Roses. It seems I’m not the only one that likes them around here. Blame it on their sultry good looks, their vibrant, bright colors, their princessly charm on thorn-defended thrones . . . or maybe more accurately, their delectable deliciousness.
I prune them ever so carefully. Deadhead them precisely down to the next “leaf of three.” I savor their slightly irridescent hues as they begin to unfold their first delicate petal. I dream of what they will look like the next morning, unfolded fully in the dewy light of morning.
Then just like that . . . they’re gone. Disappeared. Only a memory, that begins to feel more like a Ghost of Gardens Past.
My roses become victims to my garden’s fiercest predator: the mule deer. An unlikely culprit, you may think. However, anyone who’s had the disdain of gardening in the land of deer knows my agony. Think bitten off blooms, tasty annuals pulled right out of the ground, shaken into a mess of dirt and roots, unearthed by a hungry deer. Hoofs digging, pawing at newly planted perennials, shrub branches stripped clean of leaves, and roses diminished to nothing more than a few bare sticks jutting out of the ground.
My shrub roses take the hardest hit. What is it about roses? Apparently, we humans are not their only fans. One day I will notice a brand new bud, near to bursting open into bloom. The next day I will find nothing but gnawed off stems, the buds have been completely stolen, eaten in their entirety. Not even the meager hint of a rose hip remains to proclaim that it really was there, sitting atop that tall stem just the day before.
By the end of summer, my poor shrubs begin to look like I’ve completely lost my marbles, and all respect for pruning etiquette. They are sheared off like a chainsaw taken haphazardly to knicking this stem off, then this one, and this one until all that remains is thorny short stems, lacking even the green of a single leaf. Sounds pretty, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what I had in mind when I bought my Double Knock Out Rosa Radtko.
Recently, I’ve also happened upon the discovery that deer aren’t the only ones attracted to tasty roses. I had a beautiful group of three deep red roses in a vase with a few stems of baby’s breath and Eucalyptus leaves on my table. They were a bright spot in an otherwise dull February. I mixed the attached plant food into the water and couldn’t believe it when they lasted over a week on my counter.
But it wasn’t until their very last hurrah on my table when Max realized the secret they had been hiding all along: water! (And just for the record, my cats are provided with fresh water, although they seem to prefer to drink out of the toilets.) He too, seems to like diving right into a bunch of scented roses, parting them roughly with his furry face to get a drink of the florist-solution-sweetened water. I only hope that stuff isn’t poisonous.
Max hasn’t realized that he’s in such close proximity of this “rose water” stuff yet.
So much for my roses!