One Salt Lake gardener has grown many roses over the years, but the real treasure is the gardener himself.
Dick Covey has spent more than 45 years growing roses and a good deal of time teaching others about roses. As a longtime member of the Utah Rose Society, he has offered instruction in planting, caring for and enjoying roses.He is a "consulting rosarian" and spends considerable time helping to promote rose shows and many other programs. He is a qualified rose judge and helps with the accreditation of the All American Rose Selection Gardens in Utah.
Planting the right way in the right place is the important first step when growing good roses. Dick offers these suggestions for getting roses off to a good start:
"Select an area that gets at least six hours of good direct sunlight per day. Plant them where they do not have to compete with other plants. Roots from trees and shrubs will interfere with the roses and prevent them from growing as well as they should.
"They also need to be grown in soil that has good drainage. Roses appreciate moisture but they will not tolerate wet feet. If you have heavy, poorly drained soil then you will end up with poor plants because the roots will not grow well."
Roses are heavy feeders because they produce so many blooms. "I put alfalfa pellets around mine each spring for some additional organic matter and for some slow-release nitrogen," says Covey. "I still have to add more nitrogen on a regular basis. I fertilize my plants on April Fools' Day. I then make additional applications about every six weeks.
"Another application goes on May 15 followed by another one on the first of July. My final application goes on around the first part of September as a fall feeding. Fertilizing on a regular basis stimulates more and better blooms."
Covey offers the following advice to those who want to get the best blooms: "Besides watering and fertilization you also have to control the pests. Aphids and thrips are the worst insects but are best controlled before they become a huge problem by washing them off. If that does not control the problem you can try using a little insecticidal soap to get rid of the pests.
"Diseases are also a problem on some plants. Powdery mildew shows up on some varieties in the spring, but the worst problems come in late August or September. With bright warm days and cool humid nights, powdery mildew becomes a serious problem. Use Bayleton, Funginex or Halts to keep the problem from destroying the plants."
When pressed for his personal favorites, Covey was reluctant to name too many.
"I like roses with fragrance because the first thing anyone does is to smell the roses when they see them. Fragrant Cloud is one of the best there is for fragrance. I also like Mr. Lincoln, Tiffany and Pascali. Jennifer is one of my favorite miniature roses."
Other secrets for growing great roses: "Take some time to give them a little attention. They like someone to dote on them and treat them with special care. If you do, they will reward you with some wonderful planting in the garden."
Whether you grow one or one hundred, these beautiful blossoms are certain to add to your garden.
If you would like a list of roses recommended by the Utah Rose Society, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Larry Sagers, Feature Section, Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110