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

By Kitty Belendez
Master Rosarian

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December 16, 2017    Although pruning won't officially begin on our roses for another month, today we had to top some of the taller bushes (such as Black Magic, Red Intuition, and Affirm) in the front yard so that our Christmas lights in the front yard could be visible. The other reason is that the winds continue into December so the tall bushes are thrashing around and getting damaged. This week I applied some slow-release Osmocote 14-14-14 granules around all of the rose bushes. Not much, just a heaping tablespoon. Normally I don't feed the roses this time of year, but because the weather continues to be warm and breezy we have to keep watering, and so it's obvious that the foliage is becoming chlorotic. So the roses will continue to get a little slow-release fertilizing for awhile longer.

December 12, 2017   The weather is very warm for this time of year. It was 80 degrees today and 84 yesterday. Usually at this time of year the weather should be in the 60’s during the day. Adding to the bizarre warm weather we’ve had extreme wind storms for the past two weeks. What the winds didn’t wreck in October and November, they nearly finished off the rose bushes this past week. But even more horribly, California has had horrible fires in Southern California. We had a relatively small fire near Castaic/Valencia (the “Rye” fire). But there were many other terrible fires also in Ventura and Santa Barbara (the “Thomas Fire”), Orange County, Tujunga, so very many that I lost track. One after the other.

December 2, 2017   This past week we gave away two very healthy and lush rose bushes in 20-gallon containers: Whirlaway and Outrageous, both very healthy plants grafted on Fortuniana rootstock. It wasn't because I didn't like those roses, because I liked them both a lot. But rather because we are still trying to "right size" our garden to a more manageable size. In the case of Whirlaway, a stupendous top exhibition miniflora, I have another bush of it in the ground that grows to 7-feet tall and produces hundreds of blooms at every bloom cycle. The plant in the container has never grown more than 3.5 feet tall, so I gave it to a friend that is learning how to exhibit. In the case of Outrageous, a floribunda, a non-exhibiting friend had given me some budwood of it a few years ago to try. It's beautiful and very fragrant, but since I needed to make space on my pool deck, I gave this very healthy plant of Outrageous back to my friend for her to enjoy. Both ladies were quite happy to get these healthy plants that included the 20-gallon containers as well. And Bob is happy that our garden has a little more breathing room.

November 29   As the year begins to wind down, I am taking a look at any roses that need to be moved or completely removed. Although I don’t plan to get any new roses, I have several waiting in the wings. For example, last April we got two new tree roses from Otto & Sons during their big spring sale. They have been patiently waiting in their 5-gallon pots for a space in the parkway. Neil Diamond tree rose will replace Moondance tree rose that got heavily damaged in the October windstorm. I was going to replace Moondance anyway and perhaps give it away, but now it as dead as a doorstop from being uprooted in the winds. Sparkle & Shine tree rose will replace Honey Perfume tree rose that has been sickly for a year. But we need to wait until pruning time when we can trim down all the large floribunda bushes that surround each tree rose. Some potted roses will be given away to make space for new. 

November 22, 2017   Following the rose show, we took a much deserved rest and didn’t do much except keep the roses watered all month. We experienced some high winds and high heat, but adjusted the sprinklers down from every day to 3 times a week, with fewer minutes on each station. The two front stations were lowered from 14 minutes per day down to 10 minutes per day. The two backyard sprinklers were lowered from 8 minutes each day to 6 minutes each day. We do this twice a year ... May and November.

November 15, 2017  It seems that our backyard has been plagued by rats and raccoons for the past week as they are digging in our lawn and in our potted roses. I suppose the raccoons are looking for grubs or worms to eat. I don’t know what the rats are looking for because we don’t have anything growing in our yard except roses. Probably the big reason the critters are scrounging in our backyard is that the city had bulldozers mow down the dry wash (flood control channel) that is behind us. Huge bushes were growing down there, which would impede water flow when we get heavy rains. So the bulldozers must have demolished the critters’ habitat.

