2015 Diary of Activities in 
the Rose Garden of
Kitty and Bob Belendez

Santa Clarita, California    
Copyright 2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 -2014 

By Kitty Belendez
Master Rosarian









"We each have our addictions. With some it's drugs, alcohol, gambling, or smoking. With others it's sports, religion, power, politics, money, sex, hate, food, or anything else that consumes and controls us. With me it's roses in every facet I can imagine: Growing, showing, reading, producing, writing, photography, graphics, propagation, and technology. It's the roses that keep me away from the other stuff." -- Kitty Belendez, May 9, 2014



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April 23, 2015    We have a rose show coming up this Saturday at the Arboretum with the Pacific Rose Society. I've been cutting roses since yesterday, and the rose fridge is nearly full. I'm trying to beat the predicted rains, but so far no rain. We certainly do need rain, but hopefully not on this rose show. I'm not looking forward to getting up to a blaring alarm at 4:00 am, as we are used to sleeping in to around 8:00 am in the morning, and we don't set our alarm anymore. But we need to use an alarm for early rose shows or else we don't wake up. 

April 12, 2015    Last week I sprayed and fertilized the roses again. The main requirement is to keep everything watered, while at the same time trying to conserve by not overwatering. We have our sprinklers set to only 3 days a week now (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), for 9 minutes on each of the four stations. Hand watering of the container roses (daily if the temperature is over 80) is a must as pots go dry before plants growing in the ground. Each large pot gets 8 seconds, and the smaller pots get 3 seconds. No need to water to the point where water runs out the bottom of the container as that would be a waste of precious water.

April 11, 2015    Today we went to the San Fernando Rose Show. I was surprised that we had as many roses as we did because I was trying to travel light to make it easy on Bob. They were an hour late opening the gate so we got off to a late start prepping our roses. At the 10:00 am closing time, they didn't even budge in giving the exhibitors a few extra minutes to finish entering our roses. Oh well, their loss as it was a tiny/sparse show anyway, with few exhibitors. After breakfast we came back and waited for the show to open, which they did finally at 1:00 pm. Our roses performed exceedingly well for the day, as we won 23 awards. My favorite win of the day was a bouquet of single-petalled floribundas comprised of 18 stems with the roses Playgirl, Playboy, and Golden Holstein.

April 3, 2015    Spring arrived way too early this year. I don't mind having some blooms a little bit early, but those nasty thrips arrived a month early too. Thrips get inside of the rose blooms and suck their juices. Their sucking action turns the blooms distorted and brown. I got up at 6:15 am this morning and sprayed the roses with Compass (for mildew), Orthene for thrips, and Avid for spider mites. Normally we sleep in to 8:00 am but I had to get up early before the "breezy" kicks in, because it is not good to be spraying when breezes are blowing the material all over. We try to remove the side buds on hybrid teas and minifloras every other day, but this week that has been difficult. Bob has had some health issues this week, and hopefully they will get resolved soon. Fortunately it will be a little cooler this week, as last week's heat did a number on the roses. The first rose show of the spring season is next week, but it's too early to know if we will be able to go, what with all that has been going on here. We are trying to be compliant with water restrictions, but that is difficult with roses since they are not drought tolerant. We hand water the potted roses, and water the rings on the big in-ground roses. We only water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday now, and we have cut down the duration by 20%.

March 18, 2015    We are enjoying a little bit of warm weather and the roses are enjoying it too. Stems are now starting to push up fast. I had to spray a fungicide again last Sunday to keep the mildew under control. The only mildew I see is in the back yard where it is more humid from the pool, and in shady spots. With mildew, we must spray preventively to keep it away. On the other hand, we only spray for insects when we actually see them. We fed the roses again yesterday, using 220 gallons of liquid organic fish and kelp for the entire garden. I am so glad that we use the sump pump to apply liquid fertilizer, which only takes 1.5 hours. I could not physically do that if I had to carry around one bucket at a time. Sure, I could apply dry fertilizer from a bucket, but liquid fertilizers take action immediately.

March 14, 2015     As the weather continues to warm up, the growth on the roses is coming on faster and faster. I'm already having to disbud the side growth on the new stems of certain rose varieties. I usually only do this for hybrid tea roses because I want them to produce big blooms on long stems, and do not want them to produce clusters of blooms. The floribundas on the other hand are much prettier when they produce clusters of blooms, so I let them do their thing. I'm already seeing pea-sized blooms on some of the hybrid tea roses. St. Patrick is growing very fast. Miss Kitty is the fastest as usual, even though we pruned her last. She needs continual disbudding of the side growth on every stem. She will most likely be finished blooming before the first rose show, which is on April 11 at San Fernando.

