If you've been following along on Instagram, you know one of my favorite new hobbies is rose gardening. Our Phoenix home has a very large front yard, and when we did our massive landscape renovation a few years ago, one of the most important things to me was... curb appeal, of course! The residential neighborhood we live in gets a lot of foot traffic, and in addition to our house looking good for our family and visitors, I wanted the community of people that pass by on their daily walks to also enjoy it.
When it comes to NAILING curb appeal, a key factor is the plants and flowers that will help bring your home to life. In Arizona, one of the most popular foundation plants is the iceberg rose, which is what we planted along the front of our house to add delicate white blooms. So, why is this variety of rose so popular? And how do you keep them looking gorgeous year round? To learn more about rose gardening, we sat down with Christine Fortman, Secretary and Treasurer at Berridge Nurseries, the Valley's predominant nursery and hands-down the BEST place to buy roses. And if roses aren't your style, read on to hear Christine's other suggestions for foundation plants that will be sure to make your neighbors jealous!
Hi, Christine! Thanks for sitting down with us. Could you please share how Berridge Nursery came to be?
In 1938, Jim Berridge Jr. opened Berridge Nurseries with an unparalleled commitment to quality and customer service. The Nursery weathered Phoenix’s first 4-alarm fire in 1971 and despite destroying virtually the entire stock of seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and garden tools, it re-opened with its full 40 person staff just two days later. With his strong belief in community support and growth and development of the city of Phoenix, Jim’s legacy continues today with the family’s third generation helping make the Phoenix and Scottsdale communities a more beautiful place.
At Berridge Nursery, you are known for your roses. How did this reputation come to be?
Our grandparents, Janice and Jim Berridge, both enjoyed rose bushes; he appreciated how well they did in our climate and how they could be dotted into a landscape for added color and she loved cutting the hybrid tea blooms for arrangements inside the home. However, it was their son, Jimmy Berridge, who expanded the varieties and quantities over the years to the extensive line we now offer. Our 2022 rose crop will feature 2,000 bareroot roses, 1,000 rose trees and 9,000 container roses.
Wow, that's impressive! What’s the best advice you can share with a novice rose gardener?
Planting location and proper watering are two important parts to growing successful roses. If planted in full, all day sun, you will want to be mindful of the additional reflective heat of house walls, concrete pads and streets which would increasingly stress rose bushes during our summer months. Proper watering will establish the rose bush for those hot summers and increase the longevity of the plant. When you water, it needs to be a long, deep water allowing for a drying period between water cycles.
Why are iceberg roses so popular in Arizona? What makes them a great choice for the front of the house and do they also do well in other climates?
The iceberg rose is incredibly popular as it is extremely disease resistant and is a constant rebloomer as compared to other floribundas. When used as a mass hedge planting, the crisp white blooms are showy in the evening hours while we entertain on our patios in the spring and fall.
How is rose gardening different in Arizona compared to other climates?
There are far fewer diseases and pests that affect roses in Arizona as compared to other climates.
Do you recommend fertilizing roses every month or just a few times a year?
Excluding December, we prefer fertilizing monthly with our custom blended granular Berridge Rose Food.
What’s your opinion on mulching roses?
A three inch top coat of mulch is very beneficial to roses to help keep moisture on the roots and also acts as a great aesthetic top coat dressing.
What is the best time of year to prune roses?
We like to only lightly prune roses bushes for the first three years, and then once more established, you can prune 2/3 to ½ the size of the entire bush. Because you skip fertilizing in December, you can begin pruning at the end of the month and complete by the end of January.
What other plants and flowers do you like best for curb appeal? Any plant recommendations guaranteed to stay looking nice and make your neighbors jealous?
We always like to recommend foundation shrub plantings paired with container gardening to ensure a layered garden with blooms for every season. Every garden and home is different, so it’s important to choose a color palette of flowers and shrubs that set the tone for what guests will see inside your home, as well as add interest with varying heights and leaf textures.
If you live in the valley, be sure to stop by Berridge Nursery for all of your indoor and outdoor plant needs. I just love wandering around their beautiful property on the weekends with my family, and in the fall and winter it's an incredibly inspiring destination for holiday decor. Whenever I have any issues with any of my plants, Berridge is my go-to for care tips or replacement plants. I really can't say enough wonderful things about this generations family-owned business who continue to add so much vibrancy to homes across the Phoenix / Scottsdale metro. And if you're not located in the area you can browse their online growing calendars and gardening care guides, by visiting berridgenursery.com.