Double Knockout packs a punch as Mother's Day gift

The first Mother's Day was celebrated during 1908 at a small church in West Virginia. By 1915, though, the event was so popular, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it a national holiday.

Back then, too, carnations were a popular gift to give moms. But roses have long since superseded them.

I'm not surprised, either, because roses have it all — a fact that wasn't overlooked by the ancient Greeks, a society that revered roses so much, they felt compelled to explain how roses were created by way of their mythology.

According to Greek mythology, Chloris, the ancient Greek goddess of flowers, was so devastated by the death of her best friend, she enlisted the help of other gods and goddesses to resurrect her friend as Rose, the queen of flowers.

Legend has it, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, gave the flower its attractiveness, and then Dionysus, the god of wine, gave it fragrance. Not to be outdone, Apollo, the sun god, gave the flower queen life.

I've spoken with plenty of moms that would actually prefer receiving a rosebush on Mother's Day, as opposed to a bouquet of roses. Except up until several years ago, roses were such challenging plants to grow, giving a novice gardener a rosebush would have been out of the question, unless the rosebush was maintenance-free, like Double Knockout roses.

Double Knockout roses are terrific. Not only are they attractive—especially the red-petaled types — they're also disease and drought resistant. They stay short, too — in the 5-foot range—without pruning. Plus they rebloom monthly from May through November.

Still, Double Knockout roses, as well as other rose varieties, must be protected from insects — especially aphids and Japanese beetles — and should be treated with pesticides labeled for roses.

Even so, and as far as roses are concerned, Double Knockout roses stand alone as being the simplest to maintain.

This week in the garden

I'm waiting until mid-May or early June to plant our tomatoes, because research indicates that planting tomatoes in cold soil — below 60 degrees — negatively impacts fruit production. Why?

Cold soil, not just cold air, stresses plants and inhibits their ability to assimilate nutrients. Tell-tale signs of tomato-plant stress include yellow and purple leaves.

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