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

Santa Clarita, California    
Copyright Kitty Belendez

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, cheating, lying, 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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December 27, 2015    The year is winding down quickly. It is very cold and windy outside. Too cold to do any garden work. Even though weather reports predicted rain, we got none for the past week. So I had to water the entire garden yesterday as the heavy winds dried out everything. Although we're going to delay pruning the roses until the end of January, I had to trim several very tall bushes, even some in pots. Dr John Dickman in a 20-gallon container toppled over because the canes were tall but the pot was dry, so the winds blew it over on its side. 

December 19, 2015    Winter has finally arrived. Early morning temperatures are in the mid to low 30's. We've had frost some mornings this past week. The roses can handle frost and cold in the 30's without any problems. However, the young maiden roses that were grafted over the past two months are the ones I worry about because they only have a small bud eye. So as in past years we keep those (about 18 potted roses in one-gallon containers) on a cart that is wheeled under the patio cover at night, and brought out into the sun during the daytime. We will do this until mid to end January, at which time the new baby roses will stay out in the elements. However, we continue to watch the weather predictions because if heavy frost or hale is predicted, then the babies will stay under the patio cover. Meanwhile, we are not doing any fertilizing or spraying at this time. The only watering required is about twice a week unless it rains. 

December 7, 2015    The month of December is a time for parties. We have five different parties on our calendar: The Santa Clarita Rose Society Holiday Party, the Pacific Rose Society Holiday Brunch, Castaic School District Holiday Lunch Party, Castaic School Board Retirement Party for my all-time favorite School Board Member that I worked with 12 years of the 20 years I worked there, and our very own Christmas Eve Tamale Party. While the weather holds good, we're still trying to squeeze in some rose repotting time. We did manage to get all the old roses dug out, and the new roses planted. Dry fish and kelp meal were added to the planting hole to get them off to a great organic start. But we still have a lot of potting to do for the new roses that Bob budded on Fortuniana earlier last year, and some repotting of older roses that just need to be rejuvenated. This will probably keep us busy until the end of January when it will be time to begin pruning. 

November 30, 2015    Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean that the garden doesn't need water. In fact, cold, dry weather can dessicate plants, more so if it's windy. I'm not so concerned about the lawn as it's going to brown up over the winter anyway. But the roses will need to be watered at least twice a week if there is no rain. The potted roses should probably be watered every other day. Bob has already begun digging up the older non-productive roses to make space for the new babies coming in. He dug up four bushes yesterday, and four today. He still has to dig up a couple more bushes in the back yard. Then he has to plant the new roses in the holes. We bought a new product today, the Kelloggs Raised Bed and Potting Soil. The ingredients sound yummy. This will be used to fill in the holes where the new roses will be planted. Like musical chairs, I'm still trying to decide which roses will go where. My favorites will get the best prime spots. Oh wait ... they are all my favorites otherwise I would not be planting them. I have some tough decisions to make because I have more new roses than I have spaces. So some will get left behind and may never get planted. At minimum they will be put in pots to wait their turn. Some might even be given away on our "Private Reserve Sale" ... it's by invitation only. There will be about 40 roses that Bob budded onto Fortuniana last year. I have not decided the ground rules yet, but the first rule is that participants must be a member of Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society. If you're not a member, you won't be invited, and you won't be allowed to participate. The Society is not having an auction in 2016 but a portion of the Private Reserve Sale proceeds will be donated to SCVRS. The event will be totally online via email. The rose list and date of this event will be announced in early February. There will be no shipping so the lucky buyers will have to pick up their roses and pay via cash or check. No credit cards.

November 23, 2015    After a week of recuperation from producing the Santa Clarita Rose Show on November 7, we began cutting roses to exhibit at the Mesa, AZ District Rose Show & Convention on November 21. We cut a few roses every day and stored them in our floral fridge. I didn't know if they would last that long but I had to give it a try because we had weather challenges every day. Hot, cold, winds, rains, you name it. I didn't even know for sure that we would attend, depending on the weather and if our roses looked good enough, but I had booked the hotel last month just in case. I waited until just a few days before the show to see if we had suitable roses, and if my sudden cold would subside. Finally I called and registered for the convention. We brought over 150 cut stems of large roses, mostly hybrid teas, but also a few shrubs and floribundas, and about 120 for minis, minifloras, plus a few polyanthas. I was only interested in entering challenge classes and knew that there would not be time to enter in the regular horticulture classes, although we certainly had plenty of specimens to do both. We worked from 4:00 am to 10:00 am entering 15 challenge classes, and ended up winning 7 of those. We won the McFarland, the Mesa, the Phoenix, the Albuquerque, the Ventura, the Las Vegas, and the Invitational. Machiavellian manipulations precluded us from winning the Rosedale, but everybody knows what happened and which entry was really the best. I have posted photos on my personal Facebook, and some will be published in January "Rose Ecstasy." Now it is time to give it a rest and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family.

November 17, 2015    Soon it will be time to turn our attention to moving roses in and out. We will probably start the big dig the day after Thanksgiving. Some of the bigger/older bushes might need to be pulled out with a chain attached to our van, if Bob is unable to get them out with a crowbar. Especially a couple that are on multiflora rootstock. Big Time and Affirm are going out. We have those roses on Fortuniana rootstock so do not need the bushes on multiflora anymore. Roses on multiflora rootstock tend to get chlorotic in our sandy soil. Besides we need to make space for other new roses coming in. A Hot Princess on Dr Huey is going out, since I have four Hot Princess on Fort. Two old non-productive Black Magic on Dr Huey are going out as we have two new ones on Fort to take their place. Besides we already have two mature humongous Black Magic on Fortuniana. I'm not sure that I really need four Black Magic bushes but I truly love that rose. Snuffy is gonna be outta here -- I do not like that rose! Some of the new hybrid teas coming in are Ring of Fire, Dina Gee, Louise Estes, Spring Break, and Barbra Streisand. Maybe a 3rd Randy Scott will be added if I can find space for him. All on Fortuniana of course. New floribunda bushes are Tickled Pink, Fired Up, and replacements of Playboy, Hannah Gordon. Own-root minifloras going out are Show Stopper, Louisville Lady. New bushes of Whirlaway, Show Stopper, and others on Fortuniana are being added. Now if I could only find spaces for them all as space is at a premium in our yard. Something will have to go to make space for new. I haven't yet figured out the plan.

