Rose care was mostly demystified for members of the Ceres Garden Club during a talk given by an expert last week in the Smyrna Park rose garden.
Members then practiced some of what they learned during a volunteer cleanup of the Doyle Cummings Memorial Rose Garden.
Daniel Bote of Central Valley Tree & Landscaping Service of Ceres gave the talk on fall rose pruning techniques with help from Ryan Thornberry of BTY Landscape Materials who addressed soil additives and drainage issues.
"You've got to give it space on the inside and balance," Bote explained of rose bushes and trees. "What you don't want to see is that kind of thing right there," he said, pointing to one of the trees in the city park. "It's wild and gone on its own so now you've got to bring it back. Make decisions on how many key branches you're going to keep and what to give up on."
Bote recommended cutting off any dead branches.
He also noted that most of the rose bushes in the garden were planted inside of berms to hold water and roses don't like to be saturated. "It's just going to suffocate." Established bushes in particular don't like to drowned at root level.
Bote also mentioned leaving the root ball exposed when planting bare root rose plants.
Thornberry was on hand to share information on landscape materials to retain moisture and hold down weeds.
"I've seen different types of people use rock for mulch," said Thornberry. "I'm an advocate of shredded cedar bark ... also referred to as gorilla hair. It's a great cover and it works great for retaining the moisture in the soils."
He said gardeners can also help foster better drainage for roots with the proper mixture of soil mixtures. For roses he recommends one-third clay, a third coarse sand and a third of composted materials.
"Roses prefer like a rich loamy soil. Now those three ingredients together equal a rich loamy soil. They don't like a soggy soil because they're prone to diseases and they don't like a sandy soil; it'll dry out too quickly."
Because worm castings are "nature's most rich fertilizer" and a thousand times the microbial activity of compost, Thornberry said gardeners should keep earthworms and add nutrients on an annual basis.
Garden Club president Berni Cranford said the club meets every third Thursday of the month (September through June) at the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street, Ceres, in the upstairs Meeting Room. Meetings begin at 11:30 a.m. with light refreshments, followed by a featured speaker at noon.
"We're all about educating and about helping our community," she said. "And our big influx with our fundraising is to do more scholarships. It's our goal to double our (high school) scholarship fund this year for Ceres."
About 37 members belong to the club, some not necessarily into gardening.
"Some are in a situation where they don't garden but they like getting together for the socialization, for the learning. We just have fun. We always have fun with food."
To learn more about the club, visit ceresgardenclub.org.