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

1st cannabidiol CBD business opens in Marysville

It’s not cannibas with THC

Snow storm may have done some damage in garden

By Steve Smith Surviving our Northwest winters has always been a bit… Continue reading

Marysville’s star developer search

MARYSVILLE – The city is on the lookout for developers who could… Continue reading

Snow actually benefits the garden in some ways

By Steve Smith If you are like me, you went to bed… Continue reading

Hellebores – winter jewels of the garden

By Steve Smith When it comes to perennials, the Perennial Plant Association… Continue reading

Key to the city is business is booming in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – When talking to a chamber of commerce, of course you… Continue reading

Learn how to talk ‘garden center speak’

By Steve Smith Nursery professionals tend to use words that can sometimes… Continue reading

Put down your cell phone and go garden

By Steve Smith OK, I confess that one of the first things… Continue reading

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

By Steve Smith A lot happens behind the scenes in a garden… Continue reading

It may feel like dead of winter, but garden is wide awake

By Steve Smith I have been rather neglectful lately. What with the… Continue reading

Here’s hoping you love gardening as much as I do

By Steve Smith As we wind down the final days of the… Continue reading

Many more gift ideas for you late shoppers

By Steve Smith I kind of short-changed you all last week with… Continue reading