Master Gardenders focus on details, battle extremes

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 2010

NATCHEZ — Karen Dardick knew moving across the country, from California to Natchez, would be an adventure, but what she didn’t realize was the adventure would be in her yard.

Dardick, who has written three books and numerous articles about roses, discovered soon after settling in Natchez that roses aren’t always thrilled about growing here.

But Dardick said all hope isn’t lost for rose lovers at a recent luncheon sponsored by the Adams County Master Gardeners.

Email newsletter signup

“Roses in other parts (of the country) get to rest when the nights cool down, but here the warm nights are added stress on the roses,” Dardick said.

To combat that Dardick said special attention needs to be paid to the type of roses planted.

For the Natchez area, Dardick suggested home run, hot cocoa, Belinda’s dream, Dick Clark roses, among other varieties.

Dardick said before planting any type of rose, gardeners should consider how much time they want to spend tending them with water, mulching, pruning and other care

“When we moved to Natchez, we were excited about the 60 inches of rain each year,” Dardick said. “But we soon realized, it will rain seven inches one day and not rain again for three weeks.

“Irrigation for roses is a must.”

Gardeners also have to consider soil type and sun exposure before planning a rose garden, or even just a few shrubs.

Roses need approximately six hours of sun each day, and morning or early afternoon sun is preferred over hot, late afternoon sun.

They also need fertile, fast draining soil. That isn’t as easy to find as sunlight, Dardick said.

Clay, sand and loess soil, all or which are prevalent in Natchez, provide a bit more work to make them rose ready.

Dardick said good amounts of organic material is needed to make the soil good for roses.

And once the shrubs are growing, good pruning is needed to keep them pretty and healthy.

Some pruning can be done in the fall, but a full pruning needs to wait until winter, Dardick said.

Dardick said to remove all dead or unhealthy growth, including thin stems that are unable to support the weight of a bloom during a fall pruning.

In the winter, shrubs can be cut back to control the size and direction of growth, Dardick said.

She said, when pruning, be sure to clean shears when moving from plant to plant. She uses Clorox wipes for easy cleaning.

“Different varieties of roses carry different diseases,” she said. “You don’t want transfer a disease from one rose to a healthy roses while you are pruning.”

Dardick is just one of 66 Master Gardeners in the Adams County chapter. The chapter is organized through the Adams County Extension Service.

Master Gardner Elaine Gemmell said the chapter is full of all types of gardeners.

“We have a wide variety of interests in our chapter,” she said. “We have people that excel at all types of gardening, and we are able to learn from each other.”

To become a Master Gardener, the members had to do a good bit of learning. They are required to complete 40 hours of classroom learning and 40 hours of service before earning the title of master gardener. After completing that, members have to earn 12 hours of continued education and 12 hours of service each year.

Talks like the one Dardick gave Thursday are chances for the gardeners to learn.

The group has members from Adams County and Concordia Parish.

The Master Gardeners are responsible for community projects at Historic Jefferson College, The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and the Natchez City Cemetery.

For more information on the Master Gardeners call the Adams County Extension Service at 601-442-8201.