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Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Preparation key to keep cut roses looking rosy

Here's a step-by-step guide to keeping your cut flowers fresh

Dear Helen: How can I keep my cut roses in good condition for as long as possible?


First, take a bucket of clean water with you into the garden and place the cut roses directly in the water. Indoors, remove all leaves that would be submerged in water in the vase and re-cut the stems under water before placing them in the vase.

Make certain the vase is thoroughly clean, and fill it to the desired level with tepid water. For roses, I usually mix in a commercial floral preservative. Place the arranged roses in a cool location for a few hours. After that, keep them away from direct sun and heat.

Dear Helen: How warm does the soil need to be before I can plant bush beans? Except for the odd sunny and slightly warm day, it still feels cold to me.


For bush beans, the soil temperature should be at least 15 C. A simple soil thermometer is an excellent investment at minimal cost.

Sometimes, to deal with the amount of planting I need to do in the spring, I sow seeds outdoors before the ideal soil temperature is reached. That often works fine with cool growing plants like peas, spinach and root vegetables, though germination may take longer than usual. Early seeding is more of a challenge for heat lovers like bush beans. In cold soil, especially if it is wet, the seeds are prone to rotting.

When I last tested my soil temperature, around a week ago, it had just barely reached the 15 C mark, and mine is a very light-textured, sandy soil that warms fast, at least in a more usual kind of spring than this one.

Dear Helen: We are dealing with a second invasion of bamboo from the neighbour’s yard. A few years ago, to eradicate a first invasion, we had to remove a fence panel, excavate the area and take out the roots. Perennials and a blueberry bush grow in the area where the current bamboo growth is appearing. I don’t have the energy to excavate again. Is there some other way to kill off the bamboo and keep it out of our garden?


The only way I know of to keep the bamboo from edging its way onto your garden is to dig a trench at the fence line and sink metal sheeting into it, at least 45 cm deep if possible, as a barrier. Another taxing physical project, but one you could perhaps find help to undertake.

Keeping each bamboo shoot cut to the ground will at least discourage re-growth over time. Depending on how close the bamboo is to desirable plants, other control measures such as applying boiling water or vinegar to new bamboo growth as it appears can be considered.

If some of the bamboo has already developed sturdy stems, another possible approach is to cut them down, leaving a stub. Pour boiling water, or vinegar with a little mild dish soap added, onto the stub. Double strength cleaning vinegar (10 per cent acetic acid) is more effective than regular vinegar.

Dear Helen: Is it normal for an arbutus tree in my yard to produce clusters of white bells? Will the tree form and spread seeds?


Our native Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) bears clusters of white, bell-shaped flowers in drooping clusters, followed by orange-red berries that are popular with birds.

Though seeds in the berries are often spread around by birds, and sometimes rodents, seedlings do not usually appear in abundant numbers. I’ve had only a few seedlings appear in my garden from two huge arbutus trees in the yard next to me.

The fruits of the tree are edible, but not usually eaten by humans.


Ukraine Fundraiser at Abkhazi Garden. Abkhazi Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd. in Victoria, will celebrate Canada’s National Garden Day on Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All donations received at the gate will go to the Canada Ukraine Foundation. A program of live classical music will be presented in the garden at 4:30 p.m.

Rose information day. Members of the Mid Island Rose Society are holding an open garden and information day featuring old garden roses blooming in Huddlestone Park in Lantzville on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The park is on the corner of Lantzville and Huddlestone Roads.

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