November 14, 2015    It's been a busy past two weeks, and we finally came up for a breather. Our Annual Rose Show on November 7 was once again a beautiful success. The number of entries was fewer than in past years because of heat, winds, and chilli thrips, but the quality of the roses was excellent. We are very pleased with all of our volunteers that helped out. Including the judges, we had 45 people helping to run the show. I produced and published the web page featuring photos of all of the rose show winners so be sure to check it out. This week our roses are still in full bloom so people throughout the neighborhood are enjoying the fine display. I always get a kick out of seeing the expressions on their faces when they see our garden as they walk by. Looks like I'm gonna have plenty of rose bouquets on my Thanksgiving dinner table.

October 29, 2015    On Tuesday we sprayed the roses again with Conserve and Compass. So far, everything is looking good. Today we fed all the roses. Now our big concern is the Santa Ana winds that will be blowing through Southern California tonight and tomorrow. It's always something. Right!

October 26, 2015    I've recently had many questions about the chilli thrips insects and how to control them. Since chilli thrips are a new insect to California and were only identified this fall, I really do not yet have much experience with their control. Chilli thrips are now all over Southern California in public gardens as well as private gardens. I first recognized them in my garden this past August after being alerted by a friend, so I am just now beginning to try the control methods that were recommended to me by the experts and friends in Florida that have been dealing with the chilli thrips for about 10 years. I have done some Googling on the issue, and have talked to people with more experience. The website at the University of Florida has some valuable information and photos. See link below.

I want to clarify that the methods I use are not for everyone. I grow about 300 roses so my spray machine holds 14 gallons of spray mixture. I buy very concentrated chemicals because it is more cost effective for my large garden. I do not recommend concentrated chemicals to the home gardener with a one- or two-gallon spray tank. There are many other less concentrated products that are more appropriate for use in a small garden. You will need to do some research on the available products for your particular needs.


​For chilli thrips, I rotate weekly the insecticides Merit or Conserve, which are VERY CONCENTRATED products for people with large sprayers and large gardens. These concentrated products are expensive and available from www.rosemania.com.

The main ingredient in the brand name Merit is IMIDACLOPRID.

The main ingredient in the brand name Conserve is SPINOSAD.

You should be looking for the ingredient names (imidacloprid OR spinosad)  on the product labels. There are plenty of products already on the nursery shelves with those ingredients in them. Although other products are probably not as concentrated so you would need to use the correct amount according to the instructions on the product label.

For my 14-gallon sprayer, I use only 1.5 teaspoons of Merit (wettable powder) in 14 gallons of water.


For my 14-gallon sprayer, I use only 2 tablespoons of Conserve (liquid/shake well) in 14 gallons of water.

I DO NOT mix these two products together. Rather, I rotate them once a week. I spray my roses with Conserve one week, and Merit the following week. I do however, mix a fungicide with either Conserve OR Merit, as well as a spreader-sticker such as Indicate-5 when I spray. My fungicide of choice is Compass (extremely expensive!) rotated weekly with BannerMaxx. But again, these fungicides are concentrated for large gardens with large spray machines, so you need to read the product labels of whatever fungicide or insecticide you choose. 

If your sprayer is small, like 1- or 2-gallon,  then it might be difficult to measure the correct amount of concentrated products for a small sprayer. I emphasize that you MUST READ THE PACKAGE LABELS AND FOLLOW THE PROCEDURES AS INSTRUCTED for whatever product you choose to use.

I can so far report that after 4 weeks of weekly spraying, Merit (imidacloprid) rotated weekly with Conserve (spinosad) appears to be very successful in controlling chilli thrips in my garden. I take care to wear a respirator face mask, nitrile gloves, boots, eye goggles, and hat, THEN spray each bush entirely, not just selected canes. Partially spraying a bush will NOT control chilli thrips. Cutting stems off and not spraying at all will NOT control chilli thrips. The chilli thrips love the new foliage as well as the blooms so once they appear, the foliage, stem, and bloom will look distorted, stunted, with the telltale brown streaks on the undersides of the new foliage. You probably won't even see the chilli thrips because they are too tiny to see with the naked eye. So you need to identify them by the damage they do. See photo.

I want to emphasize that I am NOT an expert on chilli thrips. They are new to me after growing roses for 30 years. I am still learning. Here is a link to more info at University of Florida on Chilli Thrips.

October 19, 2015    It appears that a cooling trend is finally giving us some much needed relief. The chilli thrips appear to be under control, however it is becoming apparent that the extended high heat has pushed the new rose growth too fast instead of at a slow steady pace. What this means is that although the stems are being produced very long, they are way too thin and the buds are way too small. For the average home gardener this doesn't matter. But for the rose show exhibitor, this affects the quality of the rose blooms, not only in a smaller bloom size but also the form could be affected by producing fewer petals. I'm also seeing a lot of chlorosis (yellowing) of the foliage, which I usually don't see this time of year. I doubt this is caused by overwatering, because I'm actually watering just a little less than past years. But the water is most likely very alkaline, even more than usual. As is my usual procedure, I've been liquid feeding my roses every week, and iron is in the mix in addition to my normal blend of 8-10-8, liquid kelp, and fish emulsion. I'm going to beef it up a bit when I feed this week, with some full strength Mills Magic 20-10-6, and will add iron and seaweed again. It's a conundrum because on the one hand I don't want to push more growth with nitrogen, but on the other hand the foliage needs to be greened up, and iron has not yet improved the yellow chlorosis. This has been a challenging year for growing roses. 

