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So this week our rosebushes died. Or rather, they were diagnosed with… - if you can't be witty, then at least be bombastic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
kyle cassidy

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[Apr. 10th, 2012|11:30 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |surprisingly sad over a plant]
[music |outkast: sorry ms. jackson]

So this week our rosebushes died. Or rather, they were diagnosed with an incurable, fatal viral infection called Rose Rosette and we had them killed -- dug up and burned -- before it spread further. I don't know why I'm so saddened by the loss of a plant, but I am. I don't know how old they were, the one in the back yard was enormous, ten or twelve feet tall and twenty five feet wide, it might have been 75 or a hundred years old -- in any event both of them were here long before me. (I spent some time trying to find a photo of the giant rosebush, I know I have one somewhere, but the only thing I could come up with is this youtube video of my next door neighbor playing annoying elevator music and whistling along loudly with it that I took in order to shame him on twitter.) (EDIT: I did find one photo of Gary walking past the giant rose bush in 2005.)

Rose Rosette is a strange infection that started appearing in the US in the 1940's ... new growth on the plant has an enormous number of rubbery thorns, the leaves are dwarfed, the blooms are mottled -- you can tell that something's not right, but for a year or two it was a small oddity, we couldn't figure out what it was, I thought perhaps it was some interesting genetic misfire, but when the whole bush this year erupted like this our gardner, Wendy, hit the books and discovered the truth. Not only is it always fatal to the roses, but it's contagious. I was in New Jersey when trillian_stars texted to say that she'd found the tell-tale signs of it on the rose bush in the back yard too -- it was oddly crushing and we mourned their loss while landscapers dug them up and took them away.

Click to see larger.

(another shot of it here)

After it had been hauled away I found myself thinking This was never our rose bush, we didn't plant them, they didn't say anything about us, this is an opportunity to plant something together that is us. It's pragmatic, it's true -- now I can plant 30 feet of Venus Fly Traps or belladonna or peach trees or telegraph plants or resurrection ferns and while I'd never really thought one way or the other about those rose bushes their absence is a bigger void than either of us had really expected.

Click to see the rose in all its glory.

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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2012-04-11 04:06 am (UTC)

Re: Jersey?

Occasionally. I'll probably be back next to photograph roller girls up north
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[User Picture]From: snidegrrl
2012-04-11 03:44 am (UTC)
The "other shot" link is not working.

That said I echo your sentiment; there is a tree getting ready to fudge up the foundation of our home, and it has to go, and I had to call a friend for counsel about it; it's a living thing that's been growing with us for 8 years.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2012-04-11 04:05 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ysobelle
2012-04-11 04:17 am (UTC)
I'll be hunting rosebushes myself in a few weeks-- I finally have some earth of my own in which to plant them. Shall I look for some for you, as well?
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[User Picture]From: trillian_stars
2012-04-11 12:42 pm (UTC)
No thank you. We have to make sure all the roots are gone, or the disease will be passed through the soul to any new roses.
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[User Picture]From: trillian_stars
2012-04-11 12:43 pm (UTC)
Soil, not soul :)
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[User Picture]From: ysobelle
2012-04-11 06:23 pm (UTC)
*Laughing* You sure about that? If any flower is going to have a soul, it's a rose. One of the main reasons I wanted to move from here, and why I want a backyard (aside from the dog) is so that I can grow roses. I've been growing them in containers since college, and not having them now makes me twitchy and sad. Just the scent of a rose makes me long for a spade and some dirt.

If it's deemed safe again at some point, let me know. I'd love to help.
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[User Picture]From: solstice_lilac
2012-04-11 04:30 am (UTC)
Never heard of the Rose Rosette virus, but I'm pretty sure I've seen those symptoms on roses around town. There are no roses in my own yard.. yet :)

