pH … Only two letters but very important in our garden world.

Most years I test my soil with my Kelway pH meter and things have shown in the normal range. Last year the readings were slightly higher. So, this year since I had so much time on my hands to think about such things, I decided it was a great time to go all the way and have a “professional” soil test.

As you know I have a large garden with different garden “rooms.” I decided to actually do three separate tests. My choice was to test spaces that have the most roses.

Many garden friends recommended Great Lakes Lab so I simply hopped on their website where I found instructions on what to do. (FYI: Cost of these tests was approximately $30 each but you get a wealth of information on your soil!)

The results were back within 10 days. It is fascinating to read all the information. I learned my soil was high in organics! YAY! But it was surprising to see that my pH was reading more alkaline than ever before — 7.0 / 7.2 / 7.4. Roses are happiest and healthiest with a slightly acidic soil pH of 6.0 – 6.9. Rosarians strive for 6.5! So my pH was not extremely high, but it’s time to do something about it especially the area that was 7.4. The Great Lakes soil report also contains information on how to correct the situation.

When the pH is too high or too low, your plants can suffer from “malnutrition” as this affects the plant’s ability to take up nutrients. One symptom I had noticed was that a few of my roses were showing some chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves.

There are no quick fixes at changing the pH of your soil – it can be difficult.  But, armed with this new information I am ready to work toward giving the plants what they need. Great Lakes Lab recommended sulfur – 10 lbs of sulfur per 1000 square ft on a yearly basis. Applications should be done in late fall or early spring. Since my pH is not too far from where it needs to be, I will probably only do 2 applications. However, it will take 2-3 years to see change. I’ll have another test in a couple years. If you haven’t had a “professional” soil test done, I would highly recommend you do. As a gardener, you will be fascinated by what you find.

I was very curious as to why the pH was rising each year so I starting asking my local rose society friends. Many have experienced the same thing. It was pointed out that our groundwater is very alkaline and we water from a well. Over time this makes a difference.


The beetle season runs from mid-June to mid-August. This week I only found 3 or 4 beetles. They are gone – right on schedule! If you are wondering how many beetles we had … I can’t tell you how many I have (only to say TOOOOOO many!) But, my rose society friend Mark Nolen, who has grown roses for 50 years and is currently growing more than 300 roses keeps a count each year. They use the bag method and the soapy water bath method. From Mark…

The first year that I have a count is 2001 and we had 73,866 beetles. I had two Japanese beetle bags in 2001 located in my front yard and I estimate there were at least 40,000 beetles in the two bags. Last year we had 5,673 and this year we had 2,525. 


This week all the attention is going to ‘Mother of Pearl’. She is ready to celebrate the end of beetle season and is showing off!

This grandiflora rose from Star Roses and Plants is a standout each year. Beautiful color, light fragrance, and very healthy. One of the things I like best about this rose (other than this amazing color) is that it holds it’s petals for a long time and looks fabulous from a distance even if the blooms are beginning to fade. I purchased mine from Roses Unlimited

These dahlias are certainly “cut and come again” flowers! And they are TALL. I will need to find a new place for them next year.


Favorite bokay this week.


Remember those 13 tomatoes we planted. We have had salads, salsa, bolognese, oven-roasted, and plenty for the freezer!


September is looming so fall is coming soon. Not my favorite season for sure but if I’ve learned anything from COVID, it is to be in the moment and to treasure and be grateful for all things. Yes, this weekend I will celebrate the coming of the new season with a Pumpkin Spice something! Are you a part of the pumpkin spice craze?

Friends, thanks for stopping by! Be safe, healthy, and happy!


  1. Teresa I enjoyed your article especially the count of Japanese Beetles. Also your soil sample information was interesting as I am fighting to get ph above 6 in some areas of rose gardens. I have heavy clay soil at this home, worst location ever for growing roses.

  2. Your photos are just breathtaking! And lots of good information, too, on roses. I am looking for a yellow Gina Lolobrigida rose. I had two not too long ago and lost them probably because I didn’t mulch them in the winter or perhaps because they were planted in large containers, not in the ground. Yes, I make homemade pumpkin pies. I purchase sometimes the Pumpkin Spice creamer and end up drinking it and not using it in my coffee. LOL! I also make homemade (or from scratch) pumpkin bread which is so good. And it takes a lot of time, but it is so worth it. Have you not tried fried green tomatoes or had a tomato sandwich? You really should. The beetles are all gone, finally, and my roses are in bloom again as it is still hot here with rain forecast for tomorrow. I am always in awe to see their beauty. My Savannah Sunbelt Pink-Peach rose is a real beauty, so majestic and tall, with lots of roses. Do you have that one? It is really hard to say which one is the most favorite rose, but I would have to say that the Pink Compassion rose is my favorite rose. Just love it!!!

    1. I have not seen the Gina Lolobridida rose. I’ll need to look that one up. We have fried green tomatoes at least once each summer. This year with being home so much we have actually had them twice! I have two Savannahs and they are very nice. I have several of the Kordes roses and all do well for me. Take care.

  3. Love the salmon colored dahlias! What is the name & where can I get bulbs! Hope you are doing well.😘

      1. Thanks Teresa. I have never grown dahlias before, but remember them from my grandmother’s garden in India. Was thinking of trying a couple this year! My garden looked pretty good in the spring, but now the chili thrips have done a number on my roses!!
        Thanks again & take care.
        PS No red lipstick these days!!!!! Gets all over the mask😉

  4. Ah, you still grow a grandiflora! I do not, but intend to. My favorites are hybrid tea roses. I will be relocating several this winter. I may get some more the following winter, and would like to add a grandiflora or a few. Hybrid tea and grandiflora roses are what I learned to prune on.

  5. wow your flowers are always so beautiful, by the way I found one way to decrease dramatically japenses beetles, and get eggs in the process, my chickens, my roses and other flowers were so beautiful this year and I think I killed maybe four or five beetles total, I was surprised every year the blossoms are constantly being eaten by the beetles, and my virginia creeper on the fnece was always chewed up before they could change to red in the fall. they are now in good condtion, hopfully will be red soon.

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