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Reward after summer garden sabbatical and tough years' start

Posted by harmonyp NorCA 9b (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 15, 12 at 11:16

This year marked my 4th year of gardening, in a garden of mostly roses. I sailed through the first 3 years, no rose losses, no "real" problems to speak of. Then this year, the gophers took over, and wrecked havoc upon all my hard work.

After digging up 30 out of 80+ roses and replanting with gopher wire, many roses with only hints of roots remaining, I was questioning my rose commitment. The replanting took so much of my time from other parts of my life that needed my time more, that I said - no more. The other 50 roses - either they survive the gophers, or they don't.

The 30 replanted (in upcoming summer heat) looked horrible all summer. Most lost all of their leaves. The area the gophers attacked hardest were my two favorite sitting areas, and now those beautiful gardens were bare thorny sticks sticking up into the air. I was pretty horrified and extremely disappointed.

So, I did a few things to "cope". 1 - I pulled out a handful of roses that I hadn't been happy with as I refused to put the effort of caging and replanting into unproductive roses, or roses that I just didn't like. 2 - I left my roses and garden to survive on their own over the summer. I had had it. I decided I'd give them copious water, and leave the rest to fate. No pruning, no deadheading, no checking for bugs, no weeding, no nothing. Just water.

Last week I had some free time over the weekend, and exploded through the gardens with pruners, and hand yanked out enough grass/weeds to supplement 17 horses for 2 days with "goodies".

The garden is becoming beautiful again. Aside from the original losses - finding roses on their sides from gopher removal of every stitch of a root, and the ones I yanked and didn't plant back, every one I replanted survived, and I had no further losses. Even my few with single root threads about 2-3" long (that I pruned back to about 3" of cane) survived. All the roses are fully leaved, and most are blooming to some degree now.

If all my replanted roses died, my gardening may have died with them. But I feel renewed. I am in awe of the recoverability and hardiness of roses. They give a message greater and louder than their own ability to survive. I think I have a lot to learn from this lesson...

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Reward after summer garden sabbatical and tough years' start

I'm so sorry for your tsuris, Harmony! Having dealt with precisely what you describe off and on since 1989, I felt the pain you expressed. I believe you were correct in just letting the roses recover on their own with copious water. In many cases, water really is the best "fertilizer", "fungicide" and "insecticide". As long as the plants can be kept sufficiently hydrated, their will to live is amazing! Nature truly has provided them with everything they need to survive, if given half a chance.

In this climate, I have found mounding soil over the bud union after replanting from a gopher attack, as you would a new bare root, has helped greatly in preventing the plant from drying out as quickly. It apparently also helps keep it cooler and darker, which are the conditions conducive to root formation rather than top growth. As long as you pay attention, catch the problem before the plant is too far gone and keep it wet, most can be salvaged. But, it is a bear and definitely NOT fun. Congratulations on your successful recovery! I know it wasn't the way you wanted to make the decision, but at least the whole situation worked to help you cull those roses which really didn't speak to you. Now, you should be happier with the garden. It's often difficult to make the transition from quantity to quality. Kim

RE: Reward after summer garden sabbatical and tough years' start

  • Posted by seil z6b MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 15, 12 at 15:09

I'm sorry you had such a bad time of it earlier but very happy to hear how successful your efforts were in saving them. They really do have an amazingly strong will to live, don't they?! Here's to much happier rosing in the future!

RE: Reward after summer garden sabbatical and tough years' start

Copious watering works in two ways. First, it helps the impaired root system of the rose. The second is that gophers hate digging in mud. Of course, you have to make sure that your roses are getting good drainage because too much mud isn't all that good for the roses ... 'o)

I only had one very determined gopher this year. Thank God, he started in the lawn. I kept the lawn quite wet and he actually moved onto my neighbor's property.

The only area in my garden where a gopher can really work is in the lawn area. Everything else is glacier slurry. I may be stupid enough to dig in that stuff, but gophers don't even try.


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