March 10, 2015    The bookshelf in my home office collapsed the other day. So I decided to get rid of 30 years of rose publications. I am keeping just a few special items but a friend is taking the bulk of it off my hands. She's getting ARS annuals (some are hard bound), ARS magazines, rose catalogs, ARS handbooks, Combined Rose Lists, and Horizon Roses. I'm glad they're going to a good home. I'm keeping all the newsletters I produced over the past 25 years, but trashing newsletters by others. Bob is rehabbing the bookshelf and I am reorganizing the remaining publications.

March 7, 2015    We've had some rain this past week, and then it got "breezy". I was watching the weather reports to try to find a clear, warm, calm day so that I could spray the roses. The powdery mildew is now beginning since weather conditions are perfect for encouraging powdery mildew. Thank goodness I have not seen any blackspot, anthracnose, or downy mildew. Just a little mildew, especially in the backyard where our swimming pool keeps the area more humid than the drier front yard. So I bit the bullet and set my alarm this morning for 6:30 am. I actually woke up 15 minutes before the alarm went off. You would think that it is easier to spray the roses now that we are retired. But it's not, rather it's because we are not used to getting up so early in the morning. I prefer spraying in the early morning before the neighbors get up, and before the winds start churning. As luck would have it, it was "breezy" this morning but I decided to spray anyway. It wasn't so bad as I was completely suited up in my safety gear of plastic suit, gloves, respirator, and rubber boots. I set the spray nozzle to medium setting instead of fine and I completed spraying in one hour. Then Bob cleaned up after me. He is such a doll. He keeps my Spray Boss in excellent working order. He's the mechanic and clean freak in our family.

March 5, 2015    We finally fed all of our roses their first liquid feeding of the year. We waited until there was at least several inches of foliage pushing out new growth. Liquids will be fed almost weekly now through the beginning of May. We applied fish emulsion, Magnum Rose, SuperThrive, GrowMore liquid kelp. That should get the roses off to a quick start. We messed up again and forgot to put the hose into the 55-gallon barrel, so the fertilizer was running out all over the lawn. This is the second time we did this. We also made this mistake last fall. We make four 55-gallon batches to feed all of our 300 roses. The liquid is pumped out with a sump pump and each plant is fed individually. This is so much easier than carrying one bucket at a time.

March 4, 2015    The rose foliage is coming along nicely. We should begin to have some rose blooms in about 5 weeks. The best blooms will appear in about seven weeks, in time for at least two spring rose shows. Our plan is to begin feeding liquid fertilizer and spray a fungicide this week now that the days will be a bit warmer for a few days. I saw a little bit of powdery mildew in the back yard. It is more humid back there because of the moisture from the swimming pool. So far, the rose foliage in the front yard appears to be very clean but they need to be sprayed too. New rose foliage often looks red when it begins to grow. This is natural on some rose varieties, nothing to worry about. With the rain we've had over the past week, we have not had to water anything except the very young maiden plants that are still in 3" pots and budded on Fortuniana -- they seem to dry out quick because the rootstock is growing fast. So we water those almost every day unless it is raining.

February 20, 2015    We finally got to do some actual "puttering around" this week. Things such as checking stakes on climbers and tall bushes, adjusting them and retying them. We use some thick plastic stakes from Home Depot as well as rebar on some of the bigger bushes. Making new name tags for new roses and other labels that got chopped with the hedge trimmer. Checked the sprinkler timers. Doing a little weeding with the hula hoe, although we really do have them under control, but we are knocking down the new weed seedlings that emerge. Keeping the maidens watered, and cutting off the tops of those that are pushing out new growth. The garden looks pretty clean but we did see just a few aphids and a touch of mildew fungus on several of the rose babies. I'm holding off spraying for one more week and then I will need to haul the Spray Boss out of storage. Took my new computer chair back to Office Depot to be adjusted. Bought some new earrings. Bought a new laptop and LCD projector for the rose society for speakers to give their PowerPoint Presentations. Now I'm ready to kick back and do nothing for awhile. Oops! First I have to get our paperwork ready for our tax accountant. Maybe there will be some rest next week.

