Beginning Blooms in the Rose Garden

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A Fungus Among Us…: We have had an extreme shortage of sunny days this spring. With just days until summer arrives, nothing seems to have changed too much. Our roses have been growing, reaching for the cloud-hiding sun, and the stems are a little stretched. It has been cooler than normal, as well, and lots of rain has fallen. In weather conditions like these, I am always on the outlook for downy mildew, which shows up on fully foliated plants when the weather is unusually cool and the leaves remain wet for extended periods of time. Downy looks a lot like black spot, but it presents at the top of the plant while black spot shows up first at the bottom. The problem with downy is that it can defoliate the plant really quickly, and our normal fungicides don’t touch it. I have been acting proactively against this pest this year. A product called ‘Agri-Fos’ by Monterey Garden Products works very well against this fungus and others and performs well when mixed with other broad-spectrum products such as Bayer Disease Control.

Furry Pests: Last year, after our big move to Suffield from Windsor, once everything was up and growing, another problem surfaced. I probably missed out on seeing blooms on a dozen plants last year because rabbits discovered my roses. I had a product left over from my Elizabeth Park days called Organigrow. Head gardener at the park, Bob Prill, brought it in to use in the tulip garden to keep the squirrels from transplanting the tulips to the rose garden. It is made from human waste products and worked well, so I used it in Windsor to repel deer, woodchucks, and bunnies. I tried it here…the rabbits came in, anyway! They mowed the rose bushes of their choice down to stubs. I used Liquid Fence, as well, but they still plagued my roses. This year, I have been determined to keep them out! We are down to it’s either them or me. I have threatened to make them into nice mittens! I did some research and found a website called Imustgarden.com. I looked at their products and they have repellents for everything, including snakes and armadillos! (I’ve never seen an armadillo in my garden!) Their rabbit repellent claims to repel bunnies for 30 days, depending on weather conditions. It includes the usual putrefied egg, thyme oil, garlic oil, and hot pepper, but it also includes a bunch of other botanicals, such as wintergreen oil. To us, it doesn’t smell as bad as Liquid Fence, but I can still smell it the morning after which is a good thing. I am seeing roses this year that they stole from me last year, and I think the I Must Garden product is very good! A fine mist on my plants really seems to deter them. I have found a couple of chomps but not the total devastation of the past.

Four Days of Sunshine: In addition to my roses and my rose society, my husband Bob and I are volunteer lighthouse keepers at Race Point Light in Provincetown, Massachusetts. We went down to the Cape a day early for an overnight with friends and were out at the lighthouse manning the Keeper’s House with many guests for four days. We returned home late afternoon mid-week. When we left, there were a few blooms just starting. Four days of sunshine (hurray!) really sped up my gardens! When we pulled in the driveway, there was an explosion of color all around the house. We hurried to empty the car and get stuff put away so we could go outside and have our nightly Estate Walk. Glorious June had arrived and beauty was all around and it all continues to this day. Most of my roses are producing huge basal breaks and growing beautifully. Four days of sunshine in a row are pure magic in the rose garden, and I am looking forward to lots more sunny days to come.

Meet Marci Martin

Marci Martin fell in love with roses when she was a little girl, and the love affair goes on. She has been growing roses for…

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