Protect your roses, and get ready for Sorticulture

  • By Steve Smith Sunnyside Nursery
  • Monday, June 4, 2012 2:32pm
  • Local News

Now that June has arrived, I don’t want you to delude yourself into thinking it is actually summer. Officially, summer comes much later this month and in actuality for the Northwest, summer starts on July 5 (after a rainy Fourth) and runs through September. June mostly brings us gloom and occasionally doom. Are you totally depressed yet?

Fear not, for while June will probably be much cooler than any of us would like, it is still good growing weather, with it staying light until 10 p.m. That gives us almost 17 hours of sunlight, which more than makes up for the cooler temps. Sure, the real heat lovers will languish in the June gloom, but most of our plants will do just fine.

Speaking of plants, I want to alert you to early signs of mildew on roses. Normally we don’t see mildew on roses until later in the summer when we start having dew in the morning (get the connection with dew and mildew?). Well guess what? Dew is just what we had for a couple of weeks in May, and therefore instead of black spot we are seeing mildew. The good news is that regardless of whether we are dealing with mildew, rust or black spot, the same fungicides control them all. Neem oil is a natural control for these diseases, but my preferred product is Ortho Rose Pride. We have sprayed our roses at the nursery twice this year, and now that I am seeing mildew on some varieties I am spraying once a week until I see that it has stopped spreading. It is always easier to PREVENT diseases, but once we have them then it usually takes a weekly spray regime and sometimes some serious pruning to get them under control.

This coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday is Everett’s annual Sorticulture, which is sort of horticulture and sort of culture. You figure it out. But it is always fun with lots of vendors of plants and garden art and display gardens and good food and local entertainment, and let’s not forget the beer and wine garden. One of my favorite charities will be there, and I am personally asking you to stop at the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens booth and buy a bunch of raffle tickets for some really cool prizes. Proceeds will go toward the care and feeding of this gem of the Everett Parks system. Go to to learn more about this delightful park, and if you are lucky you might even run into me at the booth. You should also mark your calendar for June 23, which is their annual plant sale. I will be there as well, schlepping plants to unsuspecting gardeners like yourself.

The class de jour for this week at the nursery is Summer Pruning or as I like to call it: Taming of the Yew. June is a good month to trim hedges, thin out shrubs and trees, remove water sprouts and suckers, and dead head roses after they finish their first flush of flowers. Join Trevor Cameron, CPH at the nursery on Saturday, June 9, at 10 a.m. for a lively discussion on what and how to prune in your garden this summer. Class attendees will also receive a 20 percent discount on pruners for suffering through my countless interruptions and disruptive comments. It will be well worth your time.

If you have gardening questions (and who doesn’t?) then send me an email at along with some photos if appropriate and I will answer them expeditiously or maybe even sooner.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

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