2020 Diary of Activities in
the Rose Garden of Kitty and Bob Belendez
Santa Clarita, California
Bob Belendez Celebration of Life Video:
September 23, 2020: We had a temporary couple of days with slightly cooler weather (90-ish) but the roses still need to be watered every day, especially the roses in pots. I did adjust the duration of the lawn sprinklers down a minute or two depending on the station but will keep an eye on it as I don’t want my lawns to turn brown yet. We are going to have another heat wave in a couple days (100-ish), and then perhaps fall will finally kick in and the weather will begin cooling. Meanwhile, I spent a 1/2 hour in the garden this morning hoeing some weeds, and trimming off some spent blooms so that I can enjoy one more cycle of beautiful fall blooms next month before winter sets in.
September 17, 2020: The skies finally began to clear up this morning and I could see some puffy white clouds and a hint of blue skies. But there is still many fires in Southern California, and therefore much smokey air. So it’s not very healthy to go outside and try to play in the rose garden. I really do want to pull some weeds and trim off spent blooms, but it will have to wait for a few more days. It’s just as well, because the outside temperature is still too hot to enjoy the weather. Meanwhile, another garden hose split apart, so it’s a good thing that I bought 3 when I had to replace the last hose a couple weeks ago. I remember Bob always telling me to “BE PREPARED” as he learned during his many years as a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout.
September 14, 2020: Oh wonderful! This morning when I went out to the backyard to look around and make sure that the automatic sprinklers had turned on, I saw a dead critter in my swimming pool. Yuck! It was either a rat or a gopher, but I cannot tell the difference and did not want to look up close for inspection. So I got my pool net and plucked the critter out of the pool and put it into the trash. While I was at it, I noticed that there was a lot of ash from Southern California fires floating in the swimming pool. Probably the nearest fire is 100 miles away but there are many fires up and down the West coast from Washington, Oregon, and down throughout California. I will need to test the pool chemicals to make sure they are balanced.
September 13, 2020: I’ve been trying to do some deadheading of spent rose blooms but it’s either been too hot, or the air quality is so nasty and filled with ash that it’s not a good idea to go outside now except on a limited basis to water the potted roses where the automatic sprinklers cannot cover. I had to wear my mask and sunglasses to protect myself.
September 11, 2020: I applied a whole bunch of organic fertilizer on all of my roses today. It took a half hour to blend it all into a big tub, and then another half hour to apply a heaping 1/4 cup to every large rose bush throughout the garden. About 1/8th cup to smaller roses in pots. Then of course I had to go around and water it in, especially the potted roses. The in-ground roses will be watered by the automatic sprinklers tomorrow morning anyway. This organic rose food was so finely powdered that I had to wear a mask because I did not want to breathe it in. The other problem is for some reason a large quantity of flies were attracted to this rose food, which has never happened before. I had some leftover and had to cover it to keep the flies away.
September 9, 2020: I had a stressful and frustrating day today. I was trying to update my Quark Xpress desktop publishing software and it went all haywire. I had to call Quark tech support to help me, after buying the expensive software update and 3-year tech support. The online chat didn't help at all so he finally asked if I had Zoom (fortunately I just got it a few days ago for a practice meeting) so he could access my computer. After he could see my desktop and files, he helped me get all the old software junk versions cleaned out of my computer so I could start over with the new 2020 Quark software which he also helped me to install properly. I've been using Quark Xpress for more than 30 years to produce newsletters and other graphics, both at home for volunteer work, and at my job when I was working for pay. He even helped me resurrect the September 2020 issue of Rose Ecstasy newsletter that got corrupted during the power failure last week. So all is well, and I can continue with the October issue ... EXCEPT now I have to learn Quark all over again because they changed everything. I'm too old for this crap. I have a love-hate relationship with technology! Can't teach old dogs new tricks! PS: I hate dark mode for computer, smartphone, iPad, Facebook etc.
September 8, 2020: I have not been doing much in my garden lately except puttering around. I attempted to do a little deadheading of old spent blooms but it’s so hot here now that it’s nearly impossible to spend much time in the garden. So it’s just little chunks of time here and there, either early in the morning at least before noon, or in the early evening after 6 pm. But the days are beginning to get shorter now so I need to spend my time judiciously.
September 7, 2020: Geez, the air quality here this morning is disgusting! Smoke is from SoCal fires. I think the closest Fire is 100 miles away. I went outside 5 minutes to look around and quickly ran back inside. It’s gonna be 112 degrees here today. Oddly, the air and sky have been nicely blue and clear the past two days, then the nasty smoke began again this morning. AIR QUALITY HORRIBLE, SMOKEY!
September 6, 2020: It was 112 here today, and expected to be 117 here tomorrow. Mostly staying in the house, but I need to run an errand to pick up several new garden hoses because one is bloated and about ready to burst, and the other two are all cracked and kinked up. Can't get anybody to ship or deliver these. Hopefully at 5:30 pm the temp will begin to come down. I suppose I could press my luck and wait a couple of days, but no. I tried to do shipping or delivery but wasn't getting anywhere. They didn't offer curbside pickup. Whoever I talked to said I had to come and pick up the hoses. So I actually went to Home Depot at 5:30 PM that is 5.8 miles one-way from my home. I called first to make sure they had my favorite 75-ft, 5-8" heavy duty FlexRite hose. If I had saved my receipts and packaging from last time, they would have replaced them for free because they have a LifeTime warranty. But I didn't this time, they are several years old and I used them every day unless it's raining. I have gotten free replacements many times. There were very few customers there at 5:30 PM so I got in and out in 5 minutes, although at 1 PM they said they were extremely busy. Everybody was wearing masks and the checkers had big plastic shields in front of their stations. I had a premonition that one of the hoses was going to blow up today ... AND IT DID!!! This happened as soon as I got home from picking up the new hoses because I took a gamble and used the worst hose one more time. It blew up like a balloon, exploded and drenched me head to toe. Oh, that was fun! But I now have my new hoses so I'm good to go for another 2 or 3 years.
