Sunday, June 2, 2013

Confessions of a Love Sick Gardener

The day dawned bright, blindingly bright, but disaster was lurking at the Casa... It was all my fault. I had fallen in love with the wrong sort of guy and while the fling was steamy and brief, it ended badly as they always do.


I should have said no when I saw him winking at me from his pot, strong green branches caressing my arms as I passed. I should have ignored his advances and left him for some other girl. But I didn't.


I turned and smiled, wrote down his info and went home to do a bit of sleuthing. He seemed like a nice guy, well mannered and polite. Happy Chappy wasn't a thug and would get along easily with Graham Thomas. I slept fitfully that night, my heart aching for my new love.


Don't let that handsome face fool you. Happy Chappy doesn't do well in humid environments.


 I should have looked deeper, my head triumphing over my heart, but I had fallen hard and was all his.


Happy Chappy grew along side Graham Thomas all summer and my heart swelled when I passed them.


Graham Thomas grows along the fence near the rain garden.




But like all shady romances, Chappy was not as innocent as he appeared. He could no longer hide his guilt.


Black spots had covered every leaf, dying yellow leaves littering the mulch he shared with Graham. 


I couldn't believe it! Not Chappy! How could he turn on me like this? I didn't want to accept the truth but questioned his innocence.


I could hide no longer and felt my heart ripped apart. Happy Chappy, my sweet summer love, had black spot and had spread his evil ways to Graham and Westerland.


I worked worm compost, rich with anti-fungal properties and beneficial microbes, into the soil and watered it in with my tears. 


It was pure torture. I knew had no choice but to rip him out, clear away the mulch, and drench poor Graham with a fungicide. My heart pounded as he met his death. 


 Good bye, Chappy!


We'll always have our memories.... 
Convinced the black spot was temporary, I reassured Graham that all would be well. 
"Stay strong, Graham! We can beat this together!"


I was wrong, so very, very wrong.


I removed many of the spotted leaves, but should I remove them all? Will that harm my rose or reduce its ability to photosynthesize? What should I do?


Graham looks like a plucked chicken. Not even a watering can full of mint is enough to cheer him up.


No more summer love for me. It's just me and my best gal, Peggy Martin.


70 comments:

  1. Very well done post. So sorry ABOUT YOUR ROSES.

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  2. Brilliant!

    I often call roses spoiled brats, green sleeved strumpets, and garden variety hussies... As much as I know they are wrong for me, they get under my skin... I sometimes have been seduced against my will. They have that strange power...

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    1. I like to think I'm one tough cookie but I crumble at certain plants. :o) Roses are definitely one of them!

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  3. Haha, I don't want to take over your Happy Chappy, the garden is far too wet. Your humour is great!!!! I wonder how much time it took to make this gorgeous blogpost.

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    1. Thanks! It didn't take that long. I found the pictures online and wrote the story around them. :o) It was fun!

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  4. That is such a shame to end up with something if it continually gets the black spot. The only problem with Roses. Yours are such beauties though.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. I battled black spot last summer and ended up taking out 2 roses that had spread it around the garden. I was sure our cold winter had killed the spores so I was surprised when I saw them popping up again. It's such a hard disease to kill.

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  5. Isn't it just like a girlfriend to pull you through the heartbreak of a love gone wrong! Peggy Martin is just beautiful!

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    1. Peggy is always there when you need her. :o)

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  6. Tammy, I'm so sorry for your loss.
    Heck, you're not one to give up that easy.....
    I think you can try again, but this time in a pot, away from the other roses. At the very first sign of the dreaded blackspot, start a systemic treatment, and then spray with diluted dishwashing liquid or my favourite, "Ultra Fine Oil" which works wonders for all plants susceptible to yucky stuff that likes to live on plant leaves.

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    1. While systemics will definitely kill the disease, it will also kill all the beneficial microbes in the soil that help promote disease resistance and good health. But I do think I'll spray them with oil to help protect them. Thanks for the tip! :o)

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  7. You have perfectly described my relationship with roses as well. Why does the mid-Atlantic have to be so inhospitable to these beauties? I couldn't take it any more and shovel pruned them all. I'm so sorry for your loss, but thanks for the laugh.

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    1. You're welcome! Our humidity is a pain in my asster. I need arid micro-climates around all my roses. I've lost track of all the varieties I've axed because they couldn't resist disease in our area. Sigh...

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  8. Hilarious. At least the affair was steamy if only short lived! Plants really can break a girl's heart!

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    1. Steamy is right! Virginia in the summer is HUMID! I had no idea he'd be such a heart breaker. He looked so innocent.

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  9. Oh, that sucks. My zephirine drouhin got black spot last year and I pruned her right down to 2'. She's back this year with lots of growth but doesn't look herself ... her leaf colour is off. I hope she makes it ... she's my favourite.

    S
    xo

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    1. Black spot is an evil beast. Grrrr!! I hope your zephrine recovers. Give her some liquid kelp to perk her up. :o)

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  10. I feel your pain, even though I laughed the whole way through. Been there, done that.

