Hello Fellow Readers,
One should never judge another based on appearances – a lesson shared in the Beauty and the Beast enjoyed at the Papermill Theatre in Milburn NJ. Curt’s seen the Disney movie dozens of times – a favorite of his stepdaughter’s growing up. Like I, my garden design colleague and friend Marty and her husband were first timers in seeing the legendary fairytale. The story begins with a shoddily dressed old woman arriving at a castle asking for shelter from the cold. In return, she offered a rose to the prince.
On the way to the play, Marty mentioned how magnificent her roses are because of last year’s overabundance of rain. “Roses love lots of water and are heavy feeders.” Meaning they like fertile soil**. Her climbing roses (Rosa ‘Dr. Van Fleet’) are bursting with light pink blooms. Same is true of her Knock Out Roses.
Back to the fairytale… Repulsed by her appearance, the prince turns her away. The old woman transforms into a beautiful woman and casts a spell to teach the callous prince a lesson. The prince is turned into a beast and his servants into household items. The curse can only be broken if the prince learns to love and is loved in return before the last petal of the rose fades and falls.
Previously I found roses fussy. There are spider mites and aphids that can run amok. Never mind the fungus amongst them like black spot and powdery mildew. But when roses are in their glory, they surely are glorious.
This year I’ve been on a roll using Knock Out Roses in designs enchanted by their ongoing carefree blooms. They’re a disease, and pest resistant shrub rose, hardy Zones 3 to 9, that can be rejuvenated each year by cutting them back to twelve high inches in the winter. The grower’s website claims they’ll “perform beautifully even without fertilizing” and advise “if you choose to give them an additional boost, it’s important not to fertilize until after the roses are established and go through one bloom cycle.” The same is true of all new plantings. Fertilizing newly planted plants adds to transplant stress. And, like all plants, don’t fertilize late in the summer as it will encourage new growth that will die back after a hard frost.
As the years go by, the Beast lingers in his castle reeling in self-pity and lashing out at his help. The rose petals fade and fall. At last, a maiden searching for her father who the Beast jailed for trespassing finds her way into the castle. The Beast receives her ragefully. Though frightened, the maiden boldly agrees to remain forever in exchange for her father’s freedom. After dramatic twists and turns as in any fairytale, it ends happily ever after. The rose comes back to life.
“All members in The Knock Out Family of Roses are self-cleaning, so there is no need to deadhead,” touts the grower’s website. Of course, if you do cut back the spent flowers, your roses will have a tidier appearance. But one should not judge another on appearances. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com
** Marty’s rose-feeding tips -Marty feeds her roses in early winter before the ground is frozen and the snow falls with Pro-start, an organic fertilizer from North Country that encourages healthy root development. Then come May she fertilizes with North Country’s Pro-gro to help boost foliar growth. (Photos in this column compliments of Marty – thank you!)
I invite you to learn more about Marty’s magnificent garden in a previous column Two Best Gardeners of the Garden State