September 4, 2020: I wonder why I have so many lizards in my garden this year? More than ever before. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, and I’m not afraid of them. Hundreds in all sizes, all ages from tiny babies to oldies. The only thing that’s different is that I rarely spray chemicals anymore. Only once this year in early April. I twice applied granular Bayer systemic fertilizer with Imidacloprid around the roses to combat chilli thrips. And lots of organic stuff like alfalfa pellets, kelp etc. The only plants I grow are roses and grass, but I cannot imagine lizards eat that. Maybe now my garden has a lot more bugs the lizards can eat.
September 3, 2020: I went outside to trim a few roses in my backyard this morning. Never a dull moment here as they clean up the flood control channel that used to be a dry riverbed wash when we first moved here 55 years ago. Sadly they have demolished the wild duck stop over on their migration north and south. This is Day-3 of the cleanup. The wash was completely filled side to side with 8-ft tall wild bushes when they started 3 days ago. I didn’t shoot a photo then because I never imagined it would be this drastic. I realize they have to do it for our protection against floods, but it was very beautiful before they began.
August 27, 2020: With extra time on my hands now, I decided to feed my lawns for the 3rd time this year. This has never happened before! Although not a pure hybrid bluegrass lawn anymore (it was originally bluegrass sod), now it’s just a mixture of bluegrass and whatever else has blown in over the past 20 years, my “lawns” look lush, thick, and very green. I applied Bandini 16-8-6 and it was easy to apply by hand. It took less than a half hour to get it done. Then I ran the sprinklers for several minutes to wash it in. When the weather turns cold in December, most of this “grass” will turn brown with bare patches.
August 21, 2020: If the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, we’ve now been suffering through a nasty heatwave for the past week. Temperatures have been hovering around 108 for a week. It’s been miserable and my roses hate it too. It’s way too hot to actually do much work in the garden, so I’ve abandoned deadheading for now, but always faithfully water my roses. The automatic sprinkler system covers most everything but there are some pots that need to get hand watered every single day during this heatwave. I want to apply some dry organic fertilizer but will put it off until the weather cools down. If a pandemic and heatwave were not enough to taunt us, there are now many fires in California, the Lake Fire being in my area. Our air quality is very nasty now so I remain sequestered inside my house and only venture out to get the mail and water rose pots. My swimming pool has a layer of ash on the top so the filter is working overtime, even though I skim it with a net every day.
August 13, 2020: For the past several days I’ve been working on my patio to repot several hundred rooted rose cuttings that I propagated this past winter (December and January). They all began in groups of 9 cuttings in 2-in pots. Then in May I separated them into their individual 2-inch pots. Now here it is August and I had to move them all up to 3-inch size because the roots are growing so fast that the little pots with lots of perlite in the potting mix, dry out too fast. I took the time to reorganize my little propagating area and make sure every plant is labelled properly with variety name and propagation date. The success rate was excellent for most varieties, but there are some roses that simply refuse to root, such as Golden Holstein, Red Intuition, Treasure Trail, Blue For You, and Alakazam. Those varieties barely have a 10% success rate.
August 9, 2020: I forced myself to get up early this morning at 8:00 am (although I refused to set the alarm). I needed to apply Preen, a product that prevents weeds from sprouting. Rogue weeds were getting out of control throughout my garden even though I hoe and rake around the garden several times a week. So it was time for Preen. I’ve used this weed pre-emergent product for the past 20 or so years and usually apply it twice a year (spring and fall). I was not able to apply the Preen all last year because of family illness, so this year the weeds are getting out of control. It’s amazing how fast those weeds throw their seeds all over
August 5, 2020: Some of my tree roses and tall rose bushes were beginning to topple over. In particular the very tall hybrid tea Neil Diamond on a tree rose in the parkway really needed help. This bush is so big (even though it’s only 3 years old) that a thick green plastic stake that I normally use would not hold Neil Diamond upright. Fortunately, I had a 5-foot piece of rebar in the garage that worked perfectly, but I needed to hammer the rebar into the ground with a rubber mallet. Neil Diamond is now standing tall once again.
August 2, 2020: Now that I have given away 40% of my roses, (all giveaways were in 5, 10, and 15 gallon pots and were duplicates of those same varieties) I am planting the last few roses that Bob budded on Fortuniana right before he got sick. This week I planted a hybrid tea named Stranger. It’s an unusual florist rose with lavender and white stripes. Probably not show quality but I love the unusual color. My total quantity of roses is down from 375 to 225 and most are planted in the ground where they are automatically watered. Fewer than 50 roses are potted in 7, 10, and 15 gallons and most of those are minis and minifloras. I have them raised up so I don’t have to bend over to care for them, but they need to be hand-watered. However I still have nearly 300 roses in 2-inch pots that I rooted this past January for rose society giveaway if we can ever meet again. I need to move those to 3-inch pots as soon as it cools down. I am not looking forward to doing that work, especially in this nasty heat. What the heck was I thinking!??? Maybe I should just toss them all. Ugh!!!
July 27, 2020: I haven’t seen any of my friends or family in person in 4 months. Occasional electronic visits with family via GoogleDuo. Doing Facebook, email, US Mail, phone, and texts of course. Grocery shopping initially by Instacart home delivery, now doing Walmart curbside no-contact pickup once a week. A few things delivered by Amazon (ordered some cute cloth masks yesterday), Home Depot, Costco and other suppliers. Annual doctor checkups postponed, but do Dr phone calls if needed, and meds pickup via drive-thru at Walgreens. Thankfully I have a nice rose garden to roam around in. I appreciate my gardener (mow-blow-go) who shows up faithfully every week (but we never speak to each other in person, just phone if needed). I do all the housecleaning myself. I do the pool & filter cleaning, adding pool chemicals and water myself. I wear a mask whenever I need to go out, which isn’t often, and only for necessities. I do not eat out nor do take-out food. I dyed my own hair, trimmed my bangs but cannot reach to cut the back of my hair, so I’m beginning to wear a little ponytail. Manicures and pedicures are out so I’m doing that myself too. Monthly rose society meetings have been canceled (we usually have 50 people attend). The fate of our annual rose show at Hart Park is questionable. I’ve become a hermit, and intend to remain so until the #TrumpVirus2020 is eradicated.
