The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Building the Rose Garden - Rough Draft - Creation Gardening

Bride's Dream, $5 - special sale.

Building the Rose Garden

Growing roses is easy, fun, and fulfilling. No other flower is appreciated or feared by so many. Everyone says to me, “I have heard roses are hard to grow.” That is definitely true when roses are grown the wrong way. Therefore, a step by step approach follows, from the start to the harvest of bouquet after bouquet of roses.

The large American rose gardens and Queen Elizabeth’s private gardens follow the same principles as I do, avoiding toxins, building organic solutions, and encouraging fungi in their gardens. A program on Queen Elizabeth’s gardens showed that the plants flourished and attracted an enormous array of animals to the peaceful, poison-free area, earth before the Fall of Man.

The modern rose industry develops about 1500 different roses for each one that makes it to the market. Many of those new arrivals do not catch on and fade away from memory. The ones that do become established, loved, and planted for decades have one thing in common with all the supposed failures – they come from one plant. The initial effort is cross pollination, breeding varieties in the hope of a new Peace, Mr. Lincoln, or Double Delight Rose. From that point, green canes are rooted and grafted to the wild root base, to combine hardiness and beauty.

One of the best all time, ranking with the ones above, is Queen Elizabeth. This tall grandiflora—with magnificent, tall buds and blooms—was hybridized by Walter Lammerts, a Lutheran who believed in Creation.

Lammerts earned a PhD in genetics, developed dozens of new roses, and published many articles critical of evolutionary claims. He founded Creation Science, a society still active today.
Anyone dealing with roses, whether antique or new, is astonished at the almost infinite variety of blooms, colors, shapes, fragrances, weaknesses, and strengths. Yet no one can claim to have invented a new rose. The enormous library of DNA information is already in each flower, capable of being adjusted to produce in its offspring
·       A fragrant white rose like Pope John Paull II or
·       One so oddly colored that it could be named Ketchup and Mustard.

Ordering Roses
Those who want specific roses will order them, because garden supply places will probably run out of the favorite ones. Roses ordered from the large and small rose suppliers will be dormant, bare root roses. If I have to have Peace, Double Delight, Fragrant Cloud, or Queen Elizabeth, I order the bare root roses early. I do not expect to find them as potted roses at the local gardening center, although that may happen.

Planning ahead is a good idea. Some offers by mail and TV are for an assortment of colors and styles. These are less expensive and fun, because no specific name is promised. Finding out that these surprise roses include many famous and unusual kinds is part of the fun. I bought $5 roses later that included Paradise and Bride’s Dream, normally sold at full price. My first order, from TV, included Falling in Love for $8, which will be a full row in the expanded garden this year.

More disciplined ordering would include three and five of the same rose, even more, to mass color instead of scattering it. But another part of the fun is moving roses around to decorate in an individual way not dictated by unwritten or even canonized rules of rose culture.

Potted roses can be ordered locally. They show off their beauty for the buyer and seem less intimidating to some. They are simply bare root roses that the local seller prepared for the market. That is how I discovered and expanded our KnockOut roses.

Preparing the Garden, Early and Later
          The best orientation for roses is East. They love sunshine but are not as greedy for solar power and heat as corn and tomatoes are. In some areas, planting roses on the West or the South would be a bad idea.

Trees will compete for sunshine and their roots will generate problems in digging and watering, but they are not as bad as rumored. A rigorously pruned tree will allow plenty of sunshine in the right circumstances. Against my judgment, my wife Chris insisted on planted our extra 10 roses to be in a circle around the maple tree. They blossomed their first year and decorated an area that was earlier filled with maple tree suckers and overgrown bulb flowers of some type. We added a second circle of roses this year for a total of 18 rose bushes.

An important consideration is viewing the roses. They should be placed where they will be appreciated the most. That is how our first rose garden was planted just outside our front door, where the rose fragrance drifts in all summer long.

Roses are the queen of all flowers and deserve to be treated royally. They do not thrive when bumping up against other tall growing flowers, whether bushy or tall. However, they will enjoy the company of plants that have low growth habits, like garlic chives or garlic, which benefit the roses’ health and resistance to pests. Therefore, plan to give each rose bush plenty of space by itself, for sunshine and space to grow.

Early Preparation, the Autumn Before
Fall preparation can include shutting down all grass growth and converting the lawn to compost, by covering the future rose garden with newspapers or cardboard, topped by autumn leaves, grass, or wood mulch. Leaves will not hold down newspapers in the windy fall, so cardboard is better as a base, and easier to apply. Shredded wood mulch holds down leaves and also looks attractive. Leaves and mulch begin to build the beneficial bug base, so we rake all our leaves over the mulch in the fall.

Late Preparation, After Ordering Roses
Our latest rose garden began with a TV deal for 8 rose bare root roses, $8 each, shipped. Rototilling the lawn in front of the house was out, because I did not own one and did not want to run into utilities if I borrowed one. Compost was already building in the back yard, but I did not relish hauling wheelbarrows of compost. Instead, why not create compost out of the lawn? The same approach can be used in a gardening areas to be converted to roses.

We dug the holes in the lawn by measuring a shovel’s length apart. In clay soil, which we have in abundance, watering the area a day before will make the work relatively easy.

Bare root roses arrive somewhat dehydrated, so they are immersed in a barrel filled with rainwater. Alternately, the barrel is filled with tap-water and aged to let the chlorine escape. Nothing else is added to the water. Rainwater is the best, most natural fertilizer, and chemical fertilizers are the worst addition to any planting of roses.

