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Feb 17, 2019 12:41 AM CST
Thread OP
Name: Beth
Northern California (Zone 9b)
Birds Roses Keeper of Poultry Lilies Irises Hummingbirder
Container Gardener Clematis Cat Lover Garden Photography Region: California Enjoys or suffers hot summers
I apologize for not keeping up with everybody's posts. I do appreciate all the well wishes and sentiments, tho. Things have been really crazy since the fire. We've been trying to decide what to do for weeks. We drove to Wichita Falls TX to see if we wanted to move there, since my niece fled there when her brother told her to come out and live in one of his rentals. She got a job right away and was telling us how cheap it was to live there, etc. So we drove out and looked. But as nice as it was, we just couldn't bring ourselves to move away from the new grandson and his big sister. And we figured it would be a bit of a nightmare to haul all the roses that make it out there.. and then if we decided to come back, we wouldn't be able to bring them back into CA.

We looked at houses here in surrounding areas, but just couldn't commit to anything. We still hadn't gotten our insurance payout. And we'd been hearing nightmare stories about our illustrious town council members trying to make it difficult for lower income people to move back to Paradise. We are middle income, but with inflated prices and supply & demand, we thought we could not afford to rebuild. But after much research, we found a great place up in Redding that builds stick homes for very reasonable, compared to what we'd been hearing locally. We finally got our payout last week, paid off the old mortgage and got the remainder back from the bank so we can now do what we want. Thankfully our home was older and with all the required upgrades, the insurance company gave us a fairly nice extra amount to cover all that. And they told us they would continue to insure us as long as we built on the same lot and did a stick built or modular home. (they had just stopped writing new policies in Paradise a couple yrs ago due to our previous high fire risk)

So to make a very long story short... we are going to rebuild as soon as we get the lot cleaned up. We chose to opt out of the FEMA cleanup, as they take whatever debris removal amount your insurance gives you, plus they are charging approx $80k per lot against the $1.7 billion grant that was given to the town. We are also doing a private pay because I need a few months to dig the roses that have survived out before the cleanup. FEMA comes in whenever they want to. You have no choice with them. So now we can relax a little and wait for the weather to get better and get working on the task at hand.

Today we went up after our trip to Redding to get some work done at the property. My husband was moving the rocks that lined my rose beds and putting them in the backyard so the cleanup crew doesn't plow them under or haul them away. We spent a lot of money on those dang rocks, and we will definitely reuse them! I continued to dig up roses and pot them up. I put them in the enclosed area we built over the leach lines in back. Been reusing soil from the burned out potted roses that didn't make it. It's crazy. I had a couple dozen climbers in 20" plastic pots lining 2 sides of the pen, and it appears that only a couple survived. And much of the soil is just gone from the spot. I dunno if it's because maybe it was a bark or mulch based mix that just burned up, or what. But quite a few of my plastic-potted roses were just gone and the soil level was less than half of what it had been. The fire was so intense it actually vaporized many things... including granite countertops.

Initially thinking all the roses had perished, after our first trip up, I'm now finding that there are more of them surviving than not. I may have prematurely tossed some roses that I thought were gone, that may very well have come back by now. I've found some still in the ground that were pretty "toasty" looking a few wks ago that are suddenly sprouting new growth... FROM the bud union that looked totally dead!! And most of the own roots are coming back. Now with us building a larger house, I will have a bit less room to replant these guys!! Hopefully it will work out ok. I think I need at least two months to get the roses dug out that I need to. Have to clear the path for the crew, plus PG&E will be coming to cut down at least half of our burnt trees, which the roses are all planted around...

I have to shout out a big thank you to one of the Butte Rose Society founding members Julie Matlin for getting me about 300 3-5gal pots. Sounds like a lot, but I will need more if I have to dig out more areas. We'll be going back up tomorrow to do more work if the weather is ok. It had hailed before we went up today, and it was so much the ground was white like snow in lower areas of Paradise. Was kinda weird to see it like that.

....will try to keep you posted on my progress!!
Feb 17, 2019 1:25 AM CST
Name: Lola
Region: Australia Birds Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Farmer Irises
Roses Keeps Sheep
I'm really glad you chose to rebuild. You can now build a house that is absolutely right for your family and redesign the garden from scratch so it contains all of the roses you love but in different places. I also live in an area that has bushfires and although I love my house I also look at house designs on Pinterest a lot just in case I have to build a new one. If something does happen I will at least have an exciting project to look forward to.

