by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
Halfway done – roots firmly in place over the ‘hill’ of soil, before adding water and more soil
Yesterday was THE DAY, a damp yet mild west coast morning out on the balcony. I pulled on my green gardening gloves, my ancient red gardening jacket and my yellow Crocs – then filled a big bucket with water. I was ready.
A few days earlier, I’d already emptied the four big square pots lining the balcony railing of their previous occupants, potting up the assorted over-wintered spring bulbs and vigorously spreading clumps of Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica) in 4″ pots to give away. (By the way, this is the first time ever I’ve done what experts tell us to do: dig and prepare the hole BEFORE you come home with a new plant!) My four bare-root Drift® roses were carefully unwrapped, roots untied and soaked in a big bucket of water for 30 minutes, arranged inside the four pots on “hills” of fresh soil (with a nice dollop of bone meal worked in), watered gently, tucked into place firmly with more soil until the soil level was just at or under the ‘bud union‘ (the roundish bulbish part where the root ball meets the emerging stems), and watered once more.
I’d never planted bare root plants before. I’m used to whacking a plastic pot a few times and sliding out an established pot-shaped root ball that gets plunked into its new hole and tamped down with new soil before getting a good soak. Like most new experiences, the first pot I planted felt a bit weird. Was I planting the roots deep enough – or too deep? Was I spreading them out correctly over the ‘hill’ as directed? By the second pot, I relaxed. By the fourth, I felt like a Master Gardener.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away from the balcony, my favourite son Ben was eyeing his own four bare root roses, picked up at Russell Nursery at the same time. For his own back yard garden a few blocks away, he’d ordered one red climbing rose (Don Juan, up to15′ tall), one orange pillar shrub rose (Tangerine Skies™ Arborose®, 8′), one rose standard (tree) rose grafted onto a 3′ trunk (Violet’s Pride) and one red groundcover shrub rose (Flower Carpet Red, 3′). Because of still unpacking their new home, being crazy-busy at work, getting ready for incoming house guests next week (plus, of course, playing with our adorable Baby Zack), Ben knew he wouldn’t have time to plant his bare root roses right away – so we “heeled in” his four roses as the experts recommend.
Read the next essay in this series about balcony roses:
5. Balcony Roses: Never Mind What Your Mother Grew (March)
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