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Gardener's Grapevine 2015.06.17

By JO ERBSKORN

Ahh, late spring and early summer is such a lush time for blooming beauties such as roses, peonies and the tail end of the pansies. Everything is blooming and getting lush. From the trees to the ground covers things are made lush by mild nights, warm days and plenty of water. My goodness have we had a lot of water.

When Art and I bought our home, we had peonies coming up all over the side yard. They were just tiny little shoots with not much foliage and no blooms. We started digging them up and transplanting them. Basically what we found were huge roots about the size of your wrist with a scrawny shoot of foliage coming off it. I put the roots into my flower beds as spring focal points and now after 25 years they are huge and beautiful.

What happens to those big beautiful bushes in a rainstorm when the flowers are in bloom? They droop or flop completely over. The answer to this problem is very easy and inexpensive and not seen if done correctly.

There are peony rings that you can buy for around $5. I guess if you only need one, no big deal. What if you need 15? Instead, get some rubber bungee cords long enough to go around all the stems of the plant loosely. Take three or four sticks or dowel rods, put screws or nails partially into the dowel rods at whatever level you want your support. Put the rods or sticks in the ground around the plant. Hook the rubber bungee around the peony stems and set on top of the nails/screws and, voila, a support. If you have to buy all the supplies I would think the pre-made rings would be less expensive. If you live in a home like ours, the cost is nothing as we have lots of odds and ends. Another way to keep the bush from flopping is to dead head the spent blooms.

All but one of our peonies are white which was the original color. Today there are many colors including red. I have not yet purchased a red one, but can say without hesitating that it is on my wish list.

This past week I was doing a bit of reading on roses. I have a crazy love of roses. I noticed this past week that my hybrid tea roses out in front of the house appear to have something eating their leaves. I know that there are a lot of commercial products out there to stop this, but I’m not a fan of chemicals. There are enough chemicals in this world causing problems of all kinds. So I turned to my trusty resource buddy, Jerry Baker, who has a homemade cure for everything.

For aphids he recommends 1 lemon peel coarsely chopped,1 tablespoon of baby shampoo and 2 cups of water. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain through a coffee filter and pour the liquid into a handheld sprayer.

Before applying this, rinse your roses off with a blast from the garden hose. About 10 minutes later, spray the rose bush with the citrus mixture. Repeat the process in four days and your problem should be solved.

I love my roses, but roses require a lot of TLC. They are not for the gardener who wants a low maintenance garden. As with everything, you get what you put into them. Anything that takes effort will usually reward you for your efforts, so it’s all in what you want. The roses that take the least amount of time and effort are ”knock out roses.” It seems this rose bush was cultivated for the fuss-free gardener.