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GardenSMART Episode

Show #33/7307. A Deep Dive Into Roses

Summary of Show

Roses Are Exciting
Eric asks Ben what is it that really EXCITES HIM ABOUT ROSES. He think roses are, as mentioned, the queen of the garden, they're just beautiful and they're one of those plants that just wants to display beauty all summer long. And they keep blooming, there are always changes. They're inherently life-giving, beautiful plants to experience and enjoy. Eric has never had a garden that hasn't heavily featured roses and it would be hard to imagine a design that wouldn't include them for all of those reasons.

For More Information Click here

Change - Grafted Roses To Own Root Roses
Eric remembers, as a plant propagator, a quarter of a century ago, many of the roses that were being produced in the US were all GRAFTED ROSES. Growers would grow under stock and basically put either a bud or a scion on each one of those. And there were reasons why that was the dominant means of production, but we've seen a pretty substantial shift in the last 15 years where roses have moved into OWN-ROOT ROSES. Now they're being vegetatively propagated in a greenhouse. Why would one method of production be used and why would another one be used; what are the advantages? Ben explains, grafted roses were traditionally field-grown roses because of the system, the way they grew them, it was easier and faster to reach larger numbers.

For More Information Click here

Problems With Grafted Roses vs. Advantages Of Own-Root Roses
Eric comments, with wine grape, the grafted plants became important because the under stock was resistant to certain diseases and PROBLEMS THAT OCCUR in the plant. With roses, that's not so much the case, right? Ben agrees, you don't have nematode problems or other things that grapes would have. With roses, it's primarily a method of production, but that's changed a lot and the industry really is shifting over dramatically to own-root roses. For instance, the knockouts that are surrounding them at Gibbs Gardens are all OWN-ROOT production roses. The way they grow at Heirloom Roses is all own-root production. Early on the plant will typically look a little bit smaller, versus those with bigger, woodier roots, but over time they're going to be substantially a more robust plant.

For More Information Click here

Where To Plant Roses
Eric asks, I've just brought home my favorite heirloom rose and I'm about to put it into my garden. What do I need to consider? Let's talk about sunlight, soil, pH. What do we need to be thinking about to give this rose every single chance for success? Ben believes the important point is you're thinking about WHERE TO PUT IT and all of those details. Because really to get it planted and started in the right location is one of the most important things you can do. Don't fight the sunlight. They say roses need at least six hours of sunlight a day.

For More Information Click here

Size Of Hole
With regards to soil conditions, they don't like to be in a swampy area, they don't like wet feet. So what do we need to think about? What's an ideal soil for roses? Ben responds, you're going to need to DIG A PRETTY BIG HOLE, generally two shovels wide and one and a half deep. That's a pretty big hole. And then he would go ahead and amend that soil. Unless you just have beautiful soil, which most people don't, go ahead and amend it with some good compost.

For More Information Click here

PH Level
What kind of PH LEVELS are we looking for? Do they like more acidic or more alkaline? Slightly acidic, but it's the big swings in either direction that really get you, you want to know that and you want to be able to adjust accordingly and keep it pretty neutral, in the middle is what Ben says.

For More Information Click here

Fertilizer
From a nutrition standpoint, what do roses like to eat? What's the appropriate feed? Roses in their first year need to be fertilized, but they need to be FERTILIZED with a liquid fertilizer. That could be a granular that dissolves into a liquid or Ben likes fish fertilizer. He thinks that’s a good way to soft start your roses. You need to do it regularly that first year to really get them off and going. One of the biggest mistakes people make is using granular fertilizer on a young plant. It can be roses or any other plant for that matter, but granular is really salts and it builds up the salt level and becomes toxic in the soil, then your rose is going to fight and struggle through that.

For More Information Click here

Black Spot
One of the most common things that people know about is BLACK SPOT. It's a fungal type thing on your roses. There are lots of different things you can use for that. Ben doesn't recommend either organic or non-organic sprays. If you read the instructions carefully on those products both should perform admirably. But you shouldn't have to use them a lot, if your plant is really healthy and doing well, it becomes an every once in a while type thing.

