2017 Diary of Activities in 
the Rose Garden of
Kitty and Bob Belendez
Santa Clarita, California 

By Kitty Belendez
Master Rosarian

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April 18, 2017   This week we are focusing on cutting roses for the upcoming rose show & convention. I normally do not like to cut roses so many days before a show, but yesterday’s and today’s roses are for “insurance.” I would much rather begin cutting on a Wednesday, and then cut more on Thursday and Friday so that the roses are as fresh as possible. Old garden roses are usually much better if cut on Friday, since they can shatter so quickly. We have a 6-foot wide floral refrigerator, which can hold quite a few roses. Up to about 200 stems depending on which type carriers we use, tubes or floral buckets. We are more and more preferring the floral buckets because they are more lightweight than the tubes. Plus, we can get more stems in the floral buckets than we can fit in the crate/tube system. The floral buckets are wonderful to use for large floribunda sprays. We normally could only fit five floribunda sprays in a crate of tubes. But we can get about 10 large sprays in a large floral bucket. Although a floral fridge can sometimes be erractic on keeping the temperature to where we like it, a range of 36 to 38 degrees, we have been using a special controller for many years that keeps the temp very precise.

April 14, 2017    Well, it’s getting very close to peak blooming time. Some hybrid tea roses are popping open early, such as Agnes Winchel and Affirm, both of which are hybrid teas. This is odd because they were among the last to be pruned in late January. Also, my gorgeous antique tea rose, Francis Dubreuil, was about the first to bloom. That dark red rose is so intensely fragrant, so I’m glad that I get to get a whiff of it every day since I have to walk right past it on the way to turn on the jacuzzi in the evening. As usual, the floribundas will be the last to bloom even though they were the very first to be pruned in January, that is precisely why we prune them first because we know that they take extra long to get into bloom. The polyanthas are just barely beginning to bloom, even though they were pruned the earliest, even a week before the floribundas. I guess that some roses have their own schedule of blooming when they get around to it. We applied our last springtime spraying and liquid feeding last weekend. We do not spray the roses again until early fall, although we might apply some granular combo fertilizer that includes Imidacloprid over the summer. So next week is the only spring rose show at which we will exhibit roses, as that is the only one scheduled. One spring show, and one fall show is perfectly fine with us because we have become burnt out on the show circuit after 30 years of exhibiting at 12 or more rose shows a year.

April 6, 2017    I’ve been so busy the past week that I’ve had no time to write on the blog. So I squeezed in some time at 9:00 PM tonight. For the past week I’ve been working on a photo assignment for the American Rose Society. It’s planned to be a 6-page spread in the May-June issue of American Rose Magazine. Meanwhile, we have been feeding and spraying the roses on a weekly basis, same routine as the past several weeks. Disbudding of sidebuds on the hybrid teas, miniatures, and minifloras continue on a daily basis. It’s amazing how fast the roses continue to grow in the springtime. But even still, the rose blooms appear to be at least a week behind schedule due to the continual rains this past winter and early spring, which kept us housebound instead of working in the garden at that time. Also, both Bob and myself had several health issues that also made it difficult to work as hard as we normally do in the garden. So we now seem to be back on track, but the roses are still a bit behind their anticipated growth.

April 1, 2017    Last week I sprayed my roses for the second consecutive week with Spinosad to make sure I have the chilli thrips under control. This week I was reminded that Spinsosad does not work so well on aphids because they have arrived in full force. So tomorrow I will need to spray with Imidacloprid, which does a much better job on the aphids. With so much rain during winter and early spring, we did not get the chance to apply Gromuluch, which my roses love. So we finally picked up 10 large bags of Gromulch today and hopefully Bob will find some time to apply it throughout the garden this week, as some of the roses are beginning to look chlorotic even though we have fed them every week with liquid fertilizer, fish, seaweed, and iron. Oh, and BTW, we finally found an appropriate day last week to apply Preen, so I am glad to have that chore out of the way until needed in the early autumn. It's looking like the roses are behind schedule for the spring bloom cycle. What will be, will be.

