Rose Care Tips for May

Wow! It’s already May and my Deep South rose garden is in a glorious flush of spring blooms. We hosted our first Open Garden Day last weekend and had about 80 folks join us in the garden. What a blessing to see folks ages 2-85 come and experience the beauty of a rose. It was a great opportunity to answer any question people had about their own roses. 

As this first flush of blooms fade, it’s a reminder to me to deadhead my blooms, get my climbers ready for next year by trimming and shaping them after they’ve bloomed.

‘Golden Gate Climber’ among friends

 We always cut blooms to bring in the house and our jelly jars are filling up with blooms to share with friends. 

Birmingham Rose Show

We’ll also be attending our local rose show. Check out to find a show near you. 

Enjoy the blooms! #RoseChat #GrowRoses #gardeningtips #Roses 

Posted in #MooPooCrew, #roses, Alabama, American Rose Society, Articles, Celebrating The Joy Roses Bring, Garden, Garden Tour, gardening, gardening events | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Of Birmingham – A Potting Bench For Us Guys

I have long wanted a potting bench. One that would allow me a central location for all my stacks of pots, soil, tools, amendments and maybe, just maybe a dirt drawer.  Today’s routine is something like this: Enter the garage, search for a pot among the stacks. Search for the bag of potting mix. Not the store bought one, but the one I mixed up last week. Then, where’s my trowel? Frustration ensues. You get the picture. Gardening is supposed to be fun, right?

I have long given up on being able to construct one myself. I can never remember “cut twice, measure once..” is that how that goes? So, I enlisted the help of a local carpenter. Russell Schollian is a local carpenter/weekend warrior who makes upcycled wood projects with amazing results.

Russell the Builder

Our carpenter, Russell with his creation

The Design Idea:
I wanted a rustic potting bench, to be left outdoors in our side garden. Preferably made from recycled wooden pallets. I wanted a potting bench that was a good height; to save the aching back. One that had a good sized shelf below for pot storage, that elusive dirt drawer and a place to store my essential potting tools. I had seen one online one that I liked and I sent him a link and asked him if this was possible. He said “no problem”.

The Result:

In less than 7 days, he produced an outstanding rustic potting bench for my garden.


Look y’all! It even has a dirt drawer.


I was super pleased with the outcome and could not wait to get it home. Some folks are just naturally skilled in this area and I am glad to have sound someone in my neck of the woods that does outstanding work.


With Spring underway, I very quickly put this bench to work as we began potting up many containers for the blooms season ahead.

The Conclusion:
Could I have just ordered one of these online from a large retailer? Yes, but I am a firm believer in supporting local enterprise and those who use their skills to meet needs.
That’s what makes a small businesses successful.  I needed a potting bench, and he had the skills and ability to make that happen right where I live. It’s a win win situation.

If you live in Alabama and need a top quality rustic potting bench for your gardening needs, give Russell a shout.  His phone # is 205-514-4241. He’ll be glad to talk to you about building a bench for you or maybe other projects you have in mind. He is very easy to work with.


You can count me as one happy gardener this Spring. Roses are blooming, I have a new potting bench and I rest in the knowledge that gardening success can be achieved for us guys after all.


Our garden this morning – 04/17/2016

 Happy Spring! What’s blooming in your neck of the woods this week? 


Posted in diy, gardening, recycled pallets, Uncategorized, upcycle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bare Root?


Photo Credit: David Austin Roses

I remember the first time I ordered roses online and they arrived bare root. Opening that box and seeing those newspaper soaked bare roots staring back at me, I was mortified. How do I plant these? Where is the pot and the root ball? Did I waste my money? All sorts of questions raced through my head. What’s that saying: “Life is 10% what actually happens and 90% what you think might happen”. Well, that certainly held true here. All my fears were for naught. As it turns out, I have long since preferred to purchase my roses bare root, for the following reasons:

  • They can be planted earlier without the worry of an early frost. Here in zone 8a I plant six weeks before the last predicted frost and have never lost a rose.
  • You get to see the quality of the root system up close.
  • You can easily identify any problems with the rose upon arrival.

This week, I received a shipment of roses from my friends at David Austin Roses. David Austin set off a English rose growing sensation with his 1983 introductions of ‘Mary Rose’ & ‘Graham Thomas’ at the Chelsea Flower Show. The allure and beauty of these magnificent roses and hundreds of other introductions are now enjoyed by gardeners the world over.