October 17, 2015     Thank you for your patience. The Homestead site hosting server has been incapacitated for the past week. Today I was finally able to publish my blog writings for the past week. But not before I was forced to sync all thousands of files (pages and photos) for my entire website.  Please see below for blog writings of the past week.

October 16, 2015    There isn’t a whole lot to do in the garden now as we are waiting for the roses to bloom. The weather has still been warm so we need to frequently water the roses. As I said before, roses are not drought tolerant and even if the bushes don’t die, they will look horribly burnt and will not produce blooms if not watered sufficiently. My neighbor’s rose bushes are looking extremely sad right now, and I’m tempted to water them, but I cannot use up my allotment to go around watering all the roses in the neighborhood. People need to see and learn for themselves how awful roses look when not watered. So besides watering now, we are beginning to disbud the hybrid teas as the stems begin to grow and form pea-sized green buds. Disbudding is simply removing side growth on the hybrid teas. It’s not necessary to do this on climbers, floribundas, and shrubs. But if you want big blooms on long stems, you might want to remove the side growth on the hybrid teas.

October 15, 2015    I’ve been trying to update my online blog, but for three days the Homestead service has been down. They say they are having “technical difficulties”. This is affecting millions of Homestead webmasters that cannot update their web sites. So, I keep writing the blog offline for now and check daily to see if Homestead is up and running. Fortunately, everybody can still see our website, I just cannot publish any updates until Homestead gets their act together. I hope this isn’t like last winter when the server was down for two weeks. :-(

October 14, 2015    So today we are feeding the roses again. This will be the second feeding of fall, as we also fed them a week ago. It’s liquid of course. My favorite concoction is half strength Grow More 8-10-8 mixed with half strength fish emulsion, plus liquid kelp, granular Epsom salts, and some powdered Grow More chelated iron, all mixed in with water. Oh yeah, and a dash of SuperThrive. Most people are mixing a gallon at a time, but with so many roses, I’m mixing 60 gallons at a time. I need to make three 60-gallon batches to feed all of my roses. The liquid fertilizer is pumped out with a hose attached to a pump, and then I walk around with the hose feeding the roses. It takes about 1.5 hours to feed all of my roses. 

October 12, 2015    The new spray wand on my old Spray Boss broke today. It is not the fault of the wand, but rather when hubby attached the new wand to the sprayer he neglected to remove the overlap on the clamp that connected the spray wand to the hose. When I was spraying, the clamp got stuck on my nitrile glove and pulled the clamp off so spray material was spewing everywhere. Fortunately, I was almost done spraying so he whipped it back together with a quick fix. After I was done spraying, he replaced the clamp and trimmed off the offending overlap, then he wrapped it in electrical tape to keep it secure. All is well. Mama is happy when her Spray Boss works. ☺

October 10, 2015     And so the saga continues ... Apparently, chilli thrips are here to stay. Several of our members in Santa Clarita have reported chilli thrips in their gardens. Also, chilli thrips have been reported in the growing fields of Wasco, at the Huntington Garden, and in the rose garden at Rose Hills in Whittier. Someone else in Palm Desert reported having them there, and emailed photos to me as proof. The speaker at our last meeting, Christian Bedard of Weeks Roses, stated that the lack of Southern California having a cold winter for the past two years as well as having early springs, late falls, and hot weather all year have contributed immensely to the arrival of chilli thrips. I have taken action on the chilli thrips in my garden by continuing to spray weekly by rotating the insecticides Conserve and Merit. For the most part my roses are looking pretty good now. If you want to see photos of what the chilli thrips look like, go to this website at the University of Florida: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/thrips/chilli_thrips.htm#eco

October 11, 2015    I am loving the new spray wand that I bought online from Northern Tool last week. The Model #4900170N universal spray wand is made by Solo and is mostly plastic. The price was $19.99 plus shipping. I paid extra for 2-day shipping ($13.50) because I needed it right now. It is much more lightweight than the old heavy brass wand that came from the Spray Boss factory 20 years ago. The Solo handle is 28 inches long, and the spray pattern is vastly improved as it covers my roses more thoroughly. It was actually a pleasure to spray my roses with the new wand, much quicker, and I had spray material left over. So I went back and resprayed some of the larger bushes to make sure everything was covered. Last week I sprayed Merit (imiprocloprid), as I was advised to alternate weekly with Conserve and Merit to make sure the chilli thrips were knocked down. I also added Compass fungicide to the mix to prevent mildew that is surely on its way. And, and by the way, if you have not yet heard ... chilli thrips have arrived in Southern California at various locations ... Northridge, Pasadena, Altadena, Fullerton, and even Santa Clarita. The bugs themselves are hardly visible. So if you see twisted, distorted new foliage with black streaks on the backside of the leafs, it is possible your roses have chilli thrips. If unsure, email a close-up photo of the young foliage to Baldo Villegas or me.

September 27, 2015    Yesterday we finally finished trimming all of our nearly 300 rose bushes. It took 17 days of trimming a few every day. In total we filled up five 96-gallon green waste barrels. I'm glad that our neighbor loaned us his barrel for a few days. This morning we got up at 6:15 am to spray all the roses. I used Conserve (spinosad) for the first time (2 TB per 14 gallons of water). I hope it will help to control the chilli thrips that have now appeared in our garden. The Spray Boss was acting up again. The wand was dripping chems out of the handle. Bob is trying to fix it today. Not an easy task because they do not have replacement parts for this very old 14-gallon sprayer. They do not even make this machine anymore. He is able to replace the battery and pump every so often from an auto parts store, but the wand handle is very hard to find a replacement that fits. He tried replacing the O-ring, but that did not help. We saw a wand online at NorthernTool that looks like it might do the trick, so we're going to give it a try. However, it is plastic instead of brass so we shall see.

