How I grow roses in a “no-spray” garden

Roses and Bee Skep

While driving home from the Carolinas District ARS meeting recently, Jesse and I had a laugh about how I, of all people, had to win the raffle drawing for the Bayer Advanced Can of Death that they were giving away. Well, maybe Jesse had a laugh, but I was still utterly mortified. There I was, sitting in the back of the room trying to take in my very first ARS district meeting, quiet like a little mouse, when my number was called. Suddenly, all eyes on me, I had to speak out to a room full of surprised faces to please give that can to somebody else because I don’t spray my roses while inside I was praying for a giant hole to just open up beneath me so I could disappear.

Gruss an Aachen E | Hedgerow Rose

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know how important it is to me to not use pesticides in our garden and how I don’t even bother spraying with the “organic” stuff anymore, either. In fact, when we were having our rose midge problems with our former roses, not a single pesticide was used. Not once. That’s not to say that I didn’t learn all I could about what I could use if I got to a breaking point. I’m not perfect and it’s not like I haven’t ever used a pesticide or an inorganic fertilizer in my years of gardening. No high horses over here! But for some years now, it’s been a practice of ours to create a healthy and diverse garden that takes care of itself naturally. Since this has been a heavy topic of discussion in our home lately as we start all over again from scratch and as we are also entertaining the idea of keeping bees, I thought I’d put these ideas down in a blog post to help anyone else who might be just starting out with roses and wants to grow them without pesticides (or synthetic fertilizers.)

compost deliveryA typical compost delivery. It’s backbreaking work spreading it around, but ultimately so rewarding. It can also be frustratingly expensive and take years to build up the soil, I’ll be real with you, but I think of it like a savings account for our garden.

a shovelfull of compostMaking our own compost is one of the things we try to do to “close the loop” in our garden.

organic soil amendmentsUsing organic soil amendments vs synthetic fertilizers on the roses improves the soil

Mmm, chocolate cake soil…

It starts with the soil. In my opinion, building healthy soil is the single most important thing you can do in your garden. To be honest, I don’t really care a fig about “perfect” looking flowers & leaves, tidy beds, weed-free lawns, etc but I am obsessive about really good soil. A healthy soil of course means healthier plants and they, in turn, have a better ability to fight off pests and disease. (Pests zero in on stressed, undernourished roses. I’m sure you’ve seen that happen.) So, in our garden: We never till. Every spring and fall, I add about a 3″-6″ layer of finished compost (it sounds like a lot but it compresses quickly) to the garden and when I want to give the roses an extra boost I avoid synthetic fertilizers and use organic amendments, instead. {EDIT: I’m making some corrections to the wording in this post to hopefully be more clear. Any questions, please feel free to make a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP. I also want to stress the importance of doing a soil test to see where you’re at and what adjustments, if any, will be needed. Even if you’re trucking in a “compost blend” from your local supplier, make sure to test that stuff, too. We were surprised to find out ours had Phosphorus and Potash levels that were off the charts. So, soil test first! 🙂 }

echinacea 10-20-2Plants with bird-enticing seeds

running serviceberry june 2013 - 4Berry-producing shrubs

bee 10-17-1Pollen and nectar-rich flowers

Aquilegia canadensisNative plants

ghislaine de féligonde rose and beeRoses that provide “easy access” to pollen and nectar

songbird at the birdbath

Stock Tank Pond 4Year-round sources of water for birds, insects, amphibians

monarch 10-20-2Mingling all of the above in with the roses!

Diversity! Diversity!

