Rosy Resolutions for the New Year

Yellowrose.jpgI’m honored and pleased to be able to share with you the writing of my favorite garden humorist, Dr Leda Horticulture. Regan Nursery, the finest place to buy bare root roses online, and a gorgeous full-service garden center serving the San Francisco Bay Area, has given us permission to reprint Dr Leda’s articles from their rose nursery newsletter. If you have never read her writing, you are in for a treat!

Dr Leda Horticulture’s Ten Rosy Resolutions for the New Year

1. My internal clock tends to run fast (which explains why I’m writing New Year’s Resolutions in November). Every winter, I grow restless and try to jump-start spring. Inevitably, I develop a violent and irresistible urge to prune roses on New Year’s Day, but the recommended date here in Louisiana isn’t until mid-February (and the recommended pruning date wherever you live is whenever your forsythia comes into bloom). Last year I jumped the gun, and a disastrous late freeze turned all my tender new growth into slimy black mush. The protective foliar cuticles ruptured, leaving even resistant roses vulnerable to disease. This year I will be patient and NOT prune too early. Better a tardy spring flush than sick whiny roses. 2. One day towards the end of pruning season last year, I was browsing in a book store when I noticed a stranger staring at me intently. He was holding a book titled Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain. The skin on my arms was crisscrossed with the jagged scratches and slashes that only a vicious ‘Mermaid’ can deliver. “Oh, ha-ha!” I said cheerily. “It’s not what you think.” The man just shook his head morbidly and turned away. This year I am actually going to wear my gloves when I prune. Sturdy opera length gloves, with thick leather palms and canvas gauntlets. Maybe even a welding mask. [Read more...]

Dr Leda Horticulture: Dr. Leda and the Rose Snobs

I’m honored and pleased to be able to share with you the writing of my favorite garden humorist, Dr Leda Horticulture. Regan Nursery, the finest place to buy bare root roses online, and a gorgeous full-service garden center serving the San Francisco Bay Area, has given us permission to reprint Dr Leda’s articles from their rose nursery newsletter. If you have never read her writing, you are in for a treat!

Dr Leda and the Rose Snobs:

I had expected the place to  be big and ostentatious.  I was on the lookout for  a behemoth monster-mansion,  a grandiose estate embellished with impeccably groomed gardens. But what I found was an ordinary, if attractively landscaped house, in an unexceptional suburban neighborhood. I double-checked the address. Indeed, it matched the street number the speaker’s bureau had given me. I shrugged and parked the car. I had been invited to speak to the local Association of Rose Snobs, and this unlikely abode appeared to be the location for their July meeting. I rang the doorbell and waited. I braced myself, prepared to face some kind of high-society dragon lady, a diamond-dripping, mink-clad hybrid of the Margarets Dumont and Hamilton. But the hostess who greeted me was a pleasant, soft-spoken woman wearing faded jeans and a t-shirt. “You must be Dr. Leda!” she exclaimed with a warm smile. “I’m Marjorie. Please come in. We’re so delighted you could join us today.” I stepped cautiously over the threshold, scanning the floor for banana peels and booby traps. Hey, I’d been in the seventh grade; I knew better than to trust a room full of snobs. [Read more...]

Welcome to the Institute of Rude Awakenings by Dr Leda Horticulture

I’m honored and pleased to be able to share with you the writing of my favorite garden humorist, Dr Leda Horticulture. Regan Nursery, the finest place to buy bare root roses online, and a gorgeous full-service garden center serving the San Francisco Bay Area, has given us permission to reprint Dr Leda’s articles from their rose nursery newsletter. If you have never read her writing, you are in for a treat!

Welcome to the Institute of Rude Awakenings by Dr Leda Horticulture

Rose with Spruce and Fortnight Lily My friend Sheila called a few weeks ago. “I need your help,” she said. “My therapist has advised me to take up gardening, as a way to work on my control issues.” Now Sheila, bless her heart (as we southerners say when we’re about to be just the teensiest bit judgmental), has raging control issues. An immaculately groomed corporate executive who sits in her plush office all day barking commands, she’s grown accustomed to having her way. Her perfectly manicured “lawn and order” yard is regularly intimidated into submission by an aggressive mow-blow-&-go crew. Somehow, I just couldn’t picture Sheila on her knees in the dirt, grappling with nature. “That’s interesting,” I said skeptically. “I suppose gardening could be a good way to confront control issues. Sort of like trying to herd cats.” “Cats are out of the question,” said Sheila. “They’re unsanitary and they don’t come in colors that go with my decor. I’ve decided I want roses. If I drop by with some fabric swatches and paint chips, can you make a list of varieties that will be exact matches?” [Read more...]

Dr Leda Horticulture: Match Made in Heaven, or Match Made in Hell? The Darker Side of Companion Plants

I’m honored and pleased to be able to share with you the writing of my favorite garden humorist, Dr Leda Horticulture. Regan Nursery, the finest place to buy bare root roses online, and a gorgeous full-service garden center serving the San Francisco Bay Area, has given us permission to reprint Dr Leda’s articles from their rose nursery newsletter. If you have never read her writing, you are in for a treat!

Match Made in Heaven, or Match Made in Hell: The Darker Side of Companion Plants by Dr Leda Horticulture

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Pink Roses with Bluebonnets
Dear Dr. Leda: How should I select companion plants to grow with my roses? I know they ought to like the same amount of sun and water and fertilizer as the roses. Is there anything else to consider? -A Rose-Lover Dear R-L: Once upon a time, I subscribed to the “Oh, Just Put In Whatever Looks Pretty” school of companion planting. However, having recently undergone some rather disturbing and traumatic experiences involving ill-chosen companion plants, my current position is that they should be selected with extreme caution, if not rabid paranoia. One prudent approach is to imagine that the roses are your 14-year-old daughter, and the companion plants are her escort to the 8th grade prom. Horticulturists refer to this as the “Over My Dead Body Are You Going Out With That Creep” school of c.p. selection. It really isn’t such a bizarre stretch of the imagination, if you think about it. Roses and 14-year-old girls have a lot in common. They’re beautiful and moody, they’re vain and insecure, they’re totally obsessed with their own appearance. They’re as delicate as lace and as tough as anvils; one minute they’re your precious babycakes and the next minute they’ve turned on you like a barracuda, shredding you to ribbons. And of course they’re notoriously vulnerable to a frightening array of problems and predators, and they exercise questionable judgment , if any. [Read more...]