February 15, 2015    This weekend was supposed to be "puttering around" time, but of course we found plenty of things to be done in the garden, and we just cannot sit in front of the computer or TV when things need to be done. Bob dug up a bunch of over the hill bushes that were not productive anymore to make space for new roses. He then planted a dozen new roses on Fortuniana. I'm looking forward to seeing how The Temptations and Agnes Winchel perform on Fortuniana. I am lucky to have gotten budwood from friends that still had the original bushes introduced in the 1990's from Joe Winchel. We also planted another Randy Scott, and a new Mr Caleb. Lots of floribundas too. Meanwhile I made new metal tags for the plants, and fine tuned a few bushes that needed more thinning out. Took the hula hoe for a trip around the garden to destroy any weeds we missed. We have another hooked type of tool on a long handle that gets closed into the bushes where weeds like to hide. Today we found some more decollate snails in the garden, which are said to be good snails because they eat the bad snails. Let's hope!

February 10, 2015    We applied eight large bags of 2.5 cubic feet of Kelloggs Gromulch, a big shovelful around every rose whether they were planted in the ground or in 7, 10, or 15 gallon containers. The roses always love this product, regardless what is in the product. Mulch is good for the soil and the roses. Mulch brings earthworms and beneficial organisms. The roses always respond positively. We also mailed in our rebate form to Kelloggs, which gives us a rebate of $1.00 per bag. We purchased the maximum of 10 bags for a total of $10 rebate. We will buy more Gromulch over the summer. Last week we also applied lots of organics around the garden. Kelp meal, alfalfa pellets, and bags of Gardner & Bloom, an organic blend of goodies for the roses. Then watered it all in very well.

February 4, 2015    Got up at 8:00 am and sprayed all of my roses with Neem oil. Used my 14-gallon battery-powered spray machine on wheels. This is the first time that I have used Neem oil as usually I use Volck oil, which is a mineral oil. In the past I used UltraFine Horticultural oil (parafinic based) for many years, which I always preferred until they discontinued the product several years ago. Neem oil smells like oranges to me, well at least at first. Towards the end when it's beginning to dry, it doesn't smell so good, but it's not totally obnoxious. Neem oil is more expensive than Volck oil, but it's best to compare prices. Last year I paid $9.96 per 16 oz. from Amazon. I like how the Neem spreads and sticks when applied on the rose canes. The annoying factor is that you must continually mix the Neem oil in the tank after several minutes because even though it contains a spreader-sticker, the Neem oil will separate from the water if not continually mixed. I even used warm water like I always do, but that did not help it to stay mixed. I wasn't going to use a spray mask, but after a few minutes I decided to put it on because of the smell. Besides, even though the product is "organic" doesn't mean it is totally safe to breathe it. I also wore my plastic spray suit, rubber boots, nitrile gloves, a hat, and glasses. Better to be safe than sorry. Bob cleaned the sprayer tank as soon as I was done spraying, and he said that it cleaned up well and didn't seem to clog anything.

February 3, 2015    Today we finished pruning all of our 300 rose bushes. We've been working at it for 10 days. We only need to fine tune a few. It seems that we have pruned the minis and minifloras a bit harder than usual. They really needed it because there was a lot of old canes that needed thinning out. Tomorrow I plan to spray a dormant oil throughout the garden. The weather should be fine for spraying. Not too hot, not too cold, and little winds. I will need to start early though.There were few weeds in the garden because we regularly keep after them. What few we saw, we used the hula hoe on them.

January 31, 2015    Our rose pruning program is now in full swing. We have over half of them done just this week.  We are again experimenting with a different method of pruning by using battery-powered hedge trimmers. The idea behind our using the battery-powered hedge trimmer is to quickly remove the bulk of top growth greenery so we can get down to the bottom and see where the good canes are. Our HTs are 6 to 7 feet tall by the end of the year, and our floribundas are anywhere between 3 feet and 6 feet. We tried power hedge trimmers once over 20 years ago on our minis, but the trimmer we had at that time was very old and the blades were not sharp. So we didn't use power hedge trimmers again until now. However, in the meantime Bob has been using hand-operated hedge SCISSORS on our minis, floribundas, polyanthas, and smaller shrubs for many years and he liked the scissors, but it took a lot of muscle. After recently seeing the gardeners at Wrigley Gardens lop off the tops of 100's of HTs and floribundas a few weeks ago, and the volunteers going back and cleaning up and thinning out we decided to give it a try again. After all, the Wrigley Garden is fabulous and the gas-powered hedge trimmers they use there don't seem to bother the roses. After we use the hedge trimmer on the top, we then go back and thin out twiggy and dead growth and quickly trim off the ragged edges at the tops of the canes. This extra step of thinning and trimming makes all the difference in the world. I would never simply hedge trim the roses and leave them as is. You have to clean out the twiggy and dead growth, and remove foliage anyway it goes. We pruned half of our rose bushes using the old hand clipper method, and we are doing the last half (mostly in our back yard) using the power hedge trimmer method. Bob likes this method a lot and would have done it this way before if I had let him. We made a video on YouTube that gives you a quick idea of how the hedge trimmer method of rose pruning is done. It's sort of comical.