I love roses and I love visiting rose gardens, but between you and me, it bums me out to see a rose garden that’s just that–only roses. I realized a few years ago the thing that makes me most happy about gardening is witnessing the interaction of insects and birds and other animals that come to live there and feeling like I had a small part in making their lives a little better. In other words, we grow lots of roses but we’re trying to avoid a monoculture. All those extra things like including nectar and pollen rich flowers, planting berry-producing shrubs, leaving the seedheads on the perennials, keeping dead trees/snags, leaving those piles of leaves, putting in a birdbath or small pond, growing native plants, planting conifers and other evergreens–I could go on but you get the drift–these are all helping to create a diverse ecosystem in our garden. In turn, the birds, insects, amphibians, spiders, reptiles, etc that we are essentially providing habitat for will encourage checks and balances. In other words, rather than introducing pesticides, simply allow natural predators to do the work.* This takes time, though, and it requires a bit of patience as populations of “the good guys” build up.

*I never did find a way to completely defeat the rose midge in our old garden using natural methods and we left before I could continue experimenting. Had I stayed, I would have started using beneficial nematodes. Studies have not concluded that they’re effective, but I thought it would have been worth trying.

song sparrow

dragonfly on borage leaves

praying mantis in autumn 3

green-lacewing-larvae-on-rose-bud-via-hedgerow-rose

green lacewing

Tiny lizard

wheel bug 10-15-1-1

Orb weaver spider

toad friendSpiders, birds, toads, praying mantis, green lacewings, ladybird beetles, wheel bugs, blue-tailed skinks, dragonflies…we’re pleased as punch to see these in the garden.

The good guys

So who are the good guys? Well, there are lots in the soil–some that you can’t even see–that will benefit by you doing all those things I discussed in the soil section. Then, of course, there are birds, insects, spiders, amphibians and so forth that will be your helpers, if you let them. A few years ago, when we first started putting together our garden in our State College home, we had a problem with sawfly larvae. For a while, I was doing a lot of hand-picking. However, as we gradually made our garden more bird friendly, it wasn’t long before the song sparrows moved in, started raising broods, and I never had a problem with sawfly larvae again. In fact, I rarely saw them anymore. Same goes with Japanese beetles. Once the praying mantis and wheel bugs took up residence they were hardly noticeable. One spring, for some weird reason, we had this major infestation of aphids on our honeysuckle. I introduced some green lacewing larvae to the area and presto they were gone within days. The thing is, if you want these beneficials to stay and raise new generations, then give them what they need to thrive well into adulthood. For example: those green lacewing larvae grow into adults that need nectar and pollen producing flowers. Praying mantis and wheel bugs are shy and like places to hide. Hungry songbirds need hunting grounds with variety and appreciate a year-round supply of fresh water. Toads want a damp place to cozy up in and will avoid too much tidiness. Build up your garden to be a habitat for beneficials and I guess it also goes without saying that using pesticides all willy-nilly will destroy that natural balance. The “good guys” will either die or leave.

{EDIT: I forgot to mention that free-ranging chickens are wonderful for controlling insect populations. Our pet hen Higglety-Pigglety was positively loco for ant eggs, Japanese beetles and grasshoppers. Not to mention composted chicken poop is so good for the soil. Our township recently decided to allow chickens so we’re thinking about getting some again. Yay!}

foraging fawn

cottontail rabbit in field of dandelions

alliums

English lavender

Agastache aurantiaca, 'Tango'Some folks say that placing certain plants that have strong scents, such as Agastache, Allium and Lavender around your roses will repel deer and rabbits. Worth a try!

Rabbits and deer can be ever-so-naughty, ’tis true.

I love animals and I still get so tickled when I see bunnies and deer visit our yard but as you know they can cause a lot of damage. The doe who brought her fawns to our garden last autumn made quick work of our newly planted hedge of Arcata Pink Globe roses. The rabbits we had living in our garden at the old house had a particular fondness for the OGR’s. I’ve found some ways to live peaceably with both, but it does take a bit of work. For the deer, the only thing I have found that prevents them nibbling on the roses–besides building barriers–is Liquid Fence. It stinks to high heaven until it dries but it has been working for us and it is organic and biodegradable. The key here is regular applications, and I guess technically this is one time I do spray the roses! 😉 As for the rabbits, this is a bit trickier as the Liquid Fence, even the granules, has never worked on them, at least for me. What I do instead is try to divert them to other areas of the garden such as allowing the lawn to fill up with clover and dandelions which draws them in for good nibbles. In the late winter/early spring they might be hungry and chomp on some of the rose canes but as soon as it starts to warm up and there are other green things to safely eat, the rabbits become more of an in-the-background cuteness.