July 25, 2020: For the past 8 weeks I have been attending American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian (CR) free online at-home webinars every two weeks. Each webinar was one-hour, with a second hour of Q&A. We had different knowledgeable speakers that presented excellent information about roses, such as "Chemical Safety", "Soil & Water", "Fertilizer", and "Diseases & Insects". Current Consulting & Master Rosarians that attended all four segments, were able to update our credentials. There were hundreds of attendees from throughout the United States. Potential CR's who attended are now eligible to take the CR test and potentially become a CR. To be eligible, all CR's must be a member of the American Rose Society for at least 3 consecutive years, and keep their membership and credentials current by taking at least 4 hours of classes every four years.
July 20, 2020: Just puttering around the garden on a daily basis, seeing what needs to be done. Hoed a few weeds, and keeping the potted roses watered daily although we recently had several days of delightful weather in the mid-80’s. Doing a little deadheading to encourage reblooming in a few weeks. Planted several roses in the ground that have been in pots and are now ready to get planted. Pink Brick House got a nice spot. Double-checking the lawn sprinklers to make sure they are watering properly. The sprinkler heads are easy to adjust with a screwdriver, Bob taught me “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey." I also changed the duration of the timers because it seemed to be giving too much water, so I lowered the duration by one minute on each station and I will see how that goes after the weather gets hotter again. I also did not like the sprinklers coming on at 6:00 am so I changed it to 7:00 am. My good neighbor hauled away one of my old rotting arches from the side of my house on which I was trying to train Tropical Lightning to climb. I also gave him the rose so he dug it up and planted it in his yard. He and his wife are thrilled because they wanted a climber, and I have given them a bunch of potted roses for their yard.
July 14, 2020: I got my water sprinkler/irrigation system overhauled today. A few days ago, the valve was spewing water all over the place so I had to turn off the sprinkler system and the water main going to the system, and I've been watering by hand since then. So my sprinkler guy replaced the valves (there are four) and installed a pressure regulator that we never had before. Well, no wonder it kept blowing the valves out. Turns out we have 140 psi which is way too high. They adjusted everything, and checked the sprinkler heads so now all four stations are watering perfectly instead of flooding some stations, and not watering enough on other stations. Each of the two front yard stations are now set on 10 minutes, and the two backyard stations are each set on 8 minutes. I might need to lower the duration time, but we’ll see how it performs during the hot summer. We have extremely sandy soil, so the water drains away quickly. The timer turns on every day at 6:00 am. As the weather cools down in early fall, I change the timer to 3 or 4 times a week. Then winter it’s twice a week, and I manually turn it off when it rains. I do have a WeatherMatic Smartline system that I've had for 12 years (sprinkler guy got it for me free from the Water Co.), and I could let it decide when to water, which is fine if I only have a lawn, but with roses I want to decide for myself when and how much to water.
July 6, 2020: I’m trying to stay on top of the deadheading (removing spent rose blooms so they will rebloom and not produce rose hips) but the weather has turned very hot (in the 100 degree range) so I only deadhead a little bit in the morning (around 10:00 am), but even better is about an hour in the early evening before sundown (around 7:00 pm). Also, evening is when I hand water the potted roses. The automatic sprinklers come on at 6:00 am as usual, which irrigates the lawns as well as 90% of my rose bushes. There are 5 sprinkler stations, most of which run for about 8 minutes each. I charged my battery-powered spray tank this morning, although I don’t know why I bother since I rarely spray the roses anymore. It takes about 3 hours to charge the battery once a month. I have to check the filter basket in my pool every day because rose petals & foliage collect there. If I neglect to do that, then the main filter doesn’t work as well.
July 3, 2020: Even though I applied Preen weed pre-emergent granules to my rose garden earlier this year, I seem to have a lot of weeds sprouting up here and there. I keep hoeing them but they keep coming back. Then they come up in odd places like cracks in the driveway, or sidewalk where they are difficult to remove. I hate to use Roundup so I Googled how to kill weeds and came across a recipe for a non-toxic weed killer. BE CAUTIOUS what you spray it on because it will kill grass and other non-weed plants. Just be careful to spray close to the weed when the air is still, not windy. The weed killer recipe contains 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and a tablespoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid (as a spreader-sticker). You put all the ingredients into a gallon spray tank and then shake it up a bit before using. I only have a 1/2 gallon spray pump bottle so I cut the recipe in half. The next day after spraying most weeds have shriveled and died. Weeds that are in the shade might not be killed, as sunshine facilitates the weed killer to do its job. However, there is one very big (2-feet tall) weed on the other side of my fence that borders the flood control channel, and this home-made non-toxic weed killer doesn’t seem to phase it. I cannot get on that side of the fence to pull up the weed, so I will continue to keep spraying it every few days. I want to avoid that weed from producing seeds and blowing them all over my garden.
July 1, 2020: Our 2nd bloom cycle of the year will soon be over in another week or so. Now doing daily deadheading so we can have more blooms for our 3rd bloom cycle by Labor Day. We get four bloom cycles per year. The last one will be for Thanksgiving holiday. With well-timed and judicious trimming, our bloom cycles magically appear on four holidays: Easter, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. (If the weather doesn't get too cold, sometimes we can have a few blooms for a Christmas bouquet.) We begin winter pruning right after New Year's Day, so that means there are no blooms from January 1 until mid-April.
