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ingrid_vc

This May Be My Last Year For Roses

I didn't think I'd say this even a few weeks ago, but already at the beginning of June my garden looks like a wasteland. In all my years of gardening I've never encountered anything like it. Even the pelargoniums are wasting away, with mostly fried blooms rather than the happy blooming machines that I enjoyed in past years. Roses that bloomed reliably even in the summer heat such as Sophy's Rose have only a flower or two combined on my two bushes. If I watered every day, as I used to do in the height of summer, the situation might be better but I really can't afford or justify that. The roses are all mulched heavily now but after two days without water are dry as dust underneath.

May and June here normally have foggy mornings which adds moisture and keeps the temperatures from rising too high. There hasn't been any of that this year. Even if there is a wet winter this year I don't know if the garden can last that long. Besides, one wet winter, should it happen, will be followed by several dry ones.

Given this unprecedented situation I feel helpless. Scientists all say that this is only the beginning. I know that right now it's not like this everywhere and I'm happy for everyone who is having rain and enjoying their roses. For me here I feel that it's very likely the beginning of the end. I wish it were just pessimism but I think I'm facing reality head on.

Ingrid

Comments (67)

  • muscovyduckling
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I second Grace's suggestion for a grey water system.

    In Western Australia, where the summers are hot and dry, and the soil is alkaline sand, and water restrictions are in place, a lot of people install grey water systems to keep their gardens green. The water from your shower and washing machine is recycled back onto your garden. You will need to use specific washing powders or balls, but it is an effective way to water your garden with water that you have already used and paid for. In Australia, initial outlay for tank, plumbing and drip irrigation system runs to around $2000, but could vary considerably in your area.

    Two other alternatives that many use in conjunction with this method are using water collected in a rain water tank (run off from your roof) which is collected in winter and stored for irrigation in summer, as well as sinking a bore on your property and using ground water for irrigation. I don't know enough about your climate and geography to know if these two options are feasable for you, but I would definitely recommend further investigation of a grey water system.

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I can't tell you how much your encouragement and support mean to me. Having to let go of a dream that's been a large part of what constitutes happiness in my life is traumatic. I've known in theory that this was coming but as long as everything looks still more or less the same there's the illusion that it isn't really happening, until one day it does. A few weeks ago we had all the weeds, brush and dead trees cleared from our land and the trees limbed up to six feet. Not only do the empty slopes look more like a desert but the heat radiation has increased substantially. Unfortunately the huge pepper tree behind the deck that helped to keep that area cooler was hacked about mercilessly and that has destroyed the peaceful ambience of the backyard, not to mention making it much hotter.

    I think this change alone has pushed some of the roses beyond their comfort level and, as mentioned, the normal weather pattern of morning fog which mediated daytime temperatures has not materialized. Roses that seemed bullet-proof before are now reeling under these new conditions as much as I am. Today I'm striving to reach some level of acceptance, and even trying to begin to hammer out a plan to deal with this new situation.

    Camp, I read "The Dry Garden" by Beth Chatto years ago and I realize that I'm going to have to think along similar lines. I probably need to reread it. I wonder if she also had to deal with 12-18% humidity along with scant rainfall. Drip irrigation may also have to be in my future. I know there are people in the desert growing roses and they must be better gardeners than I am. I do plan to drastically decrease the number of roses I have. I don't have a fully formed plan in my head at this time but I'm in the process of changing my mindset and my dream of what constitutes a garden paradise. It's a beginning, and I'll be getting back to you when I'm a little further along this new journey of mine. I'm glad that I will have some wonderful companions to help me find my way.

    Ingrid

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  • summersrhythm_z6a
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sorry to hear that. I was thinking about the same thing-grey water tank. I think a RV's grey water tank might be cheaper than farmer's water tank.

  • Kippy
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, If you like bella donna lilies, basic iris (once blooming purple) or orange watsonia (the hummers love these) let me know. We have extra and they all seem to thrive on nothing.

    Of course, like many of the ramblers, they are once blooming which might be what works in the drought conditions.

    For our lot, we have used 6 or 7 loads of wood chips for just the outer edges (not so much in the veggie garden-yet) if that gives you an idea of just how much it takes to put a thick layer of chips down.

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I can't tell you how much your encouragement and support mean to me. Having to let go of a dream that's been a large part of what constitutes happiness in my life is traumatic. I've known in theory that this was coming but as long as everything looks still more or less the same there's the illusion that it isn't really happening, until one day it does. A few weeks ago we had all the weeds, brush and dead trees cleared from our land and the trees limbed up to six feet. Not only do the empty slopes look more like a desert but the heat radiation has increased substantially. Unfortunately the huge pepper tree behind the deck that helped to keep that area cooler was hacked about mercilessly and that has destroyed the peaceful ambience of the backyard, not to mention making it much hotter.

    I think this change alone has pushed some of the roses beyond their comfort level and, as mentioned, the normal weather pattern of morning fog which mediated daytime temperatures has not materialized. Roses that seemed bullet-proof before are now reeling under these new conditions as much as I am. Today I'm striving to reach some level of acceptance, and even trying to begin to hammer out a plan to deal with this new situation.