I hope your plans include a henhouse. I think once the familiar sound of the chickens accompanies you when gardening you will feel at home once more. Thanks for keeping us updated. When you have decided on a house plan please post a photo of it for us. We are all looking forward to seeing your new home progress from a plan on paper to a home surrounded by roses. Lola.
Feb 17, 2019 2:16 AM CST
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Region: Ukraine Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis
Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level
This is such great news! Obviously, the whole thing is still tragic, but it's working out better than you had expected at first. I'm glad you'll be able to stay on your property, and stay with the same insurance company.

That's awful about the roses and the potting medium in the plastic pots being gone. I've never trusted the bark-based medium. I once received a shipment of four roses from Roses Unlimited with more bark than usual in the mix. Every one of those roses failed to grow after they were planted, and when I dug them up I found that the roots had disintegrated. There was nothing but black powder where the roots had been. And there was no fire here! It was strictly due to the faulty potting medium.

I fully understand your concern about moving your rocks to keep them safe. My rose beds are also lined with rocks, and I moved a lot of them out of the way when the PG&E came here a couple of years ago to clear out their easement in the back of my property. I remember paying $90 a ton for those rocks 35 years ago and I shudder to think what today's price would be.

It's great that you were supplied with all of those pots. When you take trips in the near future, be sure to stop at local nurseries along the way and ask whether they have any spare containers. Many of my local nurseries have huge piles of them, free for the asking, because they don't reuse them.

I agree with Lola that your future plans must include a henhouse. Her comment about the familiar sound of the chickens is perfect.
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Feb 17, 2019 7:50 AM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
Cat Lover Charter ATP Member Keeper of Poultry I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Keeps Horses
Roses Plant Identifier Farmer Raises cows Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 2
I am so glad to hear you sounding so much more optimistic. It seems you have found the right solution for you - true survivors!
Feb 17, 2019 9:42 AM CST
Name: Kris Legault
Southern Oregon (Zone 8a)
Beth, it is so good to hear you sounding so optimistic.
Building a new home is an exciting project. You can pick everything that you have always wanted.
I can totally understand about not leaving the grandbabies
Anytime I think about moving, I think about the 30 people that I have to take with me lol
So happy that more roses than you expected made it, great news. Hurray!
You can't plant your new favorite rose if you are still watering your least favorite
Avatar for KSPNW8
Feb 17, 2019 2:08 PM CST

Great news Beth! I'm so happy that you guys are able to move forward. It is wonderful that many of your roses survived such a terrible inferno (destroying granite?! yikes!). They may look delicate, but who knew they were that tough!
Feb 17, 2019 5:50 PM CST
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Beth, so happy to hear from you! Sounds like you made a wise decision for yourself and for your family. Can't wait to hear the progress and hope it won't be too long before they are able to start construction. Please keep us posted when you have a couple of seconds to breathe. We love hearing from you and hope that those blessed berries/brambles were also mowed down in the fire and don't come back! Wouldn't that be nice!
Feb 17, 2019 6:07 PM CST
Name: seil
St Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6a)
Garden Photography Region: Michigan Roses
Oh, Beth, this is wonderful news! I think you made the best decision on staying in Paradise. Being close to family is very important. I'm looking forward to following the new house adventure to come. Do post pictures of the progress!

I'm also thrilled to hear that more of your incredible collection of roses have survived than you first thought. And to think people say roses are hard to grow. They are amazingly resilient! And, thankfully, you are too!

I wish you a smooth path from here on.
Feb 17, 2019 6:11 PM CST
Coastal Southern California (Zone 13a)
This is all wonderful news, and it makes my heart happy to read it all.

There is something almost symbolic in the survival of roses, after that terrible conflagration. It says something, doesn't it, about the persistence of life? I can "hear" that, in the way you write of it.

