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3 days ago
Nearly all my roses are growing great! In the past month or so, since the introduction of the alfalfa tea, stems are longer and straighter and those stems are reaching for the sky in a big way.

Some problem roses:

On the south side of the house I have two plants of Sally Holmes in a raised bed (first year plants, own root from Heirloom). These two bushes have a medium case of blackspot. I think what happened is that I forgot to spray them two weeks ago - they are all by themselves around the corner from the main rose gardens. Definitely operator error. I picked off all the leaves with spots (hopefully) and cleaned up all the debris from the ground (hopefully) and sprayed them real good. Both plants have been growing well so I suspect they will outgrow the blackspot.

Gold Medal - the only rose in my main gardens that seems to have a mild case of blackspot. I picked off the few spotted leaves and sprayed. This is a first year own root plant from Heirloom. Hopefully I have nipped this in the bud on Gold Medal.

Secret: one plant, first year from Edmunds - has had some tremendous blooms. It was growing well but then suffered from yellowing leaves on all the old growth. It's not blackspot but the bottom 2/3 of the plant is defoliated now. It's neighbors, Dolly Parton, Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe are disease free and growing. I am not sure what happened to my Secret! But I sprayed it real well today - there is top growth so hopefully this rose will be ok.

Dublin & Chrysler Imperial: Neighbors, in a good location in the South Garden, are not growing as well as others around them. Growing yes, but nothing to write home about. Both are first year, own root from Roses Unlimited. Right next door is Perfectly Red, a first year Maiden from Wisconsin Roses and it is growing like a weed! So it's not location. I wish they were doing better but they're not in danger of seeing the shovel this year.

Here are some insights into my garden of about 180 roses.

Most Floriferous: Tough to choose, but two are standing out for me. First is Royal Welcome - a Keith Zary HT from J&P. Right now I have 19 blooms on a single first-year budded (Dr. Huey) plant. It's not exhibition form, it has little if any fragrance, but man what a great grower and bloomer. Runner up would be Voluptuous. It's a great grower and blooms in flushes of the brightest hot pink. Honorable mention goes to Kardinal and Oh My!.

Best Fragrance: Many candidates, and in no particular order I offer up Papa Meilland, Sunsprite, Ebb Tide, Double Delight and Jude the Obscure.

Disappointing Fragrance: Julia Child, Mr. Lincoln, Chrysler Imperial, Fragrant Cloud, Pope John Paul II and Munstead Wood.

Grows like a weed category: Hot Princess, Grand Amore, Ingrid Bergman, Brigadoon, Kristen Singer, Pristine, Mellow Yellow, Black Magic, Veteran's Honor, Touch of Class, Folklore, Love, Firefighter and Kardinal.

If I could just get a plant underneath this bloom: Dolly Parton, Robert Bruce, Dark Desire, Rainbow Niagara, Playboy, Sexy Rexy, Over the Moon, Tropicana and Elina.

I need more of: Gemini, Crescendo, St. Patrick, plus the Horizon Honor Roil roses I don't already have: Cajun Moon, Donna Martin, Mr. Caleb and Marlon's Day. Also need a Zach Nobles. Most are available from Roses Unlimited, so I'll wait to see what winterkill I get.

Disappointments: all my plants are first year, so will given them all another year provided they survive the zone 5b winter. But, on probation are: Rainbow Niagara, Elina, Neptune, Peace, Baronne Edmund de Rothschild, Sedona, Malibu, Tropicana, Mikado, Playboy

Best All Arounder: This would have to be Ring of Fire. I have 9 plants - all first year own root from Heirloom. Simply outstanding overall. It's not the best of anything (except possibly exhibition form) but overall it is something else.

Most Aptly Named: Hands down this goes to Oh My! You could not possibly see this FL in full bloom and not mutter "Oh My!" Was this named after the sports announcer Dick Enberg?

25 Year Improvement - I had a sizable rose garden 25 years ago. I grew two plants of Touch of Class because it was
Queen at just about every other Rose Show. But my plants did not grow well - I don't know why. Fast forward to today. I have three TOC - all growing very nicely and in fact one is probably my best overall growing/blooming plant. TOC is a terrific HT which all should grow.

Most Overrated: Easy - Julia Child, Silver Jubilee and Baronne Edmond de Rothschild. Will give them another year. Might have to put the shovel in the ground next to them next year!
30 AUG
Been a while since my last post. It's been Florida weather here for about two weeks but dry. Until yesterday. Two separate scattered t-storms provided 1.125 inches of much-needed rain. Prior to that we had only 5/8" rain since August 12. It's been over 90 several days in that span and I've been a busy beaver watering every 3-4 days. Total August rainfall has been 3.55 inches, a bit less than the 4.9 inch average for August. There was rain early and late in August but a very hot dry spell in the middle. Only means I have been a watering fool for much of the month - more than I wanted to be! September is normally the driest month of the year - average rainfall of only 3.2 inches. The way this year is going we'll probably have double that!

