Managing an unruly rose bush and ordering hybrid poplars

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by popsicle, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello all... I'm a very novice gardener and plant keeper.

    First, our property came with a big rose thicket (maybe 10' diameter patch). It seems to produce yellow flowers once a year. The tall sticks are maybe 4' tall, but most are 2' or so. It of course is spreading, and I don't much care, however the plants in the middle don't seem to be doing as well. There is a large anthill in the middle, along with a gooseberry and a gopher hole. I had an Easter Egger that was stealing her nests in there too. The thicket has certainly gotten uglier since we've had this place (three years) and the place was neglected for several years before we bought it.

    I need tips or ideas on what to do with this rose thicket. Do I prune it or mow it down? If so, when? I've done some Google searches, but am still looking for ideas.

    Second, I'm looking into buying some of those fast growing hybrid poplars. I know they are not a miracle tree, and certainly come with some issues. We have three acres, with alkaline soil. I'd like something to provide somewhat fast shade for my small goat pasture and chicken coop (already have some hops that will shade the run eventually) and encourage deer to hang out on my side of the fence, as well as help with the wind. Anybody have any experience with these trees from Burgess (or one of the other companies with the exact same catalog from Illinois).

    Anybody order from Burgess with success? I see several negative reviews on other sites, with a few good reviews. The negative reviews usually seem to complain about things that I'm not sure are a problem (eg. long wait for plants, when the catalog says they wait for the right weather to ship).

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    This is just my opinion, and you can take it from where it comes. I would avoid poplar trees. They put on fast growth, and they are pretty. But, there, IMO is where all of the benefit of them ends. They are a very short lived tree, often prone to wind damage. If you're going to buy a tree, better to plant a nice hardwood tree, or a fruit tree, basically anything that will give you long lived shade, or even flowers or fruit, instead of buying a "flash in the pan" tree.

    Regarding the rose thicket, what are your plans for that area? Are you ok with it being a spreading bramble thicket, or do you want to re-claim the land? It will take you quite a while to re-claim that land without having to use harsh chemicals on it. As I recall, rose roots are fairly deep. With heavy gloves, you can check to see just how deep those roots go. (thorns don't grow below the soil line, so you can dig around the base of one, and give a yank to see if it is easily dislodged.) If that prooves to be difficult, you can cut the brambles to the ground, and deeply mulch the area with layers of cardboard, and grass, hay wood chips, straw. Or you can cut to the ground, and keep mowing weekly until they give up and die. I would try to at least beat that thicket back into an easily managed area, perhaps no more than 4' round.
     
  3. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    With the roses: I don't much mind that they are there and the little bit they spread every year doesn't bother me. I'm more concerned that they seem to be getting uglier (dead branches in with the live branches).

    Regarding the poplar... I don't really want them as a shade tree for the house, and we have planted nicer trees where we want nice trees. We are looking for deer food, goat food, shade for chickens & goats, firewood, etc. Our soil is alkaline--too alkaline for most trees. The pH in our soil profile starts at 7.6 for the upper horizons and is up to 8.4 at 15" below the surface (take a handful of my soil in your hand, pour some vinegar on it--violent effervescence--like an elementary school science fair volcano). Oh, and there's bedrock not far below that. When you look around our natural landscape, it's basically sage brush and junipers, with cottonwood and aspen where there is a bit more water. It's going to be a crap shoot to see if the poplars can handle the soil (I see conflicting reports about their alkaline tolerance).

    I'm more interested in hearing about good experiences with Burgess. Are the bad reviews I'm seeing online similar to seeing thread after thread about how a box of chicks arrived from [hatchery] all DOA, so [hatchery] sucks? While in reality, the people with a good experience far outweigh the bad, they're just not as vocal?

    Oh, in case you're wondering, the rose thicket is closer to the house, that I'm sure had soil brought in from somewhere else and are under some old spruce trees (that have been dieing off over the past 6 years or so, from what I can tell from aerial photos). Though they are on the fringe of the "good" soil, so perhaps they are suffering due to the alkalinity?
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Well, then... sounds like you're going to have your hands full with that soil. My regional advice won't do you a bit of good! The only other thing that I can suggest is that you spend a few minutes looking at the "Back to Eden" film. It may give you some inspiration for soil improvement.
     
  5. RustyHen

    RustyHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For trees I would try honey locust or desert willow we have alkaline soil here also, and these were the first trees planted in the 1800's.
    I have seen the hybrid poplar in action very nice for 5 to 7 years then dead, and now expensive to remove.

    For your roses I would cut them back to ground in late fall, then haul the clippings don't compost them. Next spring you will have just the new growth, and it will look neat and clean for a few yrs. then time to cut it back again.
     
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