Dahlias and roses in the garden.
I can’t get enough roses in the garden. Over the weekend, my 4 year old picked out this beauty at the store and I couldn’t say no. Its bright punch of color stands out in the sea of green sprouts and established plants.
The best part about growing flowers in the garden is cutting blossoms for bouquets in the house. Whether you grow roses, sunflowers, lavender or mums, there are always ways to bring the beauty of your garden inside.
Since my dahlias have been growing like gangbusters, I’ve been clipping stems whenever I get a chance. I also have roses that were here when we moved in (that I nearly cut down), mums that are blooming even though it’s not fall and Minoan Lace that reseeded from last year and has taken over a corner of my front garden.
To make flowers last, I use this recipe, that I got from the book Petal & Twig, and adjust it to adapt to the size of the container:
1 chopped up non-coated aspirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 cups water
Roses are one of the most popular plants included in gardens and landscapes. While they’re widely admired and appreciated, many people are intimidated by growing them in the garden. They think that roses are hard to manage or require a ton of care.
Roses are the tough old broads of the plant world. Don’t be fooled by their flowers’ delicate and dainty appearance—the plant itself can take quite a bit and still come back as beautiful as ever the following year. While it does take a bit of patience and protection from pests (I’m looking at you, deer), once they’re established, it takes a lot to get them down. Do these five things and you’ll have beautiful blooms for years to come.
- Plant according to your zone. If you want your roses to last, plant breeds that are intended for your growing zone. This is where your local plant nursery has a leg up on their Big Box competition. The local nursery is more likely to have roses that are sure to thrive in your zone. If you choose to buy online, go to a site like heirloomroses.com and filter your search to locate a variety of roses for your area.
- Got deer? Protect your roses with chicken wire. Since I live in a rural area, deer come and go as they please. While they don’t typically do too much damage to the plants in my garden, this year they feasted heavily on the roses I planted in the spring. Luckily, we had some leftover chicken wire from the new coop my husband built for our chickens. I took four foot lengths of wire and formed them into a circle. Since the roses in question were very small, this was a good size to protect them. For bigger rose bushes, adjust the length accordingly. I placed landscape staples into the ground to secure the wire frame in place. The deer stayed away as they couldn’t get their heads down the top of the wire for a nibble. Sorry, deer—your salad bar is closed.
- Plant companions. Companion planting is a great way to keep pests at bay. Instead of relying on pesticides to keep pests away, companion plants either repel the pests completely or trap them. Some companions include onions, garlic, chives, marigolds, mint, tansy, basil—all of which you can eat and enjoy. In a flower garden, plant Echinacea, hyssop, lilies, sage, violets, cornflower, irises, lilacs, cosmos and peonies. For more, click here.
- Deadhead. Deadheading the spent blooms has been known to encourage more floral growth. However, if you want to harvest the rosehips to make oil to use in skin creams or tinctures, leave the dead petals in place, as this will encourage the growth of the hips.
- Prune. Cutting your roses back each year will help it stay healthy. The best time to prune depends on your zone. I live in zone 9 and tend to prune in January or February. However, I did prune a very old climbing rose back to about 6 inches above the ground last November and it came back with a vengeance this year. When pruning, get rid of any dead canes and canes that cross to ensure proper air flow.
In my part of the country, now is the ideal time to prune fruit trees, roses and a host of other plants. I’m a ruthless pruner, especially with plants that are already well established in the garden or on the property.
When we first moved into our house, we inherited roses and azaleas that hadn’t been pruned in years, if not well over a decade. Our azaleas were leggy and gross looking. The roses were running wild. It was a mess! My Mom and I put on our gloves (well, I put on gloves–my Mom never wore gloves even when working with roses) and our tools (a saw and big pruning shears) and got to work hacking everything back. And I mean everything! We sawed the azaleas nearly down to the roots and gave the roses a severe haircut–think going from Crystal Gayle to Susan Powter. The severe pruning did them good-the roses are thriving and the azaleas are growing back. Sometimes your plants just need a good haircut to restore health.
If you haven’t signed up for my Skillshare class yet, what are you waiting for? For a limited time (March 31), you can take it for free by clicking this link.
I love roses. Like many women, the scent of a rose brings a smile to my face, and anything rose-scented usually ends up in my shopping cart—both physical and virtual.
After living in our new home for a few weeks, I have to clarify: I love the idea of roses. Their smell is intoxicating, they’re lovely to look at and they do enhance a landscape. That is, unless they’re the wild roses that have taken over our unkempt property. Apparently, they’re having a full-scale war with the ivy for landscape dominance, taking over every redwood stump and surface in sight.
While the previous owner may have kept them at bay, the roses and the ivy caught a lucky break when the home went on the market, and now they’ve established themselves far and wide. I hacked away at their roots when I set about clearing the area for my vegetable garden. At first I thought that the previous owner had a rose garden in that area because the roots and shoots were so plentiful. I could only cut away half the space; the other half proved stubborn and I just didn’t have the strength or motivation to finish the job (Fortunately, we have lots of ugly orange-brown carpet to throw over the area and kill it off).
It wasn’t until I took the hedge clippers to the ivy covering the redwood tree stump in our driveway that I encountered more wild roses. My love of roses began to diminish. Even the area outside of the window in my office is covered with roses and ivy, the latter of which has started growing into the house. I donned by rubber boots and rose gloves and wielded my trusty hedge clippers to cut it all back. So much for my dreams of a rose garden…
When we were looking at houses, I couldn’t wait to create a rose garden that featured the flowers in a variety of colors. I planned the garden in my notebook, and thought about the garden daily. Now I yell profanities as I cut through thickets of prickly rose vines, and think, who the hell would plant these bastards?! My fingers have swelled up from rose thorns. If I had a nickel for every thorn I pulled out of my hands, I could pay someone to do this crap for me.
I will continue to enjoy the scent of roses and will nurture the one that I found in a planter in the yard. However, I’m hell-bent on eliminating its wild relative from my yard, and the ivy, too.