Archive for January, 2012

Important Dates

Grand Valley Board Meets: February 14, 2012, 7 PM, at Joan Stoffer’s.
Spring District Convention: March 16-17 Quality Inn in Troy MI.
Grand Valley’s next member meeting: March 20, 7 PM at Meijer Garden.

President’s Letter

On Saturday January 7, 2012, we said a last goodbye to our friend Art Wiley. Entering the chapel at Zaagman Memorial, my eye was quickly drawn to the breathtaking blanket of roses atop Art’s casket; a soft apricot-peach hue. Art’s family had set up several boards of family pictures, sweet memories of the early years and then children, grands and greats. Also displayed were some of this Master Carver’s duck decoys – a fine artist as well as rosarian. Art was a quiet man of many talents. I know you miss him Joan, and we do too.
The winter of 2011 into 2012, so far, has not been kind to our roses. The back and forth warm to cold cycles after we had already put them to sleep for the winter may cause more winterkill in some of our gardens than usual. However, I doubt it will be nearly as disastrous as in Europe 1955-1956.
Wilhelm Kordes of Sparrieshoop, Holstein, Germany writes “1955-56 was a catastrophe for many parts of rose growing lands. Unusually high temps in January started nearly all the roses growing. Frost came in February and the growing plants were killed in Southern Europe, but not here. Under such conditions, looking for unhurt roses produced only a few. One rose especially stood out – Rosa pendulina, often called Rosa Alpina in Europe – hardly used now. The few forms still in use, Mme. Saucy de Parabere and Inermis, were unhurt. Another rose that kept up its good name was Pike’s Peak. We started hybridizing with this rose years ago, but it was not repeat flowering, not even with modern floribunda. The repeat-flowering R. kordesii in most cases came down to the soil, but in wind-sheltered places, remained very hardy; the hardiest being Dortmund and Leverkusen. Summer was worse than the winter. Some parts of Germany saw no sun for 8 weeks. Roses were blown to shreds by storms and were nearly impossible to spray. 1956 will be, in the memory of rose people, the worse we have had for 40 years.”
The next GVRS meeting will be in March and perhaps we will have some idea at that time how our gardens have withstood Michigan’s wicked winter. Hope to see all of you there.


The Nor’ East Rose Sale

The Nor’ East Rose Sale
For quite a few years now, our society had sold miniature roses as one of their main fund raisers. We order the roses for delivery in early May. They come as small started plants, in small pots or picks. We encourage our members to pick up their ordered roses during that 1st week of May. The remaining roses are repotted and held on our back deck for spring sale, or for sale at our spring rose show.
In past years we would send out a complete wholesale list from the nursery, and when we received our orders from you folks in late February, we would order varieties that corresponded best with the varieties ordered by you. Usually we were required to order at least 8 roses of each variety. That meant that many varieties you ordered in only 1 or 2 rose quantities, were never on our order to the nursery.
Last year we started the practice of ordering only a limited number of varieties, and then making the varieties on the confirmed order available to you for your selection. You have less to chose from, but a greater probability of getting what you order.
By leaning rather persistently on the Sales Manager at Nor’East, I was able to get 12 good varieties that we have grown successfully for the last few years, and two newer varieties we have not been able to get placed on our order in previous years. They are the minifloras Patron®, and Powerhouse(rb), both Bernadella roses.
As we have done in the past, there is an “early bird” price for orders placed and paid for before April 1. It is $5 per plant. Non-prepaid orders, or roses picked up before repotting during the first week of May, are priced at $5.25. Orders picked up after repotting in early May, are priced at $5.50 each. We expect June sales to be priced at from $6 to $7, depending on the supply. If early orders of a given variety are high, we reserve the right to restrict the number per person. In most cases, orders will be filled in the order received. The roses will be shipped April 30. Probably available May 2.

Organic Matter

Organic Matter
One of the most important kind of substance for the successful growing of roses is organic matter. Organic matter is matter that is derived from the breakdown of plant and animal residues. Composts, animal manures, shredded leaves, plant clippings, and shredded bark are common sources of organic matter. Besides containing variable amounts of plant nutrients, they also improve soil texture, air and moisture penetration, and moisture retention. Tight, fine textured soils like clay and clay loam, become looser, softer, and more penetrable by water -when organics are added, while loose soils, such as sandy soils, absorb and hold water more effectively when organics are added. Organic surface mulches – like pine needles, shredded bark, and wood chips, keep soils cooler in summer, suppress weed growth and reduce water loss.
When we first started growing roses 20 or 30 years ago, the most recommended organic soil additive was Canadian Peat moss. It is still a good one, but it is no longer inexpensive. We still use a little to mix with garden soil, for potting purposes, but we rely mostly on home grown mulch materials, such as lawn clippings, shredded leaves, and shredded rose canes, and tree trimmings for general soil improvement. We have a power shredder to shred our canes and leaves, but you can use a power lawn mower to reduce piles of leaves to a finer texture that can be piled as compost, or sacked for later incorporation in your garden soil.
The best time to incorporate organic matter for roses is when you build a new rose bed. Dig the bed deep and refill the hole with alternate layers of organic mulch material and good garden soil. When you dig the hole for planting the new roses, that will usually do a good enough job of mixing the soil and organic layers.
The next best time to add organics to the rose bed, is when you dig up a planted rose, and prepare to replace it with a new plant. Sometimes, after the bed is fully planted, I have taken my post hole digger and dug out holes 1 to 2 feet deep, between the planted roses. Then I fill those holes with organic mulch, or an organic rich soil mix. That gets organic matter into the root zone, without disturbing many of the rose roots.
Extra mulch or compost material can also be top-dressed on the surface of the rose bed. I sometimes do this with unsightly or only partly decomposed materials, and then cover it almost immediately with my summer mulch of tree bark. This improves sight and the smell.
Most mulch materials contain a lot of cellulose (wood). This is rich in energy, but low in nitrogen. When the soil bacteria break down the mulch, they find a rich supply of energy, but not much nitrogen. As a result they take from the natural nitrogen supply in the soil to produce their own cellular protoplasm. In so doing, they compete with our roses for nitrogen. This is one reason gardeners are often warned to mulch lightly so as not to deplete the available nitrogen. I prefer the advantages of a heavy mulch. A handful of nitrogen rich mineral fertilizer, or a little soluble fertilizer will easily replace the nitrogen temporarily depleted by the decay bacteria. .

