As I write this, I’m sitting in my office on our farm looking out my window at snow on the ground. This is our first snowfall this year and while I’m enjoying it, I know many of our rose friends to the North have probably had enough by now! It’s also been much colder than normal this year.
I’ve learned when gardeners can’t garden in the winter they turn to their second favorite activity – reading books about gardening! I have shelves full, and never get tired of pulling them out on a cold day and curling up on the couch with a good garden read, a cat by my side and a fire in the fire place. Well, okay it’s not really that idyllic but you get the idea!
I’ve got a couple of new ones this year and I’d like to pass them on to you. Enjoy.
‘Four Seasons of Roses. 2014 Monthly Guide To Rose Care’ by Susan Fox.
Susan Fox is perhaps better known online as “Gagas Garden”. She lives and gardens in central Illinois. What Susan has put together is an unfussy monthly guide filled with tips on growing garden roses. The book is user-friendly and if you are new to roses or unsure how to deal with them month to month, I’d recommend this book. The tips are short, to the point and cover a wide range of subjects from buying to planting to care. Don’t think of this as a “how to” book, as it wasn’t written with that in mind. Instead, think of it as companion who month to month jogs your memory and points out some things to think about. In most cases you can simply act on the advice and in others a few questions or some time with Google will teach you what you need to know. Each month has one page worth of tips so it doesn’t get bogged down in too much detail.
Some of the tips I like are;
February – “I’ve found the local feed store is a great source for organic soil amendments such as cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal and feather meal”
July – “You may notice as temperatures rise that your roses will continue to bloom, however the blooms may be somewhat smaller and less frequent. Continue your feeding and watering program to ensure a beautiful fall bloom.”
November – “November is a good time to make plans for new rose beds next spring. Prepare the soil for winter or spring plantings now and the soil has time to set and stabilize. Rototill the soil 16″ deep and add your soil amendments.”
There is even a recipe for potpourri and information on the nutritional benefits of rose hips.
Each month’s tips are followed by a calendar so you can track days and opposite the calendar is a space to record notes and observations. Taking notes is always good if you are new to roses or in a new climate. It allows you to go back over the year to see what first growth emerged, what bloomed at what time andwhen the roses began to shut down, etc. This makes it easier to plan your next year. It also tells you which roses did well and more importantly, which ones did not. Accompanying each month is a photo of a rose from Susan’s garden that she is fond of.
Four Seasons of Roses is a nice handy, little book to keep by your side during the year. The only thing I would mention is Susan gardens in Illinois so those who garden further south may have to tweak the timing of some of the tips. But, that is what the notes section is all about.
Four Seasons Of Roses is available from Amazon
‘The Dirt Diaries. Thirty Years in The Garden And Still Scratching The Surface’ by Lynn Hunt.
Lynn Hunt is a professional writer who is also a keen gardener and rose lover. The Dirt Diaries chronicles her new garden at 3600′ in the mountains of North Carolina. An adventure this former flatlander seems to relish.
The book is constructed almost as a series of blog posts sharing observations, tips and photographs as the garden progresses during the year. Woven through it are poignant moments like where she talks about her later Father’s love of building birdhouses and how she remembers them by including many in her this garden. Along the way a new trail is built, a patio laid and all kinds of new discoveries ranging from wild flowers to wild mushrooms to snakes and yes, even a bear.
As you read through it, it becomes apparent Lynn has a passion for roses. She speaks very fondly of the David Austin Roses and also the Old Roses. They seem to thrive in her new climate and while many are old favorites from her former garden, the new climate brings out different characteristics in them.
Woven through her observations of the roses and not only some tips and suggestions for using them, but also some rose history and rose lore. The latter is what particularly makes this a great winter rose read and I promise that you will learn some new things and start to see roses in new light.
What is evident throughout the book is that Lynn is a professional writer and also someone well-read. She brings in references not only from gardening, but from poetry and literature.
The Dirt Diaries is an E-Book available from iTunes. The many photographs are almost all hers and are beautiful. They will have you dreaming of spring in full color.
If you are looking for a nice winter read you can read in between spurts of good weather I think you’ll enjoy The Dirt Diaries.
Happy Rosy Reading
For another great rose read check out my book Everyday Roses. How To Grow Knock Out and Other Easy-Care Garden Roses. Published by and available from Taunton Press.