My shipment included three shrubs of ‘Olivia Rose Austin’, one shrub of ‘The Poet’s Wife’ and two shrubs of ‘The Lady of the Lake’.  The three ‘Olivia Rose Austins’ will be planted in a “V” formation in front of a large shrub of climbing ‘Crown Princess Margareta’ which we having growing in a container against the fence. The shrubs of ‘The Lady of the Lake’ will be planted along a fence line and as you’ll see in our video below, ‘The Poet’s Wife’ is going in one of our raised beds.

2016 david austin

Photo Credit: David Austin Roses

First things first. Upon arrival, I removed the bare roots from the box they arrived in and plunged them into a bucket of manure tea and let them rest there over night. A good soaking will hydrate the roses in preparation for planting.  I’ve put together a little video to help allay any fears about planting bare root roses.

I am assuming here that you have a nutrient rich soil in which to plant your bare root rose. If not, add equal parts of top soil, composted manure and mini pine bark nuggets. For years, I have used this simple mix with wonderful results. Then, get to digging!

Step 1:
Dig the hole. Dig at least the size of the root system up to the base of the graft where the bottom of the canes are plus a few inches more.  Depending on your growing zone, you may elect to bury the bud union altogether.


Bare Root Rose Explained. Photo Credit: David Austin Roses

Step 2:
Get to know your bare root rose. Does it have strong anchor roots? these are the thick roots. Does it have a good system of feeder roots? These are the tiny fibrous roots. The feeder roots allow for nutrient uptake to the rose.  I had a lady write to me once who said all the roses she purchased had died. I went to see her to help diagnose the problem and she told me that she had “cleaned them up” before planting. She had taken the scissors and cut all the feeder roots off! Can I tell you that she learned a valuable lesson that day; both types of roots are essential to the health of your roses.

Step 3: (a best kept secret)
Add Mycorrhizal Fungi to the roots of the plant. This works best when fungi comes in contact with roots. 


Here’s Why:

  • It increases the plants ability to access the resources in the soil.
  • Stimulates root growth
  • Encourages uptake of nutrients.





Finally, place the rose in the hole. Cover the bare roots with soil all the way up to the bud union. Tamp down the soil a bit and water your rose in and you’re done.  So, who’s afraid of the big bare root? Not us!

Happy Growing!

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Who The Heck Cares Whether You Save A Rose?


“Who the heck cares whether you save a rose?” The words of the late Barbara Oliva, rosarian and a former curator at Sacramento’s Historic Rose Garden have resonated in my mind this week as I read the news of the City of Sacramento’s plans to remove and or attempt to relocate one of the world’s most prized collections of roses at its historic City Cemetery.

Sacramento Bee reporter Debbie Arrington first broke the story citing reports that due to a recent designation as a historic site, the cemetery would fall under new guidelines requiring the removal of arches and roses that touched monuments. Read the full story here.  Read her full story


This story has sent shock waves around the world as the news spread that this prized collection of roses was in peril at the hands of bureaucratic lawmakers in Sacramento who have probably never even bothered to visit this magnificent resting place for those helped settle their town. We implore them to spend some time with the roses before making decisions.

Attempts to reach council members and the mayor’s office as well as call to the National Park Service office yielded a statement sent by Judy Ulich, Director of Convention and Cultural Services for the City of Sacramento on behalf of City Manager John Shirey – City Manager – City of Sacramento California,  It says in part:


John Shirey, City Manager. City of Sacramento – Photo Credit:

“The rose garden was established in 1992 and is made up of a collection of historic roses of the period. Ninety-eight percent of the current roses were planted in the 1990s. Two percent of the rose population is made up of the species from the Victorian era. At no time were there any recommendations to have the roses ripped out or killed off in any way. The roses have become a beautiful addition to the cemetery and are cherished for the beauty that they bring. The guidelines put together by the ad-hoc committee call for roses to be trimmed around the grave sites so that visitors can access and see the headstones. During the planning sessions, it was also recommended that the climbing roses and non-historic trellises be relocated to the stone fence that surrounds the cemetery.  The move of the trellises will take place in December.”

The comments above seem promising but are fraught with error. The statement says that many of the roses were planted in the 1990’s, and the statement that only two percent are old garden roses is inaccurate. This gives the impression that there are varieties easily obtainable in commerce today. The truth is that the roses planted during that time were from cuttings of antique roses obtained by caring volunteers from roses that have since disappeared from commerce or are very rare, many of which only live in this garden and in the hearts and minds of those who once grew them.

I do not believe the elected officials in the city of Sacramento know what a treasure it has in this garden, nor do they recognize the international significance of this collection of roses. As someone who has been growing roses virtually all my life, I can tell you that many of these old roses, especially of this size and stature growing on arches, would NOT survive if cut and moved to the stone fencing that surrounds the cemetery.


