The roses

On last count, I think we have seven rose bushes in the yard.  When we finally cleared away the vines and weeds last August, some of them weren’t looking so healthy (mostly just spindly, thorned branches w/out leaves), but this year they appear to be coming back healthier and fuller, so we’ll see how it goes.  I was stoked to discover that they are all different colors – and did my best to photograph them as they continued to bloom into October.

The above is the first bud we had after we moved in.  I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have moved into a place with actual rose bushes of my own.  Years ago, working as a landscaper, I used to spend entire days with a fanny pack full of twist ties and a ladder, training clients’ roses to climb across their trellises and cover the roofs of their houses (and guest houses).  I learned about the dreaded black mold and about how one of the best defenses against it is a completely-organic (provided the soap added is also so) spray – as opposed to thoroughly toxic alternatives.

To control black spot on roses:  Use Baking Soda!

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda into a gallon of water and add one squirt of detergent or soap to the mix. The soap acts as a spreader-sticker to help keep the baking soda on the leaf. The mix should be sprayed onto the rose leaves – both top and bottom – to establish an alkaline leaf surface that will prevent the fungus from establishing itself. This will have to be repeated after a rain as the rain will clean the leaves allowing the fungus a clean leaf to colonize. This mixture will last about a week in normal practice – the dew will wash it off and wind action will abrade it.  (Learn more here)

As a sometimes not-so-daredevil sort of a person, I’m still proud of being the only person on our three man crew who was comfortable standing on the top rung of the ladder and creeping around on a roof without any safety precautions (except my cat-like reflexes).

This was our first full bloom.  Kinda fuschia.  Really vibrant.

These are the blooms on some of the smaller plants that we rescued from near-strangulation by weeds and, primarily, morning glory vines (really pretty but total infiltrators.)

And bright red!

The above picture is our garden a few days ago (late March).  In an effort to nurture and control the roses, Ken built these tiny trellises and attached them to the fence.  I’m hoping we can add more and grow the roses across the fence (instead of straight up and out like messy rose branch spears or across the ground/waiting to die.)  We’re already off to a good start – they’re green and healthy, and their new growth is pliable and easy to bend to our will.