KJZZ article on Rose Test Garden at MCC

LeRoy Brady MCC Rose Garden

LeRoy Brady MCC Rose Garden

Last Friday KJAZZ broadcasted about The Rose Test Garden at MCC. Go to their site to see more pictures and listen to the broadcast HERE.

Here’s the broadcast, if you prefer to read:

There are a dozen rose test gardens throughout the United States. One of them is located right here in the Valley. What is a rose test garden? We went to find out.

The northern entrance of Mesa Community College is adorned with rose bushes — thousands of them. They vary in color, variety and size.  Did You Know the Mesa Community College Rose Garden is the only rose testing site in the desert Southwest?

“Every year we get about 80 rose bushes and then we test them every two years. So, those that are in here this year in 2016 will come out and we’ll put a whole new group in,” said LeRoy Brady. He’s with the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society and is the landscape architect of the garden. He also evaluates the test roses.

“There will be everything from hybrid tea, to floribunda, to grandiflora, to shrub roses and climbers,” he said.

Brady said in 1996 Mesa Community College approached the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society with the idea of a rose garden to spruce up the place. By the following year the first rose bed was planted along Southern Avenue. In 1999 MCC garden was granted a test site designation.

Today the garden is among 12 American Rose Society testing sites. The garden is considered unique because the Sonoran desert has two blooming cycles, unlike any other place in the U.S. The first cycle is between April and June. The second is October through December.

“Roses are absolutely beautiful here. When you think that Arizona grows about 65 percent of the roses that are sold across the nation, why shouldn’t roses be here,” Brady said.

Brady is one of hundreds of volunteers who have planted and cared for the roses since the garden was first created. Public funding helps maintain it. There are more than 350 varieties, and about 10,000 rose bushes. On the west end of the campus, rose bushes are planted to form shapes that symbolize the meaning of roses, including one area shaped like a heart  and another with a peace symbol design.  On the east end of the college campus is a veterans garden which has 2,000 rose bushes.

“And all the roses in the Veterans Garden have patriotic names or military names and it’s designed around significant things in the military including the flags of the all five services,” Brady said.

This has become a sightseeing destination for many visitors.  Brady and his fellow rosarians provide tours of the garden, and in the winter they also offer classes on how to plant and care for flowers.

Why We Garden

I’ve never met Chris VanCleave (aka The Redneck Rosarian) but I feel like I know him from following his blog The Redneck Rosarian by email.

So! Today he posted Garden Walks: The Journey of a Lifetime. It’s a must read. Please read it.

First thing in the morning, I am up out of bed and walking around my garden. This time of year I’m watching for spider mites, deadheading and checking to make sure everything gets water. Picking the last of the yellow pear tomatoes. You probably do it too.

My 89 year old mother has dementia. She raised up an astounding Garden of Eden in her Montana yard for 60 years. She’s here now in Arizona in assisted living. She still does garden walks each morning with her pots on her small balcony. The journey of a lifetime.

Another reason I enjoy The Redneck Rosarian blog is because Chris is in Birmingham and takes a lot of pictures. I get to see summer roses! My summer roses? Here you go:

Cajun Moon in June in Arizona

And the same rose, Cajun Moon, in November:

The Summer Heat is Nearly Here

Last Spring Roses

As the weather heats up we have fewer and fewer roses and they are smaller and smaller.

Early every morning I cut all the roses I can and fill our smallest vases. I don’t cut long stems because the plants will need all the greenery they can muster to make it through our summer heat.

The roses I cut now in June don’t last as long as the roses I cut in March. See Steve Sheard’s excellent article “Keeping Your Cut Roses Alive Longer” in our May 2014 Rose Lore Newsletter.

We are really enjoying having the blooms indoors. As my husband says, “It’s way too hot outside for roses, so we have to bring them in. It’s the only humane to do.”

This is a great time to check your watering system to make sure all your roses are getting enough water. Enjoy our excellent article Summer Rose Care.

Brown Leaves on My Roses

HELP! I came back after being gone a week, and my mature rose tree now has brown leaves where new buds/flowers should be growing. It looks as if it has lost it’s volume. A neighbor took care of my flowers while I was gone, but this is on a drip system. Two months ago I planted a new patio rose tree between this ailing tree and another tree that is two years old.

All are on a drip system watering every two days. I’ve been spraying the two-year old tree with a soap and water mixture for aphids. I thank you in advance for your advice and wisdom on this issue.

Brown Leaves2

Bown Leaves1A
The pictures show signs of possible under watering and too much “salts” in the soil. I understand you have your roses on a drip system.

Here is a test for under watering:
On the day that it is going to water, just before the drip turns on, dig into the soil beside the plant and go down 9 inches. If the soil is:
Very wet – you are over watering
Wet, but you can not sweeze water out – OK
Just wet – possible under watering
Dry – definite under watering

Too much “salts” –
When did you last totally soak the rose bed, like it rained non stop for 5 days! Probably never! Our water is very high in “salts”. Then we add fertilizer and these are “salts”!

When you water with only just enough water, the majority of the water (60%) evaporates, leaving the salts behind. The salts left behind build up and eventually “poison” the plant. When we do get rain I tell people to turn ON their watering to help wash the salts below the root zone.

The cure: Flood the bed – YES really, really WET, for 6 hours (like it rained and rained and rained). Test the soil after two days and see how wet it is. Test again until you get it just wet.