    Camp, I read "The Dry Garden" by Beth Chatto years ago and I realize that I'm going to have to think along similar lines. I probably need to reread it. I wonder if she also had to deal with 12-18% humidity along with scant rainfall. Drip irrigation may also have to be in my future. I know there are people in the desert growing roses and they must be better gardeners than I am. I do plan to drastically decrease the number of roses I have. I don't have a fully formed plan in my head at this time but I'm in the process of changing my mindset and my dream of what constitutes a garden paradise. It's a beginning, and I'll be getting back to you when I'm a little further along this new journey of mine. I'm glad that I will have some wonderful companions to help me find my way.

    Ingrid

  • jaspermplants
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, I wouldn't think of growing roses (or much of anything else for that matter) here in the desert without a drip system and/or soaker hose set up. I don't know anyone around here who gardens without these watering systems. Also, I heavily mulch my roses and also heavily amend them with organic material. I am doing this on an ongoing basis; rarely do I throw away dead leaves, they are used as mulch or go into the compost heap.

    I also have a good number of trees on my suburban lot (thus the constant supply of leaf litter--a pain at times!). So, many of my roses receive partial sun in the summer. I would be hesitant to subject my roses to full-on sun during the summer, although I know people that do. I just completed the master gardener program here (I HIGHLY recommend it if you fit it in) and learned lots and lots about growing plants in the desert. The summer months are really tough on plants, especially April, May and June sine we get no rain and the humidity is soooo low. Yesterday it was 2 percent! Once our monsoons start, in July, the humidity goes up and the plants are happier (the people are not!).

    Don't know if any of this helps, but hang in there, and good luck!

  • annesfbay
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yes, hang in there! I think good things are coming your way. You just have to adjust to new gardening plans.

    My grandmother grew roses in the desert in raised beds.

    Good luck, Anne

  • gothiclibrarian
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I felt a touch of what you must be feeling a few years ago when my 1st rose had RRD and I felt like it was a death knell for the garden :: still knocking on wood ::

    The grey water suggestions are WONDERFUL but I feel the need to link everyone somewhere that explains which household cleansers, etc., are safe for use in the garden: http://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/greywater-cleaning-products/

    Cheers!
    ~Anika

  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Outdoor shower would be another idea.

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Like the idea of "Outdoor shower", but don't they have coyote and wolf packs there?

  • jaspermplants
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Another way to conserve water is to catch rainwater coming off the roof. Total gallons running off the roof is 60% of the sq footage of your roof per inch of rain. So, if you have a 2000 sq ft house, 60% of 2000, or 1200 gallons of water run off your property for each inch of rain. You can use rain barrels, etc, or build berms and other catchments so the rain stays ON your property, rather than running off. Takes some thought and some slight changes to the slopes of your land, but can be worth it!!

  • Kippy
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think rain barrels would be wonderful, if only it rained all year. I am not, at this point, considering adding them. Our rains often start in December and end in February. The other 9 months can be dry. I think they are better suited to areas that get the random summer rain.

    Things I have done or am still working on, every downspout goes in to perf drain pipe (the black coils of plastic pipe people use for french drains) those pipes run along the edges of my flower beds under all that mulch.

    We are on a hill side, so I try and slope the terraces to hold the water and not allow it to run down the hill but to stay and sink in to our property. Patios are sloped to drain to flower beds

    Our grey water goes through the thirsty Austin bed in those perf pipes too.

    Fruit trees are going in, for the fruit, but also the shade they add. Most will also have a rose to cool off too. Almost all the big girl roses are going in on the property line, one neighboring complex is on a well and waters their lawns like they want swamps (changed the level of the soil on our side of the fence so their extra water heads our way not back to them) and at the bottom of the property they also water the front lawn a lot so that is where my polyanthas are located.

    But, I am going to water all of them for the first couple of years to get a good root system established and then we will back off the water.

    In the heat spells, mom did not understand that the blooms were crisping from the heat not lack of water. She kept running the drip and hosing them down. I had to tell her to stop watering so much and wait for the greenery on the bushes to tell her they were thirsty. But even with all that, our water bill was on the low side for that period because it was mostly drip that they got.

    I have to admit, I am feeling a tad militant about only trying so much harder this year in reducing water use. None of what I listed above was easy or with out a cost. It was hard work and took a lot of time. Our worst water use one summer is less than the Montecito water district allows for HOUSEHOLD only use. They allow many times more for landscaping use. We grew enough tomatoes to can sauce for a year, we shared with moms entire church. Zucchini, cucumbers, winter squash etc. All of it enough to share with many families for less than one house in a different district in our area. Granted those are often mansions and that district is going to run out of water this summer. But we are all in this water crisis and I don't think that some should be allowed to use so many times what the rest of us are working to save. I hear one of the estates has an $8,000 a month water bill because of their usage. I think it is time to cut that person off at the allowed level and let them think about their usage..