father hugo's rose

AR - 6

MW - 4

Blanc Double de CoubertFather Hugo’s Rose & Apothecary’s Rose (top) are examples of OGR’s which bloom early and abundantly avoiding disease and pest pressures. Munstead Wood  & Blanc Double de Coubert (bottom) are examples of a modern shrub rose that is fragrant, remontant and resistant to disease.

Growing disease resistant roses

It’s a weird myth that growing roses is difficult. If I had to take a guess, I’d say that probably came about during the decades when Hybrid Teas were all the rage, as they can be a bit persnickety. Everyone’s garden is unique, but there are soooo many roses out there that are, on the whole, super easy to cultivate, and I’m not just talking about Knock Outs. I was having a discussion with another rose gardener recently and she was saying something about not wanting to grow OGR’s because most don’t repeat. I totally understand that point of view especially when space is limited, but one of the many nice things about them is that they bloom before disease and pest pressures really take hold. Back to our earlier midge problem, thank goodness for the OGR’s we grew or I wouldn’t have had roses. I think we live in an exciting time for roses right now with lots of new cultivars being introduced that are beautiful and rugged. I try and research a rose before I add it to our garden to see how it performs in our climate and avoid any that say “prone to blackspot and/or powdery mildew.” That’s not to say that I don’t have some divas in our garden that like a little extra spoiling, such as the Bourbons, and I forgive their occasional spotty leaves because I love them so much. However, if a rose wouldn’t survive without spraying, then I harden my heart and get rid of it. I hear all the time about this type of organic spray or that type of homemade remedy but I just don’t want to be bothered with it, and I really don’t have to if I just make better selections. By the way, someone at the ARS meeting brought up a good point, I think it was Lucas Jack, and that is, why grow “disease resistant” roses if you’re just going to spray them, anyways? Let them show you what they can do! You may have an occasional flare up of this or that with any of your roses, but if your soil is healthy and your giving it good cultivation, it will probably just grow out of any minor problems, you know?

pink supreme

So these are just some simple ways we’ve gardened which allow us to grow the roses we love without too much hassle while also encouraging a balanced ecosystem. There is always more to learn so if you’d like to share: Do you have a “no-spray” garden? Any tips for encouraging balance? Favorite disease resistant roses?

35 thoughts on “How I grow roses in a “no-spray” garden

  1. Thanks, wonderful post! I would love to do no spray (if do spray it’s safe for organic gardens) but BS is a huge problem in my garden in general, I think because it was neglected for so long before we moved in. I’d like to learn more of your favorite disease-resistant varieties besides the ones you listed. Many roses are listed as disease resistant but don’t seem to be in my garden! My Westerland is a champ (I suspect it might really be Autumn Sunset because it’s more yellow than orange) and even now the leaves are clean while every rose in my garden has BS (except for the rugosas, thank goodness).

    1. Wow that’s good to know about Westerland aka Autumn Sunset. I’m always on the hunt for blackspot-resistant roses as it’s such a pain isn’t it? Once it gets going in the garden it’s really frustrating so I can totally relate. Ok so on that note, I put together a list of roses that never gave me much of a problem with blackspot. Of course everyone’s garden is different from one to the next but these might be ones for you to look into. As you mentioned, the rugosas are pretty much a safe bet, but I have found that Albas also are really great for disease resistance. Anywho, here is the list! It’s a long one! 😉

      A Shropshire Lad

      Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’

