Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rexie Stops to Notice the Roses Thursday April 30, 2015

Rexie on the balcony railing with St Mary mini rose, April 30, 2015
(Written and first posted Sept 30, 2015)

This was a rose year. (It's always Rexie's year, he/(she) and his/(her) sisters.)

I have sequential hobbies-obsessions. They repeat, not in order, every several years. You can kind of tell that, from reading this blog. Roses & gardening, sewing, cross-stitch design, quilt design, jewelry design & making, textile design, fabric dyeing...

This spring and summer again it was roses. In pots on the balcony because of the drought, the conquering horde of blackberries, and the deer. I have never before succeeded in growing them successfully up there, partly because it's too shaded in high summer, although fine in spring, late summer, fall & winter, when the sun is more to the south.

Partly because, I thought in the past, by July I couldn't carry enough water to keep them healthy. That turned out to be not true. 6-8 gallons a day for the whole row, in still-fairly-small-pots. The problem in the past turned out to have been spider mites (and aphids, etc) drying them out. Soapy-water spray &/or dip turns out to fix that. Plus watering on the leaves more. Plus a couple of friendly spiders.

As for the shade question, I mostly bought and grew shade-tolerant roses, as I could get them. Yes, there are shade-tolerant roses! Especially Hybrid Musks, which are mostly contemporary with this 1917 house, but with some new ones too. I passed on the totally tempting Darlow's Enigma, which apparently wants to be 12ft x 12ft! Not on the balcony...

But I love Lyda Rose. Also old favorites Angel Face and Iceberg are shade-tolerant, and a few minis. And several of David Austin's English Roses, like Abraham Darby. And I also tried some totally tempting ones, which I'm thinking of trying to breed - purples Ebb Tide and Rhapsody in Blue.

Because I think what I need here for the balcony are shade-tolerant, heat-tolerant (Lyda Rose and probably other Hybrid Musks are both plus disease-resistant), fragrant, purples or pastels, disease-resistant. And for the long-term in pots, small roses or larger-bush minis, or hanging basket minis.

So I was out on the balcony very early in the morning for much of the summer. Trying (trying!) a little hybridizing just to learn how. Plus potting-up, fertilizing, spraying soapy water for bugs, or apple-cider-vinegar for diseases (mostly a minor problem). Also in pots, I knew from when I worked in the nursery, roses can become Magnesium deficient, although there's plenty in the soil here.

I can do better with all of that next year, and get more flowers. But the advantage of the balcony is that everything is close up. I always had some flowers, mostly fragrant ones. I took 1000s of pictures. And Rexie was out here with me part of the time - but he kept telling me (by walking on the rail between me and the flowers, and bumping me) to stop taking pictures and Pay Attention To The Cat.

He also decided that the balcony was his exclusive territory, and his sisters couldn't go out there.

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