Fall Scene in the Rose Garden

I think I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree ~ Joyce Kilmer

'Ten Tips For Winterizing Your Roses
Oso Easy ‘Paprika’ on a Fall Leaf

Fall is a time for reflection. Time seems to slow down. Even the clock falls back. This autumn in Illinois the leaves are beginning to take on reflective hues that seem to dance and play in a slow waltz as the inevitable drift toward winter. The whole process of fall color is fairly well understood, yet so complex the reason for it is less clear.

Our country lane at sunset in the fall
Our Illinois country lane at sunset in the fall

Suddenly this year as the days got cooler, vibrant colors of gold, yellow, purple, red and brown began to emerge. The shimmering light of sunrise and sunset lit the forests as if they were bathed in liquid gold.

Rock Path Garden, Tall Grasses
Rock Path Garden, Tall Grasses Kissed with Golden Sunshine

Most everyone thinks cool weather or frost cause the leaves to change color. Temperature can affect the autumn color and its intensity, but temperature is only one of many factors that play a part in painting the woods in glorious color.

Fall Leaves | Blue Skys | Lil Red Barn
Fall Leaves | Blue Skys | Lil Red Barn

This year we had a growing season with ample moisture that is so far followed by a dry, cool, sunny autumn that has been marked by warm days and cool but frost-less nights that is providing perfect weather conditions for the brightest fall colors. Lack of wind and rain prolonged the brilliant displays until the recent strong storms across Illinois. This article includes a pictorial of the beauty of the autumn this fall.

'Weeping' Rose and Leaves
‘Weeping’ Rose and Leaves called Oh My in Weeks Catalog | Dad’s Day by ARS classification

Fall Into Winter

With winter just around the corner here’s a simple and concise “Winterizing Your Roses Tips” from Witherspoon Roses. Witherspoon Rose is the rose supplier that I ordered grade 1 bare root roses from for the 3rd stage of the rose garden.  I wrote about and included pictures of these roses all this season as a first year garden.

October Rose Garden
View of Witherspoon Roses, St. Patrick in the forefront

Some of the most spectacular include Love Song, Dick Clark, and Legend, just to name a few, which are all Weeks Roses and first year roses in this garden.

Top 10 Tips for Winterizing Your Roses



 Re-printed Courtesy of Mary Alice Pike, Witherspoon Rose

The blooming season comes to a close in autumn. During this dormant stage, take care of important gardening tasks, to ensure your next spring is as breathtaking as you always dreamed!

1.      Plants should be reduced in height (waist high) to prevent breakage from winter winds.  Climbers remain tall but should be secured to the trellis or fence.  Cut leggy branches from Tree roses to produce a rounded shape.

2.      This is a good time to apply lime as needed to obtain a pH of around 6 to 6.5. (The local Agricultural Extension Agency is a great resource for soil testing & evaluation)

3.      Mulch should be mounded around the base of rose plants to protect from winter freezes.

4.      Timed irrigation systems should be shut down for the winter.

5.      Container grown plants should be moved closer to the house to protect against winter winds. Extreme climates would require more drastic measures.

6.      Check the health of your plants and place an order for fresh bareroot roses to arrive  January through mid-April.  Replace plants that are spindly or reduced to less than 3 healthy canes (pencil diameter).

7.      Dilute Lime-Sulfur with water and spray over entire bed including the ground.  This is very important to rid your garden of pests and black spot spores that would harbor over the winter.

8.      Transplanting roses can be done successfully during this dormant stage.  Carefully prepare the new spot 16″ deep, enriched with cow manure and soil conditioner.  Placing spade 10″ from base of plant dig straight down into the bed in a circle around the plant, trying not to cut roots.  Lift the plant with the shovel and carry it directly to the new spot.  Fill in soil and cover the plant with a mound of mulch.  Water 3-5 gal.

9.      Make plans for new rose beds or additions.  Autumn is the perfect time to prepare the soil for winter or spring plantings as the soil has time to set and stabilize.  Turn over the soil 16″ deep and apply proper soil amendments to produce a light loamy mixture.  (Or call a professional rose specialist)

10. Clean, sharpen and oil shears and pruners to prepare for spring pruning.


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