November 6, 2017  Our annual rose show went well. We had plenty of roses on display thanks to dedicated exhibitors that brought their beautiful roses to put on display. Lots of visitors from the public attended our annual event. It was an exhausting day for exhibitors and volunteers that worked the show. But seeing the show room filled with roses was worth the effort. We had feared that it might rain that morning before set-up, but the weather turned out to be quite pleasant. We also thank the staff and management at Hart Park for providing the venue and muscle for set up and dismantling. What a wonderful day!

October 21, 2017   First things first ... Happy Birthday to my hubby Bob Belendez. He’s always a good sport regardless of what is on our calendar. I had hoped to spray the roses one last time for the year, but the weather keeps getting in the way. Although we did manage to apply the final liquid feeding last Wednesday, even though half way through Bob had to clean out the pump because debris was clogging the outflow. Then we discovered that the hose had a gash in it so that turned out to be a contributing factor in the slow flow of the pump. So now the past two days I’ve been all set up to spray but the drizzle and winds prevent me from getting it done. Today would have been a good time to get at it but I promised granddaughter we would watch her son (my great-grandson) play soccer. So instead of spraying the roses this morning, we got up early to go to the soccer game. They instead went to a wedding in Northern California so no soccer game. Now the freakin’ wind is thrashing the roses again. Well, I am all set up and ready to spray as soon as the wind dies down. 

October 13, 2017    It was supposed to be windy today so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to spray the roses this morning. But just in case the weather reports were wrong, I set my alarm for 6:30 am. When the alarm sounded, I quickly looked out the window and all of the roses were still and not blowing around. So as much as I would have loved sleeping in, I hopped out of bed and told Bob to get up and at-em. I figured that if it turned windy half way through spraying, and I only got the front yard done, I could simply finish up tomorrow (Saturday). It turned out that the air remained still until I got finished at 8:30 am. Bob set up the spray machine while I mixed the spray ingredients with 14 gallons of warm water, enough to spray our 300 roses in one batch. Today I used Indicate 5 (a spreader-sticker), Conserve (Spinosad) to kill insects, and Banner Maxx to prevent mildew. Everything went smoothly, without any problems. So I will only spray one more time this fall, in 7 to 10 days, and the roses should stay free of insects and diseases for the remainder of the fall season.  

October 10, 2017   It takes a dedicated rosarian to remain diligent and follow the rose care schedule as closely as possible. Sometimes we have to be flexible due to circumstances beyond our control. Since it was horribly windy yesterday, and much calmer today, we went ahead and did the fertilizing today. I must say that yesterday’s wind caused about 15% damage to the blooms, stems, and foliage, but there is still plenty of good material remaining. After fertilizing, we took some time to clip off damaged stems, and foliage. We also disbudded unwanted side growth.

October 9, 2017    The plan was to finally get caught up on feeding the roses today. But we awoke to howling 60-mile-per-hour winds, which is not conducive for working in the garden. I cringed when I looked out the window and saw my tall rose bushes blowing in the wind. So instead, I changed my plan of action and worked on the November “Rose Ecstasy” Newsletter as well as worked on a few final preparations for our November 4 rose show. Volunteer badges, signage, and a few other tasks were crossed off the To-Do List today. We will still need to water the container roses later this afternoon because winds can dessicate the roses very quick. 
October 7, 2017   Although I had hoped to feed the roses today, we decided to instead go to the beach to beat the heat. And I had heard that Surf is Up. It was! Great weather, great surf, and we enjoyed a leisurely picnic at the beach. Tomorrow is rose society meeting day, so there will be no work in the garden tomorrow.