For More Information Click here

Rose Maintenance
Let's talk about just the care and MAINTENANCE OF A ROSE. So we've got a rose planted, it's growing and super happy. What do we need to be thinking about through the seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter? How do we take care of it? Ben responds, to start off, he thinks pruning roses is critical in the wintertime to get a good shape and to really get that rose off and vigorously growing. When you prune a rose, it actually stimulates it to grow. One of the things he tells people, pruning can be intimidating for new gardeners so “take it slow." Don't do it all at once. Take the plant down in sections, look for problem areas, clean it up, clip here, clip there.

For More Information Click here

Two Broad Categories Of Roses
Over the hundreds of years that roses have been cultivated, there have got to be tens of thousands of cultivars and selections and types. So it's a big category and can be a little intimidating. Thus Eric wants to talk just a little bit about TWO BROAD CATEGORIES of the Old World, heirloom type roses, and then some of the new roses. With the old heirloom types, what are they? What makes them different from some of the modern roses? When Ben talks about Old Garden roses, those from back in the 1800’s, they're very unique roses.

For More Information Click here

Fragrance
FRAGRANCE is something that Eric really loves about so many of the Old World and heirloom roses. However with some of the new breeding programs, especially in the world of Hybrid Teas, that fragrance is either missing or quite muted. Eric thinks one of the wonderful things about roses is that outside of just their beauty and how much architectural structure they bring, that fragrance is what makes him think about the roses that his mother and grandmother had in their gardens. Ben agrees, it's really a sensory overload of smell that comes back to you and brings back fond memories.

For More Information Click here

Several Of Ben’s Favorite Roses
Eric comments, here we are in front of one of Ben's that is in fact named SWEET FRAGRANCE. This is a great Grandiflora, it's a great little rose. This is its second year here in Gibbs Gardens and it's blooming beautifully. Probably can't tell, but last night there was a lot of rain and this is really holding up very well, it's got some beautiful blooms on it. This overall is a very nice plant and it's doing very well here in the south.

For More Information Click here

Climbing Roses
Eric thinks there are so many different ways that we can use roses in the garden, it's wonderful to think outside of the box of just them existing in a perennial border or a hedgerow of roses. Here's a great example of a CLIMBING ROSE. Ben, talk to us about how we can have success with climbing roses? Ben thinks people really like climbing roses, they want that big wall of color. But what they don't understand is the habit of a climbing rose is a really important consideration. The canes need to be trained at a 45 degree angle, the team at Gibbs has done a good job of tying this up temporarily, but what they're in the process of doing is letting this grow out and then they're going to really train it horizontally across.

For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Heirloom Roses
Roses, Rose Bushes, Rose Gardening, Rose Plants | Heirloom Roses

Gibbs Gardens
World-Class Garden | North GA Destinations | Gibbs Gardens

Plant List

Show #33/7307. A Deep Dive Into Roses

Transcript of Show

In this episode GardenSMART takes a deep dive into the queens of the garden. The first garden Eric planted was a rose garden. He was 14 and has been smitten with roses ever since. Few plants possess the stunning flower power, fragrance and range of forms as the stately Rose. While they're sometimes viewed as temperamental, there are a handful of helpful growing tips coupled with selecting the right rose for your garden that will have your roses performing like champs.

Ben Hanna from Heirloom Roses in Oregon joins us to walk us through what we need to know to have success with roses year after year. Eric welcomes Ben, thanks so much for joining us today. Ben thanks Eric and GardenSMART for including him. Gibbs Gardens is such a beautiful garden. It's wonderful.

Eric begins, today we're talking about one of his favorite topics, which is roses, the queens of the garden. And he's excited to have an expert to walk us through everything we need to know about roses. And Ben says he is excited to just talk about roses. And "the queen of the garden" is the right name for the rose. It's just beautiful and stunning and needs to be showed off.

Eric understands that Ben came into the world of roses as a second career. It wasn’t his first passion, but it definitely is his current one. Ben agrees he spent a number of years as an executive in an electronics company and then had the opportunity to purchase Heirloom Roses, from the founder, 10 years ago. He and his wife decided it was time for a career-lifestyle change, wholesale start over, do everything different and do what they love, what they're passionate about, and now couldn't be more happy.