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    1. Plant lust seduces me every time.... ;o)

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  11. Love the cartoons Tammy :) how often do we gardeners fall in love with the completely wrong plant! I'm just sorry that one wrong plant has done in other plants. Graham was a beauty.

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    1. Graham's been given the royal treatment so I hope he recovers. :o) I saw the cartoons online and thought they'd be fun to play with.

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  12. Such a funny and heart wrenching post! All of the leaves with black spot must go. If not, the spores will travel with water to new growth. It's impossible to make existing black spot go away, one can only protect new growth from getting it. Photosynthesis may be impaired so the rose will throw out some new leave. Gentle organic fertilizer will help. Who doesn't like a little (manure) tea and sympathy every now and then?

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    1. I took your advice and stripped poor Graham down to the family jewels. I also gave him a bunch more worm compost mixed with alfalfa meal (incredible stuff!) and hosed him with an organic Dr Earth fungicide. I hope it works!

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  13. So sorry about that your 'Chappy' isn't happy and your'Graham'. They are a couple of my favorites, and I'm grateful that they are happy in my hot garden. I have two Chappy's and a climbing Graham and do amazingly well here. I guess that is one small advantage to living in what sometimes feels like an oven! But I would say your beautiful 'Peggy' makes up for those two!

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    1. When I was researching Happy Chappy, the picture I saw of him took me to your blog! That's how I found you! Roses love California a lot more than Virginia. But I might try Chappy again. He is such a cutie.

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  14. This was one of the best posts ever!!! So sorry that Chappy turned out to be crappy ;-). Those summer romances never work out. I think Graham will pull through. I don't like to use it but in an emergency Daconil should kill the black spot...that's what the Nashville Rose Society recommends using. Peggy Martin is beautiful as always. I just bought a new florabunda called "Julia Child". She is suppose to be very disease resistant even in my area so I thought I'd give her a try. If she does well, I'm going to get more!!!

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    1. LOL! Crappy Chappy didn't make me happy. I blasted him and all the other roses with an organic Dr Earth fungicide that's supposed to be really effective. Daconil kills all the beneficial microbes in the soil. :( I've heard Julia Child is super fragrant.

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  15. Such a tragic tale of woe! My heart bleeds with you, my dear. That scoundrel Chappy, wooing you with plans of vigor and growth then tarnishing your dreams and leaving you in the dust. For shame. Alas, Peggy is a delicious creature and shall diminish your sorrow with her pastel beauty.

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    1. Chappy hit me in all my weak spots and I caved like a.... a cave. But maybe Chappy was just an innocent victim of black spot and I'm a plant murderer? Deep thoughts.....

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  16. I loved your beautiful but tragic story, Tammy. You do need to remove all the leaves. If you cut the branches back a little bit (I know, I know, but it's for his own good) the rose should send out new leaves quickly. And feed, feed, feed! I found the only way to defeat blackspot on roses that are susceptible (and Graham Thomas gets it here, every year)is to feed the plant so well that it outgrows it.

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    1. I stripped him naked and stuffed his soil full of ground alfalfa meal, more worm compost, and liquid kelp meal. I hope he recovers. I'm going to tell him his Aussie cousins are struggling, too. He needs a bit of company. ;o)

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  17. Wow, excellent and hilarious post, Tammy! You are so creative! What's your source for the cartoons? I love Roses, but they can be so temperamental. Sorry about Happy Chappy and Graham Thomas. Peggy Martin sure looks healthy, though. Thanks for the grins!

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    1. Thanks! The cartoons are all from Google Images. I saw them and thought they'd be fun to work/play with. Roses are divas and I'm their willing assistant. :o)

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  18. Please tell me that Westerland is still OK! We've been having kind of a casual thing, but sometimes I worry that I'm in over my head ...

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    1. Westerland is doing much much better than Graham. I'm still pulling off as many leaves as I can reach and blasted him with Dr Earth fungicide. I think he'll be ok. :o) He's much more robust than Graham.

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  19. What a hoot. I hope Graham Thomas recovers. I love the buttery yellow color.

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  20. Great post. I know what you mean about being seduced by beautiful plants that turn bad. But you still have Peggy Martin. Hope your Graham Thomas makes it.

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    1. I hope he pulls through. He's not getting worse so I've decided he's getting better. :o)

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  21. This post was real fun! And the comics just perfect! I love yellow roses, it's a shame you had to rip that one off, you sure you didn't actually over react? Maybe just a little spray would have solved...
    PS: that Peggy rose is stunning!

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    1. Thanks! Happy Chappy had black spot last summer, too, and was the source of this year's breakout. Getting rid of the source seemed like the best idea, although I hated to pull him out. There's a strong chance I'll plant another one this fall but in a pot where it's easier to clean the soil of infected leaves. I'd sprayed, pulled leaves, etc and nothing helped. But I already miss him...