October 6, 2017    This morning I overslept by 40 minutes. Although I had the alarm set for 6:20 am, it did not go off at the correct time, because I had forgotten that Bob had turned off the power so that he could replace a bunch of very old light switches and wall plugs. So the clock & alarm were incorrect. Luckily, I woke up at 7:00 am and jumped into the job as fast I could. We already had set up everything last night before we went to bed. So I sprayed the roses this morning as it’s been 10 days. As bad luck would have it, my 2-year-old spray wand on my Spray Boss Sprayer bit the dust 5 minutes into the job. On the other hand, as good luck would have it, I had a spare spray wand stockpiled in the garage. Bob changed it over in a quick 15 minutes, but it still got us further behind. When I was done spraying, the first thing I did after taking a shower, was to go online and order another back-up spray wand. My Eagle Scout hubby taught me well: Be Prepared!

October 5, 2017   We got a bit off our weekly schedule this week. We wanted to spray the roses on Wednesday, but it was too hot, so we delayed spraying until Friday. This means that we will also need to delay feeding the roses for a couple days. Oh well, between appointments and a family dinner today this is just as well that we can be flexible. So we took the opportunity to water all of the potted roses before we left for our birthday dinner.

September 27, 2017   This morning I got up again at 6:20 am and sprayed the roses. This time with spinosad (Conserve) for green bud worms and chilli thrips, and propiconazole (Banner Maxx) for mildew. I see some chilli thrips damage on the foliage but it’s not totally widespread. I should have sprayed a week earlier than 9/20. This is disappointing because they seemed to be under control during the summer. The chilli thrips are arriving earlier and earlier every year. There also appears to be a lot of short spindly growth, possibly due to the heat we’ve recently experienced. I will need to go through the rose beds and trim off some unacceptable stems and foliage.

September 22, 2017   The roses are looking mighty hungry now. They have not been liquid fed in months, even though we applied a slow-release granular fertilizer. But it really was not enough because the heavy summer watering flushed out the nutrients too fast, and I can see chlorosis (yellowing of the new foliage). In our extremely sandy soil the roses are in desperate need of fertilizing now. They also need a good dose of chelated iron. So we dug out our 55-gallon barrel and put it on a pushcart. The roses got lots of goodies today. GrowMore 8-10-8, chelated iron, fish emulsion, liquid seaweed, epsom salts, and SuperThrive. It took four fill-ups of our 55-gallon barrel to feed all of our 300 rose bushes. We will feed this concoction every week for the next 6 weeks.

September 20, 2017     I finally got around to getting myself up at 6:20 am to spray the roses with imidacloprid and a fungicide (trifloxystrobin). Just in the nick of time for the fungicide as I could see just a couple spots of mildew in the front yard. But, it appears I was about 5 days late in starting on the imidacloprid because I could already see some chilli thrips damage on the new growth, especially in the front yard which was the first to get pruned. No use crying about it, so I sprayed anyway, and trimmed off a couple of stems that had already grown 6 inches tall and were covered in damage. The delay was not due to being lazy or procrastinating, but rather the intense hot weather a couple of weeks ago. So not only did the heat get me down, but the new growth was fast and furious, and the chilli thrips were furiously hungry as well. I will spray the roses every week for the next 6 weeks.

September 16, 2017   In an effort to keep on schedule, at 8 am this morning I went out and sprayed a mixture of acephate and horticultural oil on those roses that were showing scale damage on their canes. San Jose Scale to be precise, which is much more destructive than the fat and fluffy cottony cushion scale. You can barely see San Jose Scale with the naked eye. It looks like brown sandy grit and you cannot see the scale insect moving. You only see the dead canes they have attacked. Since I also sprayed 6 weeks ago, much of the scale residue appears to be dead. San Jose Scale has plagued my garden for about 20 years. I always need to keep after it as this scale insect can literally kill entire rose bushes. This year, same as last year, the scale has attacked my roses that are growing against hot walls. In particular, three very large bushes of the shrub called ‘The Squire’ that are growing against the southwest facing block wall fence in my back yard are suffering from scale damage. The scale has killed many large canes. The other susceptible location is the southwest facing side of our house where we grow 20 potted minis and minifloras, such as Butter Cream, Arcanum, Leading Lady, and Unbridled. During pruning this upcoming January we will need to prune these bushes hard and then spray acephate and oil again.

