Jilda and I are in competition with her brother Ricky Phillips to see who has the greenest thumb.
Jilda and I grow great tubs of tomatoes, piles of potatoes, sacks of squash, and pecks of peas. Our apples, pears, blueberries and watermelons are to die for, but our roses look like they’ve been sprayed with Roundup.
Ricky on the other hand is a plumber (R&H Plumbing) and doesn’t have a lot of time for much gardening, but he grows beautiful roses.
We have several bushes, but none of them do that well. The best bush we have is our John Rose – our friend John Elliott gave us a cutting many years ago. He has since passed away, but the climbing rose bush he gave us flourishes with roses that are as pink as a baby’s cheek. We planted them down at the front of our house on the bank near our mailbox, and we named them after him.
Each year our John bushes throw off thousands of blooms, but they only grow to about the size of a silver dollar. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful, but they are more like rose-lets. Our other roses are just sad.
Ricky effortlessly grows roses as big as softballs and bigger. It’s a source of contention — he called early this morning to rub a little salt in the wound.
“Hey, one of my pink roses is blooming. Why don’t y’all stop by and look at it the next time you’re here,” he says over the phone...and you can almost hear him snicker. I wanted to go over there and smack that smirk off his face, but then who’d bail me out when one of my “simple plumbing repair jobs” goes south and my kitchen is under water? You may recall the recent dishwasher episode. It wasn’t pretty.
After Jilda and I finished our walk this morning, we stepped over to his house to have a look. Though it pains me to say it, his roses are stunning! I’m not sure if he puts some kind of special sauce on his bushes, or what, but he spanks us silly each year in the rose war. “I don’t do much to them,” he says in his Oh-shucks-I’m-just-lucky tone of voice.
I put out a special appeal to my blog buddies across the country asking for help with my roses. A bunch of people responded, but almost everyone was as frustrated as me. My friend Marsha said: I could not even enter, much less win, a race for the roses. But when I stay after the aphids, dig a small trench and only water them from below (the roses, not the aphids), and no more than 3 times a weeks, and when I only look at them on the second Tuesday of the fourth week of the month, and if Aquarius is on the rise, and Venus is just above the moon...sometimes, but only sometimes, I can get a wonderful batch for my dining room table.
This was the most encouraging advice I received. Some advice included pruning brutally, adding horse manure, old blood, and egg shells.
I’m still at a loss for how to beat my brother-in-law in the War of the Roses. If you have any helpful advice, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.