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20 MAY
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.
13 MAY
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.
I was hoping my 13-rose order from Regan would arrive this week in time to plant on Saturday. It doesn't look like that is going to happen, but at least we can get all of the holes dug and prepared so that when they do arrive I can make fairly quick work of the planting process.

My 4 J&P roses planted in pots 3 weeks ago have not done well on balance. Two - April Moon and Elegant Lady - have yet to bud out and may be goners. 4 or 5 days ago I put the pots in full sun and covered the roses with mulch. I made sure they were well watered. Two of them - Soft Whisper and Simply Magnificent - are showing normal growth/progress while the other two - the aforementioned April Moon and Elegant Lady - are truly struggling. Not sure what happened with those two - did everything the same for all 4 and 2 are good and 2 are bad. Another one of rose growing's mysteries, I guess. Maybe just dud bushes.

A quick walk through the gardens yesterday revealed that a few bushes have suffered some from last week's two-night freeze. Others have seemingly slowed down the rapid growth. Yet others continue to push on like there was no frost. Sexy Rexy and Playboy are vying to see who can bloom first. Both have bloom buds just beginning to form on nice stems. My money is on Playboy to win the race due to its lower petal count.

My planting soil for the roses from Regan will consist of the native soil, augmented with some potting mix, lightened up further with some Perlite, fortified with some Mushroom Compost, and topped off with a wee bit of Alfalfa Meal and Cricket Fras. These latter two elements seem to help growth best when just a small amount is utilized.

I pruned Dr. Huey 3 days ago. Not sure why but very few, if any, main canes survived the 2023/2024 winter. I won't have very many blooms on the good doctor this year. Not sure why Dr. Huey and Darlow's Enigma, planted next to each other in front of a WSW-facing brick wall of the garage, both had considerable winter dieback. It was a very mild winter and I believe their particular location is a zone warmer due to the effects of the sun beating down on the brick wall of the garage. The good news is there's tons of new growth at the base of both - so new main canes for Dr. Huey are on the way!

April rain was about an inch shy of normal – so not too bad. I hand watered the rose gardens twice later in the month when there was no rain.
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