Rain in Washington??

Real Estate Sales Representative with Elkins-Gazabat Real Estate Services
Whoever says it always rains in Western Washington is telling a fib!  Today is President's Day and it is a balmy 59 degrees and the sun is shining brightly!  It is a perfect day to get outside and do some work in your gardens! 
Traditionally this is the weekend to prune your roses to ensure beautiful and bountiful blooms all season long! 
My English grandmother always swore that the end of February was the time to prune and she must have known what she was talking about because her flower beds were fantastic! 
Being the youngest of her 17 grandchildren, I was lucky enough to be the one to spend time with her, at the time in her life when she had time to garden without all her other chores getting in the way.
She used what she called her 'Rule of Thumb' when pruning roses. 
She told me that you decided how long to prune the stems by their circumference in comparison to the size of her thumb, ( and other fingers)! 
The rule went something like this... If the stem is as big around as your thumb, cut if off 24" from the ground, if it was as big around as your index finger, cut it off 18" inches from the ground and if it was closer to the size of your pinky finger, cut it off 12" from the ground. 
This may sound like drastic pruning to some, but my rose gardens at my home in Gig Harbor are chopped this way each year and I am awarded with beautiful blooms from early spring clear through the summer and into the late fall. 
If you 'dead-head' the blossoms after they are spent, before they form 'hips' the rose bush will continue to produce for months!! 
When you dead-head your roses, you want to first examine the stem that the blossom was growing on and follow it down until you come to the first leaves with five parts.  When you look at the bush, you will see what she meant.  Some leaves on the roses have two, some three or four, but if you go a little further you will find five leaves.  Simply use a sharp hand pruner and cut the stem at an angle just above the base of the five part leaf.  In a short time you will be rewarded with new growth and soon a new bud! 
One dilemma you may encounter with all this tender new growth is Aphids!  They LOVE tender new roses!  The best thing about Aphids is that they are easy to get rid of and the cure is environmentally friendly! 
Simply get a spray bottle and fill it nearly to the top with tap water.  Into the water drop some biodegradable dishwashing liquid.  Screw on the top and tip the bottle a few times to mix the liquid soap into the water. 
In early morning or late evening, after the hot sun is off the plants, spray liberally anywhere you can see the little green beasts!  And I mean really spray them!  Essentially you need to coat each of them and they will no longer survive.  (I hate to use the word 'die' but that is what they will do!)   If you have enough soap in the water they will stop eating your plants and in the next rain, their little carcasses will fall off and disappear! 
I must go now... my rose bushes are begging to be pruned!!  I hope you make time to go outside and spend some time in your gardens!! 
Diane McDermott
Realtor®, GRI, Landis e2 Real Estate, LLC - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte NC Real Estate Market
Jami, sounds like you're enjoying some beautiful weather out West! It was gorgeous here in Charlotte over the weekend, feels like springtime. Great tips for roses, you were lucky to have such a knowledgeable grandmother!
Feb 18, 2008 09:13 AM
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Hey, Jami! Welcome to the ActiveRain Community! Today was absolutely GORGEOUS! Spring has Sprung! I spent the day out in the yard, and cleaned out the hot tub! Let me know if you have any questions along the way!


Feb 18, 2008 09:53 AM