      Apothecary’s Rose

      Arcata Pink Globe

      Baltimore Belle

      Basye’s Purple

      Belinda’s Dream

      Bella Donna

      Blanc Double de Coubert

      Blanche de Belgique

      Blush Noisette

      Celestial

      Celsiana

      Centifolia Muscosa

      Charles de Mills

      Cornelia

      Darcey Bussell

      Darlow’s Enigma

      Fantin-Latour

      Félicité Parmentier

      Flower Carpet Pink Supreme

      Gartendirektor Otto Linne

      The Generous Gardener

      Georges Vibert

      Ghislaine de Féligonde

      Gourmet Popcorn

      Grüss an Aachen

      Henri Martin

      Ispahan

      Ivor’s Rose

      James Galway

      Jude the Obscure

      Konigon von Danemark

      La Mortola

      Lady Banks (yellow)

      Lady of Shalott

      L’Ingenue

      Madame Berkeley (in commerce as)

      Madame Hardy

      Madame Plantier

      Marie Pavié

      The Mayflower

      Mrs Doreen Pike

      Munstead Wood

      Petite Lisette

      Piñata

      cl. Pinkie

      Princess Alexandra of Kent

      Réve d’Or

      Roi des Aulnes

      Rosa alba ‘Semi Plena’

      Rosa Mundi

      Rose de Rescht

      Sally Holmes

      Souvenir de Philélmon Cochet

      Souvenir de la Malmaison

      St Swithun

      Stanwell Perpetual

      Strawberry Hill

      Sultane Favorite (the Portland)

      Tuscany Superb

      Zaide

  2. I am so so so very excited because we’re finally moving to a house this spring and can have a garden, instead of trying to make a container garden in poor settings work! I’ve been doing *a lot* of reading on companion planting in the hopes that I can completely avoid spraying – firstly, because I’d like to intermix edibles with flowers (and am interested in perhaps candying rose petals and trying my hand at rose hip jam), and secondly because we’re expecting a tiny human and I don’t want to have to worry about them snacking on toxic plants (and let’s be honest, dirt). In the past I’ve gone with dish soap soap and neem oil and have been encouraged to use pesticides by our local DA stockist. I found Lady Emma Hamilton to be pretty disease resistant, but I also had a lot of midge issues with Abraham Darby, even when no one else in the front yard was suffering.

    1. Oooh Jess if you end up doing the rose hip jam and candied petals please let me know how that goes. That’s been on my “must-try” list for ages! I’ve been eyeing up Lady Emma Hamilton so I am pleased to hear that you find her disease resistant. That’s strange about the midge on just your Abe Darby. Are you sure it’s midge? If it is, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you stay on top of that and don’t let them spread. I had those warning signs the first year and was like “ho hum I wonder what’s going on here…oh well” and then bam! by the next season it had spread like wildfire…too late. Not to be doom and gloom but gosh midge is a real PITA. More importantly, congratulations on the (soon) new baby! That’s so wonderful! 🙂

      1. Yes, I’ve been researching the best rose hips, although I’m not sure if 1 season will give me enough. I’ll probably end up with one sad pot! But there are so many interesting looking recipes with roses (and other flowers), both for food and beauty, I think going all organic is a great reason to give them a try!

        Thanks for the heads up! AD is in a pot by his lonesome and in quarantine from the others, so hopefully there won’t be any spreading! I’m going to bring him with us to the new house, but he needs a new pot as it is, so I’m hoping a total change of soil will help. Although truth be told, it may be easier to just chuck him and buy a new bare root this season (the idea of it makes me feel guilty but it’s so tempting!).

        1. I’ve been researching best rose hips, too! I’m not supposed to be buying anymore roses (ha!) but I’m dying to get my paws on a species spinosissima like this one for those black hips. Yum. Good luck with your AD! I’m sure it will all work out! 🙂

  3. Hi Laurie,

    ANOTHER great post!!!! I just got my CR certificate last summer and it makes my heart sing to see more organic ARS members!!!!
    Those sawfly larvae always attack my roses hard…am going to kick up the companion plants and bird features this year. Thank you for all the great tips. I feel like I should print out all your posts as my rose growing guide, there is always so much helpful information.
    Happy Friday!