I understand your grief, though. Plants like that have a presence. Roses have their own symbolism, too. But I like your looking-forwardness. Now you have the space, the earth, ready to grow something that you chose!
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[User Picture]From: layers_of_eli
2012-04-11 04:36 am (UTC)
I, too, am inexplicably sad whenever I kill a plant (unfortunately I'm a terrible gardner). Good for you, finding the silver lining!
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[User Picture]From: katbcoll
2012-04-11 04:45 am (UTC)
My mother has many, many rosebushes. We've lost a few over the years and she still mourns their passing.
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[User Picture]From: velvetfrogg
2012-04-11 04:57 am (UTC)
I can't imagine a rose bush growing that big. I'd be sad too. It was history and had been a part of so much history. You gotta wonder about the person who did plant it originally. And what did it represent for them? Did they plant it because of a birth of a baby? The end of a war? A marriage? Some flower contest or something or other like that? Did it just grow there randomly? So many things to ponder.
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[User Picture]From: kambriel
2012-04-11 05:24 am (UTC)
It's a loss of life, a closed chapter of history, but you'll fill the space with life anew, with chapters yet to be told...
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[User Picture]From: mcmatz
2012-04-11 05:32 am (UTC)
It is not unusual to mourn the loss of landscaping. It grows and marks the years along with us throughout our lives. In the backyard of my childhood, we had a lovely cherry tree. It was the perfect height and shape for climbing and hanging upside down from - there was even a certain spot among the branches that served as a little branched chair. I can still remember the way the branches were configured all these years later. I would sit there and imagine elves and tales. There were white blossoms in the spring and tart cherries in the late summer. The ease of my climb up over the years marked my own growth.
When I was in my late teens, this very old tree was done in. It was split in two during a particularly harsh thunderstorm. Coming when it did in my live, it was a poignant reminder that my childhood was over.
Now is the chance to plant new memories to mark the years to come.
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[User Picture]From: humglum
2012-04-11 06:51 pm (UTC)

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[User Picture]From: sheilagh
2012-04-11 03:03 pm (UTC)
Perhaps you miss their song?

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From: rivervox
2012-04-11 04:02 pm (UTC)

Who mourns for flowers?

Our neighbor has a huge magnolia tree, and each year I look forward to its luxurious blooming. This year, we had a very warm week in March and the flowers opened. They froze solid when the weather returned to normal. Now it's covered with dead brown flowers. Every day when I walk by, I mourn for those lost blooms and think that I'll have to wait a whole year to see them again.
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[User Picture]From: katelynhertel
2012-04-11 04:05 pm (UTC)

Bulbs to Spare!

Can you still plant rose bushes in its place? Or is the soil contaminated too? If its not I'll be in Philly in a few months, I've got plenty of rose bush bulbs that I could dig up and share with you. (there are at least 10 in my yard) That way you have a rose bush that is actually yours and you'll get to watch it grow! Let me know I'd be happy to share!
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[User Picture]From: photobram
2012-04-11 04:09 pm (UTC)
Very sad indeed and my sympathies. One of the greatest losses to us in the move from London back to New York was the magnificent climbing rose that we planted in front of out house. Every Spring and into the Summer it gave us hundreds of pink blossoms - it perfumed the neighbourhood. The new occupants of the house have kept it going, but it is ours no longer.
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[User Picture]From: lawbabeak
2012-04-11 04:19 pm (UTC)
There's something about Philadephia rose bushes that really exudes the city's rough-and-tumble, survive and find beauty in the oddest of places spirit. Biggest, healthiest bush I've seen was in front of an abandoned crack house near 50th & Baltimore (back when 50th and Baltimore was still scary).

It's a shame to lose them, but better that than infect the neighborhood. Mourn the loss, then plant something(s) new, together.
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[User Picture]From: stachybotrys
2012-04-12 05:53 am (UTC)
I completely sympathize over the loss of your roses. I wept when I got home from work the first time we had an allegedly professional landscape crew come in to clean up our yard and trim the shrubbery. They were there in the morning when I left for work and had been explicitly instructed to be gentle in cutting back all the plants. They brutalized everything. It looked like some sort of horrible war had been waged against all vegetation in Stachybotrysland, and the vegetation had lost. They cut back about 3/4 of the growth on almost everything and left us with hollow little cubes that used to be glorious, flowering desert plants.

It was years before I was willing to let anyone touch our plants again, but now we have a very gentle landscaper.

Take your time, decide what you want to put in place of the roses, then nurture and love them in memory.
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[User Picture]From: niamh_sage
2012-04-12 05:32 pm (UTC)
I can totally understand why you are so sad. There is a history in growing things that perhaps isn't so obvious as in architecture, but exists nevertheless. There is a canal path near our house that is planted along both sides with magnificent oak trees, huge and old. My husband thinks they date back to the time of Napoleon. Every time I think about that, I'm overawed by the idea of it. Someone a long time ago planted some seeds knowing they would never see the full magnificence of the trees, and yet they still did it. Amazing.

I hope you find just the right things to plant in the space, and I hope those things will thrive and be there for many years to come.
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[User Picture]From: kipar
2012-04-13 03:02 am (UTC)
The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis just had to dig up one of their big rose gardens for the same reason. Hope it stays away from my yard. I've got one favorite rosebush that I call my peppermint rose because the flowers are red and white.
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