Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Spring 2012 Weather

The Spring That Sprung by Bill Blok
We usually have talked about March as the month that comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb. This year there were not the usually lion-like snow storms, but lots of warm weather of record breaking proportions. Lots of tornadoes in the south, and a few in eastern Michigan, but otherwise we had mostly record breaking tropical weather.
Usually we wait until the weather warms in early April to remove our rose cones, but this time the weather was warm already in early March. When the weatherman predicts frost-free temperatures in the coming 7 or 8 days, I take that as a signal to remove our rose cones. This year that happened during the first full week of March, but I did not have the faith to act upon it. The first Monday after our March 17 District Convention, I started removing our cones, and finished it on March 21. Most of the cone covered roses had green shoots of 2 or more inches long.
Pruning roses that are covered with new growth is no picnic. It is hard to see all the black stains on the canes that signal the likelihood of more dieback in the near future. It also takes a little more courage to cut back more new growth to improve the symmetry and openness of the rose bush.
Seven custom budded maidens (unnamed hybrids) arrived from Wisconsin Roses on March 27. They were promptly planted. Unfortunately three new named rose maidens and 50 rootstock seedling that were ordered in October did not arrive. My e-mail order apparently was misplaced. Steve will check to see if he still has stock in those items.
After the mild to hot weather we enjoyed in early March, the weather in the last week and a half of March turned cool to downright chilly. As of the end of March we avoided any hard freezes, but we did suffer 3 or 4 frosty nights. Some good rains were welcome, and the lawns really greened up.
I finished pruning our rose beds on April 2. That is, I think I am finished. When you have as many bushes as we have, it is not uncommon to find a bush or two that were overlooked in the first go over. When our weather cooled off during the last 10 days of March, we had 3 or 4 nights where we had light frosts of between 30 and 32 degrees, but we saw no obvious signs of frost damage on the roses. We hope that damage free nights may continue.
Although we usually apply crabgrass preventer fertilizer to our lawns in mid April, we applied most of our preventer in mid to late March. It occurred to me that, though it was early, with the record breaking warm weather in March, we needed to get it down before the warm soil germinated the crabgrass seed. I still had a bag ot the preventer fertilizer left from the first application, and I applied it during the 1st week of April. Whether it is necessary for the crabgrass prevention, I don’t know, but at least the fertilizer portion was useful for the fast growing grass.
When I am finished pruning our roses, the next pressing need is to apply fertilizer to our rose beds. Formerly I used the Schultz’s time release fertilizers that were commonly sold in the 4 lb. boxes for around $2 per box. Unfortunately, it is not being sold that way any more. Osmocote or similar coated commercial time release fertilizers are still available, but at 2 or 3 dollars per pound. The result is that we have been using balanced non-coated fertilizers in recent years. This year we are using 19-19-19. I spread a 7 or 8 ounce tumbler of fertilizer around 3 or 4 large rose bushes. I use pH paper to test the acidity of my soil. If my pH is near 6 or below, I apply about the same volume of pulverized limestone to these same bushes. Above a pH of 6 and below a pH of 7, is supposed to be about ideal for roses. I will hope to repeat the above fertilizer application in mid May, possibly after our bark mulch is
applied to the rose beds.
Although we usually wait until mid May to start our fungus preventive sprays to our roses, very likely we will need to apply a good fungicide by May 1, since the fungus spores got an early start this spring. If you wish to avoid paying a small fortune for a lifetime supply of Banner Maxx spray, the less expensive fungicides such as Bayer Rose Disease Control, and Spectricide Immunox Disease Control spray is still being sold in local garden centers for between $12, and $15 for a season’s supply for most rosarians.


A Find at Home Depot

Shopping For Roses by Bill Blok
On April 5, Alice Otter called to tell me that she was surprised to find one of her favorite roses being sold in the Kentwood Home Depot store. It was Pink Promise, in #1 grade bushes. It was one of those contribution roses, where a small amount of the price was being donated to the fight against breast cancer.
Alice Otter won the 3 of a kind class with this rose in our Fall Show last year. For her, it rates right up there with Moonstone. It is somewhat similar to Moonstine, an off white with a pink inner swirl of petals. I personally don’t rate it quite up to Moonstone, although it has good form and excellent substance.
Alice urges interested people to shop early for these packaged roses. Especially considering the warm weather we have had earlier. Packaged dormant roses don’t wear well on the store shelves. If you are looking for new roses, as opposed to old favorites, you will find the picking slim among packaged roses, but every once in a while you find a pearl.

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.

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.

