2019 Diary of Activities in 
the Rose Garden of Kitty and Bob Belendez
Santa Clarita, California 

By Kitty Belendez
Master Rosarian

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Link to more about Kitty

Memories of My Husband Bob Belendez
Written by Kitty Belendez, Bob's Wife & Best Friend Forever

Spoken by Our Granddaughter Nani Cozby 
At Bob's Celebration of Life on September 21, 2019, In Our Santa Clarita Rose Garden

“Our Love Story”

Bobby and I met on a lovely summer day in 1959 at the A & W Root Beer stand in Hawthorne, California. My Mom had driven me and my girlfriends there in her big red Buick convertible after cruising the boulevard. When I met the incredibly handsome Bobby that day, I was instantly attracted to him because of his sweet and charming personality. Bobby charmed Mom too, and so he had her approval to date me. 

As young teenagers, Bobby and I fell deeply in love, married the following year, and we soon began our family. Some people predicted that our marriage would never last, but we were happily married for 59-1/2 wonderful years, and we always immensely loved and trusted each other unconditionally. 

Bob was always my best friend and lover. He pampered me and never said no to anything I wanted. We had fun and enjoyed many wonderful experiences such as camping and hiking at Yosemite, Sequoia and other beautiful places, traveling throughout the United States, and visiting exotic locations like Hawaii, Cancun and Aruba. We also loved boating and water skiing on many lakes, fishing on the Kern River, or simply hanging out at the beach. 

When I became passionate about growing roses in 1985, Bob assisted me even though roses were not his passion. Over the years he planted and pruned hundreds of roses for me, helped me fertilize them, became an expert groomer of prize-winning roses, and was awarded Master Rosarian status.

During the 8 months of his recent illness I often cried because Bob was in intense pain. I wished that I could have healed him and eased his pain. But, Bob never felt sorry for himself. Every time I cried, Bob would comfort me by saying “It’s okay Mama.”  

I, along with my daughter Tina, granddaughter Nani, and 3 great-grandsons Bryson, Thayden, and Xander were at the bedside of Papa Bob at home when he drew his last breath and gently passed away from us.

Bob was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was caring, kind, trustworthy, humble, considerate, unselfish, forgiving, and devoted to his family. 

I will always love and miss Bob Belendez, my darling husband and best friend forever. 

Goodbye sweetheart … until we meet again.

Bob Belendez Celebration of Life Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O93ydg0hJFM&feature=youtu.be

August 23, 2019   My beloved husband Bob passed away today. I am on hiatus until further notice.

July 10, 2019    My roses are thriving despite near total neglect. Water is the only necessity that cannot be neglected. Especially in my semi-desert area. So I am watering them almost daily, and I get occasional help from my little 8-year-old grandson. Not much deadheading nor feeding has been done but some continue to produce a few blooms. I really need to feed them soon as some of the foliage is becoming chlorotic. Happy to say that I have seen no spider mites, and just a little bit of bug damage. But the roses are growing like weeds and seem to be very happy despite my neglect of them.

May 13, 2019   Well, the rain and warm weather caused botrytis fungus on the rose blooms. So I’m running around the garden and pulling off those blooms that are turning mushy brown and/or have red spots. Those disease filled petals are promptly put into the green waste barrel. Unfortunately because of rain late last week and yesterday, our gardener was a no show on Friday so there are many petals laying on the ground. Although petals look romantic, they harbor disease during wet weather. So removing ugly petals helps to prevent the botrytis fungus from running rampant throughout the garden.

May 11, 2019    Earlier today the weather was a fantastically sunny 80 degrees. Suntan weather! Then all of a sudden around 3:45 pm we were blessed with a heavy downpour. Rain is generally a good thing, but it ruins the blooms. So then I went into the garage and turned off the sprinkler system for a couple of days.

May 9, 2019    Today’s star of the garden is the climber Shadow Dancer. It’s a dark pink and light pink striped climber that looks better this year than ever before. Certainly lots of chill time and rain has contributed to its stunning show because I have only fed my roses twice this year, once during March, and once during April, both times with Gardener and Bloome dry organic fertilizer. And then only this week I applied Bayer Advanced granular slow release fertilizer containing imidacloprid to protect from aphids, chilli thrips and other culprits.

May 5, 2019    It’s finally nice to see some of our old garden roses and Austin shrub roses in heavy bloom. In the back yard The Dark Lady, Radio Times, and The Squire are quickly opening, as well as potted minis and minifloras.

May 4, 2019    Our roses are finally coming into bloom as the weather begins to warm up. It’s nice to see our Love Song tree roses so delicious in all their splendor. Single petalled roses such as Playgirl are a mass of wonderful blooms. Our other floribundas are very slow in blooming, and the polyanthas are all still green buds, not showing any color. The front yard has some hybrid teas blooming.

April 24, 2019  As the days begin to warm up quickly this week ... I would actually say HOT since it soared up to 88 and 93 a couple of days, the rose blooms are popping open quickly. Intense winds one night blew things around a bit, but no real damage done. I have had to water daily, both the in-ground bushes and the pots since they have been drying quickly in the intense sun. This is when neighbors like to take a stroll down the street and enjoy the garden display.

