Roses are not hard:
I love my rose bushes. They are hungry bushes, so I try to give my roses rose food every other week. Dead head your roses frequently to promote blooms. The only thing you need to worry about is bedding them for winter. The Rosarian at Gethsamane Gardens (A favorite store of mine) told me to mulch the bush heavily in the fall. Also, stop deadheading the rose bush around early September. This slows growth. That is it. She said NOT TO COVER THEM WITH CONES. It suffocates and starves them. They need to draw food from it leaves back into the roots for the winter. I did this now for two years and it has really worked out. Just put a nice thick bed of mulch at the end of September.
As things begin to grow, I buy bloodmeal and bonemeal at the store. After cleaning my beds, I mix a cupful of each around my flowers, mixing it in the dirt, especially my peonies, roses, irises etc. My step mother 'n law also tosses around a calcium phosphate mix she gets from farm and fleet. This help all flowers to stand up straighter (such as gladiolas).
Drying flowers & Propagating Seeds:
I dry many of my flowers cut from the garden in a cool dry place. I hang them upside down with twine. My hydrangea dry nicely. Roses, yarrow, baby's breath, lavender, chamomile, and Russian sage make nice arrangements too. The ones that bring forth seed, I simply dry them on a tray, until I can flake off or tap out the seeds. Then I store the seeds in small jars with labels. (see below)
Don't forget Winter Snow:
Winter snow is a great way to prepare for spring. Sprinkle grass fertilizer on snow. When it melts, it will seep in to the grass giving it a jump start for spring.
Splitting Made Easier:
Gardening books will tell you to use a pitchfork to split perennials. I have made a disaster of plants using this system. I have found my big shovel and foot to be a great tool. I set the plant on it's side, and with the shovel, push it through the rootball with my foot. It produces a good, clean slice. Other plants you can split by gently tugging them apart by hand, but for stubborn ones, this shovel way is good.
Dont wait Until it is Warm to Prevent Weeds and Grubs:
While snow is melting, or cool spring rains are forecasted, sprinkle grub killer and weed killer in your yard. Evidently, crab grass germinates when it is 60 degrees...so don't wait until then. It will be a losing battle all summer. Get it early, and the rains will make sure it soaks in.
When pruning your rose bush for the first time of the season, have some wood glue handy and add a dab to cut canes. It makes a seal on the cut. This will prevent insects from burrowing into the cane.
Want to see pictures of my garden? Click here!
A Seedling Trick:
So you have some seeds you want to sow outside, but will it take too long to see some growth? Well, a great trick is actually tricking the seedling. A couple of weeks before sowing, put the seedlings in the freezer. Then when it is time to sow, take them out and sow them. The seeds will think they are thawing from winter and will grow faster.