As an advocate for roses in this country, I know all too well the great disconnect that often exists between City Hall and parks employees. I implore Mr. Shirey, the City Council of the City of Sacramento, the National Park Service, the Volunteers who work tirelessly to help maintain and preserve this garden along side the city’s dedicated parks employees to work TOGETHER as a TEAM to save the beauty and allure of this garden, while maintaining a resplendent resting place for those who endured “many dangers, toils and snares” to bring the city of Sacramento to life and they deserve a resting place that befits their struggle. 

So, to answer Barbara’s question, “Who the heck cares whether you save a rose?” I do! And, she did and I know tens of thousands of rosarians around the world who care. A literal legion of people who care about the history and significance of the world’s most beloved flower and I ask that you voice your opinion to those in charge in Sacramento.

I am calling upon rose lovers from around the world to unite in this matter and to show their support for the rose and is preservation.

Please write to City Council members and the Mayor asking them to SAVE THE ROSES at all costs, even if it means turning down the NPS Historic Site designation.

Here is a list of their email addresses:

Please share this post, tell everyone you know that this is happening and to be vigilant in your own communities so that we don’t let another rare and endangered rose fall at the hands of an uninformed electorate.



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Glory in the Garden! A Raise Bed Revival

Image-1In March of 2010, I began my raised bed adventures by constructing and installing my very first raised bed. I blogged about the experience First Raised Bed.  Drainage issues and a desire to add more and more roses to my growing collection spawned not one but eventually six raised beds in our garden.


My son Tyler in the garden 2010

The original raised beds were approximately 3′ x 6′ and were made from pressure treated fence panels from my local home center. Over time, the beds began to deteriorate and my architectural skills being what they are, did not foresee issues such as the need to be structurally sound. My original redneck theory was, build a box, fill it with dirt, grow me some roses.   Our son Tyler even helped me with construction.

old bed

2016 – Debilitated Raised Bed

Last year, we had a permanent concrete border installed which eliminated three of the beds. This year, with the remaining beds deteriorating by the day, I decided to let them go and seek the advice and guidance of a professional.

I first met Doc & Eric Hurt on Facebook. Their company Yard360/Landscape 360 specializes in custom built raised beds made of cedar. This really appealed to me. I love the look of cedar, they are beautiful as well as weather and rot resistant.

The brothers Hurt came out about a month ago and walked the garden with us, were eager to learn about our garden and what we wanted to accomplish. I had the distinct impression that they were different from some of the others I had talked to. Most seemed bothered that I called, while Eric and Doc seemed genuinely interested in my garden and how the beds would be used. We drew out a plan that worked for us. They said that they would build the beds on site and install them the same day. Excited about the prospect of finally having the raised beds I have dreamed of, we asked them to partner with us in this raised bed revival.

The word revival by definition means to renew that which is tired, fallen away, has become old and unusable. To restore that which has lost it zeal. These poor beds have seen better days.


Eric Hurt of Yard360/Landscape360 custom cutting cedar onsite for our new raised beds

The team arrived early and went right to work. They measured again, walked the garden with us again to make sure that they had it right. It wasn’t long before they had the frames completed.


Once the frames were completed, they attached cedar shakes to dress up the outside. Scratch the screen, can you smell the cedar?  (some terminals are not scratch n sniff enabled)


They topped em off with a mitered cap. Built so strong, even this redneck can stand on them, they are a masterpiece of construction and stability.


Three completed raised beds in our garden

Can I tell you how absolutely thrilled we are with the finished product? I have never worked with such a dedicated crew of guys whose main interest was our satisfaction. It is a rarity in today’s world to find such a team


Proud to call these guys my friends

Glad to have these guys enter our lives at a time when our garden desperately needed a revival of structure and we needed a revival of spirit. We got both. GLORY!


If you need superior quality cedar raised beds, give these guys a call 205-213-7222

*Disclaimer: I paid full retail price for the raised beds and promised no promotional consideration. They were just that good.

Posted in #roses, Raised Bed Gardening, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Downton Abbey Roses from Weeks Roses + a Giveaway


IMG_8025On this weeks broadcast of the Rose Chat Podcast we’re chatting with Karen Kemp-Docksteader from Weeks Roses. She’s telling us all about the beautiful Downton Abbey Collection of Roses. LISTEN NOW

For six seasons, television viewers have been mesmerized by the masterwork of Julian Fellowes, creator of the Downton Series. This series takes place over a historic twelve year period in British History and has captivated audiences worldwide as each week the drama and intrigue of the life and struggles of the aristocratic Crawley family are played out in grand style.


We were overjoyed to discover the news that Weeks Roses had partnered with the folks at Downton to create a collection of roses fit for the aristocracy.

