I have a way with roses.
Mostly, I kill them.
The problem is that I like roses, but roses would rather die than hang around me.
Now, at the start of another spring, I’m again caught between desire and common sense.
“Give your roses full sun”, the gardening books said.
So I planted my roses in sunny places.
Finally, one rose gave me hope.
It bloomed. It survived three winters. And bloomed profusely.
And then it died.
One spring, the smell of a rose caught my nose. It was a bushy pink rose that grew on tall thorny canes.
The woman in the garden centre said it was a shrub rose, and was “indestructible”.
Music to my ears.
It was one of those times when hope triumphs over experience.
I promptly bought three.
They bloomed profusely, right from the get-go. In spring and again in summer.
Their fragrance made me swoon.
Their sweet smell would say: “Come hither”. My feet acquired wings as I approached them.
Shocked by our success, my husband and I continued to do all the right things – we thought. Moved low-growing plants from near their roots, fertilized in spring, cut the dead canes in the fall and spring, watered around the roots and so on and so on.
And then, one early summer, after a rainy spring, one rose developed black spot on its leaves.
I became a woman possessed — by Shakespeare’s Lady MacBeth.
“Out, damned spot!” I shrieked.
But the spots stayed. The leaves turned yellow and fell on the soil below.
Another rose was doomed.
“Quickly remove the fallen leaves or they will contaminate the soil,” the gardening books said.
Lord, give me strength. Who’s got the time to pick up every single leaf?
“Roses are like that,” a gardener friend said. “They’re very finicky”.
“Indestructible” had sounded so much more appealing.
It’s been several years and the spots return every summer. They spread to the two other bushes. I’ve been threatening to get them chopped down and dug out, but -– it’s such a fragrant rose. Such a prolific bloomer. And the only rose that has hung around for so many years. Surely, that should count for something.
Surely, there must be a way…..
While I’ve never met them myself, some roses will survive anything. Take Peggy Martin’s rose.
I learned about Peggy and her resilient rose through Teresa Byington, whose beautiful and informative blog, The Garden Diary, is about roses. Peggy lost her home and 450 antique roses, but this rose survived under 20 feet of salt water.
I’m now convinced that what I need is a rose that can survive 20 forms of torture. Clearly, I must be torturing these roses.
Why else would they die?
Congrats, you fabulous dames. (That’s Peggy, Teresa AND their intrepid roses.)
This post is dedicated to green-thumbs Marion, Carol and Gundy.