Make Sure Roses are Blooming When You Sell Your House

'Day Dream' rose“Landscaping Makes Cents, Smart Investments That Increase Your Property Value” (Storey Publishing, 1997) is a volume that appeals to the relentlessly practical profit-seeker in all of us. It supports the notion that  “money does grow on trees,” and evaluates landscapes and gardens from a strictly financial perspective.
This book’s approach to horticulture is consistent with the Marxist world view, that all human activity is motivated by materialistic or economic concerns.
Here is a look at the materialist’s view of a rose garden, as described in  “Landscaping Makes Cents”:   “The amount of care required by a rose garden makes it questionable as a value-added element to the landscape – except when you have a beautiful garden in full bloom at the time that you are selling the property.”
Because of the maintenance they require, roses are not recommended for the materialistic gardener. Yet, if you can tie the selling of your house to coincide with the blooming of your roses then, and only then, will your rose garden prove to have been worthwhile.
What’s wrong with this picture? It all but negates the passion of the gardener, horticulturist or plant person who creates beauty for its own sake and not for the purpose of selling property. People who create gardens around their homes, may actually be reluctant to move for fear of what will happen to their plants.
Two well-illustrated, unpretentious how-to books, “Gardening Basics” and “Landscaping Basics,” both published in recent weeks by Time-Life, will provide beginning and experienced gardeners alike with valuable information on planting, fertilization and pruning.
I was especially intrigued by the emphasis in these books on composting and organic fertilization practices. It appears that composting has finally become mainstream, and even the recipe for compost tea is included. “Use an old pillowcase or a piece of burlap 2 feet square to hold a shovelful of finished compost. Tie the top of the bag with string, then drop into a 5-gallon bucket of water. Let steep for seven to 10 days; then lift out the bag. Add the wet compost to your garden or return it to the compost pile. Add water to dilute the remaining liquid (in the bucket) to the color of weak tea. Use as you would fish emulsion or seaweed extract to water new plantings or to feed annuals, perennials and shrubs.”
It is also useful to note that neither of these books, on the subject of watering, mentions underground sprinklers. This is a wise omission. Soaker hoses or drip systems are recommended for trees, shrubs and flower beds; a rotary or oscillating sprinkler connected to the end of a regular hose is suggested for lawns.
The best way to start a beginning gardener off on the wrong track is to promote installation of underground sprinklers, the kind we take for granted in Los Angeles. Permanent sprinklers set throughout the landscape can delay the proper education of a gardener for years. First of all, it is much better to soak plants at their roots than to shower them overhead with sprinklers. It is both more efficient in terms of water use healthier for the plant, since damp leaves are attractive to leaf fungus and insect pests. Second, it is virtually impossible to get a true feeling for how much water a plant needs through a permanent, underground sprinkler system, especially one that waters every day or every other day.
Few, if any, trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, bulbs, or annual flowers require more than a weekly or twice-weekly soaking. In fact, many plants will not need to be soaked more than twice a month, and some only once or twice a summer. A simple garden hose remains the best tool of instruction where the watering of plants is concerned.
For each gardening task, the Time-Life books offer a list of tools, as well as “here’s how” guidelines, for specific jobs not covered by the general discussion.
Tip of the week: When selecting plants in the nursery, check carefully for weeds, insects and snail eggs – translucent pearls an eighth of an inch in diameter. Remember that most pests are brought into the garden along with new plants. To catch snails, dig a hole in which you place a small plant container. Line the container with a plastic bag and, in the evening, put some snail bait inside it. The next morning remove the bag, now filled with snails, and deposit in the trash.

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