Ma Nature controls it all!

AnneCecilia z5 MIJuly 17, 2011

I was out weeding and watering my roses yesterday and thinking hard about the reason for all the wonderful growth I saw around me. Now, first fact is that yesterday was the very first time I have had to water the gardens all year as we've entered the Dog Days of summer with extreme heat and no rain. Second fact (she says with some embarrassment) is that for the second year in a row I never got around to putting ANY of my fertilizers down in the spring; it's all still in the pole barn. So, no food in ages, no extra water and the roses are the best they've been in years. The first flush which just finished up would have been absolutely fabulous - other than the rose chafers apparently enjoyed just as good a spring growing season as the roses and chewed most of my once bloomers to little bits. :-(

Last winter was very mild for up here; I'd consider it a zone 5 winter at least. This spring I had six inches or more of live cane on roses that regularly need pruning to the soil line. I had no canker. We had a very extended cool, wet and steady spring. And the growth is just amazing. I have several roses that I had question marks next to on my spreadsheet because I thought they might need to be replaced this year due to the way they have looked for the last few years, getting smaller and smaller all the time. Suddenly, they have sent out tons of new canes, all of them are now taller and fuller than I've ever seen them before!

What should I conclude by these observations? I'm thinking I can work myself silly in the garden, I can feed everything from 10-10-10 to organic rose fertilizer, from alfalfa tea to Miracle Grow for Roses, I can water deeply several times a week, but I can't come close to having the effect that Mother Nature herself has - when she's of a mind to, that is. Guess the only thing to do is sit back and enjoy the year - and try not to be disappointed by hoping too much for a repeat in the near future, ha ha. But I just can't help thinking how wonderful it would be if every year was like this...

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AnneCecilia z5 MI

...wonderful except for the darned rose chafers, that is!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 9:03AM
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Well, I totally agree. Of course my garden interventions are relatively rudimentary in any case, so I can't say what would happen if I really tried drastically to influence the course of garden events. But in my experience, how the garden does depends in good part on the weather for that year. It's just like you say: a mild spring with plenty of rain and sun, temperatures mild, neither too cold or too hot, will prompt an extraordinary flowering. I've seen it happen twice in the nine years I've been gardening here. This year as well showed that it's weather that reigns. We had a very unusual spring, hot and dry, and the flowering was the worst I've seen since I began gardening--and we too had a horrible beetle infestation. Then, right when the weather normally turns hot and dry, it began to rain and the temperatures dropped, and we had mild springlike weather for over a month. Result? The roses are in flower now, a respectable second flush in the middle of July when normally they're all dormant. That has never happened before.
I've learned to take whatever the weather brings, good or bad. Some years are decidedly better than others, but there's never been a year when there wasn't something that was beautiful; and so I can live with the variability. I do heartily believe what someone once wrote in the forum: 'Water is the best fertilizer'. Here at least, it's the great limiting factor, though temperatures and periods of extreme wet and cold matter as well.
Thanks for writing what I believe is a great gardening truth.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 9:10AM
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In my experience water keeps things from dying - rain makes them grow. I try to feed and clean up in a reasonable manner but in the end, yes, gardener proposes and SHE has the last word.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 10:25AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Sometimes benign neglect works best!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 11:58AM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

Hi Anne! You're absolutely right - this amazing cool rainy spring did more for our roses than any of our own interventions. I spent two full days (July 1 & 2) in the garden swing, leaping up every half hour just to see the roses. It was the best spring bloom I have ever had! And I wasn't about to miss a minute of it. No wonder roses are so beautiful in England - they get that weather every year.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 12:07PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

I completely concur. This spring my roses have been the best ever, and for the longest period of time, because of a mild and very rainy winter and a very prolonged and wet spring. It was heavenly and I kept congratulating myself on what a great gardener I was. (Until the hot weather set in of course).


    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 7:07PM
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She knows what she is doing, Mrs. Nature. She just doesn't always do it within a time frame that matches human expectations.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 8:21PM
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