A Few of My Favorite Roses

Roses are  wonderful and everyone should have them in their gardens.  Below are pictures of roses that are great for Texas.  These Roses are easy to care for and are tolerant of our hot summers.  All of these photos are taken at my home, not in a nursery that has been controlling the environment.  All roses listed are repeat bloomers, unless specified.

Earthkind Roses

Not every rose is an Earthkind rose because not every rose can make the cut.  To get the Earthkind Rose designation roses must pass a very vigorous test.  Texas A&M does all the research and they take roses believed to be good candidates and plant them in test plots all across the state.  Then, for two years these roses are basically ignored, no extra water, pruning, spraying, etc.  If the roses do well under these circumstances then they are designated as Earthkind.

Belinda’s Dream, a large shrub rose that can reach 6 feet. This has very large blooms with a light scent.
Double Pink Knockout Rose, medium size bloom with extreme hardiness
Duchess D’Brabant, very fragrant

There’s A Fungus Among Us

There’s a fungus among us and I don’t mean mushrooms.

If you have attempted to grow any sort of vegetation for any amount of time, you have probably dealt with an unfriendly fungus.  While a great many varieties of fungus are essential to plant life and a great many others are neither good or bad, there are a  few bad varieties and they really cause problems.

Before moving to the island, the only real battle I had with fungus was black-spot on the roses and powdery mildew on my veggies.  But, one summer in a tropical setting and I have had a crash course in fungus!

As I will chat about later, watering the soil is very important.  One day, only one day, I got lazy and got out the hose and sprayed everything down instead of using the watering can.  JUST ONE DAY! And, I even did it in the morning. BUT, in 72 hours, my Belinda’s dream roses were covered in black spot.  Lesson Learned- water the soil NOT the plant.

Fungi live in the soil, on our skin, in our house, basically any and everywhere.  The problems arise when conditions are just right, and the fungi populations begin to multiply at breakneck speeds.  When this happens, the host of the fungi population will be destroyed- this means your vinca will wilt and turn to goop, or your zucchini will disappear under gray fuzz or your rose bush will turn brown and yellow before becoming naked stems. Or, all of the above if its are really bad day.

In the garden, this hyper-growth of fungi will lead to plant death or really fabulous compost.  The problem is when the garden beds are turned to compost piles because the fungus took over where it did not belong.

So, instead of focusing on how to kill the fungus, we should focus on how to prevent the colonies from getting out of hand.  The environment is what determines if the fungus will thrive or simply exist and not cause problems.  As gardeners, there are several things we can do to set out gardens up for the best possible outcomes.

  • Soil Health
  • Plant Selection
  • Effective Watering

Soil Health

Soil heath is essential for any aspect of plant life.  A plant cannot thrive without healthy soil.  Soil health will also determine the health of a plant’s immune system.  Very few of us have perfect soil and even if you do,  if you constantly take from the soil and never put back, you won’t have healthy soil for long.  By amending the soil, you can put back into the soil.

Essential amendments are organic compost, green sand, lava sand, and rock phosphate.  For a deeper look at fixing you soil, click here!

Plant Selection

Choosing the right plant for an area is essential to success as a gardener.  A plant that loves  the sun will not survive a shady spot and a shade loving plant will die in the full sun.  This seems like it shouldn’t need to be said, but I deal with folks everyday who just can’t accept the fact that a rose bush won’t bloom in a backyard that gets only 3 hours of sun per day.  Plants have DNA and we can’t simply rewire them just because we want it that way.

Also, if there is a disease resistant variety- choose that variety.  There are a lot of hybrids out there and some are bred to be resistant to fungal diseases.  If those are available to you, then choose that plant.

If a plant is in a poor location or in poor soil it will be stressed.  If a plant is stressed it will be compromised.  A compromised plant will not have an immune system that can fight off disease.

Effective Watering

More damage is done by overwatering than by underwatering.  Fungus thrives in warm, wet conditions.

If you are keeping the soil soaked you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.

If you water at night, you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.

If you are spraying your foliage instead of watering the soil, you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.

Do you see a pattern?

Fungi LOVE moisture.

So, water in the early morning so that what water does get on the leaves and foliage can dry.  One inch of water once a week is sufficient water, except in times of high heat and drought, then water twice per week.  If at all possible, water the soil, not the foliage.

One thing that a human cannot control is the weather.  If you live in an area that is high humidity and warm, fungus is something with which you will battle.  Galveston Island is my home and this year has been crazy with the fungal shenanigans.

Organic controls of fungus are fairly limited, but what is available is effective.  Sulfur and copper are excellent fungicides but they can only be applied with the temperature is below 85′.  Bicarbonates can be used at anytime.  In an effort to be proactive, I spray a bicarbonate weekly, before signs and symptoms appear.  For an indepth look at fungicides, read this article.

Don’t let challenges keep you from gardening- educate yourself and keep planting.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

pink zinnia
Zinnias are an excellent choice for disease resistant summer color


Pardon Me, But What State Are We In?

A state of dismay?  Or a state of confusion? Maybe a state of denial, but this can’t be the state of Texas!  We set a new record last week of the coldest nights we have had since the early 1900’s.  That my friend, is a record I do not care to repeat.  My tomatoes and squash are very confused and are not growing at  all, waiting on the warm days and nights that are supposed to be the norm in May. However, when you live in Texas and you know what is coming in one of our Texas summers, you hate to complain about cool weather.

