by Charlene Burgi
Mother’s Day always coincides with the time roses are coming out of their dormancy. Healthy winter pruning, spring rains, composted tea application and refreshed mulch are the recipe for a display of color like no other time of year.
You might wonder why I say roses are misunderstood or even why a water conservation specialist would discuss roses. However, the stereotype that roses are water guzzlers is a misconception. Given well-prepared soil, plenty of mulch and point application irrigation, these plants will thrive with average water and produce an abundance of blooms worthy of winning prizes at the county fair.
Some argue that their roses require an inordinate amount of water. This is true if you live in the desert regions of California. (See Water Use Classifications of Landscape Species (WUCOLS), a guide to plants’ water needs.) But you also may be overwatering without realizing it. Roses are very forgiving and will accept being overwatered, producing flowers even while experiencing black spot or mildew. By the same token, you can overwater or train a native plant to accept more water than is required.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share that some roses are happier in other regions. For example, the Bay Area fog makes it difficult for a Tropicana rose to thrive. It will provide blooms, but be subject to rust and other fungus. On the other hand, it loves the heat if planted in central California. If you can’t live without the look of a Tropicana, try Futura which is a great match that can take our cool nights and warm days. You can find similar flowering roses that can live happily in the Bay Area since there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. If you have questions about growing roses here, check with the Marin Rose Society. They have an awesome website and are ready to help. Visit marinrose.org.
And speaking of help . . . we are still looking for volunteers to help with the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour coming up next week on May 15. Can you think of a better way to spend three and a half hours of a Saturday than sitting in a beautiful garden? Additionally, you will be given three free tickets to give to friends and family to enjoy the tour, and a free custom designed t-shirt. The balance of the day is yours to visit other gardens on the tour. Plan to experience living roofs, rain gardens, native gardens, cisterns and so much more. Please call (415) 945-1512 to volunteer. If you just need a day off and only want to tour the gardens, contact Gina at (415) 499-3202.