March 22, 2017   This evening it rained extremely heavy and there was thunder and lightning. We did manage to get a lot of weeding done in the rose beds with our hula hoes earlier in the day before the rain came. Also, Bob replaced two sprinkler heads that needed to be changed to 1/2 circle instead of full circle. I wanted to apply the Preen but it was too breezy and the foliage was wet. So Preen will need to wait another day or two when the weather is more suitable.

March 20, 2017    Argh! My bedside alarm blasted me awake at 6:15 AM. I hated this because it is rare that we set the alarm clock anymore, now that we are retired. But I had to get up and spray the roses again before the next rain arrives this afternoon. I spray Spinosad for chilli thrips and green bud worms, and a fungicide to prevent mildew. It was still very dark when we got up, but we were seeing some daylight by the time we got our sprayer set up and I had donned my spray suit and gloves, mask, and hat. It only took us two hours from wake up, then set up, and finally clean up. I hope my roses appreciate all this effort.

March 18, 2017    The chilli thrips have arrived in Santa Clarita again, 3 months earlier than last year. I sprayed with dormant oil right after pruning. I sprayed with imidacloprid a week ago as the new foliage was beginning to emerge. I will spray spinosad on Monday. This is the 3rd year the chilli thrips are here, and each year they arrive 3 months earlier than the previous year. I try to stay one step ahead of them but you cannot see them until their damage is done. Just 5 days ago when I was spraying the roses, I saw no damage at all, but today I did see it. The foliage looks crinkled and distorted. So far, I've mostly seen the chilli thrips damage in the front yard, which was the first section of the garden to be pruned at the end of January. Although so far it's only about 10% of the foliage that has been affected, from what I can see. I noticed the damage today as I was feeding the roses and had to stop at each bush during my rounds. So I took the time to take a quick view of each bush while I was feeding them. Some of the roses affected are Black Magic, Ring of Fire, St Patrick, and Nancy Jean. Despite the chilli thrips damage, time marches on, so we are beginning to disbud side growth on the hybrid teas.

March 16, 2017    Bob planted some new roses that have been waiting in the wings. These are roses that he budded last year on Fortuniana rootstock: Aloha, Julio Iglesias, Bold & Beautiful, Lynette, Spring Break (the REAL one), Seduction, and Miss Katelyn. I always anxiously look forward to seeing if new roses earn their space in my garden. Bob also repaird some sprinklers and adjusted others. He is also repairing some pathways around the garden. Always something to do.

March 13, 2017    The daily sunshine has continued, usually in the mid to high 80’s, but today it was 90 degrees. The foliage on the roses is beginning to grow fast, so I set the alarm clock for 6:50 am and got up early to spray. I really hate getting up this early any more, but I needed to get outside before it got too hot and windy. Of course, it is best to water your roses very well the afternoon before the day you plan to spray as you want to avoid the plants getting stressed. This kind of weather will bring on the mildew and aphids very fast, so for my area it is time to spray Imidacloprid (for bugs) and Trifloxystrobin (for fungus). My spray tank fills to 14 gallons, and it takes me less than 2 hours from set up to clean up to spray all of my 350 roses. You need to read the product labels to see what the active ingredients are. It’s always best to read the product labels carefully and follow the directions exactly. Always wear protection including nitrile gloves, goggles, face mask, and coveralls, and clean up afterwards. Be sure to close all containers, and return all pesticides and fertilizers to locked cabinets.