But, that is Texas.  The weather is very unpredictable and you just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it.  I have been keeping the peppers and eggplants in the greenhouse until this week.  Surely, this was the last cool snap we will have- but I have said that every week since Easter.  There are watermelons, cantaloupes, and bush beans waiting to come out as well, so this week will be planting week.  The new chicken house should also be completed by the end of the week.

Rain, cold, and wind did not stop a great bunch of gardeners from coming out to buy herbs and roses on Thursday.  We had a good time chatting about herbs, container gardens and vertical gardening.   Master Gardeners are just great people.

Friday the inside of the house is got some much needed attention and then I met Tony in Tyler for some R&R.  We went to the Tyler Rose Garden- yes, even my down time revolves around gardening- and truly stopped to smell the roses.  This was his idea and I am so grateful for his ability to but on the brakes and un-plug.  When I mention how busy the farm is during the spring, do not mistake that for a complaint or a cross to bare- I love it.  But, that said, no matter what your profession or job you must take time off to just enjoy something with no deadlines or demands.  Even when mothering was my primary job and all the kids were little, we took time off.  Not necessarily without the children, we would go camping or a day trip to the river anywhere where the kids could run and explore and I could just enjoy them and God’s creation.  This will feed your soul and enable you to give more when you get back.  We must take care of our hearts, life is futile if we do not tend to our hearts.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! And do something, anything, that will feed your soul and your heart.

One of the many wonderful roses I smelled. The Dark Lady Rose
One of the many wonderful roses I smelled.
The Dark Lady Rose

Earth-Kind Roses

During times past, roses have gotten a bad reputation.  Due to breeding for a huge rose blossom that looked beautiful at the expense of disease resistance and hardiness, many roses were developed that took an extreme amount of care to live.  The truth is, there are a lot of roses out there that are tough, beautiful and easy to grow.

In an effort to provide maximum garden and landscape enjoyment, Texas AgriLife Extension service developed and education program called Earth-Kind.  This program uses organic and traditional practices to create a new approach that delivers optimum enjoyment with no negative effects on the environment.

This is where roses enter the picture.  The roses that were being developed needed huge amounts of fungicides, insecticides, and fertilizers to stay healthy and bloom.  These practices are not earth friendly or friendly to the average gardener.  Through research in the Texas AgriLife Extension service, roses are being selected for the Earth-Kind program.  To be given this designation, roses must undergo a rigorous trial and only those that display extreme disease resistance and pest tolerance make the cut.

These roses are easy to grow and once established, the roses exhibit excellent drought and heat tolerance.  For a Texas gardener, those traits are certainly valuable!  When a rose is selected by a gardener with the mature height and width in mind, these roses will grow with very little care.  There are 21 cultivars at this time.  Below are pictures of each Earth-Kind rose, copied from Chamblee’s Rose Nursery in Tyler, Texas.  Chamblee’s Rose Nursery is a great place to buy roses, they were the first of offer Earth-Kind roses.  All 21 are available from them.

Belinda’s Dream
Soft Pink Hybrid Tea Earth-Kind Rose®

Caldwell Pink
Lilac Pink Polyantha Earth-Kind Rose®

Carefree Beauty
Light Rose Shrub Earth-Kind Rose® Dr. Griffith Buck Rose

Cecile Brunner
Pink Polyantha Earth-Kind Rose®

Cl. Pinkie
Rose Pink Climbing Polyantha rose Earth-kind Rose®

Pure White China rose Earth-Kind Rose®

Duchesse de Brabant
Rose Pink Tea rose Earth-Kind Rose®

Else Poulsen
Bright Rose Pink Floribunda Earth-Kind Rose®

Georgetown Tea

Earth-Kind Rose®

Knock Out (PP#11,836)
Cherry Red shrub rose Earth-Kind Rose®

La Marne
Pink/White Polyantha Earth-Kind Rose®

Marie Daly
Medium Pink Polyantha Earth-kind Rose®

Mme. Antoine Mari
Pink Blend Tea rose Earth-Kind Rose®

Monsieur Tillier
Earth-Kind Rose Salmon Pink Tea

Mrs. Dudley Cross
Earth-Kind Rose Yellow Blend Tea

New Dawn
Blush Pink Climber Earth-Kind Rose®

Perle d’Or
Apricot Yellow Polyantha Earth-Kind Rose®

Reve d’Or
Buff Yellow Noisette Earth-Kind Rose®

Sea Foam
Creamy White Earth-Kind Rose®

Souvenir de St Anne’s
Light Pink Bourbon Earth-Kind Rose®

Blush Pink Earth-Kind Rose®

The Fairy
Light Pink Polyantha Earth-Kind Rose® 

Yellow/Orange/Red Earth-Kind Rose 

One Tough Rose

I am so excited to have the “Peggy Martin Rose” for sale at the nursery. The Peggy Martin is a thornless climber that bears clusters of pink roses all season. What makes this rose especially unique is that it survived 20ft of salt water when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Talk about tough.

This rose is tolerant of most soils and is an easy keeper. No need for spraying or pamering.

The roses I have at The Farm On Holly’s Hill Nursery are grown from cuttings from the very rose bush in New Orleans.