Eric asks Ben what is it that really EXCITES HIM ABOUT ROSES. He thinks roses are, as mentioned, the queen of the garden, they're just beautiful and they're one of those plants that just wants to display beauty all summer long. And they keep blooming, there are always changes. They're inherently life-giving, beautiful plants to experience and enjoy. Eric has never had a garden that hasn't heavily featured roses and it would be hard to imagine a design that wouldn't include them for all of those reasons. It's the fragrance, plus so many of them will bloom over and over and over and over again. And in fact, some of the more recent gardens he's put in, roses are like the anchor of the garden. It's like the skeleton that a lot of other things fit around. They work so well with perennials, When we look at the way that we can use them in the garden, they're incredibly versatile. Maybe not the easiest plant all the time, but there are certain selections that will work better for people depending upon where they live. And we're going to dive into that today.

Eric remembers, as a plant propagator, a quarter of a century ago, many of the roses that were being produced in the US were all GRAFTED ROSES. Growers would grow under stock and basically put either a bud or a scion on each one of those. And there were reasons why that was the dominant means of production, but we've seen a pretty substantial shift in the last 15 years where roses have moved into OWN-ROOT ROSES. Now they're being vegetatively propagated in a greenhouse. Why would one method of production be used and why would another one be used; what are the advantages? Ben explains, grafted roses were traditionally field-grown roses because of the system, the way they grew them, it was easier and faster to reach larger numbers. One of the benefits with a grafted rose is that under stock or the roots tend to be more aggressively growing, meaning they'll really help and give that upper section some boost. One of the downsides is that because the lower rootstock is aggressively growing sometimes it will eventually overtake your rose. Meaning sometimes you'll see a rose that might be yellow on top, but then you have these crazy blooms coming up the side that are red, they're Dr. Huey or whatever the rootstock might be. The top and bottom could begin to fight each other. So while they're good, and Ben certainly doesn't see anything bad about grafted roses, he thinks own-root roses, where the top of the plant is the same as the bottom of the plant, roses grown from a cutting, are all around a more healthy plant, a more substantial plant over time in your garden.

Eric comments, with wine grape, the grafted plants became important because the under stock was resistant to certain diseases and PROBLEMS THAT OCCUR in the plant. With roses, that's not so much the case, right? Ben agrees, you don't have nematode problems or other things that grapes would have. With roses, it's primarily a method of production, but that's changed a lot and the industry really is shifting over dramatically to own-root roses. For instance, the knockouts that are surrounding them at Gibbs Gardens are all OWN-ROOT production roses. The way they grow at Heirloom Roses is all own-root production. Early on the plant will typically look a little bit smaller, versus those with bigger, woodier roots, but over time they're going to be substantially a more robust plant. And, Eric believes as a homeowner, you can prune these in a more aggressive way knowing that the whole of this plant is that cultivar. Thus, not worried about getting into that under stock and any of the challenges that might arise from suckering where all of a sudden you have two plants in the same space. Ben totally agrees, actually with own-root roses, they encourage a hard pruning because you really want that break coming from the bottom, which is again the same as the top of the plant and it really makes that whole plant round itself out and become more substantial. Another benefit of own-root roses is that graft union is inherently a little bit of a weak spot, so during difficult weather, particularly really cold weather, that can freeze and you can lose your roses. Ben has seen again and again own-root roses will freeze and they'll be pretty tough at the top, maybe frozen off, but those roots will come back and your rose comes right back. They'll regenerate themselves. And Eric thinks since it is all genetically identical to the top it makes for a hearty rose. It's a little bit harder for the grower, maybe it takes a little more time to bring it to market, but it's a lot better for the gardener. Ben does caution that gardeners need to maybe change their expectations a little bit with an own-root rose, they're going to start a little bit smaller, that first year, but they're going to catch up in the second and by the third year they're going to be very similar in size, probably a little bit better of a shape.

Eric asks, I've just brought home my favorite heirloom rose and I'm about to put it into my garden. What do I need to consider? Let's talk about sunlight, soil, pH. What do we need to be thinking about to give this rose every single chance for success? Ben believes the important point is you're thinking about WHERE TO PUT IT and all of those details. Because really to get it planted and started in the right location is one of the most important things you can do. Don't fight the sunlight. They say roses need at least six hours of sunlight a day. So a good southern exposure, maybe not in Arizona, but a good southern exposure with lots of sun is very good for your rose, they like all that sunlight, they really need it to grow. And that's important. Watch where the sunlight is in your yard and figure out the best place to put that rose.