September 22, 2015    The long, tedious job of trimming our rose bushes continues. I am doing most of the trimming this year as Bob still isn't fully recuperated. I'm sure getting a workout, and my hands and wrists are feeling it. But the show must go on. I only have a dozen more hybrid teas to finish this week. I have several single-petalled floribundas to be done, and about 5 shrub roses and several old garden roses. The minifloras will be trimmed in about a week. It's doubtful I will get around to trimming any of the miniature roses. Oh well! I don't know why I continue to grow so many miniatures (65), as most are not my favorites anymore. Perhaps they will eventually show up on the rose society raffle table. So it appears that I am about 2/3 done with the trimming.

September 17, 2015    Well, we had a little surprise rain again two days ago. It was nice to get some more rain. We continue to deadhead a little bit of the roses almost every day. Most of the floribundas are finished now, except I am holding back on some of the single floribundas such as Playgirl, Playboy, Puanani, and Playfair. The four "P's"! A handful of hybrid teas in the front yard are being saved from pruning for another week. All the hybrid teas in the back yard will be the last to be trimmed. We did begin trimming some of the old garden roses and shrubs in the back yard. Did a couple of The Squire, Radio Times, and The Dark Lady. Also trimmed OGRs Yolande d'Aragon and Baronne Prevost but it is very doubtful they will bloom in the fall, as they rarely rebloom after their big spring display. I'm holding off spraying and fertilizing for another week as Bob is still mending from his August 25th surgery. I'm the one that actually sprays and fertilizes, but he's my helper ... he fills and cleans the sprayer. He helps me get the 60-gallon fertilizer barrel set up, cleaned up, and pushes it around as I move about the yard. He is supposed to avoid bending, lifting, and pulling, so I'm the one trimming roses and lifting/emptying trash cans now. He wants to do stuff, but every time he tries to help me, he has issues. It's hard to keep a good man down, but I want him to take it easy so he can heal properly. The rose trimming will eventually get done. Just at my own slow pace.

September 10, 2015    I began the fall "deep deadheading" today. Bob wasn't feeling well enough to help because he's still recuperating from his surgery of 2-1/2 weeks ago. But, he did sharpen all my cutters for me which made trimming a lot easier. I was able to do about 20 bushes, dodging in and out of shade wherever I could find it. The temp is in the mid-90's today and humid, so working in the garden isn't very pleasant. Since today is my first day trimming for this fall season, I want to take it easy and not make myself sore, not do too much at one time. I began on a few floribundas in the parkway. Trimmed roses such as Sexy Rexy, Marmalade Skies, Fabulous, Lavaglut, and a whole lot more. Trimmed a few hybrid teas too, such as St Patrick, Affirm, Dona Martin, and Snuffy. I plan to do some everyday and hope to get done in about 10 days. I started a week later than usual, not only because of the wretched heat, but also because there will not be the Orange County rose show the 4th week in October this year. So no need to target blooms for that week. Also, hopefully we might have some blooms still by the 3rd week in November for our District Rose Show in Arizona. We will only exhibit there IF we have blooms and IF the weather is pleasant. We will not drive that far in inclement weather. Time will tell.

September 9, 2015    We had a huge and very unexpected rain today. It began with thunder and lightning then a few raindrops as we were driving back home after finishing errands. Within a half hour it was pouring big time here. But then it was all over within about an hour. We totally loved it! Of course, the roses are loving it too.

September 6, 2015    Labor Day Weekend! We are sort of taking it easy this weekend after enjoying several days of cooler weather. But now it is warming up again just in time to have a BBQ and swimming party on this fun family weekend. Bob did a little budding this morning while I selected some small potted roses for our rose society raffle table at our meeting next week. I am very much enjoying giving these roses away so that I have some breathing space in my own garden. This morning we made some potato salad for tomorrow's family gathering. The pool is warming up so that I can have an evening swim. The garden is looking excellent even though there are not too many roses blooming right now. No matter, next week we will begin trimming all the rose bushes. We will spread out the trimming over about a week, maybe more. Then we wait for the late October massive production of blooms. Of course, we will feed the roses liquid fertilizer every week for about six weeks beginning mid-September.   

August 23, 2015    It's hard to believe that it's been almost two weeks since I last posted. I guess I've been busy in the garden and taking side trips to the beach. Yesterday Bob spent most of the day adding another eight 2 cf bags of Gromulch to our front garden. He didn't want to put mulch in some parts of the rose beds because he was afraid that it was too high and would wash down the street when we get rain. What rain? Yeah, I know they keep talking about the Godzilla El Nino, but let's get the mulch on now. And so he did. The mulch he applied a couple weeks ago has kept the weeds under control. Another reason to add mulch. We have stopped deadheading all of our roses until about September 10 when we will do the deep deadhead to encourage a blast of blooms for the fall rose shows. We are just letting them go for now. It's hard to NOT deadhead as we are sort of addicted to it. So I just have to look the other way until it's time. Some of the big hybrid teas, such as Black Magic are about 7 feet tall. We got our newest water bill and I am pleased that we managed to decrease our usage since last year. They want us to use even less next month, which shouldn't be a problem since we are heading into fall. Also, the mist box is now turned off so that will cut it back further.

