Clever Gardening Technique
If you're like me you may have wondered about the recommendation for cutting roses that suggests cutting the stems under water. That's hard to do in a narrow vase, and if you cut them under water and then remove them and set them in a vase, can't air get back into the stem? The goal is to keep an air bubble from forming in the stem which would block the flow of water up the stem. Here's a more detailed recommendation that makes more sense (at least to me). After you cut the roses -- preferably while in the bud stage in the early morning or evening -- set them in the bucket you've taken with you to the garden. Back inside, recut the stems at an angle with the stem ends submerged in a container of hot water. This will prevent air bubbles in the stems. Leave the stems in the hot water for about 10 minutes. Then move the stems to a vase of warm water containing a floral preservative. Every 2 days, cut stems back about 1/4 inch, and provide fresh water. If a stem wilts, you may be able to revive it by wrapping the entire stem and flower loosely in newspaper and submerging it in cold water for several minutes.
Favorite or New Plant
Black Lace Elderberry
The leaves of Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra Black Lace) are reminiscent of Japanese maple, narrow and filigreed, although much darker -- almost black. The pink lacecap flowers are a striking contrast, and even after they fade, the foliage makes a wonderful backdrop to lighter-colored flowers planted in front. This plant is very hardy and easy to grow, and full sun stimulates the best color. The flowers are followed by blackish red berries favored by birds. After seeing this plant grow into a sizeable (up to 8 feet) specimen in just a few years, I'm impressed.