With regards to soil conditions, they don't like to be in a swampy area, they don't like wet feet. So what do we need to think about? What's an ideal soil for roses? Ben responds, you're going to need to DIG A PRETTY BIG HOLE, generally two shovels wide and one and a half deep. That's a pretty big hole. And then he would go ahead and amend that soil. Unless you just have beautiful soil, which most people don't, go ahead and amend it with some good compost. He also uses a little bit of bone meal to get the roots off and started well, plus it helps make sure that it drains well. So while you might have a big hole, if it's all clay and the water's going to sit in that hole, you might have to make some provisions for the water to not sit in there.

What kind of PH LEVELS are we looking for? Do they like more acidic or more alkaline? Slightly acidic, but it's the big swings in either direction that really get you, you want to know that and you want to be able to adjust accordingly and keep it pretty neutral, in the middle is what Ben says.

From a nutrition standpoint, what do roses like to eat? What's the appropriate feed? Roses in their first year need to be fertilized, but they need to be FERTILIZED with a liquid fertilizer. That could be a granular that dissolves into a liquid or Ben likes fish fertilizer. He thinks that’s a good way to soft start your roses. You need to do it regularly that first year to really get them off and going. One of the biggest mistakes people make is using granular fertilizer on a young plant. It can be roses or any other plant for that matter, but granular is really salts and it builds up the salt level and becomes toxic in the soil, then your rose is going to fight and struggle through that. So he always says a liquid fertilizer the first year, that will get you off to a great start. Eric agrees, liquid provides a lot more control. Of course with granular fertilizer, you have dry periods and then wet periods, and then what happens when you get a rain and all of that dissolves you get a concentration that's much more than the roots want to see. Older plants can handle that, Ben recommends a granular fertilizer for something that's been established after a year. It's a nice way to do it a little less often, particularly if you have a lot of things going on in the garden. Then a regular once a month fertilizing with granular is good.

Eric would like to talk about disease because roses in many people's minds have a reputation for being particularly tricky. As mentioned previously, it’s important to keep in mind planting our rose. If we do that correctly, a happy rose is going to be a healthier rose and it's going to be much less susceptible to disease and insect pressures. If we start them off on the wrong foot, we're going to have more challenges down the line. Ben totally agrees, if you get started with a healthy plant and keep it healthy, it will be able to fight off disease in a more natural manner. A healthy plant will just naturally fight off disease. Now that being said, all roses are going to get a few yellow leaves now and then. Leaves falling off is part of the natural process.

One of the most common things that people know about is BLACK SPOT. It's a fungal type thing on your roses. There are lots of different things you can use for that. Ben doesn't recommend either organic or non-organic sprays. If you read the instructions carefully on those products both should perform admirably. But you shouldn't have to use them a lot, if your plant is really healthy and doing well, it becomes an every once in a while type thing. Eric adds, if we do encounter black spot or powdery mildew, any of those kinds of problems that sometimes roses have, when those leaves drop or when we're pruning, it's a good thing to move those leaves away from the plant because rain can splash spores back onto the plant. You could just be perpetuating a problem that you've had in the past.

Let's talk about just the care and MAINTENANCE OF A ROSE. So we've got a rose planted, it's growing and super happy. What do we need to be thinking about through the seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter? How do we take care of it? Ben responds, to start off, he thinks pruning roses is critical in the wintertime to get a good shape and to really get that rose off and vigorously growing. When you prune a rose, it actually stimulates it to grow. One of the things he tells people, pruning can be intimidating for new gardeners so “take it slow." Don't do it all at once. Take the plant down in sections, look for problem areas, clean it up, clip here, clip there. And inevitably you're going to cut something off and you go, "Oh, I shouldn't have cut that off." You're not going to kill your plant, it's going to grow back, it's a living thing. When you prune a rose, it stimulates it to grow, so you're doing a good thing. Don't overthink it, just slowly step into it and you'll get more comfortable with it. Then moving on into spring, start off with fertilizer before that rose even starts growing, either liquid or granular. So when that rose wakes up, it's got everything it needs to really start growing and being healthy. Sometimes you get behind on the fertilizer and then the rose starts growing and it's not healthy and then you're into a cycle of trying to get it back to healthy. It’s certainly better to start with healthy. With many plants, about 50% of their total root growth occurs right before that spring flush. So there will be a big burst of root growth and then you get that huge flush. So that late winter, early spring fertilizing is so important because that's when those roots need to uptake that nutrition to get that big push. Coming back into the summertime when you have spent blooms, you want to go ahead and do a summer, it's not a pruning, it's a shaping. Some people will deadhead by just taking the bud off, but Ben says, "Go ahead and cut, take it down to five leaves or more and it will result in a much better habit on the plant and you'll be happier with it." One of the things Ben says is, "It's 60 days from prune to bloom at 60 degrees." When it's hotter than that, it's going to go a little faster. But when you take something back, you're about six to eight weeks away from more blooms. That can even be on one cane and have other blooms. But it's just a good rule of thumb to work with.

