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17 JUN
Heat wave is here - temps at or above 90 degrees for about a week.

Saw (and killed) my first Japanese beetle 2 days ago. It's a bit early for them but everything is early this year. A few more were lurking about today and those met their maker as well. There is no doubt that Clouds of Glory is their favorite. Tall, white and fragrant. I prepared both f the one-quart spray bottles with fresh Eight insecticide - so let the battle begin!

Have had some killer bouquets in the house already. I'm using Chrysal again this year but I've added some half-strength Watch-Us-Grow to it. This is/was the old exhibiting trick I was taught about 30 years ago. Cut blooms will increase in size a fair amount due to the Watch-Us-Grow. It really does wonders.

Otherwise, it's just general maintenance right now. Water every other day, spray every two weeks, disbud as needed to produce either a single bloom or spray, and deadhead the spent blooms. I have never had so many blooms in a Spring flush despite the midge getting their fair share.

My new budded Chrysler Imperial is already as big as my 4-year-old own root CI bush (as expected). But the own root bush is doing better than ever - I guess it just needed some neighborly, friendly competition. Other new 2024 bushes are just about to bloom. As a group they all have been somewhat slow to get going - not sure why that is given that they were all planted in primo improved soil and babied along with loving care. The puny Sparkle & Shine bushes have leafed out and are growing, but the midge had a lot to say about a delay in seeing those first blooms. My patience will be rewarded (I hope).

Hasn't rained much lately - big storm with T-storm warnings reported seemed to break up and peter out just as it got to this neck of the woods, and we experienced only a few sprinkles. So, I spent the day moving hoses around and watering the lawn.
10 JUN
Wow - time flies when you are busing golfing and caring for 220 roses.

A first for me is that I have no complaints right now! Oh sure, the midge have done their share of damage but they do that every year. So I live with it. Not much insect damage either this year - only very minor sawfly larva damage has been spotted. Weather has been quite good. The rose gardens are either in full bloom right now or very nearly so. I am due to spray fungicide again (more on that below). Perhaps I see more bottom yellow leaves this year compared to past years - but that may speak to the bountiful foliage above blocking the sun.

Some roses that have disappointed in the past are struttin' their stuff this year. I've already cut two big blooms on Baronne Edmund de Rothschild and they were quite fragrant even. First time in 4 years that rose has made it inside into a vase. Buxom Beauty (Parole) also doing well this year. Others much improved over last year include Elina, Sexy Rexy, Ring of Fire, Twice in a Blue Moon, Chrysler Imperial (OR), Over the Moon, Keepsake, Fame, Firefighter (all 3), Hypnotized, Randy Scott and Fragrant Cloud. I can't think of a single HT, FL or GR rose in my gardens that is not doing well right now. OK - enough patting yourself on the back!

Over the weekend I fertilized everything with a crazy concoction I made up. In a 32 gallon plastic garbage can:
– 1.5 cups Miracle Gro 24-8-16 (that is 75% label strength)
– 2 cups Fish Emulsion 5-1-1 (about 50% label strength)
– half-cup Worm Tea
– 1 cup Epsom Salts
– 3 capfuls of SUPERthrive

Mixed it all up real good, then used my cut-out 1 gallon milk jug to dispense into my two-gallon watering can, then delivered one gallon per bush (a little less to the 13 floribunda clusters and 2024 newbies). It took 5 garbage cans full to get everything. The actuary in me calculates that I dipped my milk jug in 160 times and walked with the 2-gallon watering can 80 times to manually pour a gallon or so on each bush. When empty, I moved the garbage can around to minimize "travel time." Yes, a labor-intensive effort but I did it over 2 days and I actually do need the exercise!

Now for a funny story. I ordered a PetraTools HD4000 Battery Powered Backpack and Cart Sprayer. It's a $400 sprayer with a 4-gallon capacity. Perfect size for me. They said it would arrive in 3-5 business days - it arrived in 3. I'm salivating that my sprayer-pumping days will at last be behind me! So, I open the box and the sprayer looks great. I delve into the assembly and run into a big snag. Page 1 of the Product Manual is entitled "What's in the Box?" 8 items are listed. Perhaps I should be pleased that my box did contain 5 out of the 8 items listed, but NOT included was 1) the Battery Charger, 2) Multiple Spray Nozzles, and 3) the Accessory Bag (containing the spray valve handle, plumber's tape, and a set of gaskets and O-Rings). I told them via online chat that whoever packed my order wet the bed in a big way.! I'll have the missing items in 3-5 business days. Talk about putting a bad taste in a new customer's mouth! I guess their service can only go UP from here - how could it get worse?
26 MAY
The roses are beginning to bloom in earnest. We're some 2-3 weeks ahead of the usual Spring - mostly owing to a mild winter. This past week I did some "bush maintenance" - pulling out the unproductive growth near the bud union and pruning those "blind shoot" canes (mostly due to damage from Midge) back a little to stimulate new growth. As I said a few days ago the Midge have had their fair share (seems they always do) and I am loathe to out down the Diazinon granules in an effort to stop them. Maybe give it a test drive on a certain part of the garden - I'll think on it.

Yesterday morning I cut a bloom of Baronne Edmund de Rothschild and brought it into the house. It's supposed to be moderately fragrant but I have never noticed much fragrance on BEdR. But this one has a nice old rose fragrance which I would classify as Moderate +. This rose is rated 8.5 and I have been patiently waiting for that to show itself in my two bushes. Perhaps 2024 will be the year of the Baronne!

Today is a "rain day" in that it has been steadily raining for about 5 hours now and shows no sign of letting up. It's a nice, slow rain - rare in these parts - which will do wonders for everything that grows - especially lawns and roses. Looks like we may get about one inch - most welcome!
23 MAY
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.
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