  • alameda/zone 8/East Texas
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    And I thought my water bill was awful in the terrible drought of 2011 - nearly $800/month for 3 months due to my soaking my precious big oak trees, along with the other gardens! What must their other bills be? Wouldn't want to live in one of those monster homes no matter how much money I had......cannot imagine an $8,000 water bill!

  • jaspermplants
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I feel that way about the endless housing development that goes on here!!! The builders just keep building building building, making money for themselves while the water dries up for everyone. In my opinion, the development should be limited, as should the allowance of the endless golf courses, etc etc etc. Just ridiculous. The rich get richer and the rest of us pay the price.

  • Kippy
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jasper, a couple of years ago our no/low growth city counsel (Goleta) was pretty much replaced with growth candidates. There are over 1000 new homes and apartments now being built. Plus business parks a couple of hotels... almost all using the same freeway on/off ramps (one close to some of the development is closed for improvements for years) For an interchange that is close to max already and the busiest in the area. Grid lock

    One of the new complexes a perfect example of stupid landscape design. If you read the fire dept guidelines for defensible space, ooops. It is planted to look mature when you buy. Better plan on a lot of tree removal and foundation issues in that association fee.

    But the worst is they are "restoring" a native grass field and creating a wetland out of what was supposed to be reclaimed water but is not. Most days you can drive by in the evening and see a marsh. The wet land they are restoring was originally on the other side of the main road in a low point that would have naturally held water and not on top of the hill across the street...............

  • Vicissitudezz
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    An $8000 monthly water bill is obscene anywhere, but even more so thereabouts.

    We use 7 rain barrels for our plants in our hot, humid climate, and hand water with watering cans, but we still run out if we go several weeks without rain. I can't really recommend that particular solution for anyone in a low-rainfall area, although there may be a cistern alternative with less evaporation that might be workable if there's a reliable rainy season.

    Graywater is great, but it seems that adding more protective mulch, leaf litter and shade trees will also make a huge difference in keeping the garden and house feeling cooler and less desert-like. Shade cloth can help protect plants until trees are leafed out enough to provide a prettier shade source.

    Drip irrigation might be cheaper if roses are in the same general area rather than all throughout the property, and I agree that a buried irrigation system will encourage roses and nearby plants to develop deeper roots.

    Introducing beautiful drought-tolerant plants for non-rose/ non-irrigated areas might be more pleasurable and attractive than expected. As already mentioned, there are some beautiful and fragrant California and Mediterranean natives- including herbs and ornamental grasses- that would complement the rosier areas of your garden.

    Taking off the rose-colored glasses (sorry!) will mean a shift in thinking; instead of your old dream of an ideal (English?) rose garden, you'ill have a more plant-diverse drought-tolerant garden with as many roses worked in as you can realistically afford to keep.

    I wish you much success and happiness as you move forward,
    Virginia

  • Kippy
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, don't feel bad about your fire protection trimming of the trees. Remember how fast this:

  • Kippy
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    becomes this:

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "Ingrid - try, if you can, to get hold of Beth Chatto's Dry Garden - a huge garden built entirely on fast draining gravel (old gravel pit) which receives no water at all. And yep, there are a few roses although of the wildling and spinossissima type. "

    I'm sorry to be difficult but that is not particularly inapplicable to a gardener in southern California, even if only 20 miles from the ocean. The annual solar irradiance, average yearly temps, rate of evapotranspiration etc. are so much higher there's no comparison. Max. yearly temps in Norfolk/Norwich wherever is only about 70F at the very height of summer. Even Santa Barbara, the coolest coastal area in the greater southern California conurbation, has five months of temps above 70F; and any one of those months has at least 50% more sunshine hours (which are much stronger being closer to the equator; southernmost England would be at the latitude of the northern tip of Vancouver Island) than the sunniest month in England. And Scotland? When I spent a summer there they were having a very dry summer for them, but with weeks of temps in the low 60s gardens looked very lush, even though it only rained a couple times. I actually remember lightly digging in the soil of my uni. residences to see that, yes, the soil was dry appearing, but plants just aren't bothered when the sun is so weak and temps so mild.

    BUT Campanula, the rest of your post is very correct; people in those climates are going to be better off planting other dry summer plants.

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    And don't get me wrong, I'm sympathetic to Ingrid. We all have to cope with vicissitudes of our particular climates, like the cold winter on the east coast this year. But whether or not the drought improves in the immediate future, the west's water problems are only going to get worse. Too many people and industries (agriculture mainly) vying for a limited resource. Kippy correctly points out it isn't going to stop. Nik, one interesting thing to remember about Greece versus California is relative humidities are a little higher there because the Mediterranean gets considerably warmer than the Pacific waters off California. That helps your watering last a little longer, and Athens has cooler, cloudier winters than Southern California, meaning the winter rains last longer.

    I was lucky when I did my big trip the west coast in 2011 that California was having a good year. It can be really beautiful when there's a normal winter with good rains. I was surprised how lush some parts of it looked, even in Southern California. But the droughts have been a part of the natural order of things there for millions of years...the millions of people wanting lush green lawns has not. I remember driving around the older neighborhoods of Pasadena, admiring the many trees, lawns, nice plantings of BLEs, huge beds of Strelitzeas, etc. One had to remind oneself, without irrigation, this would look completely different.