March 9, 2017   We are finally getting some blessed sunshine. It’s been 85 degrees here 3 days in a row. Almost too warm, as our bodies are not quite used to it yet. The roses are now beginning to leaf out quickly so I will probably need to spray for mildew in a few days if the weather holds nice. So we took advantage of the sunshine to feed the roses with our special liquid concoction today. Grow More “Magnum Rose” blended with fish emulsion, liquid kelp, chelated iron, and superthrive. This will surely give the roses a kick start as it looks like they are a little bit behind schedule. Well, it is what it is, since we cannot control Mother Nature. The roses will be blooming soon enough. We also took the time to fill in some patches in the lawn with blue grass seed.

February 26, 2017  February has been a crappy month for us. We capped it off by being laid up with walking pneumonia and bronchitis. We are a mess! Tons of rain coupled with wind, pollen, and mold has really done a number on us. After several visits to Urgent Care, the pulmonary doc, and various medications, we are hoping for sunshine soon. We have not been able to get outside much lately, just trying to rest up inside. We even missed our sweet granddaughter’s birthday dinner. I have a feeling that our spring blooms will be delayed.   

February 22, 2017    New foliage is now beginning to grow nicely on the roses. They look glossy and healthy, and yet we have not even fertilized yet. Although we did manage to apply a handful of both epsom salts and alfalfa pellets on all of the roses, just in time for it to rain and wash it in well. Now is the time that we sit back and watch everything grow. We have not had to water anything except very small pots and rose cuttings, which we hand water twice a week as it has been cold so nothing seems to dry out. It’s a good thing because we stil cannot seem to shake these sore throats and coughs, so we’ve been spending time indoors for most of the past week. I never thought I would be saying this, but I think we need more sunshine and less rain.

February 17, 2017    Oh my gosh! We were drenched with rain today. They say we got more than 4 inches of rain today. This is the most rain we’ve had in many, many years. The dry wash (actually flood control channel) behind our house had an extreme amount of water but still not filled up like it did once 30 years ago. We’ve had to drain our pool and spa several times this week because they were getting way too full. In nearby towns such as Newhall and Canyon Country there was intense flooding, and many trees blown down from wind and rain. We are seeing hints of downy mildew on the rose canes, but it should go away as soon as it warms up. Our lawn is greening up nicely, and the pansies that I planted in purple, pink, and turquoise pots seem happy.

February 13, 2017    We worked really hard at cleaning up the few weeds in our garden, both front and back. Bob applied epsom salts and alfalfa pellets to every rose bush. I walked around the yard and watered lightly just in case it does not rain soon. He also filled up every container with potting soil, as many were getting low. He also adjusted a few rose rings that were either too big or too small for the rose bush they currently occupy. I worked on checking out the rose labels, remaking some that were either fading, or had gotten chopped up from the gardener’s weed whacker or Bob’s battery-powered rose trimmer. 

February 12, 2017    We recently applied lawn seed and some lawn fertilizer, just in time for more rain. This is the most rain that we've had here in many years. I worry about downy mildew on the roses, and I do see some purple splotches on some of the rose canes but will not spray for it yet. Once the weather warms up, the downy mildew should clear up. If not, I will need to do a soil drench around each bush. This is usually only necessary once every 7 years when we get a lot of rain and the soil stays continuously wet. Meanwhile we are puttering around in the garden when the sun shines, checking rose name labels, doing a little weeding, refilling pots with soil when they get low, and will begin applying mulch and other nutrients soon. Bob finished trimming and training several climbers.

February 6, 2017    It is rare that I set my alarm clock, but I had to get up early and spray my roses with dormant spray. So I set it for 7:00 am. Bob filled my 14-gallon Spray boss with warm water, and then I added Bonide Horticutural oil plus an insecticide to combat not only fungus, but also chilli thrips and scale insect. This is the best time of year to spray the oil spray because the weather is too hot here to spray it when the weather turns warm. It took two hours for me to thoroughly spray all of our 300 roses. So they off to a good start.

