Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Rose

We live in a region that allows many late blooms in sheltered areas.  On the south side of our house is one of those locations.  It is here that we have a few hold on buds that never quite opened and seem a bit freeze dried and will stay on the bush for a while.    The two pictured are the red miniature Sorcerer and the pink/lavender mini Vinyard Song.

There are two traditions regarding the Christmas Rose.  One comes from a legend regarding a story of the little sister of the shepherds who left their flocks following the direction of the angels to the infant child Jesus.  Madelon, as the little sister was called, not wishing to be left behind, had followed her brothers to the lowly manger. There, concealed by the shadows, she watched the wonderful baby and loved him dearly. Yet her heart was heavy for she had no gift by which to express her love for him.

She was crying softly in the darkness; when one of the angels saw her. Suddenly Madelon found a small cluster of roses at her feet where her tears had fallen, which were white with pink edging.  She quickly gathered a handful of them and falling on her knees before the Christ child, presented her gift as a token of her love.

The second is more theological and speaks of Christ himself as the rose.  This is the view that I most identified with and is exemplified most clearly in the the 15th Century German hymn Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming.

     Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
     Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as those of old have sung.
     It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
     When half spent was the night.

     Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
     With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
     To show God’s love aright, she bore to us a Savior,
     When half spent was the night.

     This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
     Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
     True Man, yet very God, from sin and death now saves us,
      And share our every load.

I pray that you know more fully the love God hold for you this Christmas season and that it truely be a holy-day for you. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Deeper Look at Rose Rosette Disease

Back in May, I posted some pictures of some wild growth of my rose Tradescant that I called a Monster Rose. Through the help of others we identified that what was affecting my roses was Rose Rosette Disease or RRD.  RRD (Rose Rosette Disease) causes a form of growth that is a hyper frenzied growth that is sometimes referred to as Witches' Broom.  Since that time I have been on the look out for  RRD and found it this winter on the one rose that was at our home before we moved here.  It was growing in two spots on a plant of Blaze Improved.  Isn't Blaze Improved what people grew before Knock Out?
It is believed that RRD is transmitted from one affected plant to another through a wingless mite which chews on an RRD affected plant and then is blown by the wind to a plant that becomes affected when the mite chews on the second plant.  The most complete information of RRD is found at Ann Peck's site .  I encourage you to read her site to understand just how pervasive Rose Rosette Disease is becoming.  One interesting feature of the growth is that generally as a branch grows further out the growth becomes smaller.  On a RRD affected plant the growth seems to get larger and sends out more growth than can be sustained.  I have pulled off some of the leaves so you can see exactly what I am talking about.

From the Spring I had three affected plants: Tradescant, Buff Beauty, and Lavender Lassie.  I was not willing to give up on these plants and follow the advice given - to dig up and throw out the affected plants.   So I cut off all the affected areas in an attempt to save the plants.  Of the three I lost both Tradescant and Buff Beauty.  So far it looks like Lavender Lassie will be saved.  Below is a picture of the last part of Tradescant that was dug out and thrown away.  I continually cut the plant back to just find more growth the next time I went out to see the plant.
Through my experience this year, I have been on the look out and what I have seen alarms me.  I found affected roses among my mother's roses, in the Oklahoma City Will Roger's Rose Garden, and in the Tulsa Municipal Rose Garden.  I have seen it everywhere.  After my experience this past year, I have some suggestions for how you might deal with this when you find it on one of your plants. If the plant is widely affected - get rid of it.  If however, you find a small amount of RRD growth on the end of a cane - cut off the cane as far back as you can possible make yourself.  This is the best hope of saving the plant.  It is hard when you have plants that you have been waiting to get to full size but it is better than starting over with a small band.  Radical surgery sometimes is the only thing that will save a life.  One other suggestion,  when you find growth on one of your plants, as soon as you can take several cutting from unaffected portions of the plant and see if you can get a replacement plant started in case you can not save it.
I know this is not a cheery post, but I hope that you will find this information helpful should you see anything like this in your garden.  And from what I have seen, I think it is only a matter of time before we all begin to see RRD in our gardens.  The one available chemical that seems to kill the offending mite is Sevin.  Maybe you should add it to your list for Santa.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Prague Rose Garden Club

