Tuesday, June 17, 2014

They Live!!

Little Kitty checks out a hollyhock -- one that has seeded where it wanted to be: not in the border, but in our driveway.
Nature does as it likes.

So in my post from mid-May, "Winter Losses," that enumerated all the plants that died over our especially hard winter, I related that my most devastating loss was that of the two 'Zephirine Drouhin' climbing roses in my Front Border. They were the first roses I ever purchased, nearly ten years ago, and I brought them with me when we moved to our current house. They had grown happily on the front of our white picket fence for five years, and they were tough, own-root roses. I just couldn't believe they were gone.

The ZD roses last summer. What a glorious show they made!

I finally accepted the loss and ordered replacements for them (and for the two 'Blaze' climbers that I had planted on the garden shed last year) from the same company I originally purchased them from, Heirloom Roses in Oregon. Before I called them to order on June 10, I went outside and carefully inspected the two ZD rose skeletons one last time to make sure they really were dead. I paid particular attention to the base of the plants, looking in vain for any signs of re-growth from the roots.

This photo was taken on June 8, two days before I carefully inspected the ZDs for any signs of life, and sadly, finding none, ordered replacements for them. The two dead-looking skeletons can be seen on the front of the fence.

Having verified that they indeed looked utterly dead, I called Heirloom Roses and re-ordered them. (I even got a 10% discount for telling such a sad story of loss to the customer service person.) Sigh. Time to move on.

So yesterday I was pulling some weeds and grass out of the Front Border, and thinking about how I was going to dig out the two roses with their established root systems without killing any of the other plants in the border, when what did I see? Two-foot-high growth on both of the ZDs.

I feel certain that calling to reorder them must have kickstarted the roses back into life, the indignity of being replaced just being too much for their pride to bear. 

I called Heirloom Roses immediately, and they were in the process of packing the box at that very moment, and the nice customer service lady was able to go over to the packing building and cancel that part of my order, sending only the 'Blaze' instead.

Yesterday evening I painstakingly pruned away all the many dead canes, carefully trying not to damage or cut the new growth, spending over an hour pruning. (The work was made easier by ZD being a nearly thornless rose.) But what's left is a respectable amount of rose.

A closeup of the ZD on the right.

I still don't understand how I could have missed the growth when I carefully inspected them only six days before -- that certainly doesn't look like six days growth in the above photo. I guess the new growth is a dark red color and perhaps I was looking more for green leaves. And the roses are surrounded by the foliage of the many phlox, obedient plant, irises and other plants around them. I just must have missed it -- either that or my other theory about calling for replacements offending the roses back into life isn't as silly as it sounds. After all, who really understands the mysteries and vagaries of Nature?

This is such a cute photo that I just had to post it again. The ZD rose on the right can be seen above Little Kitty's tail, and the left one is the tallest growth furthest to the left.

However this happened -- a rose not showing signs of life until June (!) -- I'm happy to have been fooled.

Thanks for reading! -Beth


  1. Excellent news, Beth! What a beautiful rose. I've put it on my wish list for next year. I'm not buying any more plants this year as we have a hardscaping/water feature project that will necessitate moving a lot of my current plants, and then re-planting with the same or with different plants. Hugs, Beth

    1. How exciting! I hope your new water feature project goes well. It sounds like a big project, but I'm sure you will find places for all your lovely plants and your garden will be even more beautiful afterward. Thanks for visiting!

  2. That's good news about your two rose bushes reviving and producing new growth, Beth. Little Kitty looks happy in the garden.

    1. Aren't cats the perfect garden ornaments? Thanks so much for reading! -Beth

  3. Ha, your story was just too funny! (and I'm glad to find out it ended happily with your roses coming back!) I wouldn't put it past a plant to do such a thing. I've been amazed at the plants that have come back from what I thought was a certain grave. So glad they are back and alive for you! They are gorgeous roses.

  4. Thanks for visiting, Indie - I'm glad you enjoyed my story (stories of nature making fools of us are familiar to every gardener, I feel certain). -Beth