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ROSE CARE FOR OCTOBER
by Vivien Bronshvag, Consulting Rosarian
Taking care of roses begins with taking care of yourself and having the right equipment for the task you are about to do.
First, before stepping into your garden, protect yourself. Wear clothing that is thick enough to enable you to walk and work around thorny roses that will greet you and try to keep you with them. Long or short garden gloves of leather, canvas or latex will permit you to hold a rose stem without being impaled by a thorn. Hats and sunscreen to protect you from long exposure to the sun is a California necessity
wherever you are. Nylon sleeve protectors cover your arms from the edge of the glove to your shoulder to protect your shirt from getting snagged and torn by thorns. Finally, we always recommend keeping your tetanus vaccination up to date. People who work in the garden are around various sources of infection from bird poop, insects and rust and fungi. A hospital nurse once told me that gardeners need a booster tetanus injection every 5 years, not the 10 years that non-gardening people require.
The tasks you perform are improved by the tools you use. Transplanting a rose requires a pointed shovel. You would spend all day digging a hole with a tablespoon. Similarly, other tasks include deadheading, winter pruning, cleaning leaf debris from around the rose, mulching and/or loosening compacted soil and preparing roses for exhibition. Before I suggest tools for each task, I apologize to you my readers for not knowing the precise term for each tool. I am not in the hardware business. I shall instead illustrate the tools in a picture where the order from left to right will be the tool I am describing in the order of the tasks mentioned below.
For deadheading your roses, secateurs or pruning shears come in numerous sizes to ?t your hand. They also come for left handed and right handed users. There is also an anvil shaped pruning head with handles that you pump for arthritic hands that cannot squeeze hard enough the ?rst time.
You can go to the San Francisco Garden Show in the spring and browse the many vendor displays of tools. Nurseries and hardware stores provide many pruners to choose from. Our member Florence Taylor has extolled her pruners that she bought through the American Rose Society many years ago and still uses. Or you can head to the Hida Tool and Hardware Store at 1333 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, where they have a great variety of high quality tools for every function including long handled pruners that can extend your reach up to six feet. Winter pruning requires serious cutting of thick branches. Long handled loppers come in different lengths for cutting thick branches.
Also narrow bladed hand saws can be used to get into tight spaces between branches. Home Depot sells battery operated hand saws that use narrow blades too. They are a bit heavy but work quickly and cleanly to get the job done.
I have seen narrow rakes for cleaning debris from around the base of roses in two styles. There is a long handled one that permits the user to stand up and rake in the tight spaces around the root base between rose bushes. The other is short handled so that the user must bend down to clean or use it to clean debris from roses in boxes and pots. Loosening compacted soil is not something you do often. Perhaps only after the rains. I have a strong memory of visiting the rose garden at the Bois de Bologne in Paris and watching a gardener using a long handled tool that was shaped like the ?ngers of his hand in brass or iron at the working end. I watched him gently lift and loosen the soil around the root base on a gray drizzly day. I searched on line for such a tool and never found it. I went to nurseries, hardware stores. Finally during my outing with Sandy Simon to Annie’s Annuals in Richmond (740 Market Avenue) I found the closest thing to it. I am pleased to show you what I found.
Preparing roses for exhibition, at an evening presentation by the Marin Rose Society or a yearly show, use narrow bladed scissors along with cotton and Q-tips.
Finally, keep some Clorox wipes handy when you are using your tools to wipe them clean after each use. This will prevent you from spreading a rust or other disease from one rose to the next rose you work on.
A YEAR OF ROSE CARE:
July and August
November and December
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Last Modified: 9/28/18