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Returned home late today after a 3-night trip. The roses are beginning to bloom in earnest with Playboy leading the way. Wasn't the best timing for a trip but had no choice. There was rain while I was gone - but only 5/8" in the rain gauge - but it must have been a very violent storm as lots of green leaves are scattered all over as well as small branches from the inside of the maple trees. Even my 32-gallon plastic trash can was blown over by the wind. I noticed a big stem on The McCartney Rose had broken off at the base and some new canes on Dr. Huey were no longer standing straight upright either. But overall no serious damage so I am grateful for that.

I let the two tree roses (36" Standards, both double budded with Julia Child and Ebb Tide) grow out too long before pruning this year. They overwinter in the unheated, attached garage and they started growing in late February with thin, leafy growth. I didn't prune at all when I brought them outside to their spots on our back deck. They grew into a tangled mess over the next few weeks. I pruned them back significantly about a week ago, but they don't seem to be pushing out much new growth yet. I gave them both a top-dressing of Mills Magic Rose Mix, mint compost, about half as much mushroom compost, and then covered with a few inches of mulch. They have been watered well and maybe what they need is to dry out a bit over the next several days. Time will tell.

Otherwise, my To Do list is spraying and getting the organic fertilization down. I also bought some Osmocote for the first time - so I'll give that a trial this year in one section of the garden.
4 days ago
Two blooms are open - the first of 2024 - and they are one bloom each of Rio Samba and Lemon Fizz. Color is showing on many buds most notably Playboy, Tiffany, Pope John Paul II and Peace.

I did some major disbudding (both ways - some side buds and some terminal buds - which allowed me to walk the garden and inspect al the bushes. Lots of good growth and buds now and the midge have certainly got their fair share, maybe even more than their fair share. When I return from my trip I will prune all the midge damaged stems so growth can continue.

Need to get the organics down - that's a very big task but I'm ready for it. I have two 20-lb bags of Mills Magic Rose Mix and plenty of my own homemade mix - 2 parts alfalfa meal, 2 parts cricket fras, 1-part Coop Poop and 1-part Milorganite. Easy to mix it up but much more difficult to dole out around the bushes and work into the soil.

Rose blooms are roughly 3 weeks ahead of our normal bloom time around here.
10 days ago
Buds are rapidly forming, and the midge are stopping some of them - but not too bad. Today I sprayed the tips with an insecticide hoping to minimize the midge damage. Not sure if it will work but it certainly can't hurt. I am guessing that peak Spring Bloom is going to come about 2 weeks early this year. So early June rather than Father's Day - time will tell.

Applied some Heirloom mint compost to a handful of selected bushes seemingly in need of a "pick me up." I just place a one-inch-thick layer around the plant - maybe an 18- or 24-inch circle around the bud union. I refer to the mint compost as Rx for an ailing rose. It's worked for me before so I'm hoping it does again.

3 of my 4 J&P roses planted in pots look like they will survive with Simply Magnificent looking to be the only casualty. Odd that, because after a week it looked ready to bust out. Soft Whisper has already leafed out while April Moon and Elegant Lady only recently popped - both having breaks very close to the bud union. Hope all three will flourish well enough to make me have to decide which 3 roses would be culled. Current culling candidates would include Electron, Twice in a Blue Moon, Marlon's Day (good when I pruned it a month ago but struggling now - don't know why - the 2-night frost a few weeks ago?), and Beverly (same comments as for Marlon's Day). Or the potted roses can overwinter in the unheated garage like I did 2 years ago with 2 bushes of Ring of Fire.

Weather HAS been cooperating lately so no complaints there as far as roses go. It has been colder than ideal for most golf days thus far - so I can complain about that!
I was pleasantly surprised when the Regan rose order arrived Saturday about 2:30 pm. The FedEx tracking had it arriving today (Monday) at 2:00 pm. Worked out great as all my "helpers" were at the house Saturday so we got right to it. Those planted first soaked in water for about 3 hours. We prepared the holes and created what we call the "Good Dirt" for planting. My "good dirt" formula is the top 6-8 inches of soil from the hole (the good stuff), plus a little mushroom compost, plus a fair bit of potting mix, plus quite a bit of perlite, and then fortified with small amounts of Alfalfa Meal and Cricket Fras. For just enough "good dirt" to plant 13 roses, it was about 1.25 cubic feet of mushroom compost, 4 cubic feet of potting mix. 3 small/medium bags (8 qt. dry each) of perlite, and 4 cups each of the Alfalfa Meal and Cricket Fras. Not too much of any one item other than the native soil. It looked great and hopefully will produce spectacular roses.

The planting was going great - had 10 of the 13 bushes in the ground but then at 6:30 pm the skies opened up and it literally rained on our parade. It was a very violent thunderstorm and I got soaked trying to get everything put away into the garage. Worst of all is that our BBQ was ruined - the hot dogs had just been placed on the grill when the skies opened up, so we had to cook everything inside. Oh well - we needed the rain (but received only 3/8" from violent t-storm).

Still to do Sunday morning was to plant 3 bushes and top off all the holes with the "good dirt", and then mulch up around the protruding canes to help retain moisture. Got it all done solo by noon.

I have to comment about the plants I received. They were packed very well in plastic and there was still some moisture inside. That part was good. With the exception of one variety, all the bushes looked good - fairly big plants with good canes and roots. The exception is 3 plants of the FL Sparkle & Shine which were own root. I can't believe that Regan actually shipped 2 out of the 3 as they were, at best, grade #2 plants and maybe even a lesser grade than that. Yes, they were own root, but I have received own root grade #1 roses from other vendors (including Regan!). These were far from the mark. Palatine, for example, would have called and offered substitutes. I am quite wary that the 2 puny Sparkle & Shine bushes will ever amount to anything, but time will tell. One of the puny bushes looked like it had grown horizontally as opposed to vertically. Very odd that. Oh well - fingers crossed on those.

Otherwise, today I was able to fertilize the North Garden with a concoction of things left over from last year - some
AlgoPlus, Heirloom Fish Fertilizer, Root Ruckus, Liquid Love and of course, Super Thrive. Mixed it all up together in a 32-gallon trash can and then doled out about 2/3 of a gallon to each established bush. Had to make sure everything was at about one-quarter strength except the Super Thrive. The 16 floribundas all received a mixture of Worm Tea and Heirloom Fish Fertilizer at about half-strength each. Afterwards everything was watered in well. Supposedly there will be some rain tomorrow but somehow, I tend to doubt that.

Evidence of the recent (11-12 days ago) frost exists on some bushes - worst is Marlon's Day - looked great when I pruned it but he's struggling now.
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