The Rose Business

The Rose Business
The rose business is changing! For many years, most of the commercial growing fields for roses were in the fertile valleys of California. The larger varieties of roses were mostly grafted on Doctor Huey root stock, and grown to large commercial size in the deep soil, long growing seasons of California. The two largest rose distributors, Jackson & Perkins, and Weeks Roses, were located in California. In the past couple of years, both of these rose distributors have experienced financial troubles and entered bankruptcy. Apparently, their fertile fields in California were very valuable, and were sold to pay their debts.
The word I get is that both companies have been reorganized, and are now in the process of moving some of their operations from California to Ohio. The reorganized Weeks Company, a wholesale distributor, has roses available for 2012 through Edmunds Roses, and through other retail garden centers, or nurseries. I have seen no new Jackson & Perkins Catalogs this year. Apparently, since they were in Bankruptcy longer, they were not able to graft many roses for sale in 2012.
I also understand that along with their move from California to Ohio, their will also be a move to produce more own-root roses. Grafting roses is a labor intensive process, requiring skilled labor, while growing roses from cuttings is a lower skilled process, and easier to mechanize. One result of this change will probably be smaller new rose plants. Grafted roses from northern and Canadian nurseries usually are smaller on arrival, than California grown plants, probably due at least in part, to the longer California growing season. Those who have grown some of their own large roses from cuttings, know that roses from cuttings often take longer to produce large plants.
Their may be a proximity advantage for mid-west growers when commercial rose operations move to Ohio. For several years we have noticed that new rose varieties, often appear a year or two earlier in California and near by states, than they do in our area. We suspect that this may be due to personal connections that rose growers develop with rose companies in their area, including some early test marketing.

Blok Roses of 2011

Blok Roses of 2011
For quite a few years now, I have published Blok Roses Of The Year, for the varieties of roses from our garden that had the most success on the show tables for that year. Usually we published that information in the October or November newsletters. Somehow that did not happen in 2011, so we will begin the 2012 year with that information.
We had two hybrid tea roses that won “Queen of Show” in 2011. Dublin was Queen of the Kalamazoo Show, while Gemini won Queen at the Grand Valley Spring Show. Since the number of hybrid tea roses entered in the Kalamazoo Show was relatively small, and the Gemini rose that was Queen in our Grand Valley Spring Show, had to beat out a lot more very good roses, my selection for Blok Hybrid Tea Rose of The Year, is Gemini. Gemini was also present in some challenge classes, and won Queen’s Court in our Fall Show.
Since we did not have many Dublin winners this year, runner-up hybrid tea honors go to Veteran’s Honor. Veteran’s Honor won Princess and Best Red, in both our Spring Show, and in our September District Show. It was also present in a couple of winning hybrid tea challenge collections.
The best Blok Floribunda this year was the spray of Lavaglut that won Best Floribunda Spray, and Best of Show at our Grand Valley Spring Show. Our runner-up floribunda variety would be Shiela’s Perfume which won Best 1-bloom Floribunda in both the Kalamazoo Show, and our local Spring Show.
Since in most of our shows, grandiflora roses are included in our hybrid tea show classes, we usually have not selected a Grandiflora Rose of The Year. But we did have two winners in our exclusive Grandiflora Spray classes, Gold Medal in our Spring Show, and Wild Blue Yonder in our District Show. Therefore I declare that is a tie.
Although we like to exhibit miniature and mini-flora roses, because of prep time restrictions, we often don’t exhibit very many. In Kalamazoo we won Miniature Queen with Edisto (a combined class), and in our District Show we won Mini Queen with Joy, a true miniature. My choice for Best Blok Miniature then is Joy.
We did not win any 1-bloom mini-flora classes this year, but we did win two mini-flora spray classes, one with Butter Cream, and the other with Leading Lady, both very nice sprays. Since from personal experience we believe we are more likely to get a winner from Butter Cream, than from Leading Lady, we vote for Butter Cream as Blok Mini-flora of The Year. W.B.

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