Eric has several other really interesting observations here at Gibbs Gardens beautiful rose garden. Something he didn't know about until Jim Gibbs mentioned was that they put gravel around the base of their roses. Voles and moles are an issue they have and apparently gravel keeps them out of the root system on these plants. Eric thought that fascinating.

Over the hundreds of years that roses have been cultivated, there have got to be tens of thousands of cultivars and selections and types. So it's a big category and can be a little intimidating. Thus Eric wants to talk just a little bit about TWO BROAD CATEGORIES of the Old World, heirloom type roses, and then some of the new roses. With the old heirloom types, what are they? What makes them different from some of the modern roses? When Ben talks about Old Garden roses, those from back in the 1800’s, they're very unique roses. Most of them are extremely fragrant, especially the bourbons. Ben likes bourbon roses, they have foliage on them that is a little bit different, they have a little bit of a gray tinge to the foliage, they tend to be whites and pinks and they're just beautiful. One of Ben's favorites is Souvenir du President Lincoln. It was named by a French breeder in honor of President Lincoln right after his assassination. That's actually one of those roses Ben has in his yard, he loves it. He likes knowing where it came from, it's the original Mr. Lincoln and it's super fragrant. So it's just a great plant, it's not hugely tall, a nice compact shrub that's very fragrant.

FRAGRANCE is something that Eric really loves about so many of the Old World and heirloom roses. However with some of the new breeding programs, especially in the world of Hybrid Teas, that fragrance is either missing or quite muted. Eric thinks one of the wonderful things about roses is that outside of just their beauty and how much architectural structure they bring, that fragrance is what makes him think about the roses that his mother and grandmother had in their gardens. Ben agrees, it's really a sensory overload of smell that comes back to you and brings back fond memories. We experience roses more than just visually.

Eric comments, here we are in front of one of Ben's that is in fact named SWEET FRAGRANCE. This is a great Grandiflora, it's a great little rose. This is its second year here in Gibbs Gardens and it's blooming beautifully. Probably can't tell, but last night there was a lot of rain and this is really holding up very well, it's got some beautiful blooms on it. This overall is a very nice plant and it's doing very well here in the south.

Eric would like to discuss some of the other heirloom or Old World roses that Ben particularly likes. Another that Ben really likes is Mme. Plantier. It's an Alba rose, meaning it's a once bloomer. Many might not get excited about a once bloomer, but a lot of the Old Garden roses were once bloomers. This is fragrant, has a nice structure and it's got a white to pink bloom on it. Once bloomers are unique in that they're usually one of the first roses to bloom in the garden, they hold their blooms for a long time. We're all pretty finicky, we want roses to bloom all the time, but a lot of shrubs and other things in our yards only bloom once and we're happy with those. Ben thinks once blooming roses are something that you should have in your yard because it adds that early color and provides a lot of historical value, plus they're very fragrant.

Eric wonders, would it be safe to assume that these would make for a good cut flower because of the longevity of the bloom? Ben confirms most of the Old Garden roses will do well cut and coming inside. And the fragrance is unbelievable. That's one of Eric's favorite things about the garden is being able to bring not only the beauty, but the fragrance into the home.

As you know well, Ben, the world of horticulture is always changing and every year there are so many new cultivars inside of almost every genus and species that we can imagine. Roses are of course no different and there are always new ones coming out. Thus Eric thinks it's a lot of fun as a gardener to just try to keep up. Can't say he always does a good job of it though.

