Saturday, June 23, 2007

Roses in Peril

Roses in Peril

By Billie A Williams

Roses are my husband’s favorite flowers—little does he know the work involved in keeping them beautiful. Today while I was out trying to rescue a $26 hanging basket of Petunia’s that were surviving on mere water and nutrients I had fed earlier in the week. A side note, beautiful basket but the first time I watered it I knew….I’ll save that story for another column.

Now on to the roses in peril I heard this buzzing sound – nearly like an electrical transformer makes in peak air conditioning season. I thought wow; the bees are especially busy today—on our very fragrant white roses. The fragrance is heavenly and perfumes nearly the whole yard. To my surprise – the bees were trying to be busy, fighting for existence among the blooms of the roses while an outrage of Rose Chafers devoured blossom, buds and everything they could reach. They even attacked the bees as I watched. I was devastated. Apparently, these obnoxious visitors are especially fond of white blooms.

I hurried to the house to read what Jerry Baker had to recommend. (I have several of his gardening books—he always has the natural solution) His solution was hand picking – YUK! Not something that made me feel very good. Other than that he mentioned a couple chemicals rotenone or Pyrethrin…Not into the expense or the side affects of chemical solutions, I opted for my old stand-by which cures nearly all insect infestations without the harmful side affects for birds and other critters in my yard.

I mixed up a cocktail of Mrs. Murphy’s Oil soap and water. (1/4 cup to a quart of water) and sprayed the dickens out of those roses. I probably err on the side of too much soap to water, as Jerry Baker has a different recipe below--but his is pre--mine is present solutions.

Reading further in Jerry’s book he says “if you give your roses a bath once a week with a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap mixed with 2 gallons of warm water, odds are, you won’t need any chemical controls!” I wish I had heeded my own advice earlier when I saw the first chaffer on my Smoke Tree.

Here’s another trick from an old-time gardening friend, "put one or two garlic cloves among your roses to keep aphids and other pests away." (Another thing I was too busy to follow this year) Usually, I plant a row of set onions in front of the roses that border the head of my garden, which normally is enough control. This year the weather has been so different that perhaps I need to go back to more intensive and consistent prevention medicine. It's hotter than it should be this early and the rains we get are torrential downpours accompanied by horrendous winds. Very unusual.

Now, I must keep an eye on my Concord grape vines as these nasty critters move across my yard, they are surely next and the Rose Chafer will feed on them too. Mrs. Murphy, are you ready?
Happy Gardening
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Award winning Mystery Suspense author Billie A Williams invites you to visit her at or check out her You Tube video of A Christmas Dream Script for a 3-Act Play designed for medium to small theatrical groups.

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