April 21, 2019  My garden is coming along very slowly this year. Although we pruned the roses around the same time as we always do, the weather was a lot colder, so the roses got off to a slow start. Due to circumstances beyond our control, I only sprayed the roses twice this year, and didn’t even do a dormant spray. We did not liquid fertilize weekly, which is our usual routine, but instead I applied dry Gardner and Bloome fertilizer granules twice, once in March, and again in April. And yet, the roses are looking great at this time. I do not plan to spray again until fall, so in the meantime I plan to apply Bayer Advanced dry fertilizer that also contains insecticide imidacloprid during May, which should get the roses through summer. My rose bushes are actually looking pretty good but they are only now beginning to bloom this week since we finally had one very warm day. 

March 20, 2019  We are having crazy, erratic weather again. It was a sizzling 77 degrees yesterday so I dug my summer shorts out of the closet. But today we are having a heavy downpour at 57 degrees, so my summer shorts will need to wait a while longer. Well, at least the roses and lawn are getting watered, but they don’t know if they should grow or go dormant again. I am wondering if the spring bloom will arrive late this year? 

March 17, 2019   We finally got a warm, dry day today so I took advantage of the clear weather and set the alarm for 6:40 am. It took about 2 hours from set up to clean up to get the job done. The goal was to control mildew and chilli thrips, both of which I detected a little bit but it wasn’t too bad. This spraying should be good for about 10 days, although it is supposed to rain again this coming week. I doubt that I will be able to liquid feed at all this year, so monthly granular application will have to suffice.

March 15, 2019  Just tinkering around a little bit while waiting for the winds to subside. Pulled some dandelions out of the lawn, because I don’t want them to produce those fluffy flowers that blow their seeds all over. I only found five yellow dandelions in the lawn today but they are now in the green waste barrel. Meanwhile I took the opportunity to check the automatic sprinklers that have been turned off for months. Lucky that I checked, because the timers got out of whack. We must have had a power outage because I had to reset everything.

​March 12, 2019  The sun is finally shining down on us, but of course we now have high winds. Hopefully, at the end of the week the winds will slow down enough so that I can spray the roses before the mildew rolls in. I took some time this morning to pull a few weeds (we don't have too many so I like to stay ahead of them). I also organized and updated my inventory of rose cuttings so that I could select the roses to offer on our April Raffle Table at our meeting. I was disappointed to see that the Sharpie permanent marker is NOT permanent and so the rose labels have nearly faded away in just 3 months. Back to wax pencils!

March 4, 2019  Today I applied granular Gardner and Bloome fertilizer to all of my roses. I gave the large rose bushes 1/4 cup, and the smaller bushes 1/8 cup. I did not need to water it in because the rain did it for me. When there is a lot of rain like we have had this year, it’s more beneficial to apply granular since the rain will wash the water soluble fertilizer away too quickly unless there is no rain for at least a day or two. The granular is more slow release so it takes days to dissolve. I will wait for awile to start applying water soluble fertilizers.

February 28, 2019  After we get past the predicted rain over the next few days, and since the roses are finally beginning to produce foliage, I plan to apply a spray application to control mildew and chilli thrips. In the meantime, I have readied my spray equipment. The battery-powered Spray Boss is now being charged, and I have organized my materials. My spraying respirator has been cleaned and refurbished with new filters. Plus I bought a new box of nitrile gloves. I’m ready!

February 25, 2019   We are finally getting some sunshine for a few days this week. We took advantage of the sun and went for a nice walk down the street for about a mile. It feels so good! Then I applied alfalfa pellets and epsom salts around all of my rose bushes, both the roses growing in the ground and the potted roses too. I don’t feel the need to water it in as the soil is still wet, and weather predictions tell us there will be rain this week. So let nature do her job. 

February 23, 2019  I thought I had lost my new ‘Frida Kahlo’ rose (a striped floribunda) because I could not find her anywhere in my yard. I looked and looked but feared she had been stolen or had died. I finally found her in a 3-gallon pot completely leafed out. No wonder I could not find her ... I was looking for bare sticks. So she is growing very fast despite not even being fertilized yet.

February 20, 2019   So far, this year has been rough. It began with emergency surgery for Bob, then we both had lingering bronchitis for a month. Fortunately, we were able to get hired help with the rose pruning, but the weather continues to be cold and wet so we haven’t been able to get outside and begin spraying and feeding. 

February 17, 2019   I updated my raffle table cuttings inventory today as I had really let it get out of date. So I took a physical inventory, meaning that I went outside and actually counted everything. What I found out is that I don’t have as many rose cuttings as I thought I had, since some of the few cuttings I made in December were not successful. I decided that I better make a few more cuttings because they will take 6 months to become well-rooted before I can give them away. Some of the cuttings I took are Mystic Beauty, Shadow Dancer, Scentsational, and Yolande d’Aragon. I want to do a few more but baby it’s cold outside. Brrr!!!

