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4 days ago
The Beetle War of 2024 is raging on. They are out in full force now. They don't seem to be very selective this year and they have been spotted (and killed) on bushes that they have ignored in the past (like Kardinal and Olympiad). One rose they don't like at all is Clair Elyse. I've seen sone foliage damage on Clair but don't ever recall seeing a beetle in the bloom. Which is great as it is one of my favorites and an outstanding rose.

I finally got around to spraying yesterday using my new sprayer - a 4-gallon battery powered wheel/cart sprayer from Petra Tools. It's going to take me a while to learn all the ins and outs of it but it sure was nice not having to do any pumping. It sure puts out a lot of spray - it took 6 gallons to do the gardens whereas my old sprayer was no more than 4 gallons. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it as I use it more. I really needed to spray as there is some blackspot evidence on a few bushes (Sexy Rexy being the main culprit). I'll get more regular with the spraying going forward.

All the bushes in the South Garden have been given Alfalfa Tea. The impact is already noticeable - that being longer and straighter stems. First wave was applied 11 days ago. In the North Garden I gave everything a gallon or so of Mills Easy Feed. I'll reverse those in the net couple weeks so both gardens get the same in the end.

Yesterday we cut one rose to display in the house - Perfectly Red. Just two stems have 11 total blooms - both in a candelabra fashion - all being roughly the same size, height and bloom age (I disbudded the terminal bud to create the spays). Had there been a rose show one of these sprays would be a contender for Best in Show honors. Perfectly Red is not widely grown or available, but it is an underrated Keith Zary Hybrid Tea that is simply outstanding in my garden. Great vigor, long straight stems, very good form, and deep red color - the blooms last a long time in the vase or on the bush. Moderately fragrant for me - my wife says more than moderate.
13 days ago
More Alfalfa Tea was applied today - to the inner and outer ring of the South Garden. Generally one-half to two-thirds of a gallon per bush - sometimes a little more or less depending on the bush. The tea was fortified with between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of Epsom Salts and Chelated Iron each. Added 8 cups of Alfalfa Meal afterwards to brew up another batch.

Everything was well-watered prior to applying the Alfalfa Tea.

Finally, I was able to finish the deadheading yesterday. I have never had so many spent blooms to remove. The mild winter has provided a thriving rose garden like never before. We filled two yard material bags with all the trimmings. It turned out to be quite the undertaking - a bigger job than it ever has been before!

Performing particularly well is a Mister Lincoln bush in the North Garden. I counted 16 stems/blooms in progress for the next flush. Mister Lincoln is not usually so generous! Sexy Rexy put on another magnificent Spring display but after deadheading that is but a memory now. Class of 2023 roses Bliss Parfuma, Muzi-Lucia, Keepsake, and Margeret Merril are getting their sea legs. Candidates for Most Improved would include Let Freedom Ring, Acapella, Baronne Edmund de Rothschild and Crescendo. 2024 plantings of Sparkle & Shine and Granada have yet to bloom. For S&S I was given puny own-root plants and Granada is just slow to get going (the midge have not helped). I'm not sure I have a single bush where I wouldn't rate it's 2024 performance at least an 8 out of 10.

I haven't yet commented on the 2024 Japanese Beetle battle. First beetle arrived maybe two weeks ago and they have been slowly building up to a full-scale onslaught. One benefit of the deadheading and the period between flushes is that the Beetles don't have much to choose from right now. I only need to visit a handful of roses ('cause those are the only ones with blooms right now). Their favorite thus far this year has been Moonstone. Yesterday I crashed their party of 8 in a single Moonstone bloom but usually I just see one or two in a bloom. Same old approach for me - see a Beetle spray a Beetle and kill a beetle. They are a pain to deal with but there do seem to be fewer with each passing year.
28 JUN
Applied some Alfalfa Tea yesterday. To the 32 gallons of tea, I fortified with about 1/2 cup Epsom Salts and 1/4 cups of chelated iron (Sequestrene). I applied this to all the new (planted 2024) bushes - about 1/3 to 1/2 gallon each. Then I applied 1/2 gallon to each hybrid tea in the left triangle of the South Garden (predominantly red HTs). For reasons unknown, on balance the roses in that left triangle don't do quite as well as the other roses in the South Garden. There are some exceptions, but this is where growth tends to be weaker. Most likely this is where some of the weaker growers are located (i.e. Chrysler Imperial, Beverly, Mr. Caleb, Papa Meilland).

After that, I still had quite a bit left over, so I moved on to many of the roses which I group into the Miscellaneous Garden (mostly shrubs like Sally Holmes, Bonica, Lemon Fizz, and Home Run). After that a few gallons remained which went to the corner of the South Garden that gets the least amount of sunshine - located here are Keepsake, St. Patrick, Baronne Edmund de Rothschild, Acapella, Let Freedom Ring, Over the Moon and Love. I definitely prefer to give a 1/2 gallon each to two bushes rather than a full gallon to a single bush. I think that's more efficient and will result in the plant using all of it.

Today there has been a very light rain falling all day. The rain gauge looks like it has only about 3/8" in it which speaks to how light of a rain it has been. Hopefully the rain will hold off for my golf tomorrow morning.

Main thing on the To Do list is to continue with the deadheading and bush cleanup. Seems like I am losing ground on both - there just have been so many blooms this year! Which I suppose is a good thing. I also need to spray - it's been blackspot weather all day.
25 JUN
Had a two-week dry spell with no rain but that ended 3 days ago. In that time we have had 2.5 inches delivered via two separate storms. Lawns were definitely in need of this and roses always seem to grow better from rain.

I have been trying to keep up with the deadheading of spent blooms. My garden has never ever had so many blooms at one time. It's a good situation to be in.

Recent rain has toppled a few stems having large sprays. Pinkerbelle probably being the worst offender. Pinky is a great grower, but unless it is completely dry and moisture getting on the blooms will discolor it so much that one has to wonder what the true color is or would look like in perfect conditions. I have considered shovel-pruning Pinky in the past but its vigorous growth habit has made that hard for me to pull the trigger. I have a good Soft Whisper in a 3-gallon pot that needs a home and could find itself in the Pinky spot by season's end.
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