Love/Hate in a World of Roses

By Bonnie Grant | February 13, 2021
Image by ChamilleWhite
by Bonnie Grant
February 13, 2021

I love getting roses as a gift. My favorites are a deep, almost black, red variety. The upkeep when growing them is my issue with these pretty flowers. At a private estate I worked at, the roses were one of my chores. Deadheading roses, pruning the 2 story climbers, feeding, and keeping them free of insects was an almost daily task during the growing season. And one that I hated. 

I had roses in my first home. Lots of blowsy pink, loose petal types, and one white variety. I was not a fan immediately, as they required tons of food, water, and most importantly, insect treatments. It seemed no matter what I did, the bugs got the best of me. I removed them after the first year and thought that was that. But my grandma had other ideas. 

Rose Care As a Gift

My grandpa grew roses just for grandma. They even moved them to their retirement cottage. She kept up on the rose care after he passed, well into her 90s. So of course, she thought I should have some of them in my new home. I couldn’t say no to such a thoughtful gift, so I had roses again. My favorite part of rose rearing was cutting them back in February. Other than that, the darn things were a thankless task of constant neediness. Starting with the spring systemic it was a downward spiral of sprays, deadheading roses, and mulching. I really couldn’t wait until the first freezes stopped these whiny plants from growing. The immense effort to keep them looking nice was so exhausting I couldn’t even enjoy the blooms. 

I sold that house and moved to another. You guessed it, I had to move the roses. I undertook a campaign of neglect in the hope that they would succumb and die. But they didn’t. They just failed to produce many flowers and the leaves were Swiss cheese from insects. Year after year, they taunted me with their imperfection, and yet stubborn unwillingness to die. When I sold that house, I didn’t look back, and left them for the new owner. 

Paying the Gift of Rose Care Forward

My newest property came with roses. In our small town, if you need something done or want something, you post in the lobby of the library. I immediately made a flier, announcing free roses- you dig. There were around 15 in the front and 12 in the back. Another newbie to the town spied the flier and made contact. I said she could have them all. The next day she came in her truck armed with a shovel and we removed most of the ones from the back. Due to family issues she was unable to come back until the next spring. The front roses were soon gone!

I now have nice new spaces in which to install my choices of plants, which fills me with glee. And when I drive by my neighbor’s house in summer, I am delighted to see her neat rows of blooming roses. But I certainly don’t envy the rose care she must have to lavish upon the finicky darlings.

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