September 14, 2017   Today we finally finished all of our fall trimming of roses. Most of the final 40 roses were potted miniatures and minifloras, but we also trimmed four antique roses (Old Garden Roses), two shrubs, and a climber. The antiques were two Francis Dubreuil that were still producing intensely fragrant blooms, and two Rose de Rescht each growing in 20-gallon containers. In the back corner growing up against the utility pole is a big bush of Molineux. At the opposite side of the back yard is Munstead Wood, and I hated to trim off the fragrant blooms but it had to be done. And the large climber clinging to the utility pole is Fourth of July that was more than ready to be pruned because it was covered in bright orange hips (seed pods). We will begin feeding and spraying them in a few more days. In the meantime I need to spot spray a few sections that have attracted San Jose Scale. These roses, growing against hot walls with a southwest exposure, will get a blend of horticultural oil and acephate. This type of scale is very difficult to control and can eventually kill the bush if not properly controlled.

September 8, 2017   Seems like we are in the home stretch for our fall rose trimming. All of the hybrid tea and floribunda roses are completed. Many of the shrub roses are done. We just have two more shrub roses and a couple of old garden roses. After that we just have the potted miniatures and minifloras remaining to be trimmed. These are fairly easy because Bob will trim them with his Ryobi battery-powered hedge shears. As we trim, I see some San Jose scale on some of the bushes, in particular those that are located up against the very hot, south facing block fence or the house. Also, I am beginning to see some beginnings of chilli thrips. I will need to spray insecticide in a couple of weeks, immediately after we finish trimming all of the roses.

September 6, 2017   We have been trimming roses for the past 5 days, since September 1st, with one day off in between to attend a funeral of a very good friend. The weather has been nasty hot so we only spend 2 or 3 hours outdoors, trying to work in shade here and there. It's so hot this summer, that 95 degrees almost seems like a "cooling trend." The front yard is nearly done, just a dozen roses in containers that will wait until next week. This morning we finished trimming a few more floribundas in the front, and then started on the OGRs and shrubs along the north side. We enjoyed a little shade there, but still we could only work about 2 hours before we got hot and tired. Tomorrow we plan to trim the dozen very large hybrid tea roses in the back yard, so we will need to get out there early before the sun begins blaring down on us. I use 100 SPF sun screen! So far we have filled up four 80-gallon green waste barrels, which the waste company picked up this morning. And remember, this is just "trimming" these rose bushes, not winter pruning.

August 28, 2017   Just when I was starting to enjoy 90-degree weather, today it's projected to be 105. (It was actually 114 degrees at 5:00 pm.) Ugh! We wanted to begin trimming the floribundas today, but that might not be a good idea in this heat. Tomorrow's projected to be even hotter. Well, I think we will wait until Wednesday, and even though it's supposed to be 100+ we need to get the job done. The idea is to trim lightly so that the rose canes do not burn from the hot sun. Meanwhile, the order of the day is water, water, water. And I will swim in the evening after the sun goes down. I don't want to get sunburned. Oh, and I am shopping for several new succulents that won't get too big. I like the rosette style best. Maybe when I retire from roses I will grow nothing but rosette style succulents. So easy care, and very little water. No need to fertilize or water. Sounds restful.

August 22, 2017   After enjoying a week of cooler, 85-degree, weather, it has turned hot again today. It's a good thing that Bob doesn't mind hot weather because he was scheduled to apply six 2-cubic foot bags of Gromulch at the base of the rose bushes and inside potted roses. So he went out this morning around 10:30 and got the job done in less than two hours. I had a job to do today also, which was spraying for San Jose scale insects in the two locations that the scale love: against the southwest facing part of our house, and the southwest facing block wall containing three huge bushes of 'The Squire." So I went outside at 8:30 am and made a concoction of Orthene mixed with horticultural oil. This only took me a half hour from start up to clean up. It is very difficult to get the scale controlled in these hot areas. I plan to spray these two areas again in a couple weeks after we trim the roses. Scale love the heat!