I know your life is going to become busier and busier, over coming months -- but think of us from time-to-time ... and we will most certainly be thinking of you.
Feb 18, 2019 12:14 AM CST
Name: Shyam
San Francisco, CA (Zone 10b)
Dear Beth,

It is comforting to know of your decision to stay and rebuild the property: your version fo fixer-upper throw in the rose garden and the henhouse! I for one would love to keep track of the progress (made) that you will share here. It is indeed symbolic of sorts like a phoenix, rising back from the ashes. Sending warm thoughts, hugs, and prayers your way.
Feb 19, 2019 11:42 AM CST
Name: Ken Wilkinson
N.E. GA. (Cornelia) (Zone 7b)
Bee Lover Hummingbirder Region: Georgia Frugal Gardener Dragonflies Daylilies
Cat Lover Bulbs Butterflies Birds Roses
I'm so glad to hear the insurance company is working with and for you. I know that was a big worry. Now that you know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it, try to relax and enjoy the ride as much as you can. I'm tickled that the roses are surprising and coming back. Now the fun part starts with them. Who is who?
It's a rose!!! It has nothing to do with life and death.
Feb 19, 2019 12:07 PM CST
Name: Carol
Alberta, Canada (Zone 3b)
Thank you so much for letting us know how things are going. Smiling Group hug I'm glad you made a decision that is right for you and that you can move forward with anticipation. The worst is behind you.
much relieved.
Feb 19, 2019 2:10 PM CST
Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Oh Beth it's so good to hear from you and have this news of hope for your house and roses in the spot where your heart is. Moving away from this location would mean not only giving up your property but the whole sense of community and family that you've already invested in up to this point. Having that community rally around you as you all face the same devastation may have some healing effect in the long run, and at least you'll be talking to neighbors who have the best ability to understand and empathize with what you're going through. We send our love, but we can't really understand what it's like.
If you could use a ton of one-gallon pots, could I send you some? I cleaned up last spring and have at least 200 empty one-gallon pots from places like Roses Unlimited that I'd be more than happy to send you. They're not big enough for long-term growth of roses in your zone but might be handy for a first level "are you alive" check. If you want to send me an address, you can use my pass-through email at my usual GW username that starts with an "n" followed by 11 at ymail dot com. I'll go clean the junk out of that email now if you want to send me an address. We sadly can't send you replacement roses in California but we will absolutely send you supplies if we can help.
Feb 19, 2019 3:56 PM CST
Long Island, New York, USA (Zone 7a)
Region: New York Roses
Beth, I haven't been on the site in some time and am just starting to get caught up. I am so very sorry for your losses and also happily optimistic for your future! You sound determined and eager which is always a recipe for success. Know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I look forward to hearing updates on your new journey!! Group hug
Feb 20, 2019 8:32 PM CST
Name: Linda Murray
S.W.Michigan (Zone 6a)
Region: Michigan
Beth, you sound a lot happier now that you have made these decisions. That must be a relief! I think of you and yours often and will be following your posts.
Feb 20, 2019 11:20 PM CST
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Plant Database Moderator Region: California Cottage Gardener Garden Photography Roses Clematis
Daylilies Houseplants Foliage Fan Birds Butterflies Bee Lover
So glad you checked in with your update. You stay here the same reason I do, kids and grandkids.
As I was reading about your roses, I was thinking they are tougher than many give them credit for. Please do keep us posted, we would love to see the progress.

Last week I drove through some of the Santa Rosa neighborhoods that burned in the Oct. 2017 fire and it's amazing how many homes are already rebuilt. Many of the streets are starting to look like normal again with all new construction.
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Mar 2, 2019 12:59 AM CST
Thread OP
Name: Beth
Northern California (Zone 9b)
Birds Roses Keeper of Poultry Lilies Irises Hummingbirder
Container Gardener Clematis Cat Lover Garden Photography Region: California Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Hi guys! Sorry been busy... Hah Busy doing what?? Certainly not digging up roses. The weather has been awful and continues to be so. It'll be another week before I can get up and try digging out more roses. Where was all this rain when we needed it back in early November?? Flooding all over the area and massive snow up north of us in the mountains from what I hear. Definitely a wet winter.

I'm still trying to be optimistic. But some days I get really down. I hope our house we want to build will become a reality. The company up in Redding is so much less expensive than what people are being quoted locally for a new house. Several people on our local Facebook Rant & Raves have been quoted over a million to build a 2000+ sq ft house. That's insane. We don't have the economy to support it. And they're saying it could be a few yrs til our water is drinkable. I dunno. I just do not know what we are truly going to end up doing. At this point we are just kind of sitting back and waiting to see what happens. As soon as we can get the roses dug up that I need to get out of the way, the sooner the cleanup will happen. And from there the rebuild... maybe? We've also toyed around with buying a house in the area, but the prices are going up astronomically. Especially here in Chico. The sad thing is... in a couple of yrs when everything settles down, those expensive homes will drop in value like crazy, and people who bought will lose out in the long run.