    1. Thank you Holly!! That means so much to me that you liked this post especially since you are a CR…something I’ve been thinking about pursuing so I might have to pick your brain sometime. 😉 I’m so pleased you are enjoying these posts and hope you have a wonderful weekend! 😀

      1. You may pick my brain anytime Laurie! I love being a CR! You know waaaay more than I do about roses…! You would be a great Consulting Rosarian!
        My local society has gone organic…but many other local societies are still on the chems. I don’t really want to be an activist but “change only happens from within” and so I am hoping to help make ARS organic somehow.😬

        1. That’s awesome that your local society has gone organic, wow!! I’m like you–I’m not trying to force my opinion on anyone, just show people a different way. Thank you for the encouragement about the CR program….I was really not sure but now I think I want to explore that option! 😀

  4. So what did you do with the Bayer Can of Death?..Save it for a garden “elephant gift”; that would be my option. Great article. I must admit before I went to organic I spray my garden. Then I wonder my whole yard is infested with Japanese beetles, aphids, and etc. It seems like it was a non-ending war against them. Then I wise up and did some research. Apparently I was killing the good bugs and the bad bugs. I didn’t know what they look like when they were babies. What an idiot! So now my yard is a “spray free zone”.. It took a couple of years but I believe my garden is healthy again. I only notice 2 Japanese beetles in my garden and got rid of them immediately. I have Claire Austen, Darcy Brussel, Golden Celebration, and Scepter Isle roses. I do get the occasional black and spots and midges but that doesn’t bother me anymore. I plan to get several Munstead Wood roses because you were raving about them. Have you ever grown Bonica or Modren Blush roses? I read they are disease resistant and grows on their own roots. They both sound promising. I have seen pictures of Modren Blush flourishing in Chicago area. It was gorgeous.

    1. I never took it! Thankfully they ended up giving the can to someone else. Gosh, I felt like such a fish out of water. Anywayyyss…I love your success story of changing your garden over to a spray free zone. Hooray! That’s wonderful. 😀
      Yes, Munstead is a great rose! Sort of embarrassed that I talk about it too much. 😉 Just a warning it is quite thorny and by “quite” I mean those canes are positively medieval. Yes I’ve grown Bonica–a photo of ours in this post–and she would definitely be one I’d put back in if just for the hips. Blackspot resistance was sort of meh. Don’t have Morden Blush. It’s a gorgeous rose but the disease resistant information on HMF is contradictory so I’ve been avoiding it. That’s good to know it does well in the Chicago area! 🙂

  5. Laurie, such an interesting and informative post. Your pile of compost is more beautiful to me than jewels! I don’t spray either, and am grateful for the list you gave Jen. I’m increasing my roses by about double .. hallelujah .. because of the new deer fence. Good-bye Liquid Fence, forever. Stinky doesn’t even come close. I absolutely do miss the wild turkeys, lamas, peacocks and others who wandered in. Sometimes even a moose. I won’t miss him. Seeing your companion plants is always helpful. The roses overwintering in my garage, as per your instructions, are doing nicely, even putting on new growth. So grateful for your help.

    1. Hooray for a new deer fence! That probably just opened up tons of new options for you that didn’t exist before. I can’t believe you had so many different kinds of animals wandering in. A MOOSE?? That’s nuts. Glad to hear your roses are doing well. Keep an eye on those temps outdoors vs temps in your garage. You don’t want those roses kept in the garage to be brought outside in the cold with all that brand new growth. It’s a balancing act but you’ll get the hang of it! 😀

      1. Thanks, Laurie. I’ll harden them off if needed. The garage is unheated, and the new growth is tiny. Keeping my fingers crossed. Yeah, the moose chased my husband one year when he was outside putting up Christmas lights. He (husband) scaled the porch railing and found that the door had locked behind him. Wish I had that on tape! The peacocks visited when I played the piano and sat by the window and swayed. The lama followed us around like a puppy for a few days then disappeared. 🙂

        1. I still can’t believe the moose story. I told my husband and he was like, are you kidding me?! Crazy. I love that you had peacocks, too. They were drawn to your music!