August 10, 2015    We had plenty of things to keep us busy this morning. Especially considering  our attention has been on the Ventura Fair Rose Show for the past 5 days. Now our attention turns back to the garden. First thing this morning after our walk around the block, I hula hoed some weeds in the front yard. Where we had mulched a couple weeks ago there were no weeds, just a bunch of mushrooms emerging due to all the mulch we applied. From all I've read, mushrooms won't hurt anything and they will go back to the earth. The new weeds were just in the areas we could not mulch because the soil level was already too high. Meanwhile, Bob worked in the backyard south shrub bed to finish weeding and mulching. Then I removed all of the Fortuniana rootstock from the mistbox and fed them with liquid fertilizer. Since they've been trying to root for 7 weeks we are leaving them out in the elements now in partial shade. We noted that we lost 25% of the rootstock that refused to root, surely due to the high temperatures of the past two months. That is the most we have ever lost, 30 sticks. Usually we only lost about 5% to 10%. Then I applied dry organics on all of the rose bushes front and back. It was a special blend of kelp meal, Bio-Start, and other goodies same as July 16. A 1/3 cup on all large bushes. This will be their last feeding until after we trim back for fall bloom around mid-September. We also will stop doing any deadheading until that time as we want the rose bushes to rest for about a month now. 

August 8, 2015    We've been busy as all get out the past week because we decided to show our roses at the Ventura Fair today. To recap our Ventura Fair statistics: We brought 154 cut rose stems with us to the fair. We arrived at 6 am, and we entered 125 of those stems (we ran out of time at the 10 am closing). Since some entries consisted of multiple stems, we had a total of 111 entries. There were four Divisions in the Rose Show: #324 Hybrid Tea/Grandiflora; #325 Floribunda/Polyantha; #326 Miniature/Miniflora; and #327 Shrub, Climber, and Old Garden Rose. Each Division included a number of separate classes, such as G thru K was one separate class for hybrid teas. We entered roses into all four Divisions, and won the Best of Division in all. If my notes are correct it appears that we won 65 ribbons: 35-1st (pays $5 each), 24-2nd (pays $3 each), and 6-3rd (pays $2 each). It usually takes a month to receive our winnings check from the Fair. We entered roses in 43 different classes and were allowed to enter duplicates of any variety. According to State Fair Rules, no exhibitor is allowed to win more than 2 ribbons in any class. So for example, Class 326.11 is one stem named varieties T thru Z for Minis & Minifloras. Having entered Tammy Clemons (2 entries), The Lighthouse (1 entry), Whirlaway (2 entries), and Wine Colored Roses (1 entry) in that Class, the judges could only award one 1st, one 2nd, and one 3rd in the entire class (other people had entered roses in that class too), and Bob and I were only allowed to win 2 ribbons in that class, which turned out to be a 1st for Whirlaway, and a 2nd for The Lighthouse. We not only had to fill out an entry tag for each and every stem entry, but we had to list every entry on the main entry form. I had 14 pages of entry forms, with space for 12 entries on each sheet. They did provide us with a clerk to help fill out the entry numbers on the form, and another clerk to help us place our entries. This work should help to explain why Bob and I have only entered our roses in fairs 3 times in the past 30 years, and prefer to show our roses at local, district, and national rose shows which are usually scheduled during much better weather conditions. Fairs are a lot of work if you bring a lot of roses. Fair rose shows are much better for the small gardener that brings just a few roses, and I believe that is the real intent of Fair exhibitions, be it roses, veggies, or baked goods. I posted some photos on my personal Facebook of our winning roses at the Ventura Fair.

August 1, 2015    There's been a lot of drama happening here this week. It started off with Bob having cataract surgery last Monday. Everything went well once we got to the surgery center in Beverly Hills. His eye surgeon is absolutely awesome. This is the second eye he got done and all seems fine. Just a bit traumatic at first. The worst part is driving over the Sepulveda pass to downtown. The traffic is a horrible nightmare. Coming back wasn't too bad. Bob is recuperating, and finally back to driving yesterday. The other major drama this week is the power pole in the southwest corner of our back yard. Edison has decided to replace it since it is 50 years old. Ours and 1,400 others around town. They were supposed to give us 10 days notice before they dug the new hole but just showed up unannounced on Thursday. We had a little go round because a rose bush needed to get dug up to make space for the new pole. And Bob is in no condition right now to do the digging. In the end, the Edison contractors (HotLine) did the digging for us so it all worked out well. For now. Next Tuesday our power will be turned off all day. Not happy about that but many homes on our street will have the same issue.

July 25, 2015    Bob is in process of applying 32 bags of Gromulch throughout our garden. These are the big 2 cubic feet bags. Years ago we used to buy the huge pallet boxes of Gromulch (about 50 cf if I remember correctly) and had it delivered to our home. The pallet box cost half as much as the 2 cf bags which are easier to handle. So now we pay $6.47 per 2 cf bag at Home Depot and they load up the bags for us (I think Lowe's is the same price but they do not load our van for us). He's been working on it for 3 days, and he still has 8 bags to go. This mulch will serve three major purposes. 1) The mulch will help lower the alkalinity level as our low water table due to lack of significant rain is way too alkaline, and 2) the mulch will help conserve water in our very sandy soil. And 3) another benefit is that as the mulch breaks down it will feed the soil, and as a bonus we will get more earthworms in our soil.

July 19, 2015    Halleluia! It rained again today. Very hard this time so it looks like we got an inch more of rain just today. We collected more rain in big buckets and will use it over the next day or so. It was wonderful while it lasted, and the roses and lawn are looking very happy.

July 18, 2015    Wow! We got some much needed precious rain today! It started around 10:30 am with light drizzles and lots of thunder (thankfully no lightning). We thought it was going to be a passing fancy, but it continued for over an hour. We really needed this rain that watered most of the plants all around our yard. We collected some rain water in big buckets that we applied on some of the plants that grow under the eaves of the roof so they do not get rain in those areas. We even saw some rain flowing down the dry Bouquet Canyon river bed that is behind our house. Well, it all came and went much too quickly. Looks like we got perhaps 3/4" by the end of the day, so we won't have to water the plants for a few days. Just in time, the rain will wash in all those organics we fed a couple days ago, and the rain will help balance our extremely alkaline soil and natural water since the water table has been extremely low for lack of rain. 