Steve Sheard, Consulting Rosarian MEVRS

Lots of Blooms

Rose bouquet

20140511-Rose bouquet crystal

We’re having a nice flush of blooms right now. Each morning I cut some bouquets to give and some to photograph. (You can click on the photos to see them bigger.)

My favorite places to photograph roses are on the blue chair on the back patio and on a table in our house with white paper behind it. No direct sunlight, because then there are harsh shadows and blown highlights.

The roses in the bouquets are Black Magic, Veterans’ Honor, Elle, Marilyn Monroe, Moondance and Moonstone.

Roses and Coffee

Marlon's Day and Veterans' Honor

Marlon’s Day and Veterans’ Honor

The coffee is great at Inside the Bungalow in Mesa, Arizona. I like to bring roses when I go for my Mocha.

That’s Moonstone from my new extremely vigorous bush and my favorite red, Veterans’ Honor. Both last in a vase. I think the bouquet went into the refrigerator every night to make it last even longer.


Moonstone and The Reason I Grow Roses

Moonstone bouquet

Moonstone bouquet

I grow roses because I really, really love giving them away.

In the morning I make up a bouquet or two and put them in the fridge. My husband might take one to work. Maybe one will go to a doctor’s office or a pal. My elderly mother gets a steady stream of them.

This is Moonstone. It’s so good in a vase – it lasts. My two Moonstone bushes are lovely. They grow wide and the leaves are large and deep green. The leaves are placed nicely on the stems so there’s some greenery in the bouquet.

When I chose Moonstone I read on HelpMeFind : “It will do best where the weather is hot” and “prefers dry climate”. I can DO that!

I get a lot of blooms. Mine are on fortuniana rootstock, which means more bush, more roses, better in our Arizona heat. I often have 4 1/2 inch blooms. Moonstone is a hybrid tea, 4-6 feet tall, not a lot of fragrance. It’s a favorite at rose shows.

And when you give it in a bouquet, people’s eyes light up.

– Webmaster

Rose leaves turning yellow – Watering Roses

yellow leaves on roses

I am a “snow bird” in Casa Grande with a small rose garden of 8 bushes. I have a current problem of yellowing leaves on nearly all bushes. It does not appear to be from excess water. I drip water once every 5 days for less than 10 minutes. The bushes are producing lots of new growth and flowers.

Yellowing usually begins at the stem end of a leaf cluster, moving out to the tip leaf. Yellowing on the leaf can begin at the stem or the tip.

Yellowing can occur on leaf clusters near the base of the bush, or out on the bud stems. It takes about a week for a leaf cluster to yellow and fall off the stem. I have read that yellowing can be from many causes, but don’t see any specific information on what to do to end it on my bushes. When your gardens open in April, I hope to visit. Thanks for any suggestions.

Thanks for the great question! It looks like you have a salt problem and your rose bushes probably aren’t getting enough water. I talked to two Consulting Rosarians. One recommended that each rose get 4-6 gallons twice a week now and 3 times a week in the summer heat.

The other recommended 2-3 gallons twice a week now and 3 times a week in the summer. Perhaps you could start with 3 or 4 gallons twice a week now and see how it goes.

Variables include whether or not your roses gets shade, how big the rose is (hybrid teas and climbers need a lot more water than a miniature), the daily temperature, whether or not you use mulch and your soil.

A drip system will emit about 1 gallon an hour.

We have salty water here in Mesa and in Casa Grande even more so. When a bush doesn’t get enough water a salt barrier is created in the ground that is hard on a plant. When you water enough it leeches the salts below the root zone.

Hope you can visit the Rose Garden at MCC. Our Mesa-East Valley Rose Society Annual Garden Tour is Sunday April 6th. You get to see The Rose Garden at MCC as well as rose gardens of rose society members.

You can take tours of just the Rose Garden at MCC on weekends, click for more information.

Water Wand – Goodbye Aphids and Spider Mites

I need to purchase a water wand for washing aphids off of a couple of my rose bushes. I understand from my reading that the wands available in the big-box stores may not be most kind and effective on my roses. Are there any particular brands you recommend?

You can make one yourself! This should work well for you. (For spider mites be sure to water spray the top and bottom of the leaves. Repeat every three days until gone.)



Aphids on roses


My Hello Dolly just bloomed and I am so happy. But I now have the beginnings of a pest problem. There are these little brown bugs gathering at the base of new baby leaves and new rose buds.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I can control these bugs? Please help, thank you!

Aphids love tender new growth. You’ll see a little colony of green, red or brown soft bugs clustered on new growth. Luckily, aphids are easy to deal with.

If there are just a few you can just scrape them off with your fingers.

If you have more, spray them off with a blast of water from a garden hose. If your rose isn’t sturdy enough for this, you can hold the new growth in one hand and gently wash the aphids off to the ground.

Do this 2 or 3 times a week until you don’t see aphids anymore. It’s best to do it early in the morning, so you don’t have wet rose bushes in the evening and night, which may invite powdery mildew.

In our climate it’s best to not spray water with soap added on our roses. The soap leaves residue on the leaves and because of our strong sun, this can be hard on the bush.

It’s best to keep up with the aphids, as they can lay more eggs in the ground and next year will bring a bigger aphid problem.

Lady bugs can help, but they tend to leave. Praying mantis are territorial and will stay. You can get praying mantis eggs at many nurseries. That might be something to try.