It may not look like it, but there’s lots going on in the garden in January

  • Tuesday, January 15, 2019 2:40pm
  • Business

By Steve Smith

A lot happens behind the scenes in a garden center in January. Most of it isn’t glamorous and frankly is just plain hard work. The weather is always cold and usually wet, sometimes even snowy. And yet, the arrival and planting of bare-root roses is one of those activities that is probably the most looked forward to for garden center employees – a rite of passage some would say. Even after 30 years, I still get excited when the 53-foot-long semi delivers our 10 humongous boxes of roses, and we start potting them up.

This ritual (which is truly a labor of love) always marks the beginning of the new season for me and my staff.

The process isn’t complicated but it takes a crew of about six hardy souls to make it happen in an efficient manner. The roses come in bundles of five per variety and the first step is to finish the pruning. Back in the fall these roses were ripped out of the ground from some farm – usually in California, but also Arizona, Canada or the Midwest – where all the remaining soil was washed off the roots, and they were sorted into No. 1 grade or below.

They were labeled, bundled and run through a giant cutter (think of a machine like a paper cutter) where the roots and the tops were chopped down to a manageable size to fit into boxes for shipping.

After all that abuse, they were packed into a cold storage unit until it was time to be shipped. Once the roses are removed from their boxes, our experienced team prunes off any broken branches or roots and reduces the limbs to three or four strong stems that are 8- to 10-inches long. They are then potted into a specially formulated potting mix and top-dressed with a slow-release fertilizer. Admittedly, they don’t look like much, but by now the crew has formed a relationship that will continue through the first new signs of growth in spring until they come into full bloom in late May or early June (at which time we all hope an enthusiastic gardener will take them home). I guess you could say it is a love/hate relationship in that we are just as excited to see them go to a new home as we were back in January to see them arrive. Our crew can usually pot up around 500 roses on a good day, and despite sore backs and cold, bloodied hands, once the roses are in place there is a good deal of pride in the end product. They are now our “children” and we will nurture them for the next five months until they get adopted by someone like you who loves plants as much as we do.

For gardeners who want to introduce some summer color and fragrance into their gardens, roses are hard to beat. With the proper care they will bloom from May into late fall, and sometimes even in December. You get a lot of bang for your buck with today’s modern roses and believe it or not, this is the best time to select and plant them while they are still dormant and easily removed from their pots to be plunged into your garden. Give them a little love, like we have, and they will flourish for years.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

More in Business

Bare-root fruit trees. (Courtesy Photos)
Now, yes now, is the time to start thinking about fruit trees

By Steve Smith Believe it or not, by the end of this… Continue reading

Tips on getting garden ready for arctic blast 

By Steve Smith It looks like the next couple of weeks are… Continue reading

Vertical gardens, such as these strawberries, make good use of little space. (Courtesy Photos)
Garden trends for 2020 similar to last 5 years

By Steve Smith I have spent countless hours researching “trends for 2020”… Continue reading

Lemon tree very pretty. (Courtesy Photo)
Citrus can be grown in the Northwest

By Steve Smith We live in a horticultural paradise. There is very… Continue reading

Business briefly

Business awards MARYSVILLE – Four-Day Fireplace was recently named Business of the… Continue reading

Not too late to dig up a gift for garden lovers

By Steve Smith I know it is crunch time for gift buying… Continue reading

New luxury pre-owned car dealership opens in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – North Marysville’s auto row just added a touch of luxury… Continue reading

Before and after photographs of the fire and nature’s recovery at Steve Smith’s house. (Courtesy Photos)
Nature’s healing powers: You can’t even tell there was a fire anymore

By Steve Smith As the season winds down and the garden is… Continue reading

So many benefits to a ‘real’ Christmas tree

By Steve Smith As gardeners, the concept of “going natural” is nothing… Continue reading

More new goodies to be looking for in 2020

By Steve Smith Back in September, I introduced you to several new… Continue reading

A hardy fall container.
Garden list of things to do this month

By Steve Smith Here’s an all-in-one-place list of chores for the month.… Continue reading

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves… Continue reading