    Here is a link that might be useful: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

    This post was edited by davidrt28 on Sat, Jun 7, 14 at 14:03

  • portlandmysteryrose
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, I am so sorry about the hard changes in your garden. You've worked with such determination and have created so many lovely spaces. You've received great suggestions from forum members, but if I think of any other ideas that might prove helpful, I'll be sure to mention them. Whatever the changes in your climate, I know you will find ways to garden...with roses! Your inner creatvity is resilient; your sense of beauty and artistic expression will find their pathways. Carol

  • fogrose
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, am sending you my hopes that somehow your garden will survive or be able to be transformed into a different incarnation.

    Diane

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You're all wonderful and just reading your posts makes me feel better. I know there are things I can do and some that I've already begun doing (increased mulching with leaves which has made a difference in a very short while). I will also be planting more trees like crape myrtles and buddleias around the house to at least give the illusion of a more lush environment without having to use much water, and it will help a little temperature-wise.

    Kippy, you're so right about doing what you have to in order to avoid the fire danger. I know I mentioned before that one of the huge wildfires some years ago came close enough to our house to burn the bottom of the deck.

    Even now I haven't really had an English cottage garden, more of a Mediterranean one, with day lilies, pelargoniums, sea lavender, vitex, lavender and remontant irises. Even these plants have needed more water than one would expect to thrive. It's possible that an irrigation system is the logical answer, although there's an awfully large area to cover. One step at a time.....

    Ingrid

  • User
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid I am so sad to hear this I have no advice as I have no experience with what your dealing with!

  • ArbutusOmnedo 10/24
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, I know what you're going through and I'm so sorry! The more I think about the resources going into a predominantly aesthetic garden, the more I want to make sure that every single plant in the garden more than makes up for its cost or that I expand my growth of utile plants. Any thing that doesn't work on the watering schedule I've arrived at that doesn't produce food has been removed.

    The last time I was at Disneyland I was very aware that mass plantings of bright flowered annuals in the past are now succulents. Almost everyone feels some impact in California. I've decided to dedicate space to a few large teas as opposed to a large number of smaller roses. I've begun acquainting myself with native plants of all sorts that are truly suited for this climate and thrive on no attention. I find that I especially enjoy native grasses, Salvias, native and South African bulbs, Cerinthes, Boronia, Correa, Banksias, Manzanitas, and plenty of others. Looking into those plants that truly die with summer irrigation might be worthwhile as you can have areas in your garden that can be left to their own devices for the most dry months of the year.

    Some of the problems you're experiencing aren't anywhere near as intense here and hopefully won't be anytime soon, but it's better to plan ahead and with limited resource exhaustion in mind. Perhaps focusing on creating a primarily native/xeric garden of texture and seasonal color that also contains a handful of more drought tolerant roses -teas, chinas, rugosas, or whatever works best there- for extended periods of color is the natural route to take. Each time I visit a xeric garden I see something I didn't think existed in a drought tolerant plant. Nevertheless, I wouldn't suggest abandoning hope for roses altogether.

    I'm not versed in drip irrigation yet, but I imagine it is the way to go for your situation as well. There are ways to use the same or fewer resources more efficiently to maintain a beautiful garden, but it may not be the garden that you initially envisioned. I too won't have my "dream garden" until I move to a much wetter area, but I have found new things to appreciate as a result of that limitation. I'm sure you'll continue to post wonderful pictures of your roses for years to come, Ingrid, but perhaps just of a smaller range of varieties along with many beautiful xeric plants.

    Jay

  • Sow_what? Southern California Inland
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, you have an artists eye, and a heart to create and share beauty. I have no doubt you'll find your direction, and that it'll be a good one. If you choose to keep roses and other non-natives, I echo what others have said: amend with compost, blanket thickly with four inches of mulch, irrigate underground and/or with drip. In some areas I use plain old dripping hoses. In one garden I'm trying out a fairly new underground tubing with copper emitters that repel roots to avoid clogging, and am happy with it so far. But I also like conventional drip/microspray. It cuts water use drastically, and delivers water precisely enough that I can grow roses and lavender side-by side. I do not auto pilot my irrigation; I check it frequently and adjust as needed. Our temps have been in the 90's and 100s, and so-far so-good, other than some of the roses looking fried. The roses that remain unfazed amaze with with their incredible beauty under these challenging conditions, and I'm grateful that you and others on this forum inspired and guided me in my choices.

    jannike

  • Lynn-in-TX-Z8b- Austin Area/Hill Country
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid,

    Many of the plants you grow, I successfully grow here, and if you have read any of my posts from July, there are days that hit 124 degrees. First off, i have found over the years that grafted on Dr. Huey performs best in the hottest parts of my garden. When I moved here from coastal Southern California 14 years ago, grafted on Dr. Huey was recommended, STRONGLY by members of the local rose society who have been successfully gardening here for many decades. I prune in late December, but could have some blooms year round except for all of July and the first couple of weeks in August. Nothing burns, although right now, the one gallon own root Marie Pavie I planted a few months ago is a little crispy on the ends. I am hoping as it matures it will perform a little better.