Storage Good and Bad

Storage, Good and Bad
Show supplies storage, in my experience, has always been a critical need of our rose society. When I first joined the rose society in 1983, our show supplies were stored in the old Grand Rapids Public Museum Annex at Sheldon Ave. S.E., where our monthly meeting were held at that time. Later when the new Grand Rapids Museum was preparing to open, we could no longer meet there, but we did continue to store supplies there until a year or two later when the old building was closed. It was then necessary to rent commercial storage for a few months
When Dave Datema Jr., grounds keeper supervisor at the Christian Reformed Recreation Center, and our Son-In Law at that time, heard about our need of storage space, he made me a proposal. They had an old building on the property at 36th St. S.E. (a chicken coop) that we could use for equipment storage. They would provide this service, in return for my planting a rose garden at their Senior Center, or Golf House. Since I had the time to plant the garden, it must have been about 1994 and I was retired from my jobs. I purchased a dozen or more inexpensive roses and planted them in a space behind the Senior Center, and along the rear patio near the center. The garden spot was not ideal (poor drainage), but it turned out to be more lasting than the Chicken coop. The coop was accessible from a driveway off 36th St., behind the barn, and down a grassy hill. We worried about getting back up the grassy hill in rainy conditions, but that was never a problem. We did get some punctured tires however.
The problem with the coop was its condition. The window openings were loosely boarded up and the roof was leaky. The winter snow would drift in through the cracks, and fall in the boxes. With warm weather the snow would melt, damaging the cardboard boxes, and over time, the wooden boxes and equipment. Also the roof, not perfect from the first, over the years became a virtual sieve.
When we moved our rose show site from Breton Village Mall to Meijer Gardens in 2002, storage at the Gardens became available, and we moved our supplies to safer storage at the Gardens.
When the rose society discontinued the use of the chicken coop, I continued to do Spring and Fall rose care for the garden at the Rec. Center. As a tack-on to my commercial spraying work in town, I also sprayed the Rec. Center garden with left over spray.
I did not mind the spraying, but I seemed to be the only person charged with controlling the weeds, at least it seemed that way. This past summer was one with some heavy rains. Sometimes the rose bushes were standing in water or mud. By August the plants were largely defoliated. Since this is a golf course, Japanese beetles are a serious problem, but this year black spot was too. When I made my last spray trip there in mid-September, I officially resigned my commission as rose garden caretaker. The fact that that week was the week of my 81st birthday, gave me the perfect excuse to call it quits. I suggested they might try planting begonias.
We better appreciate the storage space that Julie Franke has made available to us the last 3 or 4 years. When we were asked by Meijer Gardens to vacate the garage space allocated to us for storage in 2002 at Miejer Gardens, because they needed the space, Julie Franke open up some space for us in the warehouse for Julie’s Education Department. We better be thankful for it. W.B.

John Ball Winterizing

John Ball Winterizing
The weather did not look very promising on the morning of October 29, but before it was time to leave for John Ball, it had stopped raining, and the clouds had begun to thin out. When Irma and I arrived at the John Ball rose garden, Gord and Alice Otter had already begun the work of cutting back the roses. After a little time we were joined by Tim Rousch, and 3 members of his Park staff. Due in part to (I suspect) the fertilization program for the roses at John Ball, the pruning job was less work than on some years in the past. As soon as the pruning was completed, all hands were engaged in distributing the truckload of wood mulch that was brought to the garden. When the Bloks left shortly before 11 AM, the park staff was mulching the last bed of roses in the garden oval. The Otters and the Bloks thank the John Ball Staff for their help in preparing the roses for winter. Jan Powell called in to say she could not make it because of a special Choir practice. Jon Wier called in sick. He has spent the last 2 weeks home bound with a respiratory infection. He has had to get professional help to care for Lois during this period. Rose Enders e-mailed us an injury report. She suffered a thigh bruise from a hard kicked soccer ball during soccer practice, the day before.

Queen of the Show Fall, 2011

Touch of Class, grown and shown by Alice Otter

Leadership Help Wanted

Leadership Help Wanted!
The months of September and October is the time when the rose society looks for people who are willing to help do the work of the society for the coming year. In the past few years this has been done at the Board level, and eventually at the October general membership meeting. The first Board level discussion hopefully will result in the formation of a single slate of candidates for all offices that are up for election this year. That could come at a September Board meeting, but no later than the October Board meeting. If you are willing to be considered for the main offices, President, Vice President, Secretary, and a vacant Board Trustee position, please let one of the current Board members know of your availability, so your name may be considered for one of these positions. The second means of getting involved in our society leadership, is by having your name placed in nomination as an addition to the Board slate of candidates, at our October membership meeting. The members who are being nominated to leadership positions are often not known until our October General Membership meeting (The 3rd Tuesday of October), but other names can be added at that meeting.
If you put your name up for available offices, hopefully you will be available for most of our occasional Board meetings, and for most of our General Membership meetings.

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