My First Rose Garden: A Cautionary Tale

5:23 PM Katy 6 Comments

This house is the first opportunity in my life to have a flower garden. I have never lived anywhere before now that included decent soil, space, and the time and money to grow something other than grass weeds.
And of course, I never do anything in small steps. It's go big or ... why bother?

So this summer I went and bought 18 rose bushes and planted them with PC's help:

 He even put in an irrigation system for me. This was serious. A big deal. I was so excited.

And they were happily growing for 2 months and I was happily watering them and cutting some for vases... and then...

Have you ever heard of "Rose Rosette Disease" ?

Me neither.

It's basically the AIDS virus for roses, and there is no cure. And suddenly all 11 of the pink knockouts were displaying the symptoms.

I couldn't believe it. And they infected the yellow roses (that were my favorites of course.)

I ripped out most of the roses and took them back to the big box store where I bought them. When I walked into the nursery I decided to look at the knockouts they were currently selling. I took this picture in the store:
They were actively selling roses with this disease and probably infecting every other rose that was crammed onto this platform!!

So my first rose garden got AIDS and died. But... there are a couple of the yellow ones left and I'm watching them carefully..
I took this photo so I have something to remember them by, in case they are done for. (PC says I am not very optimistic. SNORT. He is just now discovering the depths of my fatalism.)

So what is the lesson? Don't buy flowers from the big box stores? Don't buy large quantities at once? Do more research on diseases first? Don't plant roses?

I'm not sure. I am not interested in doing this again though so I've crossed roses off my list and I'm exploring hydrangeas, azaleas, and I ordered (ONE) peony just to see if it survives here:


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  1. Agree, agree and agree on all of the above. With all the other unknowns you've encountered on this little project, you might also want to have the soil tested. And not just the top soil, but the soil 10-12 inches down under. Or plant in raised beds so you're the one in control. They were beautiful while they lasted though.

    1. Thanks Jil I was hoping this wouldn't be so complicated, I guess I'm not as pessimistic as PC says. Ha

  2. This is such a sad story. I feel your pain. If the remaining roses start showing signs, perhaps try cutting that stem off down towards the base well below the rose rosette part. Then burn it or put it in a well secured plastic bag and into the trash. I've read that some people have had luck doing that. Since you won't be getting more roses that could be infected, it's worth a try. I've been reading you since the end of the Tybee renovation. You and PC are very brave.

    1. Thanks Barbara! I am going to give these last few roses every chance because they are so beautiful! The thing that PC and I have in common is the inability to give up. I'm just more likely to be depressed while soldiering on. 😬

  3. Roses are persnickety, even without diseases and pests. Don't plant them next to brick, though. ThEye don't like leaching from the mortar. It affects the soil PH. Good luck with your other experiments. I love peonies!

    1. Well too late for that! They are definitely persnickety ! I decided i need to grow flowers that are less gut- wrenching to take care of!


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