    Someone in a previous post mentioned an $800 water bill. That is much more than my annual water bill and I have a fairly decent size swimming pool, but no water hogging lawns.

    At the risk of becoming and echo, it is all about thick layers of mulch, at least 2" ( I add mulch 2x's per year, early November and April) and automatic drip irrigation, which can be used manually, but we enjoy traveling and are not always here so it is always on automatic mode and adjusted per the time of year and plant needs.

    When it is hot all I expect is healthy foliage, and that is what I get if I am diligent about hosing off the spider mites.

    I grow:

    4 varieties of lavender ( Spanish Lavender is very drought tolerant)
    Iris... I forget the variety ( it has white and purple flowers)
    Iris (re-blooming)
    Salvia ( it is drought tolerant)
    Rosemary
    Mexican sage (Drought tolerant)
    Texas Sage (Drought tolerant)
    Bush and tree Crape Myrtle (New Orleans and the lavender are my favorites)
    Daylilies
    Society Garlic
    Agapanthus
    Lantana ( drought tolerant)
    Verbena
    Jasmine
    Plumbago
    Pelargoniums (in the past)
    Herbs
    Broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, onions,
    Succulents
    Cacti
    An abundance of annuals
    Citrus trees
    Pomegranate
    And of course....roses ( preferably those with thick dark green leaves)

    Our soil is different as mine at this home is clay for the most part , whereas it has been sandy at previous homes here, but hopefully it will come down to watering adjustments and mulch for you....it really makes a difference.

    Lynn

    This post was edited by desertgarden561 on Sun, Jun 8, 14 at 18:32

  • seil zone 6b MI
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I know I posted my sympathies a few days ago but it must have gone to ether never, neverland.

    I'm so sorry to hear about all your garden woes, Ingrid. I can relate, in a very different way of course, after my huge losses this winter. It can be very disheartening and discouraging to put so much time, money and work into something only to see it go to dust. Please, don't give up all hope though. With some adjustments I think you can still have the beautiful garden, albeit different, that you've always had.

  • Vicissitudezz
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm interested in native plants of all sorts- not just the ones in my region- and while browsing the Las Pilitas Nursery web site this morning, I encountered this quite interesting info on what 'drought-tolerant' really means in California...

    The reference to an 80-year drought kinda caught my attention- plants that can handle that are worth paying attention to!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Link to info on what drought-tolerant means in CA

  • minflick
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, what a depressing thought. I hope you are able to do some of the measures people here have spoken about to help you keep some of your beauties. I made a post on the regular roses forum about how much better my roses are doing (my everything, actually) now that I've laid down soaker hoses everywhere. I'm in the processing of starting to mulch to help keep my water around my plants, and I'm going to be doing real drip systems for everything eventually, but for now, soaker hoses are in my budget and are doing well for my plants. To ease the connecting of hose to various areas of soaker hose, I put on brass quik connectors - so I don't have to twist and screw and fuss with attaching.

    What I really wanted to mention is that our water restrictions up in the Santa Cruz area -" water only 3 days a week, and not from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless you have drip systems), and please cut back by 20%," only started May 1st. Our last water bill was for an earlier period, and using the soaker hoses has reduced our water usage from last year by 45%. Seriously, 45%. I misread the water bill and nearly had a heart attack, and then DH showed me we were DOWN 45%, not up. And that's just with the soaker hoses, and without mulch. I'm sure my water usage will go down a little bit more once the mulch gets spread out.

    So, it's possible to change things to be able to continue your beautiful roses, even if you may have to alter which ones, and reduce the total count of them.

    Melinda

  • roselee z8b S.W. Texas
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, your garden with its excellent design has long been my ideal look and I'm sad to hear that the drought has affected it so severely. I hope you are able to keep many of your roses by using some of the excellent ideas offered above, but if you decide not to keep them all just let me say I've REALLY enjoyed the challenge of converting my garden over from roses to less thirsty plants after deciding not to fight both chilli thrips and the continuing Texas drought, not to speak of advancing age for which there is no cure, only courageous toleration ... LOL. I still have a few roses, enough to satisty my yearning for their scent and beauty. Taking the garden in a new direction gives me wonderful outlet for the creative urge and I love learning about new kinds of plants. I wish that, and more, for you as well.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Things are coming along ...

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In reading over this thread again and the additional new posts, I've been encouraged to find a new way to garden that I think will still fit in with my aesthetic principles and will be much more water-wise.

    vmr, thank you for your helpful link. As it happens the nursery in question is in the next town over, only a few miles away, and the article was uncommonly informative. I'll be visiting the nursery soon and have a feeling that this will take me in a whole new direction, always an exciting prospect. There will always be roses in my garden until no water is available at all, but they will be fewer in number and very carefully chosen.

    roselee, thank you for your comments and the link you sent to your garden. I think you've been very wise in your decisions, and the garden still looks beautiful.

