Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roses in the Sacramento Valley - Part 1

My dad was a backyard farmer, as was his father before him and my Irish great-grandfather before him (although he had an actual farm!). I remember my grampa’s deep, narrow lot in San Francisco where he grew corn. My dad grew asparagus and planted fruit trees and vegetables in Southern California, my mom canned. My brother and I sold avocados door to door. Small wonder I fancy gardening. It’s my heritage.
Golden Showers, a climbing rose
Golden Showers, my front porch climber (first introduced in 1957)

Now, farming is a highly practical activity … you grow something you can use at home or sell at the marketplace. It’s a straight-up activity. Gardening for fun, however, is another thing. My dad had strong opinions about roses … too hard, too fussy! Well, as I’ve become a more experienced gardener, I’ve found that this isn’t true. Sorry, Dad. Roses are actually quite hardy, having strong root systems that can keep them growing thru quite a bit of abuse. Treated smartly, they can be quite disease resistant. They are also incredibly beautiful and worth the effort to learn how to care for them.

Ballerina Rose
my Ballerina shrub rose, introduced in 1937

I think the thing that can throw a newcomer off is there is so much information and so much terminology! There are so many types of roses … old roses, miniature roses, carpet roses, climbers, shrub roses, ramblers …and it’s enough to really confuse a new gardener. As a garden coach I believe that success breeds success. Learn something about the subject, put it into action, watch what happens.

In the next week or so I'll be blogging about roses  ... we'll take a look at some of the basics, from pruning (which generally happens in January), to understanding the various types of roses and then we'll cover their general care.

Today's gardeners like to mix it up in their gardens, with ornamental plants like roses cozying up to an assortment of herbs and veggies. In my dad's day it was all vegetables-in-a-row, fruit trees in the orchard and a lawn in the front yard. Perhaps my dad's resistance to growing roses was in his day they were more disease prone. Could that be it? Certainly we have unlimited choices, and with today's online mailorder nurseries, easy access to it all. Whatever ... love my dad, love my roses. It's all good!

Want More? Here are the links to Parts 2, where we discuss types of roses, great rose retailers, public rose gardens and some useful online resources, and Part 3, where we wrap it all up with a discussion of tools, terms, pruning techniques and the best way to keep your roses healthy and disease free. Hope this is useful in some way. Feel free to call me if you have any questions, or would like some in-your-garden help.

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help!
Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

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