June 29, 2020: I decided to try the Kellogg’s Organic Plus Vegetable & Fruit Fertilizer (4-0-2) derived from reduced sugar molasses and acidulated fish solubles, which is packaged in a spray bottle that you attach to your garden hose. Then simply spray it on the roses, both around the base of every bush and onto the foliage too (if the weather isn’t too hot and windy). Our weather was very mild today and not windy, so it was a perfect day to give it a try. I was a little apprenhensive at first because I was afraid the spray would blow into the pool or get all over me. So I wore coveralls, sunglasses, gloves, and a hat and then began on a side of the yard away from the pool to see if it was going to be easy or difficult to control. I sprayed the liquid fish on all the roses as well as the lawn. It turned out to be very easy, and I used three quarts (32 ounce spray bottles) which covered both the front and back yard consisting of 225 rose bushes. Each bottle is automatically diluted with water when it comes out of the hose (you need to turn on the water of course). It was a little smelly at first, but not really too terrible. After it dried, I could not smell it at all. The package says that we can apply it every 2 to 3 weeks.
June 27, 2020: I've been puttering around the garden, repotting some roses, planting others. Doing a little weeding every few days. Trying to keep up with the deadheading (removing of spent rose blooms) because I don't want my roses to produce hips. I would much rather see more blooms next month. Last year I made the mistake of letting most of my roses produce hips because I didn't have time to deadhead. Birds and other critters had a field day eating the mature rose hips, but they left the debris in my rain gutters, which caused a little flooding in the house. On a good note, a friend of mine collected many hips from my garden last fall and is now having fun seeing the rose babies sprouting. I gave a few more potted roses away, so now my rose inventory is getting down to a more manageable size. Except those darned 2-inch cuttings that I had crazy success with at the beginning of the year because of using the rooting gel Clonex. They are growing so well that I will probably need to move some of them to 3-inch pots soon.
June 24, 2020: Many of my roses are beginning to produce blooms again. It appears that the garden is about halfway into the 2nd bloom cycle. Playgirl was the first to bloom as always. Now Love Song, Sparkle & Shine, and Ring of Fire are showing off their beauty. The Bayer Advanced 2-in-1 really helped to stop the chilli thrips in their tracks as all the foliage looks great right now even though I only sprayed the roses once this year. It will need to be applied again in August. Today I had to apply some chelated iron to a few roses that always have yellow foliage this time of year. I believe that the chlorosis is caused by too much water and insufficient drainage. But the bushes are still thriving and producing lots of blooms.
June 6, 2020 My garden is in between bloom cycles right now. I trimmed off all the old, shattered blooms, to encourage new blooms to be produced. If I were to neglect doing this, the spent blooms would produce rose hips and therefore bloom production would come to a screeching halt. June Gloom has hit so there is some mildew on the roses now, especially since I have only sprayed my rose bushes with fungicide once this year in early spring. I did however, apply Bayer Advanced 2-in-1 in May which helps to prevent insects, but not diseases. Usually our weather here is warm and dry so diseases are rare. I am beginning to see some flower thrips damage on the blooms, and also some chilli thrips damage on the foliage. Seems I was a week late in applying the Bayer Advanced 2-in-1, but hopefully it will kick in now and help the new blooms. Also, the foliage on a few of my roses seems a little chlorotic (yellowish) so I have applied more Kelloggs Gromulch throughout ,and some more Osmocote slow release fertilizer. I suspect that the chlorosis this year is caused by heavier rainfall, but also I have not applied water-soluble iron like I normally do.
May 23, 2020 I decided to finish splitting the remaining rose cuttings apart, and it looks like more than 100 to be done. During December and January I had made nearly 300 cuttings but about 10% didn’t make it. Still, this is excellent success. I wanted to get this done today before the weather turns too hot. It took several hours, but at least I could work on my shady patio, and it wasn’t too windy. First, I had to finish making a label for every plant. Then I had to gather some pots and potting soil, both of which I am getting low on. The roots are amazing! Hurray for Clonex rooting gel that I used for the first time this year.
May 19, 2020 I don’t spray or fertilize as much as I used to because I don’t plan to exhibit at rose shows anymore, or at least maybe on a very limited basis. So although my roses look pretty good, they don’t need to look perfect to be judged for competitive rose shows. I also don’t mulch as much as we used to because I don’t have the strength to do it by myself, and my gardener always seems to be too busy with other customers to spend extra time here. In January he did apply 7 large bags of Kelloggs Gromulch around all the roses in the front yard, which is his slow time. I don’t scrimp on water though. So far, my roses look pretty good, although the foliage is beginning to look a little chlorotic, caused by heavy watering, and those nasty chilli thrips are beginning to make their dastardly appearance. I can already see damage on the new foliage, so I’m glad I applied the Bayer 2-in-1 just in the nick of time. Because of the cool rainy weather, following hot weather, I am beginning to see mildew on some of my roses. This is unusual in my garden, although I have only sprayed fungicide once this year, so I might need to pull my sprayer out of the garage, charge it up, and spray one more time.
May 16, 2020 Weather predictions indicate that there is a 60% chance of rain tomorrow. So I took the opportunity to apply some Bayer Advanced 2-in-1, which is a combination of 6-9-6 rose fertilizer and imidacloprid (an insecticide that is great for controlling chilli thrips and other insects like aphids. It took me less than an hour to apply 20 lbs of this granular product to all of my 225 roses. I apply a heaping 1/8th cup to every large bush, and a scant 1/8th cup to the smaller roses such as miniatures, minifloras, and polyanthas. The product is packaged in 5 lb blue plastic bottles. I bought it earlier in the year just before the pandemic hit. In fact, the day of our March 3 meeting I went to Green Thumb immediately after our rose society meeting because this product was on sale, and they had a Bayer Rebate coupon for $5 each bottle purchased. I got my rebate within just a couple of weeks. This slow-release product works for 8 weeks, so I will need to apply it again in July or August. While I was at it, I took advantage of a cool day to also feed my lawns with Bandini lawn fertilizer that I already had stored in my fertilizer cabinet in the garage. I didn’t need to water any of the material in because I will let tomorrow’s expected rain do the job for me. (And yes, just like clockwork, it did rain right on schedule the very next morning, just the perfect amount of rain to water in the fertilizers without washing them away. I got lucky with that!)
