Remember the roses of your youth? Every summer Crimson Glory spewed forth a thousand or so perfect roses along the fence separating properties. There were other roses, with names long since forgotten, but you will remember them, too -- plants with personality names like Frau Karl Druschi, Dorothy Perkins, Lowell Thomas, Helen Traubel, Karl Herbst and Margaret McGreedy. Year after year, they surrendered fragrant roses for the dinner table, especially on Sunday when the entire family was present.
Then, at war's end in 1945, came the most famous of all roses: Peace. How could anyone forget the name, the beauty, the fragrance? Others with proud names and equally cultural heritages followed, hybrid teas like Chrysler Imperial and King's Ransom, Kordes Perfecta and Mister Lincoln, Royal Highness and Tropicana. Soon after, for unexplained reasons, the rose garden was gone.
There still is time to rediscover roses, even renewing your friendship with some of the old roses you grew decades ago.
Thanks to Wayside Gardens and others, old roses are enjoying a deserved revival, and it seems to be paving the way for renewed interest by gardeners who abandoned roses years ago.
As with many plants, roses fell from favor when novice gardeners could no longer cope with problems.
Roses have always had their headaches -- Japanese beetles, thrips, cane borers, midges, aphids, black spot, powdery mildew, cankers, root rot and such -- but lacking the know-how to bring the problems under control, most gardeners junked the roses and planted tomatoes instead. With home vegetable gardens on the decline, roses are filling the void once more.
Many Washington rosarians (Ben Holmes, Charley Bell, Bob Alde, Steve Gavey, Joe Covey and others) have been instrumental in spreading the gospel of rose culture around the Capital Beltway. Today there is a growing membership in the Potomac Rose Society, and participation in seminars and shows devoted to rose culture is on the rise.
These events are signs of the times:
Tomorrow, the Arlington Rose Foundation is sponsoring a free summer rose care clinic at 2 p.m. at the Bon Air Rose Garden, at Wilson Boulevard and Lexington Street in Arlington. If you grow any roses or want to discover expert rose maintenance, don't miss the clinic. You'll receive information about stopping black spot and powdery mildew, Japanese beetles, spider mites and such practices as fertilizing, irrigating, controlling weeds and mulching. Bring a notebook.
Thursday at 8 p.m. the Potomac Rose Society holds its monthly meeting at the Fairfax County Governmental Center, on Balls Hill Road in McLean, near the intersection of Route 123 and Lewinsville Road. The meeting is open to the public, and you need not be a member of the society to attend.
Ben Holmes will make an expert of you on Thursday, June 28, at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College during an evening course on rose care. From 7:30 to 10:15 p.m. you will come to know all the professional secrets about roses and how to conquer the problems. The tuition is $10, but please register in advance (845-6240). Again, bring a notebook so you win the war of the roses.
A sampling of the tricks you'll discover at these rose forums: The best way of cutting and displaying roses for the home; how to choose and use floral preservatives for cut roses; how often to fertilize hybrid teas, and with what products, to achieve optimum performance for June and early fall roses; how good sanitation beats black spot disease, even though you will have to rely on a combination of fungicides; the virtues of soil irrigation compared with overhead watering of rose foliage; good and bad mulches; and when and how to transplant, if you must.
Finally, consider joining the Potomac Rose Society. As a member, you will be entitled to substantial discounts from many Washington area garden shops and nurseries and you'll have access to products that will simplify maintenance in the rose garden. (To join, send a post card to Ruby Weinbrecht, 8107 Touchstone Terrace, McLean, Va. 22101.)
Other reminders for mid-June:
Scale has just left its winter quarters and has started feeding on shrubs, especially euonymus. If you find gray-white deposits on woody parts of the shrub, you do have a scale outbreak on your hands. Males are white, females are brown.
Crawlers can defoliate much of the euonymus by midsummer, so you should begin routine sprays now. Best control is with liquid Orthene at 1 1/2 tablespoons per gallon of water, using a hand-pump sprayer and applying in the evening when no rain is forecast for the next 24 hours.
Routine sprays every three weeks through early September will control scale and spider mites, too.
The tick season is well underway. Now that youngsters have begun their summer vacations, they should be checked daily for ticks. The ticks you know from past years -- dog ticks -- are easily detected, but the deer tick transmitting Lyme disease isn't visible to the unaided eye.
Daily baths and showers are a must for children, even in suburban neighborhoods where deer are infrequently seen during the year.
In such areas, children walking in tall brush and shrubbery are strong candidates for picking up deer ticks on their clothing, later on the body. Best advice: daily checks of all youngsters, keep brush cut low with the mower or weed-trimmer at all times, on hikes or walks in the woods, tuck pant legs under socks, wear long-sleeve outerwear and a hat. Chemical sprays in the garden aren't needed under these conditions because deer ticks won't migrate there.
Gypsy moths are beginning their month-long resting cycle before emerging in mid-July to begin mating and laying a new generation of eggs. This means there will be no more defoliation of trees by the moths this year.
However, badly defoliated trees will also pass through a transition in the next few weeks. Every drop of energy (carbohydrates) stored up in the tree's root system will be pressure-driven vertically in the tree's food channel, the xylem, to help in the second refoliation in July. By this time next month, the tree will have exhausted all its reserves in the process.
This weekend, fertilize all trees defoliated by gypsy moths. For trees that do not produce flowers, use inorganic 10-6-4 fertilizer; for trees that flower, use inorganic 5-10-5. Do not use tree spikes, water-soluble fertilizers or substitutes. Measure the trunk diameter at the soil line and use one pound of fertilizer for every inch of trunk diameter.
Remember that an empty 12-ounce coffee can, shaken while filling, holds 2 1/2 pounds of fertilizer.
If the soil is bare or mulched at the dripline (the group area extending as far as the tips of outer branches), scatter the fertilizer evenly over the soil to surround the tree. Then move a soaker hose to the dripline and let water flow for an hour or so to wash the fertilizer toward the roots. Rain will do the rest.
If grass covers the dripline area, use an earth auger to place plant food near the roots. Earth augers are available at garden centers in diameters from one inch to two inches, and in lengths from 18 to 24 inches. Prices are generally less than $25.
Mount the auger in a quarter-inch electric drill, drilling at a 15-degree angle toward the trunk and spacing holes 18 to 24 inches apart to encircle the tree.
Fill holes evenly with the fertilizer, making certain that no granules are placed in the top four inches of the hole. Backfill with soil, set up the soaker hose and water for an hour to wash food to the roots.
Jack Eden is the host of "Over the Garden Fence" Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WTOP Radio (1500 AM).