Calling All Green Thumbs: It’s Garden Fest this Weekend!

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The Smithsonian's Third Annual Garden Fest is the happening place for all gardeners and wannabe gardeners this Saturday from 10 to 4 in the Enid A. Haupt Garden, located behind the Castle. For the serious horticulturalists there will be plenty of expert tips and advise about roses, and pollinators, and beneficial bugs, from the creators of the Smithsonian's many gorgeous gardens.

And then, for the fair-weather fans, there will be tours of the gardens, arts and crafts, demonstrations and performances by the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra (this is a band that grows their own instruments). To mark the occasion, I ran across horticulturalist Shelley Gaskins the other day as she was out tending the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden in front of the Castle. I consider myself a gardener, but I can't grow a rose by any name, or other name.

So Shelley offered these five tips. And just to show that they work, the photo gallery we've prepared, is proof enough.Shelley Gaskin's Five Tips for Growing Healthy Roses

  1. Choose wisely- Do your research. Roses are rated on several characteristics. One of the most important of these is disease resistance. Choosing roses that are rated as resistant to fungal diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew should top your list.
  2. Give them what they need- Roses require at least 6 hours of full sun (preferably in the morning), a well-drained and nutrient rich soil, and moderate amounts of water. Water should only be applied directly to the root zone not to the leaf surface. Adequate sunlight and water applied to the roots only will help to decrease the spread and incidence of fungal diseases.
  3. Prune for structure- When pruning the roses in early spring, prune with the understanding that opening up the center of the plant/shrub will allow for light penetration and air circulation. Allowing light and air into the center of the plant will create an environment that is less favorable to the development of fungal diseases. Be sure to clean the cutting edge of your pruners with alcohol to avoid spreading viruses.
  4. Keep a tidy garden- Eliminating dead, dying and diseases plants and plant parts from your garden will help to keep your garden healthy. This includes cleaning up potentially diseased rose leaves that have fallen from the plant. Fungal spores can over winter and return to the plant from the fallen leaves.
  5. Learn about your garden visitors- Not all bugs are bad. Get to know the insects that visit you garden. Find out which insects truly pose a threat to the health of your plants (pest). Monitor those populations. Find out if the pest have any natural predators (beneficial insects) and monitor those populations as well. A healthy garden should have both. If necessary, you can introduce more beneficial insects into your garden. Beneficial insects are available through mail order.

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