August 13, 2017   Bob did the first bit of fall rose trimming by starting on the polyanthas, since they take the longest to rebloom. He trimmed a dozen polyanthas that are in 10-gallon containers. It will be two more weeks before we begin the bulk of the trimming, mostly likely doing the floribundas next. He has his battery-powered trimmer charged up and ready to go. He loves using that machine as it is a great time saver. I help him by raking up the debris, and touching up the frayed ends of some canes. Today Bob dug up an old bush of Moonstone that we’ve had for nearly 20 years, and it’s one of the few roses still on Dr Huey rootstock. I have a new replacement that he budded on Fortuniana rootstock. 

August 10, 2017     I’ve been busy working on the rose show. The show schedule and the floor plan are finished, and I am finalizing the show Certificates and prizes. Just waiting for a few details to materialize before I can publish the show schedule on our web site. We have our list of judges and clerks, and have our volunteers lined up. We are blessed to have many sponsors and volunteers to help produce our rose show.

August 5, 2017   This morning I fed the roses again with organics. My “secret recipe” consists of whatever I have leftover in my fertilizer closet. It’s so secret that even I don’t know exactly what’s in it. I can guess, but cannot give the exact proportions. Gardener & Bloome Rose Food, Nitro-Form, Bio-Start, kelp meal, fish meal. Every large bush got 1/2 cup dry food, and the smaller roses got 1/4 cup each bush. 

August 3, 2017  Today was beach day. We took the adult grandkids and the younger great-grandkids out to Ventura Beach. First we had lunch at Ventura Marina, and chose Margarita Villa restaurant. The weather was perfect, not too hot and not windy. After lunch we hung out for several hours at the Surfer’s Cove beach across the street from the marina. The sand and water were beautiful.  

August 1, 2017   The new water line to our mist box and misting stick burst and flooded our back yard. I guess this project is not meant to be. We gave up on the idea of the mist stick because our natural water pressure is extremely high. We had our misting box for over 20 years, and used it many months every year. We never had a problem with it. Bob is going to keep trying, because next summer I would like to start using the mist box again for rooting Fortuniana rootstock.

July 28, 2017   We've been blessed with several more days of mild weather, 80-90 degrees. We usually don't work very hard in the garden this time of year, but we always make time for daily watering. Bob covers the front yard, and I do the back yard. Seems fair to me.  I also found a nice morning to apply Preen weed pre-emergent in both the front and back yards. It took less than an hour to get it all done. I always wear coveralls when applying Preen, and luckily the air was very still so it was easy to apply. Then in the afternoon we watered the Preen into the soil around each rose bush or container. We also went to Green Thumb Nursery and bought 5 bottles of Bayer Advanced 2-in-1 Granules. It was on sale for $10.97 for a 5 lb bottle. We got our SCVRS 10% discount, plus we got a $12 Bayer rebate for buying 3 bottles. So in effect, 3 of the bottles only cost $6 each. A terrific price!!! 

July 23, 2017    Ah, the lazy days of summer. Well, sort of. Just trying to stay cool in this nasty heat. We make a little time every day to go out and hand water the potted roses in the afternoon. Went out the other morning while it was still relatively cool (80 degrees) and finished weeding the floribunda parkway. It was too breezy by then to apply Preen, but we hope to do that this coming week. Went to Green Thumb Nursery and bought a new pair of Sloggers for working in the garden. I need to get a pair of ankle high sloggers but those will need to be ordered online. We cleaned and organized our chemical/fertilizer cabinet. Found a small bag of alfalfa pellets so I applied it to the roses in the front yard. Not enough for the backyard, so will need to buy another bag at Fox Feed in Canyon Country. Also wanted to get rid of a partial bag of 38-0-0 nitroform fertilizer so the lawns got their annual feeding. Should green up in about a week. Still need to apply Preen weed pre-emergent but it will have to wait until I get my new ankle Sloggers. Swimming every evening. Beach time coming soon.

