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February 01, 2005

I am not a rosarian.

I like the way roses look, but in general I don't love them enough to put into them what it takes to have the ones I really like (fluffy, cabbagey English-style ones that are only cold-hardy to Zone 7, or else polyanthas with hundred-petal blossoms) grow here.

There are three rosebushes on the property here:

This is the one out front, obviously. I didn't plant it, and as I noted in the first entry, all I really do is throw some flowering shrub slow-release fertilizer under it a couple of times a year and make sure it gets plenty of water. I trimmed it back pretty far this year, so it won't look this showy in 2005 ... but I got sick of getting it in the face when I walked along the front walk, there, and it had loomed out over the driveway a few feet, too, so I was hitting it every time I pulled the car into the garage. I know, I know -- you should never prune roses when you're PMS, but I didn't ask for that rosebush.

This is the one out back. Strangely enough, for all the pictures I've taken around here, I couldn't find any digital shots of that one in bloom. It blooms at least once -- twice if I'm good about deadheading it -- and usually bears pretty well. I think it's some kind of Cecile Brunner (sweetheart rose) hybrid, since the blossoms look much like a sweetheart rose, but they're even smaller and usually mostly white even before the sun hits them. I think it's actually meant to be pruned down into a dwarf rosebush, but it does okay if I let it go, so I do.

The third one is really pathetic, I'm sure I have no pictures of it. It's in approximately the same condition as the golden raintree, and for the same reasons -- some idiot former owner of this house planted a rosebush at the one corner of the house where it would get exactly no sun, due to positioning and because of the viburnum and the maple tree out back. It's the worst possible place I can think to plant anything that needed any sun -- on the northeast corner of the house, which is one of the few spots on this property that would be at least somewhat shaded every single day of the year. There's a reason the heating and cooling folks put the condenser for the air conditioning back there. The sun seldom hits it.

So it looks pretty pathetic. We're going on six years in the house, and I've seen exactly one bloom on that rose the whole time. One cane got itself stretched way out around the corner of the house and actually got some sun a few years back, and it produced one moldy little red rosebud that fell apart quickly. The kindest thing to do would probably be to just dig it up, and I tell myself every year that's what I'm going to do, but then it keeps coming back up and I keep letting it go.

I pruned it way back this year, too. Maybe that'll do what I haven't had the guts to do, so far, I don't know.

That's it, so far. I've been trying for several years to get a slip off the Cecile Brunner that my mother has. It was one she slipped off one of my grandmother's rosebushes -- it's one of the healthiest, most trouble-free plants I've seen in my entire life. She had two of them, but one of them got rose rosette and died a few years back. She also lost a red rose to it. There's multiflora rose all over the place in the small town where she lives, so doubtless the mites are getting blown in from all directions. I decided finally, this winter, I'm just going to go out and buy an own-root Brunner and plant it here and forget about trying to take slips off that one. For all I know, it could start growing weird and die in a couple of years anyway, and I haven't seen any rose rosette in my neighborhood. The last thing in the world I need to do is bring rose death to my street. The woman who's growing the Wal Mart backlot in her front yard would be less than pleased, I venture, if all her cheesy bright yellow and orange roses suddenly keeled over.

Here's a link on rose rosette -- it's scary shit, let me tell you:

Ann Peck's e-book on rose rosette disease.

It's a link to an e-book written by a certified rosarian from Tennessee, it goes into the history and everything, and has lots of pictures. It's how I found out what was wrong with my mother's roses. Mom had already cleared the Brunner that died, and she had someone come and pull the second one out as soon as we figured out what was wrong with it. Mom still has several roses in the yard, including the Cecile Brunner that my grandmother started next door years and years ago, so she didn't want to lose any more of them, if she could help it. I don't know, I'd figure if the rosebush next to the house, which was sheltered from the wind, could get it -- any of them could.

So I may add another rosebush, if I can find an own-root Brunner, but other than that I really have no plans to add more of them. There are other things I plan to do, and I'll post some more pictures of existing stuff with actual leaves on it, later.

Posted by Melinda at February 1, 2005 11:45 AM


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