Public Gardens can be wonderful additions to communities by providing beauty and serving as demonstration gardens featuring desirable plants or gardening ideas.  However, when they are not maintained they detract from the community and give a negative impression of particular plants.  The second of these options is what was happening to the the Prague Rose Garden Club.  I'm sure that the original members of the Prague Rose Garden Club could never have imagined that the garden would fall into such a state of neglect.  The great era of civic organizations and gardening clubs seems to be coming to an end.  Just look at the struggle of the American Rose Society to maintain its membership.  It only seems logical when people can learn more about roses in an afternoon of Internet surfing than they would gain in a year's participation the the ARS.  This is not meant to be a criticism of the ARS (I have been a member off and on several times over the past 20 years) just a description of our social reality.

My own involvement with the Prague Rose Garden began as an act of gorilla gardening.  We moved to Prague just two and a half years ago.  After the first year and after I got started on my own rose garden, I decided to start taking care of one of the two end gardens (this one actually did not have any roses growing in it and the other had one hybrid tea in the center). The garden consists of three beds: two 10 foot by 8 foot small plots on each end with a roughly 40 foot by 8 foot center section. After working on this small bed for a few months, I finally got fed up with the care of the center bed.  The city mows the park but since this was a garden with a concrete border which keeps the lawn mowers out, it did not get mowed.  It had gotten so bad that the grass and weeds were over two feet tall and you could hardly see the the six Knock Out, one Double Delight, one Europeana, and one lavender hybrid tea roses in the garden.  I brought my weed eater out to knock down the grass and weeds.  While I was pulling weeds directly around the roses a curious friend stopped and took the picture you see below.  You can also see a corner of the first bed I started on in the picture.
Since then, I have been spending an hour or two each week in the garden and have planted: 7 The Fairy, 3 Popcorn, 2 Graham Thomas, 2 Lavender Lassie, 1 DayDream, 1 St. Swithun, 1 Heritage, 1 Abraham Darby, 1 Twister, 2 Autumn Splendor, 1 Seattle Scentsation, 1 Reine des Viollette, 1 Precious Dream, and 1 Marti Gras.  Wow, that's twenty five rose bushes - more than I thought.  It doesn't seem like that many.  Partly because they are still very small and we did have some casualties from the summer draught and record heat.  A couple of The Fairy, 2 Gertrude Jekyll, one Vi's Violet, and a Tattooed Lady were lost this summer.
The black weed barrier that had previously been put down was removed by the High School FFA because (as so often is the case) it had grass and weeds growing both on top of and underneath it.  As I continue to add to the number of roses in the garden, I plan to install a soaker hose system for easier watering in the coming years.  While I hope that the efforts in the Prague Rose Garden will offer beauty to the park and community, I also hope that it will inspire a few more people to take up gardening with roses and maybe look beyond the most obvious selections. 
The roses I have added have either been own root bands that I have bought or they have been ones that I have started from cuttings.  This means that they are still very small but that since they are own root plants they will live longer once established.  In the Spring I hope to put together a workshop on rose propagation for anyone in the area who might like to attend.
This is the first bed I began working with.  The line of  small roses in the front are The Fairy.  As you can probably tell, two of them didn't make it through the summer.  On the back are Autumn Splendor, Twister, and Seattle Scentsation.  In the middle are two very small starts of St. Swithun and Abraham Darby. 
My long term hope is to get the garden strongly reestablished and then to see if we can get the Prague Rose Garden Club started again.  I know people don't join clubs like they used to.  If I'm successful then hopefully twenty years from now, someone else won't be trying to start up the garden and club again.  One other note, I often hear about rosarians who run out of space in their home gardens.  Why not expand your work into a public garden that is needing some help?  It might be at your local park or even at your church.  I think that there are probably many public spaces who could benefit from your expertise and time.