July 16, 2015  Today Bob and I applied mostly dry organics to our roses, and then watered it in. We fed 1/4 cup per big bush, 1/8 cup for smaller bushes. It was a blend of all kinds of leftover stuff I already had in my fertilizer closet. We mostly applied Grow More Bio Start 3-4-3 (as I have two 50-lb bags I've been sitting on for several years and forgot I had in the closet), a box of Dr Earth, a bag of Gardner and Bloom, epsom salts, Osmocote, and a touch of Nitroform. I had enough that I could have applied a half cup to all large bushes but I was afraid it would be too "hot" in this heat. So instead we will apply it again in September right after Labor Day when we trim for the November rose shows. Bio Start contains: Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Kelp Meal, Fish Meal, Cottonseed Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Feather Meal, Worm Castings, Calcium Rock Phosphate, and Potassium Sulfate. Plus some Bacillus and Mycorrhizae.

July 11, 2015    One of my favorite products that I like to feed my roses is fish emulsion. It usually doesn't matter the brand, I try to buy the cheapest. Sometimes it's hard to find fish emulsions at the stores. This year the only brand I could find at a decent price was Alaska made by Lily Miller at Walmart for about $14 a gallon. Not really a bargain. But this brand turned out to be horrible this year. It was a thick sticky goo that we could barely pour from the gallon bottle. We only use fish emulsion at the rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon because we also mix it with 1 tablespoon of Magnum Rose. This Alaska fish emulsion was so sticky that it gunked up our 55-gallon feeder barrel and all the hoses, even though we rinse out the barrel every time we use it. We finally had to fill the barrel and pour in 2 large bottles of Dawn dishwashing liquid and let it soak for 2 weeks before the goo came clean. Meantime, I did get some Kelloggs quart bottles of liquid fish and kelp. I love this product but it is too expensive for me to use on a regular basis for 300 roses. I wish they sold it in gallon bottles. Maybe they do but I have not found it yet. I also have a huge bag of dry kelp meal and some other organics that I will apply 1/4 cup around all of my roses next week. The dry organic meals are great for summer application but they are too slow to break down during the cooler seasons.

July 1, 2015    Ah, the lazy daze of summer. We don't have a lot of choice whether or not to be lazy, as it is too dang hot outside, with temperatures often hovering around 100. Yesterday we had some beach time and that was nice but by 3 pm it was 72 and very breezy so we had to hang it up before our new portable cabana blew away. It was so quiet there on the coast, with surprisingly few people. Even the sea birds were far and few between. Nice! It was much hotter when we got back home. We continue to trim off spent rose blooms, and water the roses. We also have to check the mister daily and adjust it as necessary. We got this new replacement Mist-a-Matic last year after 25 years of use with the old one. This new one seems to need a lot more adjusting than the old one. I usually don't deadhead much this time of year, but I'm thinking if the timing and weather is right, perhaps we will bring some of our cut roses to the Ventura Fair and exhibit them in August. It also depends on when Bob gets his second cataract surgery, so we shall just hang loose and see how it all works out.

June 27, 2015    Today it's a tiny bit cooler, at 11:30 am only 87 degrees and 30% humidity (more humid than we're used to so I'm drenched in sweat). But we took advantage of the cloud cover to go out for an hour and finish deadheading the spent blooms off of most of the rose bushes both front and back that we've been working on for the past several days. Now it's time to drink some cool water as I feel like I'm getting dehydrated. The incessant heat has not been kind to our newly budded roses. We lost a few more so now it's down to about 66% success rate. There were a few disappointments, but the important roses were spared. Since it's too hot to work outside much after 10 am, I try to cut a few nice blooms in the morning and then shoot some photos in my little makeshift photo studio. I continue to be surprised at some of the roses that make it through the heat. Some of the Austin shrubs continue to amaze me. Radio Times, Molineux, and The Dark Lady tolerate a lot of heat and are untouched by thrips. On the other hand, Golden Celebration fries to crispy cornflakes. Lack of rain causes very high alkaline water and so much of the rose foliage is chlorotic yellow. To help that we have applied a lot of mulch and some iron. I also put coffee grounds around the worst bushes. Doesn't seem to help much, but it takes awhile for the foliage to change to dark green.

June 23, 2015    We finally got the mist box to settle down, and it has been working properly for the past two days. The Fortuniana rootstock sticks from UC Davis are looking good so far. I also had some other very precious cuttings in there that I was concerned about losing during this nasty 100+ heat wave, but those have been in the mist box for a month now, and so far so good, but it will take at least 3 more weeks before we see roots being produced, and 8 weeks before they come out of the mist box. I really, really, really don't want to lose these as they were sent to me via mail from a friend. We check the mist box several times a day but otherwise we are leaving them alone. The trick with rooting roses is that you want the cuttings to be wet enough and cool enough to provide an environment where the cuttings will root. If too hot and dry then they will not root. On the other hand, if the soil is too wet then there will not be enough oxygen in the soil to be conducive to producing roots. Meanwhile, the potted roses that Bob budded two months ago are coming along nicely outside of the mist box and in full sun in one-gallon pots. So far it looks like 90% success rate. We have at least 6 of the real Spring Break that was given to us by Della Strickland, wife of Frank Strickland, the breeder of this rose. And lots of other goodies. I gave the budded roses some 1/2 strength rose fertilizer last week and that seemed to give then a kick start to produce new growth. 