  6. Great post. I have a no spray garden as well – in my local rose society everyone thinks I’m crazy. We live near the shores of Lake Michigan and it’s black spot alley. Last year I had to shovel prune several David Austin roses because they just were not happy in my neck of the woods, even though others reported no problems with blackspot. Rust is not an issue with our area, but blackspot is terrible in our little microclimate with the Lake.

    I wanted to ask if you could share a little bit of your experience with Abraham Darby. I re-read your previous post about that rose. I have a spot that would be perfect for it, but I’m worried about the level of blackspot this rose struggles with from what I’ve read. Would you grow Abraham Darby again in a no spray garden? Also curious about the growth habit of this rose. Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Cole! Always so nice when you pop by. Did I tell you I am putting in that boxwood order to one of the places you recommended? Thanks again for the tip. 🙂
      Interesting how you said you feel like everyone thinks you’re crazy at your local society. That was one of the reasons I resisted joining ARS in the first place. It seemed like the culture of using pesticides, chemical fertilizers etc was too prevalent. Like Holly said in the comment below, it’s so wonderful to meet other members who are growing roses organically, and yes sometimes you have to remove the ones that don’t like your climate. It stinks but there are always so many more to try! So, about Abe Darby, no I wouldn’t grow him if you have a problem with blackspot in your area. As you know, I love that rose, but it gets pretty spotty by the end of the season. It’s something I lived with and fussed over (picking off and cleaning up all those leaves) and I had an easier time cultivating it, i.e. spoiling it, because I had it in a container. The growth habit–lax with heavy, nodding flowers, made putting it in a container the best option to enjoy it. Still…might be too much work. Do you have Lady of Shalott? Not quite the same coloring but much better disease resistance. Hope this helps! 😀

      1. Glad to hear you’ll be getting your boxwood! Looking forward to seeing your new garden take shape. I wanted to ask if you have grown Jubilee Celebration? How is blackspot resistance with this rose? I would love to know your experience with this rose if you’ve grown it – thanks!

        1. I actually just got that rose last autumn! I purchased own-root so it may go either way with this rose…you know how that goes with own-root Austin’s. I’ll let you know!

  7. Another reason I love this site. I do not use herbicide, pesticide, nor chemical fertilizer. Most of my roses are OGRs so no issues other than aphids which I just pick off, brush off. Time consuming yes but I think of it as opportunity to spend more time with my roses. Souvenir de la Malmaison is an OGR that grows from May to Oct in my garden. It is very fragrant, gorgeous, enchanting. My favorite. Very easy to grow.

    1. I SOOO agree with you about the time spent with roses. I don’t mind doing basic maintenance like that because otherwise I would just be standing there staring at them and that would be weird. ? At least knocking off nasty bugs gives me an excuse to be there. 😉 Oh and thank you for sharing your favorite. I used to have SdlM in our old garden and then when I tried to bring it with us, it died. grrr. It really is a beauty!

  8. Awesome post! We’re trying to build up a good compost supply, but we might have to build some more pens as our regular black bin is overflowing (an embarrassment of riches).

    I’m interested about the chickens– my husband is always after me to get one, and I love the idea, but we only have .4 of an acre. All I can see is chicken poop everywhere! Would love a post on how you guys managed your past chicken(s) and how you’d plan to do it this time.