Everything seems to be growing well. There are two issues of note: first, my Peace blooms look a bit off (see my Comment for Peace) and second my Secret has yellowing leaves for unknown reasons. It does not seem to be blackspot - there are no black spots on the leaves, but they are turning yellow with abandon. Perhaps a nutrient deficiency of some ilk. Secret's neighbors - Sexy Rexy, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Dolly Parton all seem to be doing great!

The alfalfa tea has been a big success. I started giving it to the slowest growers (about a half-gallon per bush) and the response was near-immediate - more vigor and noticeably better stem length. Again, the formula is 2 cups of alfalfa meal in 5 gallons of water (or 12 cups in a 30 gallon trash can). Put the lid ON whatever container is being used. Stir it up real good 2-3 times per day. In 48-72 hours you will have some very stinky stuff - if it doesn't stink a lot it's not ready yet. When it's ready the alfalfa itself will sink to the bottom of the container. I use a gallon plastic milk jug and cut out the top to make a bigger opening. I scoop out the tea and fill a 2 gallon watering can with it, which I then pour over 4 bushes. The tea can get rather warm so I will add cold water to it (diluting it yes, but not too much) to lower that temperature. I used to say alfalfa tea is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but nowadays I say greatest thing since the iPhone. You can fortify the tea with your fertilizer of choice - like fish emulsion or kelp, or even an iron supplement (maybe that's what my Secret needs).

Fertilizing today and tomorrow - the final feeding of the season. Using the remainder of what I have on hand - the Schultz Tomato Food (17-17-28) and Schultz All Purpose (20-20-20). I may do some foliar feeding with fish/kelp after this but the slow progression of dormancy begins for me on September 1st.
25 AUG
After the success of last year’s (2020) hip from the cross with Officinalis, I have used the pollen of 20 different varieties or species roses on Celestial in an attempt to see if I could find if any other, or indeed what other, crosses might succeed using this rose as a seed parent. The crosses were as follows, the = being the dates on which the cross/crosses were made:

Officinalis (x2) = 14/6/21, 5/7/21

Bourbon Queen (flowers left intact, so slight chance of open pollination) (x2) = 14/6/21, 18/6/21

Complicata (x2) = 16/6/21

Lady Hillingdon = 16/6/21

La Belle Sultane = 16/6/21

Quatre Saison = 16/6/21

R. Canina Laxa (Coriifolia Froebellii) = 16/6/21

Agatha (Gallica) = 16/6/21

Coupe d’Hebe (x2) = 17/6/21

Duke of Edinburgh = 17/6/21

Portland Rose = 17/6/21

R. Moyesii Geranium (x2) = 18/6/21

R. Californica Plena = 18/6/21

Dunwich Rose = 19/6/21

Bourbon Queen (flower had petals removed and emasculated) (x2) = 19/6/21

R. Rugosa (99.9% sure it is R. Rugosa Rubra) (x3) = 20/6/21, 24/6/21

Old Blush = 20/6/21

Celestial (selfed) = 22/6/21

Adelaide d’Orleans = 23/6/21

R. Arvensis (x2) = 26/6/21, 27/6/21

Archiduc Joseph = 27/6/21

As you can see, other than purely modern roses, which I have not used ( as I don’t usually include in my breeding programme, if I can call it that!), I have used roses from a wide selection of families and types, genetics and septets. I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be – was last year a fluke, a one off? Would only some work? Would nothing work?! Well, the results so far have been quite interesting.

Although I have yet to open the hips to see what seed have formed, how many, and how fertile, that will be a follow-up part to this at a later date. However, purely from hip formation and ripening so far (on a rose that is only once recorded in the references as bearing hips, and usually is described as having none – mine has never previously had hips until the last two years), 9 hips have succeeded from these crosses (and there may even be a 10th, O.P. one coming too). They have enlarged and ripened at a very fast rate – barely 2 months from the cross taking place, a lot faster than many of my other crosses that were made at the same time on other plants.

There does appear, at least in part, to be an interesting pattern. All the Gallica crosses I used worked to at least some degree, with Agatha, Complicata, La Belle Sultane and Officinalis all producing at least one hip each. The other crosses to work are from a diverse group of unexpected fathers, namely R.Rugosa Rubra (2 out of 3), R. Moyesii Geranium (1 of 2), Bourbon Queen (1 of the 2 flowers I didn’t destroy, so possibly O.P., although not likely), and Coupe d’Hebe (1 of 2).

One of the things that is interesting is that the crosses that succeeded are almost exclusively from the earlier ones made.

I will include photos of the hips in the photos tab, so please take a look if you are interested – I will label the parentage accordingly.
22 AUG
looking for a source -- commercial or private-- for this rose. I have no roses to trade, this is my first. As soon as it grows, I will make some available. I do have some other plants for local pickup -- unknown lovely iris I'm thinning...
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