    Lynn, your comments and plant list are also extremely helpful. i wonder now whether my Bishop's Castle, which I bought at a local nursery, is doing so well because it's grafted on Dr. Huey. There must be something inexplicably different about my garden since I grew Mexican sage very successfully in a previous garden and yet couldn't get one to grow here after several attempts. My remontant irises, on the other hand, seem to do quite well, and are a favorite feature in my garden. Strangely, even they seem to require quite a bit of water to flourish. I'm beginning to think my soil came from some strange other planet!

    Jay, jannike's and others' posts about irrigation practices other than overhead water are much food for thought at this point. I'm becoming more and more convinced that this, along with heavy mulching and many drought-tolerant plants, will be the final solution to my problem.

    I'm just so grateful to all of you. It's times like these that I cherish more than ever the bond that we share here, not just as rose lovers, but kindred spirits who possess the precious qualities of kindness and humanity.

    Ingrid

  • rosefolly
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, I would encourage you to put in drip irrigation as well. I especially like the inline tubing with emitters every 6 inches. It can be covered with mulch which reduces evaporation and keeps the soil cooler as well. There is even one brand that I've heard can be buried (Netafim) , though I have not tried it for myself.

    I would not be overly hasty. California is expecting an El Nino year for the 2014-2015 rain season. If the Pacific high pressure ridge does not form this year we may get some decent rainfall. Knock on wood! That gives you time to consider which roses you most want to keep if you decide to reduce the number of roses you grow. No sense giving water to a rose you don't love. Long term we all must make some difficult decisions, but I don't think that means that the entire west has to dig up their gardens and live on rock piles! If it does, count me out.

    Folly

  • rosefolly
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    BTW, the Las Pilitas Nursery people do not like drip irrigation for California natives. There are other native plant people who do, and the LP point of view is controversial, just so you know. As for myself, I like to plant natives in areas that will not be watered after they are established, so I go for the most drought tolerant I can find. However, even the most drought tolerant of plants need supplemental water when they are babies. In my garden this means hand watering (since I am mostly following what LP said, most of the time). I have lost a few plants but most have survived and are growing.

    Folly

  • nancylee2
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid: Drip is a lot easier to install than I first thought. We first buried it but now just put it under the mulch. A recent change, still in the works, is to add multiple emitters per rose to more evenly water. And with mulch at 2-4 inches the roses need much less water. I did have some bloom and buds fry in that early heat wave; but yesterday I was marveling at the second flush that was more like a first flush. I truly hope that some of the suggestions from the forum will assist you in pursuing your passion. Best wishes! -Nancylee

  • User
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    xeric gardens can be tricky to establish (deep watering required for initial few months) but once the plant roots have grown deep into the soil (which is why weekly or fortnightly deep watering is always better than small trickles every day), plants will survive with no auxillary water whatsoever. The evidence for this is all around us (although nanadoll used to post a picture of her landscape that looked positively lunar). I.myself, fear to start watering since I then have to keep it up all season since those thirsty plant roots are ranging around on the surface looking for their daily watering which is never going to arrive with any regularity.
    I would think solutions will arrive whatever, Ingrid - chin up......you can see for yourself that there are things which do perfectly well - it is just a matter of finding others which are less demanding of your effort and water bill.

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm taking some baby steps right now, since putting in an irrigation system in this heat would probably kill my husband, who is my one and only hole digger!

    I dispensed with two small common gold daylilies that added nothing to the landscape, discarded a 1 foot tall Devoniensis that has been the same size for two years and a micro-mini that has looked horrible for months. So, no more watering for these guys. We replanted the rose Emily to a more shady spot since it's also done nothing in spite of copious watering. I wanted it to have another chance since it's not seen all that often. Every night after the sun goes down I pile on more leaf mulch. We also planted a purple Buddleia and have another crape myrtle on order. I'm studying the remainder of the roses carefully to see which ones I can happily dispense with, and then I'll be planting drought-tolerant substitutes. I don't want to do anything drastic and all at once, much better just to let ideas percolate and let a cohesive plan form for the long term.

    Ingrid

  • Lynn-in-TX-Z8b- Austin Area/Hill Country
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Good for you Ingrid!! And us indirectly:)

    Oooooh,

    I love the Buddleia. I almost purchased the Hi-lo back in March because it is supposed to remain on the smaller side. Buddleia is sold at the nurseries here. I've noticed that they add nice color to the garden and make a lot of the little flying creatures happy. I enjoy providing food for and watching the hummingbirds and others have a little meal.

    The link below is for a creeping crape myrtle. It was very floriferous and remains on the smaller side too. I grew it in full sun here. I don't know if the color will be right for your landscape, but the website is a great resource for crape myrtle varieties.

    http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/databases/crapemyrtle/neworleansweeping.html

    Lynn

  • nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, I'm glad to hear you're feeling more positive about your prospects, and I know it must feel like an immensely daunting project to balance your love of the artistic garden including roses and the need to be realistic about water use. I can't give you much substantive advice, even though we're somewhat dry, since I don't face anything like your restrictions and risk. All I can suggest is to take a gradual approach to reduce the most water hungry roses and plants in your yard and replace them with choices of xeric plants that you can still love. Roses don't have to be an all or nothing approach, but they might need to be the cherries on the ice cream sundae of the rest of your yard.