May 12, 2020 The weather turned a little bit cooler for a few days, 70 to 80 degrees, so I am taking advantage of deadheading the roses like crazy (trimming off the spent blooms). It’s amazing how much quicker and easier it is to do this necessary step in rose growing when the weather is nice. I also noticed that there were a few broken canes here and there that got damaged when we had wind last week. It’s also easier to do a little weeding with my favorite small hula hoe. While I was at it, I checked some of the stakes & ties that were holding up some of the younger rose bushes that were beginning to lean over.
May 9, 2020 Most of my roses have finished blooming, especially in the front yard. They are dropping petals all over the place and making a big mess, especially in the swimming pool. I am already trimming off many of the spent blooms so the roses will bloom again perhaps around the end of June. I have filled up two 96-gallon green waste barrels of rose trimmings, and my garden has raked up another 96-gallons of rose petals. I’m sure glad I have him to help with cleaning up the mess. The late bloomers are the polyantha roses. Wing-Ding is blooming this week and it’s producing a spectacular display on my patio. Lullaby and Verdun are nearby and just about ready to burst into bloom. The tiny micro-mini Elfinglo is beginning to bloom too. I love its mounding growth habit.
May 3, 2020 I spent the day messing around with rose cuttings. I made new cuttings of Red Intuition, Golden Holstein, Treasure Trail, and Alakazam. These varieties have always been difficult to root, and in fact the cuttings of these that I tried to root in December all failed. So I am doing it again, even though it might be too hot now for them to be successful. As the saying goes ... nothing ventured, nothing gained. Then I spent a few hours splitting apart and repotting some rooted cuttings of the rose varieties that WERE successful in December. For example, Fabulous floribunda was crazy successful! Radio Times, Playgirl, Puanani, Twilight Zone, Glitter Girl, and Love Song were also very successful. Let’s hope I didn’t separate them too soon since the weather is now getting very hot this week. I just have to make sure to water them every day. No fertilizer for them yet until they settle in and begin to grow more.
April 25, 2020 We had a heatwave beginning today. It’s going to be a scorcher that will hit 95 degrees. Since many of the rose blooms in my garden are popping open like crazy, both the front and back gardens, I went out and shot many photos. I posted more than 20 photos on the SCVRS Facebook, so if you want to see them, go take a look. For SCVRS members, the photos will be featured in the June issue of Rose Ecstasy newsletter since this May issue is already completed and is ready to be published.
April 22, 2020 It’s been two months since I last fed my roses in February. I still have a big 25 lb tub of various dry organics and a whole bunch of Osmocote slow-release fertilizer in my garage, so I just need to get the ambition to get out there and apply it onto my roses. The weather has turned hot today (88 degrees), and will probably be that way for a few days at least. In fact, Saturday is predicted to hit 92. So now I am watering the rose bushes and potted roses every day, although for only 8 minutes on each sprinkler station. When I get bored, I pull a few weeds here and there, as the gardener never seems to have time. Anyway, it gives me the chance to get a little exercise and catch a few sun rays that are good for Vitamin D.
April 19, 2020 It’s nice to be able to walk around my swimming pool without tripping over a bunch of large potted roses, which were mostly given away to friends and family. Fewer rose petals are flying into the pool. Yes, they looked pretty but what a mess, and it kept me busy cleaning out the petals from the skimmer basket. My pool guy cleaned out my main pool filter today and checked the pool heater to make sure it’s working properly. Apparently, the pool filter was very clogged from last fall’s fire that left ashes all over the pool so the pop-up cleaners and the heater were not working properly. Although I have learned how to test and adjust the pool chemicals (chlorine and acid), add water, and run the pool robot cleaner, the giant filter and heater are beyond my knowledge and physicality. The guy even delivered some pool supplies to me and put them in the garage, so I don’t need to make a trip to the pool supply store anytime soon.
April 17, 2020 Finally! A few blooms are beginning to open in my front garden. They are the roses that were pruned first at the end of December. See our Facebook page for photos. Some of the early bloomers were Ring of Fire, Affirm, St Patrick, Hot Princess, Playgirl, Blue for You, Anna de Diesbach, and Radio Times. Now we need to take care and remove rotting and red spotted blooms right away because those symptoms are an indication of botrytis blight (a fungus) that is caused by rain and damp weather. So cut those nasty blooms off and put them in the trash. Don’t let the petals fall in the garden.
April 12, 2020 Wishing Happy Easter to All! There is a tiny bit of drizzle today in my garden but we are looking forward to some sunshine the rest of the week. The roses sure need it so their blooms can open, and the mildew can be stopped in their tracks. I suppose on the bright side I have not had to water my roses in a week, so the water bill should be lower. Today I saw a few blooms in my rose garden: Hot Princess (totally hot!), Treasure Trail (follow the trail to blooms), Barbra Streisand (yummy fragrance), Alakazam (hoping magic will make the virus disappear soon), My Sunshine (where is it?), Playgirl (let us play), and Why Not (yes, why not?).
April 9, 2020 No sooner had I finished spraying the roses for the first time in a year, then 2 days later it began raining ... and raining ... and raining some more. My swimming pool is completely full, but fortunately slowly draining out the high water hole that drains out into the flood control channel behind my house. I thought that I might need to dig out the submersible pump to drain the pool a little, but so far I have not had to do that. Seems like my water sprinklers have been turned off for weeks, and they will stay that way until the weather begins to warm up. Meanwhile, a few roses are trying to force open some blooms here and there. I saw Playgirl, The Imposter, Blue For You, Ring of Fire, Queen of Hope, a cluster of Radio Times, and a few others. Even though my roses got pruned early this year, it looks like peak bloom will arrive later than normal.