January 25, 2017    Seems the rain has finally stopped, but now it has turned cold and frosty. Our lawns and roof have been covered in frost, and this morning’s temperature was 32. Yes, that is freezing! Mornings will be in the 30’s for the next several days. It’s difficult to go outside and get some rose pruning done. Bob is a good sport and got a few bushes pruned yesterday, and hopes to get some done today as the sun is shining but it’s still very cold. I’m finally recuperating from the sore throat and side effects from the meds that have given me insomnia for the past 10 days. I feel like a zombie. I am exhausted from lack of sleep, but finally slept last night! I did manage to take a few more cuttings yesterday and hope to put them in pots today for rooting. Some of the rose cuttings are Dorothy Rose, Lavender Spoon, Halo Today, Archiduchesse Elisabeth d’Autriche, Glamour Girl, and Glowing Amber. It takes months for the roots to grow. None of these rose cuttings are for myself, but rather are for our Rose Society monthly meeting raffle table fundraiser.

January 22, 2017    Well it continues to rain almost daily. It’s hard to find some dry days to get out there and get the pruning done. Bob had cut some of the large hybrid teas in the front yard. And I put down some bluegrass lawn seed on the front and back lawns, which should hopefully fill in the lawn come spring before it gets too hot. We appear to be a few days behind, but we keep doing what we can as weather permits. So we took some more rose cuttings, and will work in the garage to get them rooted into pots. Then the cuttings will go straight out into the rain, which will be good for them. No sunshine but plenty of sunlight filtering through the clouds to help them start rooting. The dry riverbed behind our house has had a lot of water running down it, but it ebbs and flows depending on the rainfall. They closed Bouquet Canyon Road up the road a couple miles from our house, due to flooding. So far our house remains safe, but there are many closures throughout our City of Santa Clarita, trees blowing over, huge sinkholes, and flooding down roads in the nearby areas that had fires last year where the vegetation was all burned down.

January 18, 2017    We have been getting some pruning done this week. First, Bob has pruned all of our 14 polyanthas near the back patio. Then he completed the floribunda bed in the front parkway. He did not prune any of the single-petalled roses yet, such as Playgirl, Puanani, Golden Holstein, and Playboy because these have a tendency to bloom early. So they will be pruned next week. He also pruned all the tree roses in the parkway and began on some of the hybrid teas in the front. Especially those roses that tend to bloom late, so he got those first. Then I came along behind him and thinned out some of the twiggy growth, and split ends that were left by his hedge trimmer. I have also been taking a lot of cuttings to be rooted and grown for months until they root. The plants will be put on our rose society raffle table. I'm taking cuttings of unusual and hard-to-find roses, not those roses that can be bought at local nurseries. Some of the rose cuttings so far are Walferdange, Frankie, Puanani, Rose du Roi, Yolande d'Aragon, Poppy, Dr John Dickman, Golden Holstein, Mystic Beauty, Simsalabim, Verdun, and Lullaby.

January 8, 2017   We had a wonderful Rose Care Seminar at the Senior Center today. They forgot to unlock the doors to the facility so we had to improvise in the parking lot. With nearly 50 people in attendance, we were lucky that the Center had some patio chairs lined up out front under the eaves, which are always there for the visiting Seniors. So the show went on. We got some new members that day, too.

January 13, 2017   The year got off to a rocky start. I had a fall in early December and injured my right leg and both wrists. Fortunately no broken bones, just scrapes and bruises, and lots of pain for several weeks. Just when I was almost healed I came down with a sore throat, cough, and fever beginning January 2. As of today I'm well on the road to recovery. As luck would have it, we are not yet ready to begin pruning, although Bob is chomping at the bit. However, it has rained almost continually for the past two weeks. We have not had to water the roses at all. I hope we will begin pruning by late next week if the weather is not too erratic. I am now busy working on February Rose Ecstasy. No rest for the wicked. Hah!

January 1, 2017    HAPPY NEW YEAR! Rose pruning can begin now if you live in Southern California, and should be completed by February 1. We will begin pruning our own garden in Santa Clarita around January 18.

 Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez

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