    Oh, the other suggestion that has helped me through drought times that isn't as labor intensive as drip irrigation is to plant the roses with the water-retentive crystals. I do this at initial planting, but I've also supplemented the soil around the base of the rose with compost mixed in with water crystals and mulched over the top, if there's a way to get it to the root system without disturbing the plant too much. The Watersorb company (www.watersorb.com) sells economical and big packs of crystals in many configurations that can suit your needs.

    Whatever you do, please don't leave us here at GardenWeb! We benefit so much from your insight and joy and support that we wouldn't want to lose your presence here on the Roses forum.

    Cynthia

  • luxrosa
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid,
    please don't give up on your roses.
    4 inches of mulch can do wonders, I wish U.C. Davis would do a study of rose gardening in desert areas. They did a study showing that plants grown in a pot require 33% more water than the same plant grown in the ground.

    I've been planning a water-wise Mediterranean garden for the last 3 years, learning everything I can to grow roses that can go all through our drought filled summer with no supplemental water. My neighbors water their roses 2-3 times a week in summer, I water my mature rosebushes once a month or less.

    I feel as though I've been awoken by an alarm by the drought this year, and I'm not even living where temperatures are often more than 90+ F.
    t in the east bay our summer temps are in the 80's when s.f. is in the 70's.
    This is what gives me hope;
    Some of the roses tested for the Earthkind test went a year without supplemental water, in Texas. Those included
    -Duchess de Brabant.
    So I'm planning on moving her to a dryer garden bed with Spanish Lavender.
    Mexican Sage is the most drought tolerant plant on my property I should plant t hose near my most drought tolerant rose. But I love fragrant flowers.
    I've never watered some of those plants of Mexican sage because I had too many and I hoped they would die. Instead, they are thriving.
    M.A.C. is said to be water wise to drought tolerant.
    I planned my rose garden so that the largest Teas with deeper root systems would be planted in back of drought tolerant and water wise plants so that the border would need no supplemental water, from the shade from the roses. I get a lot of complements from the roses, but also from the variety of plants I grow.

    The last time I did a water test in my garden, to see how low the moisture level had dropped, the soil was bone dry- dust dry, at six inches deep. I could not make a clump out of a handful of soil at that depth. I was expecting wet soil at that level that would easily form a ball when I squeezed it. This amazed me and alarmed me, I had never seen the result of drought so clearly, as a gardener.

    I am also amazed at how little water D. de B. requires, and the spanish lavender.

    My water wise plants are mostly Mediterranean natives Alyssium (the white form has deeper roots and is needs a third less water than the mauve forms here) Rose Campion and, snow-in-summer are around M.A.C., and Mexican Primrose in masses around Lady Hillingdon. ,
    laspilitas would have a better supply of drought tolerant plants for your area.

    if I could only have one rose-bed, I would put it on the North side of my house because I've seen how much shade lessens the need for watering plants in our latitude.

    One rosebed that is in partial shade has not been watered by me or rain for more than a month, and nothing shows stress.
    Lamarque
    albertine (the east bay water folks say all ramblers are drought tolerant in our district)
    spray cecille brunner
    gaura has white wands of flowers as I speak
    Love in a Mist. is in full bloom now showing a romantic blue blur as I walk by. Catos cluster is near it, I left it unwatered last summer to see if it was drought tolerant. seems to be.
    snow in summer; plants with silvery or gray leaves have foliage that does not absorb heat well.
    Rose Campion; silvery leaves and stems.

    Gregg in Sebastopol told me he watered his rose collection only once a month, deeply.
    The deeper the water level is, the longer the rose roots grow, which mean they can access more water each year, from deeper levels, far from the surface where moisture evaporates.
    Every one of these methods and means reduces the water needed for a rosebush:
    1.Planting in as much shade as a rosebush can tolerate and bloom normally. Where I live all China and Old Garden Teas and small flowered Noisettes and Hybrid Musks flower normally with 2 hours less per day than nearly all Hybrid Perpetuals, H.T.s and Bourbons.
    2.Mulching an entire rose-bed with 4 inches of mulch.
    3. Planting like-with-like, matching companion plants that use as little water as the roses planted beside them.

    I'm sure there is a solution for you.
    Have courage, roses have been here longer than us.
    with love and kindness,
    Luxrosa

  • kittymoonbeam
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would not give up until I tried different soil. Bringing in soil for a raised bed that is big enough for big roses might work out. Remember how kim said people on compacted new lots had to do that because their soil was like concrete and would not drain. But yours loses water too fast. Also the smaller roses do well in pots with water crystals and you can put them on wheels to hide them from the summer scorch. Many will live uner a lath or shade cloth in the hottest weather. I saw happy roses in Palm Springs under a shady lath. They got the earliest sun and shade the rest of the time. It's not going to be the same as your beautiful area with the rocks all around but maybe save a few for pots and maybe find a place for an alternate soil solution before you give up entirely. One program on Arizona gardening showed a lady in Phoenix grew her plants through a slatted wood fence so the roots stayed cool away from sun and the foliage got some sun and movable fabric shades could pull out for additional relief from the top of the fence when needed.

