Have you ever enjoyed such a lengthy bloom season on your roses? Mine have performed quite nicely through the entire month of October, encouraged by the bright sunshine and lack of precipitation.

We've had lots of inquiries concerning winter care of this popular flower. It's now our national flower, proclaimed as such by Congress and President Reagan a couple of years ago. I'm afraid many of the questions come from people looking at the calendar rather than at the plants in the garden!You can prolong the season and bloom production of roses if you follow basic principles.

(BU) SELECT VARIETIES suited for our location. Not all of the thousands of available roses perform in our Mountain West climate. Nursery catalogs and garden stores carry such a tempting array of plants it's difficult to decide which should go in the yard. The Utah Rose Society publishes a "Top Rated Roses for Utah" list. You can obtain a copy by sending a stamped envelope to Utah Rose Society, 1333 E. Parkway Ave., Salt Lake City, UT 84106.

(BU) CHOOSE A SUNNY or partially shaded location where you can control the irrigation schedule. Foliage that is wet frequently or for long periods because air circulation is inadequate is more subject to diseases.

(BU) ROSES are long-lived plants, so prepare the soil properly. This means breaking up hard layers and using organic matter to maintain soil structure. Go easy on the fertilizer in the hole at planting time. Prune back to three canes and leave them 6 to 8 inches long.

(BU) USE A MULCH that keeps roots cool, prevents weed growth and reduces soil compaction. Decorative bark or other wood products work well. If weeds come through, remove them while small.

(BU) AS BLOSSOMS FADE, remove them so seed "hips" don't form. The traditional advice is to cut down to the first leaf with five leaflets. Depending on the vigor of the plant, that may or may not be low enough, in my opinion.

The idea is to force the plant to push out vigorous new growth to form another large bud. That's going to take a stem about pencil size. My cuts to put flowers in a vase or to remove spent blooms are made based on stem diameter, not leaflet count.

(BU) FERTILIZE ADEQUATELY to support new growth that plants put on each spring. Nitrogen is the element needed in largest quantities, but a complete N-P-K combination at winter's end will assure needed elements. After spent blooms are removed, a nitrogen fertilizer application will bring on the next round of color.

(BU) AS SOON AS COLD WEATHER ends the bloom season, give the bushes a "butch" cut to 2-21/2 feet high. This top removal will save plants from winds and snow breakage. In addition, roots will not be loosened in the soil by the leverage of tall growth. Final pruning will be done next April.

Diseases have been quite prevalent this year. Powdery mildew and black spot can be carried over in old leaves that remain on the ground. Rake up and discard those that have fallen and plan to get rid of the rest that come off the plant during the winter.

Roots of roses are very resistant to freeze damage, but the budded upper portion that provides the long-lasting summer beauty is less tolerant of our winter temperatures. It is impractical to protect the entire plant, but it's also unnecessary. All we need to have a vigorous, blooming rose in 1989 is about 6 inches of undamaged canes next to the ground. Provide for that by covering the base of the plant. Soil, sawdust, compost, bark or leaves (if they stay in place) will do the job.

A cone of soil works well, but don't damage the roots by digging around them. The mulches also can be applied in that way or you might cover the whole bed 6 inches deep, depending on the area size.

You'll need to go to more work if your tree roses are to survive a Utah winter. The critical part, instead of being next to the ground, is atop the "trunk." Construct a wire cylinder 15 to 18 inches in diameter, tall enough to cover the plant, including the top. Prune long canes to a 6- to 8-inch length. Fill the cylinder with tree leaves and cover with a plastic to keep them dry.

You can have an earlier show of color in that garden if you insert some groupings of six to eight tulips between rose plants. As their blooms fade, the rose foliage hides the drying bulb leaves.

You may think they're tender because of their size, but miniature roses are very hardy. Prune back the length of 1988 growth as with their larger cousins. They'll go through the winter in good shape.

(BU) SPEAKING OF MINIATURE ROSES, the All-America Rose Selections have been made for 1989. It's the first time in the 50-year history of AARS that miniatures have been designated winners.

"Debut" is a showy, red blend that features rich scarlet buds that open to double blooms of 20 large petals. They may reach 2 inches across, are deep red at the outer edge and soften to creamy white to yellow at the base.

The other miniature is "New Beginning," a colorful orange-red and yellow blend that blooms profusely through the summer and into late fall.

Miniature roses, in general, are excellent in borders and grouped together in specimen plantings. They're suited also for containers and can even finish winter bloom indoors.

"Class Act," another winner, is a white floribunda with slightly fragrant 4-inch blooms. Plants are upright and vigorous, ideal for landscaping.

Please see GARDEN on C8

"Tournament of Roses" is a coral pink grandiflora and was honored as the commemorative rose for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Centennial. It features 4-inch bi-color blooms of coral with pink and pale pink. Dense and upright, it is very floriferous.

These four roses should be available at garden centers next spring. If you have plants in your rose garden that perform poorly, are prone to disease or have been weakened by winter temperatures, don't hesitate to replace them.

For a free brochure, "Discover the Pleasure of Roses," that contains general rose growing instruction, send a large, self-addressed, stamped envelope to Dept. NW, All-America Rose Selections, 221 N. La Salle St., Chicago, IL 60601.