July 19, 2017   The water pressure inside our house tested at 135 psi. Too high! Tough on the pipes. The pressure should only be about 80 psi. No wonder that the hose leading to the misting stick in the back yard kept blowing apart, and the timer kept falling off. So Bob bought a new pressure regulator and installed it where the main water leads into the house. Since the outside sprinkler pipes need to be higher, he kept those pipes at 135 psi and also installed an 80 psi regulator on the mister. His next project is to overhaul our propagation misting box. The pressure to that also needs to be lowered. No wonder it hasn't been working properly since last summer. Meanwhile I'm staying cool by working on some computer projects. Today finished an article for ARS. Working on a revamped PowerPoint for my talk at San Diego Rose Society in September. Updating our Show Schedule, and also working on the September issue of Rose Ecstasy. Several writers have submitted articles. Now I need to write something. But what? I have a few ideas in the hopper. 

July 10, 2017  The order of the day is water, water, and more water. Over the past two weeks the temperatures here have been ridiculously high. Two days reaching 114, also 110, 112, and many days over 100. There is no point trying to deadhead the spent blooms just so they can produce corn flakes. So I have decided to just let the rose bushes grow tall which will help to keep the rose roots shaded from the intense heat. We think we have determined the problem with our water pressure. Seems the pressure regulator on the front valve that leads past the main water input has gone bad. So Bob is in process of trying to fix it. We also called the water company and they will be checking the pressure coming from the main street water valve. This high water pressure has been blowing our water hoses apart, as well as our new mist timer. The water faucets inside the house have very high water pressure too. It's nice to have good water pressure, but when it's too high it's not good for the water pipes inside the house.

June 28, 2017   What was I saying about June Gloom? It's been massively hot the past 10 days but the roses are hanging in there. Me, not so much. I will take June Gloom any day. So ... it's supposed to be in the high 80's for the next week, and I hope so. The roses and I could take a reprieve. I have not been outside much for the past many days, just enough to get the potted roses watered. The roses planted in ground are being taken care of nicely by our automatic sprinklers. Although I had to extend the number of minutes the timers come on because the lawn was not green in a few patches. If the lawn is not green then that indicates to me that not enough water are going to the rose bushes either. Our new mist stick and timer for propagation are working well, but the hose leading from the timer to the blew apart. Bob says he will need to eliminate the hose and hard pipe it, because our water pressure on that section is too high. He loves doing projects; it keeps him out of trouble. Let's see ... what else can I keep him busy with?

June 24, 2017   Took a break for several days and drove to Grass Valley (northeast of Sacramento) to visit family. Was very surprised that it was just as hot up there than at home. Given the choice of going swimming at the river or to a local pool at a park. Chose a huge public pool with son, daughter-in-law, and the grandkids. It was a nice diversion. Saturday night we found a new (to us) steakhouse in Colfax, about 20 miles from son's place down back roads. Was very pleasantly surprised. We rate TJ's Roadhouse as excellent. Huge portions! I had ribeye steak, the others had prime rib. Fresh & tasty salad, twice baked potatoes. Oddly they did not offer bread with the meal, but then we did not ask, and besides we had much leftovers to take out. Super efficient service. Baskin Robbins ice cream for dessert when we got back to Rob's place. Did not worry about my roses back home because sweet granddaughter watered them while we were gone.

June 20, 2017   I'm beginning to work on our Rose Show preparations. Some sponsor donations are beginning to roll in. We are fortunate to have generous members! We have our liability insurance from American Rose Society, now we wait for our approved contract with Hart Park. Some of the publicity has been done, like web calendars. I'm working on the show schedule, that will be finalized after our show planning meeting in July. We will be adding Modern Shrub Queen, King, and Princess, so new certificates will need to be made for those new classes. Contemplating adding a class for Decorative Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora, that will give a place to show rose blooms such as Traviata, Jean Giono, Yves Piaget, Dee-Lish, Rouge Royale, Dainty Bess, and Twilight Zone. Roses that are not capable of producing classic hybrid tea form.