January 24, 2015    Our awesome painters whipped through our house & patio painting project in a quick 3 days. They did a fantastic job. It took us another 2 days afterwards to get things back to where they belong as we had to move much stuff out of their way. Now, finally, it is back to pruning the roses. We started slowly, just a few hours each day as we don't want to injure ourselves. Of course, after the first day my sciatica was acting up so I had to see my chiropractor for an adjustment. He advised me to ice up and stay out of the jacuzzi for a couple days (heat makes the sciatica worse). Much better now. We are starting to make progress. Most of the floribundas (except the singles) are finished. The tree roses are done. We have started on some of the hybrid teas in the front yard, and the OGRs along the side and back of the house. We have filled six 80-gallon green waste barrels and we are not even 25% done. All 3 arbors were painted too so Bob had to get them back into their positions. Yolande d'Aragon and Baronne Prevost had to be butchered hard because they were huge and growing up against the house so we had to make way for the painters. Not to worry, they will come back better than ever. 

January 15, 2015    We will prune our 4 climbing roses tomorrow. They have to get chopped down hard this year because we are having the house painted next week and so the 4 large arches on which these 4 climbers grow will be repainted as well. Night Owl has San Jose Scale again this year so will have to be chopped very hard like last year. I do not know where this scale comes from. I gave it a good dormant spraying last year, and now it's back again.  Yesterday, we chopped off the heads of 15 maiden roses. This only means cutting off the tops of the rootstock on which the hybrids are bud grafted. The maidens are still rolled in and out of the garage daily to protect them from frost at night. The maidens are beginning to grow very fast now, but we won't fertilize them until February. We still have another 60 maidens that have not yet been topped off but the eyes still look viable. We did lose about, such as Irresistible, so Bob went ahead and rebudded those few.

January 10, 2015    Today we began pruning. No, not our own roses, but rather we helped to prune the roses with Pacific Rose Society at Wrigley Gardens in Pasadena, CA. Bob and I arrived about 8:15 AM and we worked for about 3.5 hours. There were about 16 PRS members there helping. We would have pruned longer but we filled up all of the large industrial waste barrels. It drizzled a bit throughout the morning on and off but we managed to get quite a bit of pruning completed.

January 6, 2015    Today Bob and I took inventory of our potted roses to set aside for our May 29 Auction. It took us much longer than we had anticipated. After 3 hours it was time for lunch, but we did get it all done. It wasn't just a matter of counting the roses, but rather we had to make sure we actually had the roses that my inventory list indicates and that they were are all labelled properly. We trimmed them as we checked them. We came up with 100 potted roses, and only one was missing. I think I had given Katelyn Ann away to a friend. We still have plenty of roses and cannot add any more because we have to keep the auction limited to 3 hours since we are paying our venue $65 per hour. It is time to begin working on the auction catalog, now that I know which roses we have. At our board meeting last Sunday we decided on the suggested theme of "English Rose Garden." Turns out that we actually have about 11 English Roses on our auction list, such as The Dark Lady, Strawberry Hill, and Darcey Bussell. Of course 2 plants of 'Glitter Girl' will also be on the auction too. And if that isn't enough to pique your interest ... we will have SIMSALABIM!  

January 4, 2015    We had frost the past several mornings. The cherry tomato is now dead. Tomatoes cannot handle frost as they are too tender. The few remaining rose blooms were all frozen by low temperatures and frost. The good news is that rose canes, roots, and foliage are relatively hardy here in SoCal. They all appear fine following several days of colder than normal weather. We are itching to begin pruning but will hold off until the end of January. Not because of the cold weather, although we are not anxious to bundle up and go outside and prune. But rather because we have changed our pruning timing. Meanwhile we can spend the time sharpening our cutters and digging out our gloves and other supplies from storage.

January 1, 2015    Welcome to a brand new year. We started out on a really cold edge. This morning we woke up to 29 degrees. Tonight it's projected to get down to a low of 26. Brrr! It hasn't been that cold here (below 32) in many years. In fact, it seemed like we never even had winter last year. I believe that having a good chill is going to be good for our roses and encourage them to grow and bloom better. Well, at least that is what I'm telling myself. We have not yet begun pruning our rose bushes. We plan to begin the last week in January. I watered everything today since I have the sprinklers turned off and only water on Monday and Thursday, but only if needed. No rain is predicted soon so the containerized roses in particular need some water. Made some adjustments to some of the sprinkler heads as one was just dribbling, and a couple others were set too high.




 Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez


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