June 20, 2015    Our Mist-a-Matic controller continues to plague and frustrate us as it refuses to work consistently and properly. First it comes on too long, then it comes on too short. With this 100 degree weather the Fortuniana rootstock cuttings can die quickly if they are not kept moist enough. The Mist-a-Matic is tricky to set correctly as it seems to have a mind of its own. It's not like a regular sprinkler timer where you can set the duration time and the times it will turn on. Rather, the Mist-a-Matic is controlled by a paddle that goes up and down when it has water on it. Over the past 3 days we have adjusted it about 10 times a day. And this morning we woke up to it running incessently. It must have been running for at least a half hour because there was a big puddle below it. I suppose that too much water is better than not enough. We continue to play with it, actually babysit it. I saw a controller online that is used in hydroponics. It looks interesting because supposedly you can set the timer and duration throughout the day and night and have it turn on at 15 minute intervals for 15 seconds at a time, or any duration and interval that you want. It's only about $90 but the big cost would be to get an electrician to set it up.

June 17, 2015    And so the drought continues. Sure wish that Texas could share just a tiny fraction of the rain they have been getting the past month. No, we do not want flooding, but this dry spell here in California is ridiculous! I can understand letting the lawns go brown, but does anybody care that roses are not drought tolerant? If the potted or younger roses are not watered every single day, they will die! Large mature bushes with deep roots can miss 2 days of watering, but they are not happy when our temperatures range 95 through 115 like they are now. Meantime, we received the Fortuniana rootstock from UC Davis today. Fortunately I've been checking my front porch every hour because the UPS guy just tosses the box on the front porch without even ringing the door bell. So when we opened up the box of rootstock at 3 pm it was cooking. At least they were packed tightly inside a plastic bag with wet newspaper inside. We immediately soaked the rootstock sticks in a big bucket of water, and will let them soak and drink up water overnight. Bob will be de-eyeing them (the lower half of each stick) before we put the sticks into 2-inch pots filled with 50/50% potting soil and perlite, and then put them to bed in our mist box. Oddly the sticks are 18-inches long so we have to cut off some length or else they will be too tall to fit into the mist box. We have our work cut out for us for the next two days.

June 13, 2015    We received an email from UC Davis that our order for Fortuniana rootstock will be shipped on Monday, June 15. We have the mist box ready to go, and it's working fine. We have 2-inch pots, potting soil, perlite, and Hormex. Check. Now if only the weather was not going to be in the mid-90's all would be well. We dealt with the heat before so I'm sure we can handle it. Today Bob applied eight 2-cf bags of Kelloggs Gromulch onto all of the rose bushes. Hopefully this will help to keep the bushes cool and moist over the summer. But I think we're gonna have to apply another 8 bags as it doesn't look like it's enough, especially now that I read in the news that the water companies are gonna restrict water further, down to only allowing watering 2 days a week over the summer. Of course, this is ridiculous since this is the desert we live in and many summer days will be 100 to 110 degrees. I fear for the safety of my rose collection. Meanwhile, the golf courses are nice and green. Like I give a hoot. 

June 7, 2015    I applied a quart of composted chicken manure on every mature in-ground rose bush. Afterwards I watered it all in. We used to buy the chicken manure from Orchard Supply (I forget the brand name) but they closed the Saugus store last year. We recently stumbled upon a brand named "Gardeners" at Lowe's, but on the back of the package it has the Kelloggs name in small print. You might think that composted chicken manure stinks, but it doesn't. It just has an earthy compost fragrance. They say not to use it as potting soil, but rather as a soil amendment. It took four 1-cubic foot bags to cover about 120 large bushes of hybrid tea, floribunda, old garden rose, climber, and shrub type (1 quart each). We went to Fox Feed in Canyon Country and picked up a 50# bag of small alfalfa pellets. I plan to apply this on all the rose bushes sometime this week after the heat cools down a bit (it's 97.5 F degrees here today at 3:00 pm). A half-cup each large bush should be sufficient. We also bought 10 bags (2 cf each) of Kelloggs Gromulch at Home Depot to be shoveled around every bush this week. They were the same price as Lowe's but Home Depot loaded the 10 large bags into our van for us right away. Of course, water is the key word, and we have to be ever mindful of the water restrictions and avoiding waste due to current drought conditions due to lack of rain. We removed most of the budded maidens from the mist box and slowly condition them to be in hot dry weather. Several hours each morning and late afternoon for awhile. The Fortuniana rootstock is ordered from UC Davis and should arrive in about a week.

June 6, 2015    American Pharoah won the Triple Crown on June 6, 2015. Rumor has it that David Clemons, breeder of many fine miniature and miniflora roses may be naming a new rose in his honor. David has named other of his roses in honor of race horses in the past such as Foolish Pleasure, Alysheba, and Whirlaway. So we are now looking forward to possibly a red miniflora with the name of American Pharoah in the near future.

June 2, 2015   There isn't much going on in the garden these days since we are in between bloom cycles. Still, I like to make the rounds to check things out here and there. We did manage to find time to liquid feed them all last week. I was horrified to see that my garden has had a nasty outbreak of both spider mites and thrips that are the worst I have ever seen them in my garden ... EVER! Yes, I had used Orthene several times in April during rose show season to control green bud worms, scale, and thrips, but I had also included the miticide Avid in the mix to kill spider mites. That is my normal spring practice. I am now tempted to apply Bayer 2-in-1 granules on the soil around every bush to help with the thrips (which make the blooms brown, stunted and ugly), but the ingredient Imidacloprid does not work as well as the previous ingredient that has been banned. I have been water wanding all the foliage from head to toe, and that seems to have brought the spider mites to a halt, as the new foliage looks much better. Much of the old foliage has dropped off and we keep it picked up and put in the trash. But something I saw in the garden today is scary ... some new buds emerging are severely stunted with tiny blooms on 2-inch stems, even on hybrid teas. I have also noticed a lot of cane dieback that worries me. Some is caused by scale, but others could possibly be canker. I might have had this same problem in past years, and maybe I am just noticing it now because I am retired and have the time to go out and look at my bushes every day. It could be that they are getting less water now since we have water restrictions, but I don't let them get to the point where they are wilting so I don't think that is the problem. It also could be caused by our upside down weather patterns, with spring being early April, and the second cycle trying to start in 90 degree weather. Well, I am going to try not to obsess over it since there are no rose shows now, but I don't want to lose any roses. I will keep the roses watered, lighty fed, deadheaded, washed down but will not spray any pesticides over the summer, which is my usual practice. An application of Kelloggs Gromulch will surely perk the roses up a bit. But that will have to wait another week or so until Bob's eyes have had time to thoroughly heal from the cataract surgery.

