First Bloom

With more than 90 roses in the yard (yes, I am obsessed). Here are my go-to tips on growing, caring for and harvesting the most beautiful blooms on the block.  

1. Roses are expensive, so I take special care to get them started off right in the garden. My mentor and rosarian  Pat Omweg taught me roses perform best in sandy enriched soil, so when you plant them dig a big hole, and add equal parts a mixture of peat moss, sand and chicken manure to the base and all around the root ball this will set up your roses for success.  

2. After you plant the rose cover with a 2 inch blanket of your favorite mulch. The mulch will seal in moisture and deter weeds.

3. Create a strong cane for your roses by disbudding the smaller buds on every single stem. Simply pull off the buds that are just beneath the top bud. (It seems so counterintuitive, you know?) This is especially important with David Austin roses it helps maintain that big cabbage look so indicative of the rose style. 

4. There are a few things you should keep in mind when cutting roses for bouquets: 

  • A rose is ready to be cut when its sepals are down—these are the little leaves attached to the bottom of each bud.
  • Cut them with sharp bypass sheers in the morning—the blooms will stay vibrant and healthier longer.
  • Make cuts cut above any five-stem leaf formation.
  • Try to cut the canes at the same height throughout the plant so the new buds grow uniformly on the same level.
  • After they have been cut, put them directly into a bucket of water.


Photograph of cut roses by Gemma and Andy Ingalls.  All other images by Valerie Rice