Captions, clockwise from top left: Frank Reddon and Craig Danys check out work to be done in the Joseph L. Mocsan Memorial Rose Garden, Chippawa Park; Danys trims a bush, part of the winter rose care regimen; Reddon at work hilling up a bush to give it winter protection. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)
By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
WELLAND – When in doubt about when to start winter rose care, watch what the City of Welland’s gardeners are up to.
When you see them cutting back rose canes and hilling up the crowns, that’s a sign for you to do the same. Or when you spot bushes that aren’t as high as they were days ago, time for you to get into a bed for this part of winter rose care.
Gardeners were in Chippawa Park on Monday, working on the 32 beds in the Joseph L. Mocsan Memorial Rose Garden. They were back Wednesday to finish the job.
Frank Reddon, a lead gardener with the city, said rose canes should be cut back this time of year. Cutting them back “prevents whipping or rocking” in winter’s harsh winds. Aesthetically, the bushes look nicer cut back and roughly the same height, he added.
Craig Danys, landscape technician, said the canes should be trimmed to a height of about 18 inches, although some rose growers opt for trimming to 12 inches or so. Danys then did some snipping to show how it is done.
Once the canes have been trimmed, the crown of each bush should be covered with a mound of soil 10 to 12 inches high, then covered with compost if available.
This hilling insulates the rose bush for the winter, protecting roots and the vulnerable bud union from cold temperatures, they explained.
Using a small hoe, Reddon showed the proper form in hilling a bush, scraping up soil from around the bush and moving it onto the crown area. He said this should be done with care because it is easy to knick the bush, injuring it and making it susceptible to disease.
“You never want to knick the crown,” he cautioned.
Interesting to note that the park’s rose garden has transitioned over the years. Hybrid teas were dominant years ago, now the shrub rose dominates. That’s because shrub roses are the most durable, Reddon said. Hybrid tea roses are the most difficult to care for.
When the park reopened after the COVID-19 lockdown, it was like a magnet for people, the gardeners said. They came in large numbers, many of them actually taking time to admire the roses. There was also a proliferation of picnics with more people enjoying the grounds than in many, many years.
With the care given the roses in this showpiece Victorian garden and its 650 rose bushes, visitors who stop by next spring and summer can look forward to beautiful displays of roses for their viewing pleasure.