    I wish this weather would go too. 2 hot Santa Ana wind cycles tore through my spring flush this year. Fall is looking like my best time now. At least we didn't lose it all to a freeze so you can try again in pots, under shade, with new soil, etc.

  • Kippy
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid,

    If it helps, tell the hubby drip system set up is a lot like playing with legos. All those parts and options. And really, no digging. Better no need for sprinkler timers or control boxes. The only hard part is if you have a sidewalk in your way and have to tunnel under. For the rest, set it up and then throw mulch over it.

    We moved about half of our load of mulch up the hill today, I was going to call ahead have him drop it in the drive way but he called out of the blue and said I have a load and can bring it in a few hours. It is amazing how hot (breaking down) a fresh pile really is.

    Lux

    We bought the Santa Barbara dwarf version of the Mexican sage, one of my projects this week is to cut it back and try to dig up and move some massive less than year old clumps that did not get the message they were dwarf! The past few months the only water they get is what has dripped off the roof on to them.

    Our Goodwin Creek Grey lavender is going nuts too. We do have one dripper on them (1g) I like this one for how long it stays in bloom and the long stalks on the blooms

  • Lynn-in-TX-Z8b- Austin Area/Hill Country
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In hot climates, the irrigation tubing definitely gets buried. Different zones can be created for varying water use, and the watering cycles/schedules can be set based upon the needs of the plants in the zone. If you travel, it is best to have the watering on a timer. I set the cycles for the minimum and if the soil becomes drier than anticipated, I simply press the manual button on the timer box and the zones will be watered.

    We also water at 4-5 a.m. During the summer.

    Lynn

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Lynn, Cynthia and Luxrosa, I so appreciate your encouraging and also practically informative posts. The support I've received has been so heartwarming, and with all your encouragement, how could I possibly give up?

    Lynn, I've been really happy with how well my crape myrtles have handled the heat. They look good all the time and the bright green leaves make the garden at least look cooler.

    Luxrosa, I have the feeling that even though you may not be getting much rain the fogs carry so much moisture that your environment is actually quite different from mine. If I watered my roses in the summer only twice a week many would not survive. I know that's difficult to believe but the strength of the sun here on the side of a hill with so much open area on which nothing is planted is tremendous. My skin begins to hurt and burn in five minutes. Sometimes I'm amazed that the roses can survive at all.

    Cynthia, I have no plans to ever leave here, especially since I now believe that, for at least the foreseeable future, I'll have at least some roses. Roses are not all created equal, and I'm finding that some are amazingly resilient while others are weak sisters. It's going to be my job to research which are best and to find the most advantageous places to place them. I'm going to move Souvenir du President Carnot to a shadier position tomorrow. Last year it bloomed beautifully and did well in the heat and this year it's had two blooms and is mildewed, in spite of lots of water and mulch. If that doesn't help it will be gone. It's all going to be a learning process, and I'm happy that I won't have to do it alone.

    Ingrid

  • nikthegreek
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A classic book I can heartily recommend is Heidi Gildemeister's Mediterranean Gardening A Waterwise Approach. If I had read that book when I was doing my first attempts at gardening it would had saved me lots of learning by mistakes. Gildemeister has also written another book about Med Landscaping which I don't have and I can't recall the exact title but a search in amazon will locate it.
    Nik

    This post was edited by nikthegreek on Thu, Jun 12, 14 at 6:03

  • User
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    yep, I second that, Nik - an excellent book.

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks, Nik, it sounds like a book I definitely should have. Of course, that's also after I've already made many mistakes!

    Ingrid

  • true_blue
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ingrid, mistake has so much negative connotation. I'd like to say this is the part of the gardening experience/journey each of us goes through and it is indispensable.

    Who knows in a year, you'd look back and see this experience as a blessing in disguise :-)

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    true-blue, I do think it has sharpened my focus and made me much more demanding of roses, and other plants, that I'll choose in the future. It will certainly be more of a challenge to have a beautiful garden than in the past, but the acceptance of that challenge may be what I need for personal growth.

    Ingrid

  • true_blue
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yes any challenge sharpens one's focus. And you'll have a beautiful garden no matter what :-)

    If I where to follow the "official" rules of rose gardening, I shouldn't be growing any roses, or clematis in my part shade garden. I remember once asking a guru about a climbing rose. When he discovered I didn't get the minimum 6 hours of sun, he washed his hand off me and my question. He simply said, I can't help you, you can't grow roses with 5 hours or less sun. In retrospect, that was the best answer I ever received. That was the challenge I needed. It made me search for shade tolerant roses. Though I admit not all my roses are and they still give their best and that's enough.

    And if any plant starts acting up, to use a French saying, I have the March or die! chat with them. That normally works!