Monday, December 7, 2009

Rose rosette disease...

Yesterday I burned another rose bush. That makes four now. Before one assumes that I am totally insane, let me explain. It had rose rosette disease.

Rose rosette disease is fatal. And it is contagious. And it is not mentioned in any of the rose books that I own or have read. If you grow roses, or want to grow roses, or even like looking at roses, and have not heard of rose rosette, please do a little research so you will know about it. I had no idea it existed even though I planted my first roses almost 20 years ago. A couple of good places to read about it are and

The first time I saw it was a couple of years ago on a nearby abandoned property. There were huge rose bushes growing there and I thought they looked a little different from all the rose bushes I had seen, but since I don’t know everything there is to know about roses, I thought they were just a variety that grows a little differently. After all, Rugosas look a little different and Moss Roses also grow a little different. Then this past spring, my Cornelia rose sent out this vigorous, rampant cane with abundant red growth. I thought my fertilizing was off balance and wondered about it but didn’t really feel concerned. A Darlow’s Enigma I had planted for J’s white garden also had unusual growth this year, but no buds, and some canes were turning black, but I figured it was just complaining that it wasn’t getting enough sun.

One day, a couple of months ago, I was working in the garden when I noticed on my Darlow’s Enigma a strange looking clump of growth. It reminded me of the growth on Cornelia, but this was not a cane. It was new growth about 3 feet up, but it didn’t look right. I immediately went in the house and started googling. I found the answer, but one I certainly didn’t want. Rose rosette disease. It was as if the poor rose had been attacked by the Borg.

So I dug up and burned, with many tears, 3 rose bushes. And yesterday, the lovely, very special Madame Alfred Carriere gracing the end of the deck with her constant fragrance and beauty, had to go.

One of the things that makes me maddest about RRD is that there are those who want to use the disease to control Multiflora roses. Once a rose has RRD, it can still live 2 to 5 years, remaining contagious (the disease is spread by a microscopic mite) and, as I have found out first hand, it doesn’t contain itself to wild Multifloras, but infects treasured garden roses as well.

Last evening, when I came in from the dreadful job I had to do, J handed me a card she had made. Inside were the lines from the poem, Beowulf: “The Great people built a pyre for Beowulf,…..Then his warriors laid him in the middle of it, mourning a lord far-famed & beloved……They kindled the hugest of all funeral fires; fumes of wood smoke billowed darkly up, the blaze roared & drowned out their weeping…..They were disconsolate & wailed aloud for the lord’s decease…..Heaven swallowed the smoke.”

Have a beautiful day anyway!
P.S. All the photos in this post are of Madame Alfred Carriere. And the beautiful kitty is Princess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry about your beautiful roses. :(