February 14, 2019    I finally bit the bullet and updated Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint) software on my desktop Mac. It was surprisingly very quick and easy. Gotta love Microsoft! Although my previous Office version was new just 5 months ago, so not too out of date. Next I need to update my Mac operating system software from High Sierra to Mojave, which makes me very nervous because I was told that it takes many hours to update, and sometimes there could be incompatibilities with my other software such as Photoshop. I am not looking forward to doing this but it needs to be done.

February 10, 2019    Took advantage of the down time to get rose society paperwork processed, and to get our personal income taxes filed. Might as well get it done now since we are unable to go out into the garden during this windy, rainy weather. I had planned to do a dormant spray on my roses but because of our health issues and the continual rain, it never got done this year. I am NOT going to worry about it because so far everything looks good. I don’t see any scale insect on any of my roses, and the chilli thrips won’t show up until warmer weather. I plan to begin weekly preventative spray beginning March 1st by rotating imidacloprid and spinosad. We will begin fertilizing at that time too, if the weather cooperates.

February 8, 2019   We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain so far this year. The water sprinklers have been turned off, and yet everything remains very wet. The flood control channel behind our house has water running down it almost every day. We enjoyed watching the migrating mallard ducks floating around down there, foraging for worms and other small edibles. They stop by behind our house at this time every year for a couple weeks. We’re not sure if they are heading north or south.

February 6, 2019    The antibiotics that Urgent Care gave us are not working, so I went to my Ear-Nose-Throat specialist and he suspects that our “bronchitis” is caused from allergies. So he gave me a new prescription and hopefully it will kick in soon so I can get back out into the garden.

February 2, 2019    I had planned to attend the Pacific Rose Society Auction at the Arboretum, but had to stay home in bed because both Bob and I had a severe case of bronchitis. It rained extremely hard today so it was best to stay out of the rain.  

January 27, 2019.  Well, my rose pruning crew flaked out on us today and didn't show up at 8 am as scheduled. At 10:30 am he called and said he is sick. So Bob and I pruned about 35 large potted roses ourselves over a couple hours, at which time we had enough for the day. Bob pruned all 12 of our polyanthas, while I trimmed a bunch of potted miniatures and minifloras on the south side of the house. Then we moved to the north side of the yard and trimmed some small shrub roses and antique roses. We shall see what happens this coming week because we had planned to have it all done by February 1st.

January 25, 2019    Now that the front yard is finished being pruned, we took the opportunity to inspect the sprinkler system. Two sprinkler heads in the front hybrid tea bed needed to be adjusted with a screwdriver as they were puddling instead of sprinkling. This time of year we have the sprinkler system turned off, and only turn it on once a week if the weather is sunny and not raining. Potted roses are hand-watered once a week depending on the weather. I pulled a few weeds, too.

January 23, 2019   Today I spent about an hour fine-tuning the tip ends of some rose canes that had been pruned last Sunday. The pruning crew is doing a great job, but I am only doing a little clean up of the canes. Since it is sunny and breezy, I watered some of the rose cuttings and the smaller potted roses to prevent them from drying out. Bob repotted a couple of smaller roses, in particular the new floribunda ‘Frida Kahlo’ that I recently bought from Green Thumb Nursery. She will grow in a 3-gallon pot for several months so the roots can grow fast, then she has a space in the ground reserved for her in April.

January 20, 2019   Day 2 of my awesome rose pruning crew. Another 5 hours well spent. They finished the front except 5 potted shrubs. Did all the backyard hybrid teas, a climber and a dozen OGRs and shrubs. Next week another dozen assorted OGRs and shrubs, several climbers, and 70 potted roses. They again filled four large waste barrels today.

January 17, 2019   It’s been raining all week, so we have not been able to get outside except to run a few necessary errands and doctor visits. I’m anxious for our gardener to return next Sunday to finish pruning our front yard, and begin on the back yard. But I am thrilled to have somebody to help us with this annual chore. We still have too many roses, even though we have come down from 350 to 275, and I hope to eliminate a few more this year that will go on the rose society silent auction.

January 13, 2019   Today some of our roses were pruned. We hired our regular gardener to do this annual chore. He and his brother did an outstanding job. They completed 90% of our front yard in 4-1/2 hours. He is so busy with his regular customers that he only has time to prune our roses on Sundays. So the next round of pruning will need to wait until next Sunday. Next week they will finish the front yard, and then begin on the back yard. They filled up four green waste barrels. When the gardeners were finished, it was time to head off to the Senior Center for our Annual Rose Care Seminar. We had a good turnout with over 50 people. It was an exciting but exhausting day.

January 12, 2019   It was very cold today although not raining. So we honored our commitment to do our Consulting Rosarian gig at Green Thumb Nursery. We arrived promptly at 10 AM and stayed through until 2 PM. My friend at Kelloggs donated many bags of G&B planter mix, which was given to everyone joining the rose society or buying a rose bush.

January 3, 2019  In a few weeks it will be time to begin pruning our roses. Bob is still recuperating from gall bladder surgery so we are considering hiring somebody to prune our roses for us this year. Promise of rain did not happen, so I had to water all of the potted roses, and I turned the sprinklers on for a few minutes today so that the bushes could get watered. We do not fertilize during January.

 Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez

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​Kitty & Bob Belendez
(Circa 1962)