April 1, 2020 Well, I finally had to bite the bullet and spray the roses this morning. I didn’t want to spray, but I felt that I HAD to because the mildew and aphids were coming on strong on some of my roses, and I do not want it to get out of control. Although I don’t plan to exhibit anymore, and could not this year even if I did want to, I want to get my roses off to a good start during cool spring, because they will be fine once the weather warms up. So I set the alarm for 6:30 am because that is when sunrise begins today. But instead I woke up at 5:30 am because I was so anxious that I couldn’t sleep. It had been a year since I last sprayed, and last month I had problems with the sprayer battery so replaced it. The weather was perfect: cool and not windy. I got it all done from set-up to clean-up in less than two hours. Okay, now I can relax and wait for blooms to begin opening very soon.
March 30, 2020 The yellow floribunda ‘Sparkle & Shine” in my front yard is sparkling clean despite not being sprayed for mildew in a year. Most of my other roses are clean too, except my Austin shrub roses in both my front and back yard have a lot of mildew. Only the hybrid teas Affirm and Hot Princess in my front yard have mildew. And the roses Purple Tiger (striped floribunda) and William Shakespeare 2000 (an Austin) in a planter under my front eaves have mildew too. Since these two never get rained on, I suspect that Purple Tiger would be clean if it was out in the direct sun and washed from the rain.
March 21, 2020 We continue to have more and more rain every day, except today has been dry. No worries, it is predicted to rain more tomorrow. Yesterday my gardener finished applying 7 more bags of Kellogg’s Gromulch around the remainder of my roses in the front yard. I will let the rain water the mulch in. I’ve had my sprinkler timers turned off for more than a week. No sense in wasting water. My roses are getting more mildew every day. This the perfect weather for mildew and perhaps some anthracnose (which I haven’t yet seen this year). Luckily, my garden does not attract rust as I have never seen rust in my garden since I’ve been growing roses over 30 years. I would spray to control diseases, but no sense in spraying when it’s raining almost every day. I will need to wait for dry weather, and learn to live with a little mildew as it won’t harm the roses, just make them look unattractive. I continue to remove dandelions from my lawns when I see their yellow blooms. I don’t wait until their fluffy white seed heads appear because I do not want more dandelions in my yard.
March 19, 2020 Our April 5 meeting has been canceled due to COVID-19. LA County Parks & Recreation (Hart Park, our meeting place) have canceled it, and our SCVRS Executive Board voted in agreement. We plan to publish the Rose Ecstasy newsletter sometime in April, then we will wait and see if our May 3 meeting will need to be canceled also.
March 18, 2020 Yikes! What fresh hell is this? Today, like last year around this same time, a swarm of flying ants came into my bedroom through a crack in the window frame. I don’t see how they are getting in there, but I did apply some ant granules and spray outside on the window ledge, and then vacuumed up the live ants that got indoors. These things really creep me out. I’m pretty sure they are ants and not termites because I looked at them under glass and could see they are ants, not termites. There are some good images online where you can see a comparison.
March 17, 2020 Like many other folks, today I am voluntarily self-quarantining myself. I’m not sick and don’t think that I have been exposed to the COVID-19, since I’ve been holed up in my house for the past 10 days. I’m having withdrawals from fast food. I’m a very good cook but don’t like to cook anymore. And I heard that Chick-Fil-A re-opened after being shut down for remodeling the past two months. But now all my favorite fast-food joints are limited to take-out or drive-thru. Family and neighbors have been very sweet and helpful to me, but we still need to self-quarantine from friends and family. SoI began to work on the April Rose Ecstasy since TV is too scary and boring. Old TV shows like “The Golden Girls” lift my spirit.
March 16, 2020 My roses are beginning to produce a lot of beautiful green foliage. Long stems are also pushing up fast, and have little green buds at the top of each stem. We’ve had so much rain that it has been impossible to spray for disease, although the foliage mostly looks very clean except in areas like under eaves where the rain cannot wash the foliage. So there is some mildew beginning on the roses in those protected locations.
March 14, 2020 Rain, rain, and more rain. I haven’t needed to refill my swimming pool, and I’ve had my automatic lawn sprinklers in the off position for a week. My water bill should be lower. Meanwhile, what few worms I have in my backyard rose planters have evacuated and jumped into the pool and drowned. I had to run my Pool Shark Robot to vacuum them all up. Sort of gross when I had to clean the Robot filter that was filled with worms. Yuck!
March 12, 2020 We’ve had a lot of rain this month but we do need it. The dandelions are loving it and keep popping up in my lawn. I try to go out and dig them as they bloom, before they make seeds. These dandelions are blowing into my yard from a reclusive neighbor’s yard down the street whose yard is infested with dandelions. After 3 days of soaking my free ‘Stiletto’ and ‘Brick House Pink’ bareroot roses that I got from Star Roses at the last meeting, I finally got them planted into 3-gallon pots filled with Gardner & Bloome potting soil. Now the roses are enjoying the rain.
March 10, 2020 The gophers and rats have arrived in my garden, although I don’t know why since there is nothing there for them to eat. So I filled the traps and hopefully the rodents will go away soon.
March 6, 2020 I'm getting some stuff done on my Wish List. My gardener applied some Kellogg's Gromulch around some of the roses in my front yard today. Four large bags of Kellogg's Gromulch had been piled up in my garage for a year waiting for somebody to apply it. Gardener will go get some more bags of Gromulch and apply it next week. He would have done it before if I had asked him, but I didn't want to impose on his schedule. He's only been working for me for 1-1/2 years and I didn't want to scare him off so I waited for the opportune moment since the grass doesn't grow much over the winter. He's going to feed the lawn next week too. PS: Four 1.5 cf bags only covered the rings of 25% of my front garden. It’s going to take a lot more bags. The backyard rose beds need mulching too, but the mulch back there has a tendency to blow into my swimming pool. That means more cleaning and more chemicals in the pool. Fortunately, I have a Shark Pool Robot cleaner that I put into the pool once a week four hours to clean out any debris, like palm fronds and palm seeds from both of my neighbors' yards.
