The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Petaluma - Penngrove Picks - March 2015


Petaluma - Penngrove Picks - March 2015

by Lyndi Brown

As the deadline approached for this column, my brain was mush from the big, bad cold. So I did what any gal would do in a pinch: invite writer Katie Watts to share her expert knowledge of roses.

Katie’s Rose Musings

Did your sweetie surprise you with a bare root rose for Valentines Day? Or perhaps you saw one at the store you had to have? Maybe you’re reorganizing your yard?

To some of us, there’s no such thing as too many roses. But if you’re new to growing roses, there are a couple of scraps of curious knowledge that can help.

Don’t dig out an old rose and immediately plop a new one in the same hole. Roses can be the cats of the plant world: independent and spunky. And, generally speaking, they don’t like each other much.

Put the bare root rose in a temporary home or a pot if you need to and fill the hole back in. Let it mellow for six months to a year before you plant another rose there. The new rose will have a much better chance.

The same thing can be true of roses planted near each other: touching branches can die. In my front yard, “Polly” and “Hermosa” despised each other. Wherever they touched, the branches browned and withered. Finally, I got rid of “Hermosa” – she had spiteful thorns – and “Polly” was much happier.

If you got a late start pruning, or have just been extra busy, it’s not too late. (If you’re really swamped, remember roses did quite well before pruning shears were invented. You don’t have to prune. I’m not going to scold you. But if this gorgeous weather we’re having has sent you into the garden with clippers, you can. Most roses sold today are Hybrid Teas. These usually bear urn-shaped flowers in all colors (except blue and black).

Prune out all dead wood, cutting at a 45-degree angle. Study the plant and prune out any branches that cross.  Then cut back the remaining branches one-third to one-half. You want to cut to an outside bud. If you look closely at a rose branch, you’ll notice the small greenish or reddish bumps that indicate the direction another stem or branch will grow. Yes, it’s okay to snip off thorns if you have the time.

If you have a garden that includes what rosarians call “old garden roses,” there are other pruning techniques that should be used. Old garden roses are roses that existed before 1867. There are many different classes of OGRs and if you’re interested, I’ll point you to Professor Google and/or your nearest library because there’s way more than I can touch on in this article.

Often, though, when someone says, “Oh my grandma had this fragrant pink rose,” they’re describing an old garden rose.

Almost all the earliest roses were once-bloomers, and many of these are grown today. If you have a rose that blooms once a year – don’t prune it now. Wait until after it blooms. If you do prune now, you won’t get much of a rose crop. Same holds true for fruit trees. If you cut them back just before they flower, you’ve cut off the buds. No buds, no flowers, no fruit.

Finally, for your trivia of the day, the reason there are no blue roses is because they lack the delphinidin (blue) pigment. Some roses come fairly close, with a lavender tone that ages to a gray such as the Hybrid Perpetual “Reines des Violettes,” which dates to 1860.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Feed – March 15

Enjoy full plates of corned beef from Bud’s Meats and all the fixin’s’ from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at the Penngrove Clubhouse, 385 Woodward Ave. Proceeds help maintain the Clubhouse and Penngrove Park. Tickets are at the door. Adults $15.00, Children under 12, $5.

Changing Harm to Harmony – March 15

North Bay poets and non-profits will present an evening of poems, letters and writings from the anthology, Changing Harm to Harmony: Bullies & Bystanders Project, edited by Marin County Poet Laureate Joe Zaccardi. Non-profits Mentor Me, Guided to Safety, and Severson Sisters will describe their work to reduce and prevent bullying, and offer opportunities for the community to participate. Poets will read: “Fat Kid”, “The Invisible Boy”, “Such a Pretty Face”, and “Perfect Target”. You can also view the 4th Annual Youth Art Exhibit (March 1 – April 5). It’s Sunday, March 15th from 6-8 pm at the Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville Street, PTown. Admission is free; donations are encouraged to the arts center or the non-profits. Contact: 707-762-5600 x101 or email