Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garbage Can Roses by Judy Huckaby

Ronald Regan Tea Rose
One of the truly excellent experiences I had last summer was the benefit of an unintentional act of generosity.  In July, I found two roses someone had put out in their trash. The soil in the containers was completely dried out, pulling away from the sides of the black plastic pots. All of the leaves, while green in color, were dry, crinkled, and crispy. One label read “Iceberg”, a floribunda (four foot or so tall bushy rose with many white blooms).  The other rose was a Ronald Reagan Tea.  Wait, what?

I quickly scooped up this find before it disappeared, returning home, dunked first one and then the other completely under water, weighing down the root ball with stones until air bubbles stopped.  I use this dunk and drain technique whenever I buy something from a nursery and again, directly before planting.

After this initial bath, both roses sat sad, forlorn and barren on my porch, each in a small pile of its own crisp leaves. The Ronald Reagan had small holes bored into the pith at the ends of two of its three canes; a sure sign of the little carpenter bees had drilled into fresh pruning cuts.  I cut off the canes a little at a time and found each of the wasps just before the junction to the main stem.  So in addition, that poor thing was just a bare stem sticking out of a pot. 

By the way, to avoid this carpenter bee problem, any pruning cut bigger than say a quarter of an inch or so, needs to be sealed with glue -- any general purpose household glue will do.  And of course, there is a garden adage to help remember:  "Glue what you do".  But I digress.

Iceberg Florabunda
In an amazingly short period of time, buds swelled and that luscious red new growth began to appear.  After both had leafed out somewhat, I planted them in different places.  The Iceberg went in front of a dark colored fence in order to show off the white blossoms and the Ronald Reagan into my rose garden.  I was surprised and pleased even though both of these plants were still fairly small and weren't planted at the best time of year, that the floribunda put out many flowers, and seemed quite happy against the fence.  The Ronald Reagan tea pushed out one bloom.  The bloom is a red-pinkish fringe around a white center, very pretty.  The bloom happened while I was out of town, and so I only saw the very end of it, petals beginning to drop to the ground.  Sadly, it didn't bloom again.

Garbage can roses, saved from the landfill.