Eric would like for Ben to talk a little bit about some of the advancements that we're seeing from landscape shrubs, even Hybrid Teas. What are you seeing as a grower? Ben comments, one of the things we're seeing, and this has come from Europe and made its way, now for years, to the United States, is the disease resistant varieties that don't require so much spray and continual nuanced care. They’re just going to be healthier overall and they're starting to breed back in fragrance. We went through a period there where a lot of fragrance fell out of roses. We talked about the Old Garden roses being very fragrant, newer varieties are starting to have that fragrance come back in and Ben thinks that's so important for roses. We’re also witnessing changes in the habit of the plant. There's so much that goes into selecting a variety. Some of these companies will go through 300,000 seedlings to pick one, meaning there's a lot of culling and there's a lot of just natural selection that takes place to find that one that's really good. And then they'll trial that rose for 10 to 15 years before it comes into production. After all of that you know it has really stood the test of time, so while it's new to us, it's not new to growing, they know what it's going to do and how it's going to perform. And that's one of the good things about the new roses that's so special. Eric agrees, when they're a few dollars more expensive, we have to think about all of the time, effort, and money that went into developing that rose. Developing a new cultivar is not easy. Ben totally agrees, there's a lot that goes into it.

Ben and Eric are standing in front of Love Song. This is one of John Clements' varieties that he bred. John was the founder of Ben's nursery. It's nicely fragrant and a beautiful peach to pink, almost white when it opens up and it's a very full bloom. Ben thinks we'll see a lot more new roses that look old, but they're bred to have that very big, full bloom, an English look to them. They're a lot of fun to have in our yard and they make great cut flowers for bringing inside. Eric agrees, Love Song is beautiful. What are some others that Ben really likes?

Ben also likes Plum Perfect. Plum Perfect is a Kordes variety. It's a purpley, plum color. Ben grows it in containers in the front of his driveway. It does really well in a container, also well in the ground. One thing he likes about Kordes, they were bred in Germany and require very little spray care. They’re a very disease resistant, very nicely shaped rose and it holds up really well in hot sun. Ben always has an affinity for them. The leaves are healthier, the blooms tend to look more stable, they're just a better shaped habit plant. Eric thinks, starting with a plant that was bred to be stronger and that's been trialed in very adverse environments, is always meaningful for the gardener. You're starting off with something that's going to give you a leg up.

Eric thinks there are so many different ways that we can use roses in the garden, it's wonderful to think outside of the box of just them existing in a perennial border or a hedgerow of roses. Here's a great example of a CLIMBING ROSE. Ben, talk to us about how we can have success with climbing roses? Ben thinks people really like climbing roses, they want that big wall of color. But what they don't understand is the habit of a climbing rose is a really important consideration. The canes need to be trained at a 45 degree angle, the team at Gibbs has done a good job of tying this up temporarily, but what they're in the process of doing is letting this grow out and then they're going to really train it horizontally across. And when you train a climbing rose horizontally, it will send out sub canes off that will all have blooms. That's how you get that really stunning bloom, top to bottom, not just at the top. If you have a climbing rose that's just all bloomed out at the top, train your canes over to the side. Get them trained out to the side and you'll get way more blooms, it's just a lot better effect.

The most important thing he would say about roses is don't be afraid to start. There are a lot of misconceptions about how hard roses are but if you just step into it and carefully select the right roses, spend some time planning out what you want and where they're going to go, then step into it. Ben thinks you're going to find that it's a lot of fun. It's more than just the blooms, it's watching them grow, it's seeing the new growth, it's all of that. Experiencing the whole plant, the fragrance, the blooms, that growth. It's a very satisfying experience.

Eric agrees and thanks Ben. What an amazing day. Thank you so much for being with us. Ben thanks Eric and GardenSMART for having him on the show. And thanks to Gibbs Gardens. This is a beautiful garden.

Few things make Eric as happy as roses in the garden. We hope we've given you some helpful tips to improve your success with roses moving forward. Be sure to tune in next week as we GardenSMART.

LINKS:

Heirloom Roses
Roses, Rose Bushes, Rose Gardening, Rose Plants | Heirloom Roses

Gibbs Gardens
World-Class Garden | North GA Destinations | Gibbs Gardens

Plant List

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