My roses are blooming. Above are Mojave (left) and Blue Girl. I didn’t get any decent blossoms last year because the thrips sucked all the moisture out of them and left them brown and shriveled. These have survived an aphid attack that’s compromised their looks a bit (note the little hole chewed in the Mojave blossom and the brown here and there on the Blue Girl), so I gritted my teeth and hit the bushes with neem oil this morning. With the Country Store closed, I don’t have an instant source of ladybugs and praying mantises to take care of the problem organically.
Oh well. I lopped off all the blossoms first so the bees wouldn’t get into the poison and carry it back to the hive. I don’t want to do anything that will hurt my girls, but when Bill sold me the neem last year, he recommended removing the blossoms first to protect the bees. I harvested three blossoms — the two pictured above and a JFK — but the JFK looked pretty damaged and pathetic and didn’t have much scent, so I threw it out. The Blue Girl is wonderfully fragrant; the Mojave less so.
It rained this afternoon, so I’m not sure how much good the neem treatment did, but hopefully it wiped out enough of the aphids to give the next round of buds a fighting chance. I’m hoping for lots of pretty blossoms so I can share them with my friends.