March 3, 2020 I had full intentions of spraying my roses for insects and mildew this week, but the weather predictions told me otherwise. Weather forecasters say it MIGHT rain over the next few days (40% chance), so I will hold off until next week. Meanwhile, my Spray Boss is all set up and ready to go, I just need to put the sprayer on the trickle charger for several hours the night before I will be using it. I also got all my other gear ready, such as my Tyvek plastic spray coveralls, nitrile gloves, hat, goggles, respirator, measuring utensils, and so forth.
February 22, 2020 I’ve been determined to get back on track with fertilizing my roses this year. To do that, I have to change some methods because I don’t have the muscle strength to do some of the things that Bob did, as we were a team when it came to caring for our roses. For example, there is no way I have the strength to push around an 80-gallon barrel full of liquid fertilizer without help. So I am going back to the dry granular, slow release route. Today the weather reports said it was going to rain, so I jumped at the chance to go out and apply some dry granular fertilizer to all of my roses before the rain arrives later today. I looked through my fertilizer cabinet and pulled out various containers of all kinds of goodies that I have stockpiled. Several bags of Gardner and Bloome organic rose food, bags of Osmocote slow release 15-8-12 with 11 nutrients including iron, a huge bag of magnesium sulphate, 4 lb tubs of of kelp meal and fish meal. I blended everything together in a large flat mixing tub like one would use for mixing a batch of cement. That is what Bob used to blend dry garden fertilizers together. My garden hoe came in handy for mixing everything together but a small shovel would have worked well too. Then I used a small 1-gallon bucket filled with the dry fertilizers and applied a heaping 1/4 cup to all large rose bushes, and a scant 1/4 cup to the smaller bushes in pots, like miniatures and minifloras. When finished, I did not water in the fertilizers, because an hour later the rain arrived and did my work for me. It pays to be a weather nut like I am. I use the National Weather Service app on my iPhone and iPad on a daily basis.
February 15, 2020 I got up early this morning to go out and apply Preen weed-pre-emergent on all of my rose beds and potted roses. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I never did find the opportunity to apply Preen last year at all. I am paying the price now because lots of grass and weeds are beginning to sprout all over my front and back gardens, even though I seem to be constantly picking new weed seedlings. It only took about an hour start to finish. The first 1/2 hour for applying the dry Preen granules, then the second 1/2 hour to water it all in so it doesn’t blow away before it gets the chance to do its job.
February 10, 2020 My 25-year-old Spray Boss, 14-gallon garden sprayer pooped out on me after all these years. It was my fault because I left it on the charger for several months instead of 24 hours. I didn’t know what the problem was at first ... as I wondered if it was the battery or the pump or the on-off switch. But my son-in-law bought a new battery and installed it for me, as well as installing the new on-off switch. It appears that I am ready to spray the garden again, although I won’t be spraying as often as I used to. I don’t see any mildew or bugs yet, but will keep an eye on it and spray when necessary.
February 8, 2020 Fruit Growers in Fillmore has 50-lb bags of magnesium suphate (epsom salts) for $17.19. This equates to .34 cents per lb, plus $12 in gas to drive there (58-cents per lb) plus my TIME to drive to their store in Fillmore. I don’t know what shipping costs would be but certainly not cheap for 50 lbs. On the other hand, Costco has 12 1-lb bags of Dr Teals Epsom salts for $7.99 which equates to 66-cent per lb. It’s a dilemma but I think that Costco will be much less expensive!
February 7, 2020 Today I got the best price for Osmocote 15-9-12 from Walmart, and so I bought eight 8 lb bags, with free delivery to my home tomorrow. I would have preferred 14-14-14 but that’s okay, 15-9-12 is close enough. Amazon was the same price but they limited me to 3 bags. It was $13.96 per 8 lb bag = $1.75 per lb at both Walmart and Amazon. Crop production in Camarillo was $1.70 per lb but I would have to drive 100 miles RT. With gas now nearly $4.00 per gallon that is not worth my time and expense to drive all the way out to Camarillo. I need to find a closer source and lower price for bulk epsom salts.
February 6, 2020 Two products that I have used on my 300 rose bushes for many years are bulk 50# bags of 1) magnesium sulphate (epsom salts), and 2) Osmocote 3-month slow release 14-14-14 fertilizer. We used to drive 25 miles (50 RT) to Fillmore to get it, but Western Farm Service closed that store and changed their name. Then for the past 5 years we've been driving 50 miles (100 RT) to Crop Production Service (name changed again to Nutrin Ag Service) in Camarillo once a year to get these products. So in looking for a better price, I came across Fruit Growers in Fillmore which has a competitive price for epsom salts ($17/50 lbs), but their price ($98/32 lbs) for Osmocote is double what I was paying before and it's only NPK 15-9-12. Gas is expensive, nearly $4/gal to drive there to get it, but the alternative for shipping cost is high due to the weight of these products.
January 29, 2020 It’s still too early to start fertilizing the roses, so I will wait at least another month. However, I did go to the feed store and bought an 80-lb sack of alfalfa pellets. I applied 1/2 cup (a small handful) of these pellets around each rose bush if they are growing in the ground or a large container. I immediately watered the roses and pellets to get the pellets to begin decomposing and doing their work to attract earthworms and give the roses triacontanol (a growth stimulant).