Cynthia I thank you so much for the offer of the pots. But I think we'll be ok. It's not worth shipping them here. And really, I don't need any 1gal ones. The people we are staying with have a TON of 1gal pots! But again, thank you so much for offering to send them to me!!

Zuzu and Shyam, you can be sure we will have chickens again at some point! Actually I'm lovin' it here where we are living... My husband's coworker Dawn got 14 baby chicks from her husband Mark on Valentines Day!! I've been helping take care of them. It's crazy starting out with this many! Changing the cage almost daily now as they are getting big fast! They discovered their wings last week and have been flying inside the cage and stirring up the dogs who reeeeeally want to see what those little birdie-things are doing in the house!! It's been interesting! Oh and they are 2 Barred Rocks and 12 Easter Eggers of all sorts of colors! Going to be interesting. But the guys need to get busy building a coop... if the weather ever starts to cooperate!!

Oh and just to keep things rosey.... I noticed yesterday that a couple more of the roses that we brought down here are finally breaking out some growth!! It's going to be fun seeing them grow and bloom!
Mar 2, 2019 1:55 AM CST
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Region: Ukraine Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis
Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level
Hi, Beth. The weather really is hideous right now, and construction costs are ludicrous. It's tragic that you can't even recover peacefully from the trauma of the fire because new problems keep cropping up. I'm glad the baby chicks and the new growth on your roses can give you a respite from the problems of your daily life.

The news about the water is something I've never even considered as an after-effect of a fire, but it stands to reason that the by-products of combustion are likely to stay in the soil and water for a long time after such a massive fire. I suppose you can always buy bottled water for drinking and cooking, but what effect will the non-drinkable water have on your gardening efforts? Will the water be suitable for irrigation or will the contaminants have a negative effect on plants? And did that fire wipe out all of your local pollinators? Will they be in your garden in sufficient quantities this year or next?

Can we lure you down to Sonoma County? Great soil, great weather, reasonable prices in Santa Rosa and some other cities and towns down here. Sebastopol prices are mostly ridiculous, so I won't suggest that. My neighbors and I often joke that none of us could qualify for a loan to buy our own houses. Big Grin Good thing we've been here a long time and paid only a fraction of the current value.
Mar 2, 2019 6:07 AM CST
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Beth, it is always so good to hear from you. It has to be tough to continue to have questions regarding your future "permanent" home. Take your time to weigh things out. Glad to hear that you are getting a little bit of green from your plants and the chickens sound like fun. Perhaps something will open up close to where you are now since you are enjoying your current living situation. Take care and know that you are always in our thoughts. Drop us a line every now and then to let us know how you are. We do miss you!
Mar 3, 2019 12:29 AM CST
Thread OP
Name: Beth
Northern California (Zone 9b)
Birds Roses Keeper of Poultry Lilies Irises Hummingbirder
Container Gardener Clematis Cat Lover Garden Photography Region: California Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Zuzu, I'm not sure what effects the contaminated water could have on the roses. A lot of people are concerned about trying to grow vegetables tho. I really don't know. They say the water still has benzene in it and that it's unfit for drinking and showering and giving to pets. And I guess eventually it will get filtered out. It's not really so much the water itsself, but the pipes that it runs thru. Some types are more contaminated than others. Some people are having special whole house water filtration systems installed, but some so called experts say it isn't good enough. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in the coming months. This fire incident had such sweeping and unprecidented devastation that we're kind of the guinea pigs for future fire disaster recovery. This whole thing is a learning experience for the entire country. But if we have to wait 2-3 yrs for clean water, I don't know if I want to go back. But the waiting is not easy.

Thanks Mustnuts. I miss hangin' out, but in time I'll get back on here more. Right now it's hard to get enthused about the roses when I don't know who is who in many cases and if they will continue to hang in there. It will be fun to see them rebloom tho that's for sure. So far my best recoveree here where I'm at has been OSIRIA, which I just got last yr from RU. I'm so happy to see it growing back so nicely.

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