Anna’s PromiseIMG_8015

Anna Bates has certainly had her share of heartache on Downton Abbey, but through it all Anna always seems to see a ray of hope and a promise for the future. This beauty has been growing in my garden for two years and never ceases to amaze us with its unique coloration of roses and abundance of blooms.  A keeper.

Pretty Lady RoseIMG_8014 Lady Rose Aldridge MacClare proved to be quite a handful on the show. Struggling to break free from an overbearing mother, Rose blazed new trails on Downton. Now safely married and settling into marital bliss, it’s no wonder we now have a rose named in her honor. Pretty Lady Rose is as beautiful as its namesake. Fragrant voluptuous blooms are a crowd pleaser to be sure. On our fall garden tour last year, everyone who stopped by had to put their nose in this rose.

Edith’s Darling IMG_8017

I try not to feel sorry for aristocrats who live in castles, have tailor made clothes, a staff to wait on them hand and foot not to mention a rose gardener, but I just can’t help feeling sorry for Edith Crawley. Unlucky in life and love (remember the old man who jilted her at the altar?) trouble just seems to follow her. Now a mother, Edith has finally found the unconditional love she’s always craved in her daughter, Marigold.

This third rose in the Downton Collection of roses is true to form as an English style rose. Soft gold in color, it also has a wonderful fragrance. This rose is in limited release for 2016 and will be widely available in 2017.

Violet’s PrideIMG_8016

If I have a favorite character on this series it would have to be the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Lady Violet Crawley. Her quick wit and open candor makes for some of the most treasured moments in the series. My favorite episode of the entire series is the flower show at Downton. Though the Dowager has a trusty gardener to tend her roses, she takes great pride in her blooms. Especially at the Downton Flower Show.  I love the color of this rose and it is said to have a spice and fruity fragrance. This rose is also in limited supply for 2016 and will be widely available in 2017.

Win the entire collection of roses! Here’s how:

ENTER TO WIN – Through our partnership with Weeks Roses, one of the oldest and largest rose producers in the world we are proud to offer the entire collection of Downton Abbey roses to one lucky winner.  Click on this LINK to enter. The lucky winner will receive four bare root roses directly from Weeks Roses shipped to you at your optimal planting time.

If you have never watched Downton Abbey, I want to encourage you to watch the series. Click Downton Abbey on PBS to learn more from PBS.

I also want to encourage you to visit Highclere Castle. It is the setting for the Downton Abbey series and is a real working castle, a fascinating history and home to Lord & Lady Carnarvon. Visit Highclere Castle to learn more


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Valentine’s Day Flower Care – Keeping Your Blooms FRESH!


Millions will receive flowers on Valentine’s Day and will wonder “how do I extend the life of the blooms I received?” Here are my tips for getting the most out of your Valentine’s Day gift.


  • If they arrive in a box or wrapped in cellophane, remove them immediately and prepare them as follows:
  • Fill your container with equal parts water and lemon-lime soda (sprite or 7UP)
  • Add two aspirins or a penny. Both act as an antibacterial agent and will help eliminate slimy/cloudy water in the vase.
  • Cut off about 1/2 – 1 inch of the stems. The roses don’t care whether you cut straight across or on a slant. Just cut them. This cut opens a wound to allow the stems to be hydrated.
  • As soon as you cut them plunge the stems into the mixture described above.
  • Arrange as necessary.


  • Repeat this step every 2 days. As the stems become shorter and some of the blooms begin to fade, divide and move them to smaller containers. As the additional filler foliage fades, I add some from my garden. Rosemary, boxwood and others make great fillers and will give your blooms a new look.

Most people find that by following this course of action, you can extend the life of your blooms up to 14 days.

I hope all your Valentine’s Day Dreams Comes True!


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Resolutions for Rose Gardeners

Happy New Year to one and all! For centuries people have made resolutions at the New Year in the hopes of fulfilling a dream or completing a task.

As a rose grower, I have prepared a list of “Rose Resolutions for 2016” that I think every rose grower can achieve.

#1 – Try A New Variety

Whether a new introduction such as Weeks Roses  ‘Neil Diamond’ hybrid tea or a rose that is new to you, why not try a new variety this year? Listed below are my top nine Instagram  posts for 2015. Many are new intros and all have brought us a great deal of enjoyment. 

