While catching up reading last year’s unopened magazines, I came across a fascinating article in an old issue of House & Garden. The article was about a nursery in California, Berylwood Tree Farm, that sells enormous trees, as big as 50 feet tall.
The trees are grown to be dug and sold, so watering and feeding is done in a close ring around the tree to keep the root system compact. Trees are dug in the winter only, when trees are dormant. After digging the sides of the rootball, by hand, a wooden box is created around the rootball. Then the tree is left alone to recover from the digging for one to two months, before the underside is cut through and the bottom of the box is slipped in under the tree. After another month of rest for the tree, a crane can lift the boxed tree up, without handling the rootball, and load it for shipping.
These trees are for customers who can afford to plant an instant garden. I am not one of them. I prefer to start a lot smaller with the trees I plant, knowing trees adapt better to existing soil and weather conditions when they’re young plants.
Still, I admire the care and respect the nursery lavishes on the trees when digging them. Every plant (and person, for that matter) needs a rest period after going through a trauma. So I was interested in the nursery’s tips on planting new trees. Success has a lot to do with water.
To avoid planting your tree in a bog and rotting its roots, dig a hole for the tree, fill it with a foot of water and keep an eye on it. If the hole doesn’t drain away after four hours, you’ve got a wet spot that most trees won’t thrive in. You’ll either have to install a drain or plant the tree elsewhere.
Most people water trees for a few weeks after planting. After that, the tree is lucky to get an occasional drink. Trees need to be monitored and watered regularly for 12 to 18 months after planting. Rootballs should be kept moist, but not soggy. Check the tree a few times a week when the weather is hot, once a week when the temperatures cool down. The more care you lavish on the tree, the more it will reward you with good growth, shade, and beauty.
Roses, Roses, Roses
Are you thinking about adding roses to your garden this spring? One of the first things to arrive at your local garden center in March are bare root roses in boxes and bags. They’ve all got beautiful color photos on them, but how do you know which one to choose?
You can do your homework on-line. I like the website for Star Roses. I’ve read that www.rogersroses.com is another good site, describing over 5,000 varieties. When researching varieties, I look for roses that are disease resistant. Will the rose mature at the height and width I want to fit the space? Will the rose bloom repeatedly through the growing season? A sweetly scented cutting flower is a real bonus.
I tend to buy potted roses later in the season, rather than bare root varieties early. They are more expensive, but I think they’re worth it. It’s easier to judge the vigor of a potted rose when you’re looking at it, and you can see what the branching structure will look like and how it’s going to grow in your garden.
Potted roses are also larger plants, meaning more bloom the first year in your garden. If they’re in bloom when you buy them, which most are, you can judge the bloom color, form and fragrance for yourself, instead of relying on a description.
Roses, like trees, should be sited well. In general, the sunnier the site, the better, with a well-drained soil. To bloom their best, roses like regular watering. This includes the roses touted as low maintenance plants. Lower maintenance plants would be a better description of these roses, since they don’t need to be deadheaded to keep blooming.
If you are growing roses, like hybrid teas, that bloom best when deadheaded, trim a little less off your rose bush than you’ve been taught for better bloom. We always used to look for a five-leaved stem and make our cut just above that. Now the thinking is the more leaves a rose bush has in summer, the more food it can make. Deadhead down to the first three leaf stem instead, which will leave more stem and leaves on the plant.