May 24, 2015    We continue to plant new roses, dig up more, and repot others. Lanvin finally got a precious space in the ground. Tammy Clemons was put into a 20-gallon pot. The Lighthouse was moved from a 7-gallon pot into a 10-gallon pot. We also planted a second plant of Glitter Girl into a place in the parkway.  Of course, they are all on Fortuniana rootstock so they will soon fill their new homes. Several days ago we visited a friend in the Valley to swap some rose cuttings. While there we enjoyed seeing her lovely hillside garden with a view of the valley. I was glad that I got to see her glorious yellow and orange Fired Up floribunda growing, and was very amazed at its size that when we went home I had to rethink the space I was going to give my new Fired Up plant waiting for a space. I was going to locate her in the parkway in between two other bushes, but instead she will have a big space formerly occupied by two old Europeanas that needed to be dug up.

May 20, 2015    The budded roses in the mistbox are coming along nicely. Most have been in the mist box for nearly a month, and so far we have not lost one. Of course, our unusually cool weather probably made that an easier possibility. I am very much looking forward to the new babies as we have over 50 in the mist box. I am not keeping them all, but will get the cream of the crop and the rest will go to good homes. I am especially looking forward to the real Spring Break of which we got cuttings from Della Strickland, and the yellow florist hybrid tea called Aloha that we got from a friend. 

May 16, 2015    Another full hard-working day in the garden. Last night I made out my list of roses to be dug up, repotted, or discarded. We haven't reached the planting part. I lost count of all the roses that Bob dug up but I know that he has six roses that are on Fortuniana that were moved from 7-, 15-, or 20-gallon containers and moved to 3 gallon. Some of the varieties are Eugene du Beauharnais, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Heather Sproul, and Fairhope. These roses will be put on the June raffle table at our rose society meeting. They aren't sickly, but the reason is simply I need to plant some of the new roses on Fortuniana that are waiting for a space. He also dug up some other roses as well. Meanwhile, I finished deadheading the rest of the floribundas that bloomed last in the garden. Sexy Rexy, Fabulous, and Lavaglut are finally bloomed out. Bob still has more roses to dig out. Paul Ecke Jr will be dug up and moved to a shady area on the side of our house. An old Hannah Gordon will be dug out and trashed as we have a new one on Fortuniana waiting in the wings. A non-performing Black Magic and Gemini will be dug out and trashed. And so much more. Most of the young maidens won't be planted in their new spots until fall. Tomorrow I will make markers with names and put them in place where the new roses will go.

May 11, 2015    It's been a busy day in the garden. We began the day by repotting over 40 young grafted roses on Fortuniana rootstock by moving them from tiny 3-inch pots to a more spacious 1-gallon pot. I will be keeping some of these roses for myself, but some will be sold in a private reserve sale (invitation only) later this year. Our intention was never to bud roses for sale, but it turned out that Bob was overly successful in his budding efforts that he did for our own garden this year, so we need to find homes for the excess roses. We will not do any shipping or delivery, so buyers will need to be fairly local so they can drive here and pick them up as they are in 1-gallon nursery containers. In the afternoon we fed all of the roses with our pump and 55-gallon barrel, which we filled up four times. The ingredients for each 55-gallon barrel we fed them were 2 cups Magnum Rose, 2 cups fish emulsion, 2 cups epsom salts, 1/4 cup chelated iron, 1/4 cup liquid kelp, and 1/8 cup Superthrive. As I dispensed the concoction on every rose bush I counted to 15 seconds for the large established bushes, 8 seconds for smaller bushes in 20-gallon pots, 5 seconds for 7-gallon pots, and 1 second for 1-gallon pots. It's a good thing I fed the roses now as the foliage was beginning to look a little chlorotic (yellowish) as our roses have not been fed in a month (due to circumstances beyond our control). On another note, the roses that Bob budded two weeks ago and are in the mistbox are looking very good so far.

May 6, 2015   All of our rose bushes, both the front and back yard, are now completely deadheaded. There are only a few blooms left over in the floribunda bed such as Sexy Rexy, Lavaglut, and Fabulous. While deadheading the past few days, we noticed that there is a lot of spider mite damage on the rose foliage. But I don't want to spray any more chemicals this spring, and won't until the fall. So I dug out my most powerful hose end spray nozzle and washed down all the rose bushes to get rid of the spider mites and their webbing. They appear to be cleaned up very well now, so we are hoping for the best. We have a busy schedule this week, so we plan to liquid feed all the roses by next week.

May 2, 2015  We got the mist box set up for the year, as it's been off for about 6 months. We don't run it over the winter, but apparently the water line got frozen and it blew apart so Bob had to replace the line. Then Bob budded a bunch of roses for me that I had on my wish list. They are now almost filling the entire mist box and will remain in there for about 4 weeks until the bud eyes are pushing out well. Already many have pushed out 1/4 inch and that is very exciting!

April 29, 2015   Now begins the tedious but very enjoyable task of trimming off all the spent blooms on our nearly 300 bushes. Sure, we could let them go as is, but if we want new, fresh blooms in 60 days, then we must trim off the blooms so that the roses don’t think we want them to produce seed hips instead of blooms. It’s also very good exercise. The other important job is to check all the sprinkler heads and make sure they are working and adjusted properly to dispense water where we want it.

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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