By Thea Steinmetz
Have some patience before you go full steam ahead in the garden. By using caution, some costly mistakes may be avoided. Heed grandma’s advice and do not set tender annuals in the ground too early. She wanted to wait till mother’s day before planting in earnest. Our nights are far too unpredictable and the chances of going in the low thirties are ever present.
One year while getting ready for a party, six of the flower boxes on the deck were ready to great visiting guests with their colorful exuberance. Only, it did not happen. The night before the party, frost appeared as an uninvited caller and froze all the lovely flowers. Ever since then, I rather err on getting busy on the late side, and not be impatient and have all the efforts be in vain.
Of course, there are exceptions. The cool weather plants may be seeded now. The green onions, always a favorite at our house, can be planted now, as do peas. Lettuce seeds can also withstand lower temperatures. My window boxes on the deck that hold the herbs will have to be covered at night if the temperatures dip low. Of course, the most tender of them all, basil, will not go outside until we know that night temperatures will not dip below 50 degrees.
When the sun is bright in the sky, we get tempted to take our potted specimens outside to let them soak up the warm rays. This calls for extra vigilance. It is so easy to forget to bring them in as temperatures head downward. A wonderful variety of plants may be lost overnight.
Yes, we know when the forsythia bloom, it is time to cut back the roses. Those are the rules and we know rules sometimes must be broken. This year you better put on your warm parka and get sturdy gloves before venturing outside. The wind alone will rearrange you coiffure and give you rosy cheeks.
North Olmsted’s Barbara Geisinger, an avid rose grower, offers some great suggestions for all of us that struggle year after year to do better with roses. We could give up after several tries, but roses are a lovely addition to our gardens and so we struggle on.
Barbara is a busy lady as a Consulting Rosarian, along with being president of the Forest City Rose Society. She also serves as president of the North Olmsted Garden Club.
In the latest issue of the rose society’s newsletter, she stresses the importance of cleaning up of the areas and around the perennials and especially roses. The base of the plants should be cleared of anything that was there for winter protection. Leaves left behind are black spot and fungus carriers and should be thrown away but never be composted.
Examine each rose bush and trim away broken and inside canes that might interfere with air circulation. The question of how far to prune back is often asked.
Barbara suggests locking at the green bark and see if there is a white pith core after the cut is made. In my own experience, I want to see healthy green tissue to let me know that the stem is alive. Barbara suggests a drop of Elmer’s glue or nail polish be applied to the cut to discourage borers and insects from depositing their eggs.
She also advises investing in top grade pruning tools and fore-go cheap cutting gizmos that wear out quickly. Look for products that will keep the roses from attracting fungus. There are other helpful suggestions one might follow and if you are serious about your roses, attend a meeting of the Forest City Rose Society on any third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the North Olmsted Library.
It is too early for roses blooming in our gardens, but not too early to explore colorful spaces. Perhaps some of our readers had a chance to see the superb spring flower show at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. With the cold temperatures and the wind whipping fiercely outside, it was the perfect time to pay spring a visit indoors. Even the many unadorned flats of simple grass situated here and there, made us feel as if there was hope for one day soon to go outdoors and play. The numerous pots of blue hydrangeas and tulips positioned on the Geis terrace and even set in the pools of water, promoted the feeling that spring has not been cancelled.
The spring flower show with entries from various garden clubs was enjoyable and brought inspiration to many of us. It was not a judged show and was different from standard flower shows. Members of Ikebana produced most of the entries. The minimalist use of fresh materials was admired by visitors and also served as inspiration to do more with fewer green stems and flowers. There is a quiet elegance to this kind of arranging that satisfies. The flowering spring branches are especially appealing when used sparingly and integrated with a small number of flowers.
This show sent me back to the guidebook issued by Garden Clubs of Ohio many years ago. Mass arrangements where a great number of flowers were needed, all embedded in oasis, are not in vogue anymore. The mechanics of the arrangement were not to be seen and had to be hidden in some way. Now, it is perfectly all right to show how a piece came together. Arrangements have gotten simpler and that is applauded and helpful for all of us.