de Diesbach because I can prune them standing up without bending over which hurts my back. I’m hoping we can finish pruning by the 20th so that I can apply the 1st dormant oil spray before the roses begin producing foliage.

January 2, 2018   Happy New Year Everybody!!! So far winter has not yet arrived here in Santa Clarita. Most days in December have been in the 70's and some days even into the 80's. Nights have often been dipping down into the 50's and 40's. Nothing in the 30's yet. Our roses don't know what to do. They are wanting to go to sleep and lose their foliage, and much of it has yellowed, but are hanging onto the bushes. The weather has been so very nice that we are tempted to get outside and begin pruning. But for us rose exhibitors, who are targeting an end of April rose show at the Arboretum, pruning now would further encourage an early spring blooming period. We don't want a garden full of blooms on April Fool's Day. Meanwhile we have found a few things to do in the garden. First, I potted a bunch of cuttings to begin rooting. I did 15 different rose varieties, 6 of each. They should be ready to given away on our raffle table around June. Then Bob removed two sickly tree roses and threw them in the trash. We already have two replacement tree roses that we bought at Otto & Sons last April. Neil Diamond and Sparkle & Shine. They have been patiently waiting for their space in the ground. He planted them today. Now we sit and wait, and will probably have to begin pruning just about the time the weather gets cold or windy or rainy.

 Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez

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