    1. I would looovvveee an overflowing compost bin right now. OK, if that wasn’t one of the nerdiest statements? Haha!
      Chickens: get them!! Seriously, they are such fun and so rewarding. I only ever had one and she was like our pet–her name was Higglety Pigglety and she was an Aracauna. We were living in a suburban neighborhood at the time on .25 acre and she had her own coop which was basically a converted shed. At first, I clipped her wings so she wouldn’t fly away but then I didn’t bother because she never really left our yard. We had an egg a day except during winter when she took a couple months off. Every morning, she would let herself out of her coop and come to our front door and tap-tap-tap until I opened it and brought her grapes which she would eat on our porch before getting to her gardening duties. 😉 That was years and years ago but I still miss her which is why my husband and I are so thrilled that we can finally have chickens again. The only thing that’s stopping us from running right out to get them is that now we live in a very nature-y neighborhood with lots of predators and “free ranging” in our yard isn’t allowed by our township. Soooo, we need to make sure that the enclosure we build is large enough and safe enough to keep them happy. If you’re curious, this is the coop we want to build. I apologize for that long-winded answer btw! 🙂

      1. Whoa, that is the Ritz-Carlton of chicken coops!! Maybe I’ll tell my husband that we can raise chickens if he builds something like that. 😉 We were looking at Aracaunas as a first breed. You may have swayed me…

        We don’t have a fenced yard, just surrounding woods. I’ve seen foxes nearby, so we’d probably have to fence in the coop as well. Did you find that your hen ate any of your garden seedlings? I’ve heard mixed reviews about having them in your garden– but seems like an ideal mix to me! I get vegetables, they get bugs.

        And haha, I’m a total nerd for compost. This is our first year doing it, and we learned a lot. It took most of the year for the heap to get hot and start decomposing. At the end, though, it really took off. We’re going to use it as a top dressing for the raised beds (which we haven’t built yet). You know, after I plant the blueberry bushes and everything else. So much work when you inherit a new garden. You know where I’m coming from there ! 😉

        1. Yes I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from! It’s so much work, but also so rewarding. That’s so great that you have had success with your compost pile. We haven’t set one up here yet because we have bears so we’re still trying to figure out how to make that work. Yikes. As for the hen eating the seedlings, I never noticed that problem with ours, but again we only had the one and I imagine it does vary from breed to breed. She did occasionally scratch the mulch away from the plants but was never too destructive. Have you visited Backyard Chickens? Lots of info to be found there! 🙂

  9. What a funny story – and a really wonderful post. If we didn’t know how to do it before, we do now. I agree completely about the garden that is diversified. It’s such a joy to watch butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds all coming to the same garden together. Harmony!

  10. Hi Laurie,

    Just one more comment, well question really, do you keep your rose beds clean of all debris? Or do you allow the roses leaves that may have black spot or rust fall to the ground ant stay there? I am on the fence about this…on the one hand, “they” say that leaving the leaves can spread the diseases but in nature, leaves fall to the ground all the time. Just curious what your practice is…
    Thanks so much and cannot wait for your next blog post!

    Best,
    Holly

    1. Hi Holly, yes I clean up the dropped leaves–especially if they’re diseased–and discard them in the trash, not the compost. You can also make sure the area around the rose is mulched to help prevent spores from splashing back up onto the plant when it rains. If I find I’m doing this a lot with a particular rose, like if it’s prone to blackspot and drops leaves heavily, I consider getting rid of it. Too much bother! In the spring, I do another quick tidy up before adding a layer of compost. This was a great question! 🙂

      1. Thanks Laurie! I try to get them up but sometimes it can be overwhelming!
        I also learned from a great rosarian friend of mine, Jeri Jennings, that sometimes, a young rose will get rust but eventually grow out of it…so now I try to wait and give it a couple of years first and/or change locations before I give it away.
        : )

  11. This is a post to be book marked for sure! You (your posts) have been one of the most influential people in keeping my gardening style as pure as possible. Love learning more from you! And your pictures are amazing…

    Also, thanks for the great list of roses in your comments!

    PS. Love the chicken story and that you guys are considering bees.

    1. You are so kind! Yes, we are considering bees…but gosh, it’s a lot of prep work when you live in an area that gets bears. Yikes! So we may not get to them this spring, we’ll see. Thank you so much for your comments! 😀

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