By ELTON MacPHERSON
President, Ventura County Rose Society 2013-2019
Reprinted from AMERICAN ROSE MAGAZINE, Jan-Feb, 2016
Ventura County California is located between Los Angeles County to the South and Santa Barbara County to the North. Variety is the key word for the growing conditions in our area.
Along its Northwestern border are 43 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. Temperatures in this area range mostly between 50 and 80 degrees. With its Mediterranean climate the conditions are very favorable for agriculture. Strawberries are the leading crop and are grown mostly on the Oxnard Plain and shipped around the world. Citrus including avocados are next, followed by raspberries and nursery stock. Early Spanish settlers called it the “land of everlasting summers”. They named it San Buenaventura which means good fortune.
The coastal area is famous for its “May Gray” and “June Gloom”. During this period we wake up to cloudy skies, which usually burn off by noon or early afternoon, and mildew can be a problem. After the deep colors of the September Fall bloom the Santa Ana winds arrive bringing more than enough air circulation to our gardens as the hot dry winds travel from the desert to the sea. In spite of these problems our roses will bloom well into the Holiday Season.
As we move inland the terrain changes to hills, mountains, valleys and canyons. Elevation ranges from sea level to the 8,831 foot peak of Mount Pinos. Inland temperatures range from occasional frost in the winter to over 100 degrees on some summer days. These areas can expect more than 300 days of sunshine.
In all, Ventura County has 6 microclimates. Just about everything except snow and frozen ground. As a result we can have roses blooming nearly year round. In January or February we recommend pruning and adding a layer of compost, to feed the soil, and a 4” layer of mulch, to conserve water. Our roses start blooming again in March/April. As rose lovers we believe we have it all and because of the wide range of growing conditions our local society meetings take on an added dimension which is demonstrated by the variety of roses displayed at our monthly little rose show. Through lively discussion by members and consulting rosarians we learn that a rose, which does well in one members garden, might be problematical in another a few miles away.
To paraphrase a song from “Camelot” Ventura County is “a most congenial spot for happy everaftering” and we have the “good fortune” to live and grow our roses here.