A bigger hole is better than one too small. Each rose bush is pulled out of the water and the roots trimmed back a bit to fit in the hole. The canes can be pruned where they look blackened or unhealthy. Pruning spurs growth. The roots are planted on a pyramid of soil, to provide a good base, and soil packed around it. This is a good time to pack sod, upside-down, around the perimeter or on top of the original hole. That will give the rose plenty of worms and soil microbes for composting and good feeding in the future. Mushroom compost is a good way to finish filling the hole, because the organic mixture (manure from mushroom farms) will foster the right kind of soil activity and soil mixing.

Water after All the Roses Are Planted
Watering too early will create a muddy quagmire, as I learned once. The roses will wait. Once the garden is planted, the roses will need a good soaking and then daily watering for some days. The roots will need to develop root hairs to do the work of popping out leaves and absorbing solar energy from above.

Lawn into Compost
In a few days, or even a week, the rose garden can be covered with the base of newspapers or cardboard, then covered with shredded wood mulch. Overlapping the newspapers will inhibit weeds from popping up, but rebel outbreaks can be quashed with a few more newspapers and more mulch. The newspaper thickness we use is one section opened up completely.

Release the Earthworms
The ultimate celebrity composters are the red wiggler earthworms. They are not alone in feeding the roses, but they are the champion -
1.    Mixers of soil,
2.    Aerators,
3.    Tunnelers,
4.    Transporters of bacteria, and
5.    Makers of perfect manure.

Our first shipment of 2,000 red wigglers arrived late, and I put most of them on top of the new rose garden, plus some under the maple tree, the crepe myrtle bush, the compost pile, and other likely gardening places. The replacement shipment arrived soon after, because the first one was so late and dry, so I had even more for the roses and gardening places.

          The advantage of adding red wigglers to a mulched rose garden is their phenomenal ability to turn organic matter into perfect manure for the roses. Many people overlook this fascinating conversion of leaves, grass, wood chips, and animal manure into food for their plants. Without trying to make a mathematical formula out of this, I consider 100 pounds of organic matter to be turned into 100 pounds of useful nutrients. This bag of God’s fertilizer will be produced by earthworms, fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, and the rest of the ocean of life in the soil. And this healthy soil has a wonderful, pleasant earthy aroma that comes from…bacteria. In contrast, walk through the chemical fertilizer aisle of the gardening center. I can never get used to that smell. Even worse is the odor from a pile of bags filled with insecticide or fungicide.

          The increase of organic matter in the soil will bring the garden to its highest level of productivity and trap those nutrients in the top foot of soil by the constant life and death struggles of microbes, arthropods, and earthworms. Every creature preys upon other creatures and becomes food for others, in an endless cycle.

          Garden preparation is not in doing a lot of work, but far less, allowing God’s own creatures to carry out their ceaseless labors in renewing the soil and feeding the roots of the plants.

Tough Love for the Pests as Roses Grow
          When roses are first planted, pests are few. When the soil and air warm up, the pests multiply. During this initial growth period, the only work is making sure the garden is kept moist. I judge by plunging my finger into the mulch. Moist mulch is a good sign. No matter what, I spray down the bushes from time to time. Most of my roses grow on land that drains to the street, so overwatering is not a problem.

          Some pruning of dead wood and branches growing the wrong way may be done. Pruning is only going to encourage growth. Established roses begin the season with heavy pruning to get them to stretch their roots and grow with vigor.

Aphids! – Put Down the Sprays
          No one likes to see the first bloom hit by aphids. I lost all the Peace, John Paul II, and white KnockOut roses. Those blooms looked like punctured balloons because aphids were sucking the life out of them. I did nothing because those pests are food for beneficial bugs, ones I saw hovering around the blooms all the time. The aphids seem to favor the lightest blooms, so the whites and Peace were traps for aphids and suffered accordingly.

          If someone sprays down the bushes with chemical poisons or even with oil, all insects and spiders die. The surviving pest eaters no longer have food, so they look for it 
elsewhere. But the pests come back to bushes devoid of beneficial bugs and spiders. The answer for some gardeners is – “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

          But I waited in patience, knowing the chemical cries of the roses for help, or the sounds of destruction, were attracting the bugs and spiders. I saw Flower Flies and Ichneumon wasps hovering around the rose blooms, protecting my investment while feeding their young.

          The next boom of roses was almost perfect – Peace, John Paul II, and white KnockOuts. The colored roses were left alone again for the second blooming cycle.  When I cut John Paul II blooms from the bush, I had to cut above the stiff spider’s web around the stalk, below that perfect white bloom. No bug got past those little Shelobs. Peace bloomed all at once, each flower stunning in its delicate colors. The white KnockOuts were equally good. All summer a few roses were hit again, but I always said to myself, “You little aphids are just multiplying and energizing your enemies.”

          Mulch, Dead Leaves, and Wild Areas Help
          Many gardeners work too hard and spend too much to fight pests when an army of beneficial creatures hope and pray for a Creationist to let them work in peace – actually a constant state of warfare, because they live and die to keep their world in balance, guided by an unseen but powerful Hand. Beneficial creatures love mulch, dead leaves, tall grass, weeds, and native plants. These natural elements build up a natural array of life, each kind seeking a way to raise and feed its young.

          When my neighbor sprayed for mosquitoes, he killed all flying insects in his yard for a short time. The mosquitoes kept coming back, stronger than ever before, no longer deterred by nesting beneficial bugs. The third spraying convinced him he was wasting his money. I let him explain that to me, since he realized he was simply opening up his yard for another flying army to invade without opposition.

          Butterflies are rare because of spraying for mosquitoes, but the mosquitoes have not disappeared. Sprays are potent against ladybugs and lacewings, too, not to mention bees, wasps, and hornets – all of them beneficial.


          The more we study the inter-relationships, the more we see the complexity and infinite dependencies of all Creation.

Walter Lammerts, Creationist,
developed Queen Elizabeth and Crysler Imperial.