#2 – Join a Local Rose Society


Birmingham Rose Society Member Nora Coffee & her son enjoying blooms at the 2015 Birmingham Rose Show

I cannot tell you how much knowledge I gained from our local Rose Society. The people there are friendly and are eager to share that they have learned.  At meetings you’ll discover what roses do well in your area, advice on growing, showing and sharing your blooms.
To find a local Rose Society click HERE

 #3 Help Someone Plant A Rose


Local Rosarian Paul Saeger offers tips on pruning roses at a recent rose care event in Birmingham Alabama 

One of the greatest joys of growing roses is showing new rose growers just how easy it is to care for roses. Why not offer to help someone select and plant a rose this year?

#4 – Share Your Blooms
Cindy with Pink Rose

The simple act of cutting your blooms and sharing them with the world around you has multiple benefits. For you: a sense of pride in knowing that you created something beautiful for others to enjoy. For the recipient of your blooms: the joy of knowing you cared enough to share such beauty with them. If you grow roses, by all means, share them with the world.

I can’t wait to see what 2016 has to offer, can you?


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The Sights & Aroma of Christmas

It’s hard to believe that this year is winding down and that Christmas is truly upon us. We’ve been busy decorating, cooking, attending parties and trying to take in the sights and aroma of Christmas. Here are a few ways we  are keeping Christmas in our hearts this season.

Don’t you just love fresh greenery? Simple cuttings of Holly and magnolia from the garden make a festive display in our outdoor planters.

 The metro Birmingham area is divided by smaller municipalities and just about all of them put up an official Christmas tree.  This one; one of the prettiest in the area, is  in Mountain Brook, Alabama

IMG_7389  We are big candle lovers at our house and nothing says Christmas to my nose like a nostalgic blend of Cinnamon, orange and spice.  Aromatique “The Smell of Christmas” is a wonderful way to capture the scent of Christmas in your home.
  “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him” – Though biblical inaccurate, (the wise men came a few years after the birth of Christ) our nativity reminds me of the true meaning of the season.


Our Christmas Tree and mantle – of all of the trappings of the season, unwrapping treasured ornaments collected by generations of my family evoke a sense of Christmas like nothing else. It’s as if for a moment, we are all together once again. The rose portrait that you see above the mantle was done for us by famed rose painter Michele Endersby.

I love all types of cider. Both the drinking, mulling and smelling kinds. This Christmas we have enjoyed this blend from Aromtique “Cinnamon Cider” with cinnamon, apples, oranges and a wee hint of vanilla, it is also a gift we are sharing this year.

If I don’t get a chance to see you this Christmas, let me take this opportunity to thank you for your presence in our lives. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.


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Christmas Gifts for Gardeners + a Giveaway!

2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Gardeners + a Giveaway!

It’s that time once again when we deck the halls and make merry in the spirit of Christmas. For 2015 I have yet again assembled a list of gift ideas that are sure to be the delight of every gardener on your Christmas shopping list.

Flexilla Garden Hose – Watercolors Collection GIVEAWAY


This year, thanks to the generosity of the folks at Flexilla, I am glad to be able to offer as a giveaway finest garden hose on the market today.  Through a partnership with garden designer and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith, they have introduced the Watercolors collection. These beautiful hoses are lightweight and come in an assortment of designer colors, have a lifetime warranty, are drinking water safe and best of all, the don’t kink under pressure!

I’ve been using these hoses in my own personal garden for two years now and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. IMG_2441We have the classic Flexilla green that we use in the front garden and the sophisticated “crazy for cocoa” colored hose in the rose garden. Both have saved us countless hours of stress and aggravation as we hand water 150+ roses each week.

TO Order: Visit

TO WIN: Simply post a comment below of a favorite Christmas memory. I’ll announce the winner by Monday December 7th! Good Luck.


The Ring Weeder – Awesome Value


Who doesn’t need help with weeding in the garden? This nifty little tool will help you speed through the chore of weeding in no time at all. Invented by a gardener just like you and me, this device fits on your finger and with its forked tip pierces the ground allow you to quickly loosen the soil and pluck those weeds out! A bargain at $4.99. This makes an excellent stocking stuffer.


Hear how the Ring Weeder came to life on this edition of the Rose Chat Podcast


Gardeners Hollow Leg

For someone like me who is constantly out in the garden lugging around a pickle bucket deadheading roses and removing debris from my garden beds, this is a dream come true. This garden bag attaches around your waist. It’s water resistant which a WIN is for me: nothing I put in the bag soaks through to my clothes. They are durable and will be around for many years of use.


TO Order:


Trial Membership – American Rose Society

the perfect gift (1).jpgDo you know someone who is interested in knowing more about roses?
Now is a great time to give them a trial membership to the American Rose Society.  You’ll receive discounts at public gardens, copies of their award winning magazine, American Rose plus a ton of other benefits. For only $10, its a great way to tell a rose lover you love them!

More Info

Happy Shopping!





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