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  22. Darn that BS. You had me smiling and frowning all at the same time. I would remove the leaves and maybe reduce some height. Perhaps change the mulch as it will have spores on it. Good luck. I have two roses left now and I think I will be down to one by the end of this summer. They are heart breakers.

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    1. I stripped him naked and almost feel a bit embarrassed for him every time I walk by. I removed all the infected mulch and gave him the royal treatment with worm compost, kelp, etc and an organic fungicide. Hopefully, it helps. :o)

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  23. And that's why I don't grow roses in my garden, too much heartbreak! Love your post especially the part about watering the rose with your tears!

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  24. Great post, Tammy!
    So sorry about your roses! When I see disease in them I spray the blue vitriol (sulfate of copper), it helps when no rain the next day.

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    1. I tried a copper spray on chappy the first time he had black spot and it didn't' help but it has worked well on other plant problems.

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  25. Stick with what works and leave the bad boys alone! Jeannine

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    1. But the bad boys can be so much fun!

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  26. MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    So sad.....:-)

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  27. I had a fling with roses too. They got black spot, even in Denver. Once they showed their true character I dug them up and threw them in the trash.
    But I do have a recipe for black spot prevention, passed along to me by rosarian John Starnes.
    You take bar of Kirk's castile soap, scrape two tablespoons of the soap into a gallon jug of water, and that's your spray. Black spot needs an acidic lead cuticle on which to live, and the soap spray alkalinizes the cuticle. This is a preventive, not a cure.
    The other thing is to rake up all fallen rose leaves from around the base of the rose.

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    1. Thanks a zillion! I bought some liquid Bronners castille soap because that's what I could find locally. I'm going to make the solution and give it a try!

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    2. Sure. One other thing; Melinda Campbell of High Country Rosarium in Denver told me years ago that when you transplant a rose, you should pull off all the leaves. I've tried that and it works. The rose grows new leaves. (Unless it dies.) So I'd say it's safe to pull off the leaves in an attempt to de-black-spot a rose.
      Dr. Bronner's, a capful to a quart of water, also kills slugs, earwigs, blister beetles, cactus-sucking bugs, pear psylla, aphids, yellow jackets, etc., on contact.
      Do test a few leaves before spraying the whole rose. Some defoliate when sprayed with soap. Rugosas being one example.

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  28. Not the drum torture!

    :O

    I don't have any roses at all right now, but I'm thinking of adding one or two this autumn. If I do, it will probably be either an Earthkind rose (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkindroses/) or one of the Rosa rugosas (http://www.springvalleyroses.com/catalog/rosarugosaalba.html). I think both are supposed to be relatively bulletproof (but perhaps not drum-proof). :P

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    1. The drum is the WORST! Rugosa is great but super thorny and I've heard of the Earthkind but din't know anything about them. I may have to give them a try. :o)

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  29. What a real shame, especially after it had bloomed so beautifully. You always make me laugh with your posts though, I hope Graham recovers and has a fling with another, more suitable, neighbour :-))

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    1. After all he's been through, he needs a lady love. I did catch him flirting with the clematis...

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  30. I hate black spot! Here in Britain it is virtually impossible to get rid of and if you want roses in your garden you have to be prepared to treat for it too, one way or the other. I haven’t been too vigilant before and my rose bushes have been almost bare every autumn so this year I have decided to get to grips with this thing. This year I use a systemic fungicide which last for 4-6 weeks per spraying and hopefully it will make less need for spraying next year after a full cycle has ended. Time will tell if my rose bushes will have any leaves left this autumn or not!

    I am sorry about your Happy Chappy, he was so handsome too! I think Graham Thomas will recover, just make sure to replace all the mulch as that’s where the spores survives between every rainfall.

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  31. Sorry for your loss, but that's the way love (and roses) go.

    Fun post!

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  32. Awww....that's awful. Wonderful way to post. I was enthralled the entire time. So sorry that the end result was a spreading fungal disease :-( I hope that you are able to find something to salvage what you have left. *hugs*

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  33. I see roses are as fickle for you as they are for me.

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  34. Oh my gosh girl...I've fallen for one of those kind of guys too... he's, he's....a rake.

    His beautiful pink buds made me swoon, John Davies you Rake you....

    Sigh.

    A absolutely entertaining post.

    Jen

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  35. Hi Tammy, that post made me chuckle and sigh. I think rose black spot is one of those things that you'll just have to live with if you've got roses in the garden (just like lilies and lily beetle). I know that at the start of the season, all my roses were spotless but I've noticed spots on them recently. At first, I took the odd affected leaf off but there are some leaves right in the centre, out of reach that would involve shredding an arm to get to - not worth it. Now the black spot is here and there on all the roses and by the end of the season, they really won't look so good. I've decided it's not worth the money for fungicides as I just wouldn't be able to keep on top of it. Your Graham Thomas rose does look sorry for the plucking it's had though.

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  36. I too have Graham Thomas, but he's always had black spot, although not too severely. Golden Showers, a lovely slow climber is strong and black spot free though! Enjoying your blog. Thank you.

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