Monday, February 6, 2012

It's raining!!

I had to share this blissful news with everyone. The misting turned to actual rain at 5:45 this evening and fell steadily at a medium rate for more than half an hour on my garden and the surrounding Ocala area, a part of the earth that is decidedly unfamiliar with the concept of rain for, lo, these many months. A sustained rain is a wonderful thing, but the icing on this cake is the off-and-on rain for hours afterward. I can't wait to check out the rain gauge in the morning.

The daylilies and dahlias that I hurriedly planted after work are thinking they're in garden heaven right now. Maybe this portends good things for the dahlias which were the bagged kind from Walmart. What can I say? I'm a sucker for those beautiful flower photos on the package even though just about nothing on those racks - except the caladiums and elephant ears - will ever survive in this part of Florida. Oh, but the hollyhock I bought as a bagged root is, indeed, sprouting!! The photo on the bag was pink - oh, joy - hopefully, it's the beautiful baby pink that I grew once and that graces my computer desktop. Yes, folks, it's not a rose. It's a gorgeous fluffy 'Summer Carnival' hollyhock.

I also want to clarify my pruning practices. Since I mostly grow OGR's, my garden's pruning needs are not typical.

  • The Teas and Chinas get cleaned up, i.e., dead stuff is removed, growth that has extended into walkways or neighbors is cut off where it sprouted from the older cane, and just a bit of trimming - a scant few inches is removed from some tips for shaping. The freeze killed the brand new growth that was there, so all of that has to be removed back to healthy cane. I also remove any low growth that is growing downward or laying on the ground, and I try to thin clumps of growth, usually leaving a "Y" at the end of the cane. I've found that usually that third or fourth shoot will die back anyway later on.
  • Some Polyanthas - notably 'Clotilde Soupert' - appreciate and need a refreshing pruning. My two bushes are about 4 feet tall, and I probably don't take off a foot of that height. However, the cutting triggers the auxin, and lovely new growth follows. There is nothing more gorgeous than Clotilde covered with her tender, spring-green leaves.
  • My only Hybrid Tea is an antique and does not have the typical modern HT form. You saw her in yesterday's post, and she sort of resembles a tumbleweed (before it tumbles) with at least a couple of dozen canes coming up from the base that mostly bloom singly or in small clusters of two or three flowers at the tips . This type of rose needs to be shortened some (I don't think she was damaged at all by the freeze), but I don't think I took off even a quarter of her size. Afterwards I thought perhaps I could have cut more, but I wasn't up for a second round. She'll just be bigger this year. Oh, I forgot 'Mme Joseph Bonnaire', but she's a one-cane wonder so... not a problem.
  • I have two shrub roses, 'Quietness' and 'Polonaise' that are similar to HT's. They're young and spindly, and I'll probably just shorten them a bit, not even 25 percent.
  • The small Bourbons, 'Souv de la Malmaison' and her kin, do not like to be pruned according to those more knowledgeable than I am, so I just removed the dead stuff. Their size is not an issue, so the roses and I were happy with that.
  • I don't have a clue yet about the Austins I have. I'm trying to find out if my two candidates for pruning are among the ones that resent pruning. I'll let you know.
  • Climbers are a whole post unto themselves, except 'Reve d'Or'. She responds well to a simple haircut - nothing technical about it.
  • Damask Perpetuals will be pruned by ear. I only know to "prune them hard". Winging it is such a pain!
Dr. Malcolm Manners of Florida Southern College recommends removing every leaf from all rose bushes as a way of eliminating any remnants of fungal disease and of triggering new growth. I did that last year, but I don't think I will this year due to a lack of old leaves and new growth being well under way. 'Mrs B. R. Cant' may be the exception. I haven't really looked at her yet, but she is fully clothed with last year's leaves. My situation is probably different from others, because I have so few roses that are susceptible to black spot. (Winnowing works!)  Although, I'm wondering if my new baby 'Chrysler Imperial' might be a candidate for leaf stripping, but maybe I should let her get established before I strip away all her energy sources, ya think?

DH's pruning suggestion was something to the effect that I should get out the chainsaw, or maybe he was suggesting I go buy some hedge clippers. He was quite adamant about it, too. However, my deep love and respect for him notwithstanding, his non-orthodox opinions will be ignored. All pruning "doctrine" should be tested to be sure it pertains to your roses, because all roses are not the same.

By the way, I do  intend to stay out of holes for a while!


  1. You have done a lot of work! I don't know anything about pruning.. it sounds complicated, lol. I'm so glad you got some rain too. :)

  2. Glad to hear you got some rain. Aren't the old roses the best when it comes to pruning? I think that's the part that new gardeners dread the most. Even I feel like I have so much more to learn about it, mostly because I have so many different types! Thankfully, most roses are forgiving.