|This is an earthworm's view of a rose.|
"You did good work, son."
One reader asked about growing roses in Wisconsin. My response was, "I grew them without problems in Minnesota."
Roses are more like peas, not very happy in hot dry weather, but productive in cool, wet weather. Peas also do well in Minnesota. We used to wave hello to the Jolly Green Giant on the way to Minneapolis and then to the Little Green Sprout nearby. LeSueur Valley is loaded with peas.
I used to astonish people by planting peas in Midland before the last snow. "Snow peas," I explained. Chemists are not necessarily up to date in botany, I found out.
|Which view is best?|
For some reason, people cannot grasp that God engineered many plants for cold weather, so they thrive in the cold. Spinach and peas are champions for early planting - and there are many more in that category.
The main concern with roses is harsh winter penetrating the soil and killing the bud union, where the hybrid upper part is grafted to the wild rose base. However, God has provided a solution, which I used in New Ulm. I circled the rose bed with chicken wire and filled it up with autumn leaves, four feet high. The interlocking leaves create air voids within the pile, perfect insulation to hold in warmth and keep back the drying, frost-biting winds. We had 60 below wind chill one winter. The roses were fine.
Secondly, the leaves keep the soil creatures active longer in the fall and start them earlier in the spring, to help pull the organic matter into the soil. The melting snow and early rains feed this on the spot composting. I found that the leaves matted down and provided great mulch for spring, so I did not rake the leaves away at all.
Readers will remember, I hope, that leaves were knee-high in my backyard last fall. They were almost as high in early spring. As spring progressed and composting took place on the spot, the entire area consumed the leaves until only a thin layer on top of the cardboard at the end of summer. Heavily watered areas sprouted weeds through the cardboard and leaves, but we covered them with new cardboard, waiting for the promised but not yet fallen leaves.
If roses are still mostly covered up in spring, the start of new growth is the sign that leaves can be pulled away somewhat. However, I suggest just pulling them back a bit to let more sun in. The impact of warmth and spring rains on composting is impressive, especially when the leaves had all winter to break down.
Fungus and bacteria are two of the microbes that serve the plant kingdom by breaking down organic matter into useful chemicals for the roots to take up. Chemical gardeners scoff at leaves, "Not enough N-P-K, too much carbon." But carbon is the element fungi need to grow, and they are so addicted they give up any chemical needed - even water - to get their carbon fix.
|The white reverse of the pink Falling in Love rose|
creates a striped look in the bud,
then a glow to show off the dominant color.
The tiny spider patrols the bloom to capture pests.
So I look forward to neighbors bagging up their leaves to add to my yard, even though I have trees of my own and a blanket of leaves. But I want several quilts of leaves, so I keep my eyes on the curbs for more.
Today I plan to rake needles from my neighbor's pine trees. She uses them for mulch, too, but the trees outproduce her needs and become an annoyance. I will use them to cover parts of the maple tree rose garden that are too eager to support random weeds and the trees planted by squirrels.
| Fragrant Cloud enjoys plenty of rainfall|
and stored rainwater.