June 15, 2017   We had a little bit of June Gloom last week and I certainly enjoyed the 70-80 degree weather while it lasted. I love cool weather and Bob loves hot weather. I believe that this difference in our climate preferences has something to do with our DNA, as my ancesters originated from the cooler regions of Europe, and his ancestors originated from the warmer regions of North and South America. So this week we are back to nasty 95+ degrees. I am not liking this at all, so I stay inside most of the day except in the morning and evening when it's cooler. Our roses are coming into their second bloom cycle, but they are frying and shrinking quickly in this nasty heat. Lots of western flower thrips damage on the blooms, and some chilli thrips damage on the foliage, but the Bayer 2-in-1 I applied several weeks ago seem to be getting the critters under control so far. We got our misting stick and timer set up to help keep the young rose cuttings and buddings cool over the summer. For now, I only turn on the misting stick manually during mid-day, but plan to set it to come on automatically during the hottest part of the day.

June 7, 2017   Time flies when we're retired. I cannot believe that it's been 10 days since I last blogged. The roses are showing lots of thrips damage on the blooms. But I'm not too concerned about it right now because the spring rose shows are over. The thrips always arrive this time of year, and I already applied the Bayer 2-in-1 a couple of weeks ago. No spraying this time of year. The roses are beginning into their next bloom cycle. We are still doing a little deadheading on the late blooms, although Playgirl is already in full bloom for the 2nd cycle. Bob put some cool Duck Tape on my handrail in back of the waterfall. Instead of boring gray, it is printed with hibiscus flowers. We got a roll of it at Hobby Lobby -- a cool place to hang out when we have nothing better to do. He had to fix a couple of sprinkler valves once again, but one in the back kept leaking and the other sprinkler heads were not watering enough. He also set up our misting stick for the rose cuttings. He installed a separate on-off valve, and now we wait for our timer coming from Amazon in a few days.

May 28, 2017   The cuttings we made in late January are now rooted well and ready to be split off into separate individual 3” plastic pots. So we’ve been doing that for the past several days. I had to make name labels for each one because there was only one label per pot of 6 cuttings. Bob pulled them apart and repotted in potting soil. These plants will be used on the rose society monthly raffle table beginning in September. There are 40 different varieties of all kinds of roses. This was a very successful year probably because of all the rain we had this year; only lost about 5%.

May 23, 2017   We liquid fed all the roses one last time until next fall. A blend of Magnum Grow, fish emulsion, kelp, iron, and epsom salts should do the trick. New growth is beginning to grow and some new blooms are appearing. The western flower thrips are back in action so the blooms are ugly and brown. I saw just a little bit of chilli thrips foliage damage today, but so far it does not appear to be widespread throughout the garden. I plan to apply some Bayer 2-in-1 containing imidacloprid this week to combat both kinds of thrips. Bob finished the new concrete steps and grab bar behind our waterfall. Granddaughter Puanani brought her two young boys (Bryson, age 6; and Thayden, age 8 months) over to get their hand prints and foot prints in the cement before it dried. We had another sprinkler valve break, so Bob replaced it.  

May 15, 2017   Wow! Where did that come from? It is intensely pouring rain today. Weather reports said light sprinkles, but this RAIN is overflowing our swimming pool. Fortunately, I had turned off the sprinklers last night, so they did not turn on today. No use in wasting water, even if we now have plenty. We had planned to liquid feed the roses today, so now we will need to do it another day this week when it’s sunny again. There isn’t a lot to do in the garden right now, other than finish up the new cement steps behind our waterfall. That too, will need to wait for a sunny day. I’m glad we took our morning walk early before the rain began today.    

