My favorite time of year in our rose garden is early spring. All the rose bushes have leafed out and buds are forming. The garden is alive with bees and birds. Daffodils, tulips, azaleas, lilacs, rhododendrons, manzanita and ceanothus are in bloom, with fruit trees, California poppies, irises, lilies and gladiolas just starting to develop.
After pruning our roses and fruit trees in January and early February, we spent most of the rest of February and March reworking the garden areas of our backyard to make it more drought tolerant and, at the same time, planted cover crop plants to help enrich our soil.
By feeding the soil, we expect to see an overall improvement in the health of our plants and reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals in our gardening efforts.
We started the rework by sowing field peas in the grass areas and raised beds to add nitrogen to the soil. Then we weeded around the rose bushes and companion plants, picked up any diseased leaf litter and added Epsom salt to each rose plant.
For fertilizer, we spread copious amounts of composted steer manure over the garden areas and plants. To help with water retention, we spread a medium to light layer of rice straw and covered the rice straw in the garden areas with redwood mulch.
Since we have had so little rain this year, we hand water all the roses and companion plants once a week.
The following are some suggested rose care activities you should do weekly this spring.
- Thumb-prune unwanted buds growing towards the center of your rose bushes.
- Trim away unproductive laterals or die back from pruning mishaps as soon as you see them.
- Check for and remove aphids on young buds and new leaves.
- Check and fix any leaks on your drip systems.
- Remember to enjoy and share the beauty of your garden with friends and neighbors.
Paula Grabowski is the Consulting Rosarian coordinator for the Humboldt Rose Society.