January 27 I haven’t sprayed my roses in nearly a year. So I was thinking about spraying some dormant horticultural oil on the roses now that they are pruned, but it turns out that my 14-gallon Spray Boss is not working. Its been on the trickle charger for months, which is how I thought Bob kept it in storage, and I tested it a couple months ago and it was okay. Now the pump makes a groaning noise. It’s most likely the battery or pump needs to be replaced but I don’t know how to do that as I am not mechanically inclined. I googled it and so it seems that I should not have left the battery on the charger for many months. Probably fried the battery and will need to get a new one. I will buy the same that was on the sprayer. I cannot blame Bob because it was dummy me that put the battery on the charger months ago. I mistakenly thought it was supposed to be on it all the time.
January 25, 2020 Woo hoo!!! The rose pruning is finally finished today. My two guys did 30 or so miniatures in 7-gallon containers, a dozen polyanthas in 15-gallon containers, and two large climbers in the back yard in two hours flat. Last week they had already pruned the two Shadow Dancer climbers on the arch going into the backyard, but I preferred that it be thinned out more, so they spent another half hour on thinning them out. Shadow Dancer looks so much better now. There was only one rose that they messed up by pruning too hard but that was my fault for not telling them it was different than the others. That is the yellow miniature rose My Sunshine grafted on Fortuniana with a tall shank. Oh well, as Bob would say ... it will be okay.
January 14, 2020 I puttered around in the front garden today, doing a little quarterly maintenance. First off, I checked the water sprinklers and some needed to be adjusted because the sprinkler heads were either shooting up too high, while others were set too low. It's easy to make adjustments with a small screwdriver ... as Bob always told me ... "righty tighty, lefty loosey". So just turn them on to see what they are doing and make adjustments as needed. It only took a few minutes to make the sprinkler head adjustments in the front yard. This time of year the sprinklers are only turning on 3 times a week, 8 minutes each station, Next, I checked the rose rings and some had to be repaired because they were coming apart. Rose rings are placed around every rose bush or tree rose to hold nutrients, water and mulch around each one. I fixed them with some metal tape to hold the ends together. I also repaired the stakes that hold up the tree roses in the parkway. During fall we get high winds that blow tree roses around and loosen their stakes and ties. So I used a mallet to pound the stakes back into the ground, and then used green garden tape to fasten the stakes up against each tree. This should hold them in place for awhile.
January 12, 2020 As of today, my gardeners have pruned 2/3 of the roses in my garden. My front yard is totally pruned now, and the back is 1/2 done. They worked 20 man-hours so far since the beginning of the year. They have another 10 man-hours to prune next Sunday morning. I am very pleased with their work. These two guys have been doing my yard weekly (mow, blow, and go) for the past 1-1/2 years. They pruned my roses for the first time last year in January. I liked how they pruned my roses so I had them prune my roses again this year. Otherwise I take care of my roses myself the rest of the year. Last year I rarely fed or sprayed my roses but I did not spare the water because our summer temperatures are often over 100 degrees and the soil in my garden is mostly native sand. So my roses did well despite my neglect last year. I hope to get the garden mulched but I will probably need to pay the gardeners to do that for me.
January 10, 2020 Since before Christmas I've been making cuttings of roses for our rose society monthly fundraiser at our meetings. I told myself I wasn’t going to do this anymore but, I have nothing but time on my hands now. Well besides producing a monthly full-color 20-page rose society newsletter and two 100-page websites. These are rose cuttings that I donate to my rose society as a fundraiser after they root and mature which takes months. I’m not skilled at budding or grafting, that was Bob’s specialty. Each one of these 4-inch pots contains 8 to 10 individual cuttings that will need to be separated and moved to their own 3-inch pot in the summer when they have finished growing roots. For now I simply keep them out in the winter sun and make sure they get watered. I don't fertilize them until they grow roots.
Memories of My Husband Bob Belendez
Written by Kitty Belendez, Bob's Wife & Best Friend Forever
Spoken by Our Granddaughter Nani Cozby
At Bob's Celebration of Life on September 21, 2019, In Our Santa Clarita Rose Garden
“Our Love Story”
Bobby and I met on a lovely summer day in 1959 at the A & W Root Beer stand in Hawthorne, California. My Mom had driven me and my girlfriends there in her big red Buick convertible after cruising the boulevard. When I met the incredibly handsome Bobby that day, I was instantly attracted to him because of his sweet and charming personality. Bobby charmed Mom too, and so he had her approval to date me.
As young teenagers, Bobby and I fell deeply in love, married the following year, and we soon began our family. Some people predicted that our marriage would never last, but we were happily married for 59-1/2 wonderful years, and we always immensely loved and trusted each other unconditionally.
Bob was always my best friend and lover. He pampered me and never said no to anything I wanted. We had fun and enjoyed many wonderful experiences such as camping and hiking at Yosemite, Sequoia and other beautiful places, traveling throughout the United States, and visiting exotic locations like Hawaii, Cancun and Aruba. We also loved boating and water skiing on many lakes, fishing on the Kern River, or simply hanging out at the beach.
When I became passionate about growing roses in 1985, Bob assisted me even though roses were not his passion. Over the years he planted and pruned hundreds of roses for me, helped me fertilize them, became an expert groomer of prize-winning roses, and was awarded Master Rosarian status.
During the 8 months of his recent illness I often cried because Bob was in intense pain. I wished that I could have healed him and eased his pain. But, Bob never felt sorry for himself. Every time I cried, Bob would comfort me by saying “It’s okay Mama.”
I, along with my daughter Tina, granddaughter Nani, and 3 great-grandsons Bryson, Thayden, and Xander were at the bedside of Papa Bob at home when he drew his last breath and gently passed away from us.
Bob was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was caring, kind, trustworthy, humble, considerate, unselfish, forgiving, and devoted to his family.
I will always love and miss Bob Belendez, my darling husband and best friend forever.
Goodbye sweetheart … until we meet again
Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez
© Copyright Kitty Belendez. All rights reserved.