May 13, 2017   Last week we deadheaded the spent rose blooms for five days straight. The first two days I did it by myself since Bob wasn’t feeling up to it. Then we both went at it for three days straight. I was happy to get it all done. We filled up four compacted 96-gallon green waste barrels. Right now our yard is a sea of green foliage, just a few colorful stragglers. The roses look healthy even though I have not fed them liquids for nearly a month, just that one application of dry slow-release Osmocote 10-10-10 on May 3rd. I plan to feed one more liquid application next week. Then dry organics a few weeks after that. I feel like I am anxious for summer to arrive so we can go to the beach again. The June issue of Rose Ecstasy is nearly completed, just waiting for a couple more bits of information, and then I am done with the newsletter until fall. It will be nice to have some rest and relaxation for a couple of months.

May 8, 2017   Today I began deadheading all of the roses. Bob has not been feeling well today, probably due to stomach flu or something he ate yesterday. Hopefully he will recover quickly, otherwise it will take me about a week to finish deadheading the entire front, back, and side gardens if I have to do it all by myself. He did not sleep at all last night, but he did manage to eat some lunch today. The garden looks awful right now because of all the dried, brown blooms that need to be deadheaded so that the new blooms can emerge forth. Meanwhile, for the past several days we have had wind and rain again. Well, the bright spot this week is that we had a lovely turnout at yesterday’s Rose Society meeting. We sure do have a friendly, generous, and very helpful group of members in Santa Clarita.

May 3, 2017   Bob is doing some cement work in the garden today. The steps near our waterfall have been bugging me because the ground has consisted of black pebble rocks for over 20 years. I used to like them but I don’t like them anymore because weeds grow there, and the rocks end up all over the garden and in the pool. So he is making it solid cement, plus he has added a handicapped grab bar for anyone that walks down those steps. Or for clumsy people like me who don’t watch where they’re going! Meanwhile, I have applied slow-release Osmocote 10-10-10 fertilizer to all of my roses, since we won’t be applying liquid fertilizers until September leading up to our November Rose Show. I applied 2 TB to the big roses, and 1 TB to smaller roses. I don’t spray this time of year, but will spray again in September & October. Water is the main course on the menu from here on out through summer.

April 30, 2017   Today we had our Rose Society garden tours at Vicki Wanek’s and Loren Zelden’s homes. The winds finally quieted down, so it turned out to be a nice day for the garden tours. It got a bit too hot for me at Loren’s huge, over-stuffed garden, so halfway through I had to go sit in the shade. Vicki’s garden was fantastic! Very nicely landscaped, and it was fun to see her propagating corner. We are very pleased to see that Vicki has become quite skilled at rooting roses AND budding onto Fortuniana rootstock. Thanks to Barbara Grimm for providing home-baked gourmet cookies and other refreshments at Vicki’s place.

April 27, 2017   Hot weather and hurricane winds have plagued us all week. The roses are not happy (neither am I) but we cannot control Mother Mature. All we can do is to keep the roses watered because the hot winds will dessicate them. When it’s this windy, we cannot even go into our spa in the evening, and it’s scary to be outside right now. Palm fronds from both neighbors are flying into our swimming pool, and mulch from our rose beds are going in there too, so Bob is having to take extra time in keeping the pool clean and the chemicals in the right amount. We’ve lived in this house for 50 years but we have never seen hurricane winds like this. Ever.

April 23, 2017   We spent most of last week cutting roses for the rose show. We got up at 3:00 AM Saturday, and arrived at the Arboretum parking lot at 5:00 AM. It was still DARK! But we brought our portable lights and tarp to shade us at sunrise. We worked feverishly until entries closed at 10 AM. I focused on my priorities which paid off by us winning all three National Miniature Challenge Trophies, plus six PSW District Challenge trophies. And of course we won Court of Honor with St Patrick. We attended the judging seminar on Sunday so that I could update my rose judging credentials. By the time we got home at 5:00 PM Sunday night we barely had enough energy to unload the van and put away our suitcases. Then we ordered in pizza from the local pizzeria. While waiting for the pizza to be delivered, we watered the potted roses as it had been quite hot on Saturday. So finally into the jacuzzi for a hot soak. Still recuperating!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez

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