Gardeners got a chance to let their rose-growing skills blossom Thursday.
The MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources hosted a rose workshop from 4 to 8 p.m. at MU’s Bradford Research and Extension Center. Several gardeners from MU’s master gardener program attended the workshop, as well as many amateur gardeners from around the state.
MU’s master gardeners are part of an international program that sponsors many volunteer organizations, including some that teach gardening to youths and assist older people who want to garden.
“We even volunteer in juvenile justice centers,” said Mary Kroening, MU’s master gardener coordinator.
According to Kroening, the 1,636 MU master gardeners volunteered over 117,000 hours to the state last year.
“We value their work at $14.71 an hour, which means they did over $1.7 million of free work for us last year,” Kroening said.
The master gardeners weren’t the only ones hoping to fine-tune their rose-growing skills.
“I’ve been growing roses for 25 years, but I’ve never had anyone tell me what to do,” Columbia resident Joe Kropac said. “I finally figured I’d have someone tell me.”
Sharon Smith, another Columbia gardener, came out hoping to gain some knowledge for her husband, who was out of town.
“We lost half of our roses in the Easter freeze this year, and I need to learn how to do proper pruning,” Smith said.
The day’s participants were taught the sharper points of pruning by associate plant sciences professor Chris Starbuck, who summed up his pruning strategy by instructing the gardeners to make sure they “prune a little every year, and not a lot every five years.”
He warned everyone that nitrogen overexposure is a problem and also pointed out that gardeners should avoid the urge to plant the beautiful flowers earlier in the spring because of the “vagaries” of Missouri’s climate.
Before Starbuck shared his gardening wisdom , Jim Lee offered his own rose growing tips. Lee was the 2005 Centralia citizen of the year and owner of Centralia’s Chance Gardens. He showed the curious crowd of nearly 75 gardeners the benefits of fertilizing with alfalfa. After demonstrating how to best spread alfalfa, hesaid, “Fertilizing with alfalfa gave my family the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten.”
Even though Starbuck called the late freeze in April a “freak event,” MU plant pathologist Simeon Wright said there is still hope for those whose roses were damaged.
“It is a little easier to assess how extensive the freeze damage was now,” Wright said. “Overall things seem to be recovering very well.”