All of our rosebushes are in full bloom, and just the thought of them is enough to brighten the bleakest day.

It's a mystery to me why more folks don't grow roses, too. After all, roses aren't difficult to maintain, and many varieties bloom from May until the first, hard frost.

The hardest part of growing roses, in fact, might be deciding which roses to grow.

So choose rosebushes as you'd choose other shrubs - for their attributes, such as color, fragrance and size, for instance.

Once you've chosen, my tips will help you care for them:

Some Basic Do's And Don'ts Of Rosebush Care

* Select a site that receives full sun and prepare the soil by adding organic matter - such as compost - before the rosebush in planted.

* If a climbing rosebush is selected, have a strong trellis is in place before you plant.

* Obtain disease resistant varieties.

* Start planting rosebushes in the spring as soon as the soil is workable. Now, however, is also a good time to plant store-bought, potted rosebushes.

* Ask for planting instructions from vendors.

* Although established rosebushes are drought tolerant,

keep the roots of newly planted rosebushes moist for the first growing season. A two-inch layer of pine bark or oak bark mulch will help to do the job.

* To encourage blooming throughout spring, summer and fall, "dead head" (remove) withered blooms often.

* Japanese beetles also relish roses. Remove beetles as soon as possible.

* Fertilize new and established rosebushes with a rose food. Follow the package directions.

* To ready rosebushes for winter, stop feeding in August.

* During December - or when the soil freezes - pile pine bark or oak bark mulch around the base of each rosebush to create an 18-inch, mounded cone. A winter mulch helps to prevent the roots and bud-unions from freezing.

* During the middle of March, prune hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda rosebushes to a height of 30 to 36 inches. Prune to open the center of each bush and to remove dead wood. Climbing rosebushes are thinned and trained to ascend trellises with judicious pruning.

* After you've pruned your rosebushes - but while they're "dormant" (no green leaves showing) - spray each bush with "lime sulfur" to destroy diseases from the previous growing season. Follow the product's directions.

This Week In The Garden

As my ongoing battle with the neighborhood birds over our small fruits continues, stretching pantyhose over fruit branches seems to work well.

The hosiery permits fruits and leaves to receive air and sunlight, yet it discourages birds from poaching.

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