Guest Author - Charity Armstrong
Winter is a dreary time in the rose garden. Every rose gardener gets the winter doldrums and longs to be out in the garden again. However, there are several spring projects you can get a jump start on during the occasional warm spell.
The first project you can tackle is mulching. Call your local garden center about having a large load of mulch delivered and get those dormant flower beds looking sharp. If you don't have a covering of snow on the ground working in warm winter weather, with a nip in a the air, can really put a spring in your step. Mulching is much more fun when there is a high of 40 to 60 degrees than it is when you're expecting a high of 90. You'll be able to work longer and get more done. I also prefer weather where I can work in long sleeves since it protects my arms.
If you have a lot of leaves on your property or in your flower beds you can rake them up, and then process them through a leaf mulcher. There are several leaf mulching options on the market. Some only mulch leaves, while others mulch leaves as a secondary feature; such as a blower or string trimmer. Once you have your leaves finely mulched place them back into your rose and flower beds to enrich your soil and protect tender plants from cold weather.
Now is a great time to prune trees on your property. Many oaks and larger trees prefer to be trimmed when they're dormant. It also makes it easier to see the branching shape and form of the tree when all the leaves have fallen. You can even use this time to have a tree lightly thinned if it's casting too much shade on your roses. Be sure to consult a professional for mature trees or if you're unexperienced with tree pruning.
You can use this period to relocate roses if you have some that need moved to a better location. Be sure to only work when your ground is thawed. Replant your roses at their new home immediately and place a generous helping of mulch around the newly relocated roses to shield them from the cold.
If your roses are completely dormant and you were plagued by insects last summer, you could use this time to apply a horticultural dormant oil. Be sure and read all of the instructions on the oil you select and make sure that it specifies it's appropriate for roses on the label.
Now is also a great time to enlarge a rose bed or place edging around an existing bed. While the grass is dormant it's easier to dig out for bed enlargement. The cooler weather also makes short work of putting in that stone or brick edging you've been envisioning.
Don't feel obligated to hide indoors on those rare warm winter days. Head outdoors and tackle some of those spring projects. Once spring arrives you'll have more time to stop and smell the roses.