Saturday, 14 May 2016

My First Encounter with Rose Rosette

  About a month ago, I started my devastating battle with rose rosette. Before that, I was clueless. I thought rose rosette was a myth, and cases were extremely rare. But there it was, in my own garden, contaminating everything. I felt like a deer in the headlights. It couldn't, it wouldn't happen to me.

I was wrong.

  Rose rosette isn't a one in a million disease. It is here, where I am. It's probably where you are. Every time I get in my car to run errands, I notice the telltale signs on the rose bushes at the banks, fast food restaurants, and even shopping malls. It's devastating to see it hurting places you don't care about. But then it decides to strike a bit too close to home.

It was right beside my home. Right in my neighbor's backyard and whole side yard. Huge, bushy knockouts, with sickly canes drooping over the fence, and in turn, in my yard. The first time I noticed it for what it was, I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn't believe it! The moment I walked up the street to go tell them, I noticed it in other yards too. It was hard to believe it then. It couldn't be that everyone, and I do mean everyone, had it. If there was a rose, it had at least two symptoms of rose rosette.

The first thing I had to do was tell the person directly beside me. Perhaps they would take care of it without that much of an issue? Immediately after speaking with them, I knew that wasn't the case. They had Knockouts, and with them, the classic "these don't get disease" attitude. As soon as I informed them, I was met with an "Oh, so that's what that is?" It was obvious they had no plans of removing the infection.

But what about everyone else? Every time the wind blew, their roses were just as much of a risk to the few, if any, uninfected. I'd already had to destroy Silver Shadows, Scept'rd Isle, St. Cecilia, and one that I'd lost the label to about a year ago. I couldn't afford to lose any more, not when I had rare roses at stake. I had to inform them.

So, I printed out the first set of flyers. I'd found an informative handout from online, and spoke to anyone on my street that had roses and would listen. Many gave me the same feeling as the first, as if they didn't care and had no intentions of removing the roses. I still couldn't give up hope.

Then came the second set. These had a black and white photo, and were personally made up to be short, simple, and to the point. This time, the whole neighborhood got one. Not just one street. The roses in other areas were just as bad, and I had noticed very few houses that actually had at least one rose that appeared healthy. This time, I didn't talk to many people, and simply left the flyers for them to read.

A few weeks later, I drove around my neighborhood. The number of houses that did something, I could count on one hand. In a neighborhood of 100+ homes, that's not exactly encouraging. Enter, third set of flyers. These were twice as short, three times as simple, and included a photo taken of sick branches that fell in my yard, along with plenty of information about disposal of infected bushes. Those got passed out, again, to everyone. There was a special edition for people with the disease immediately visible on their roses, mentioning that it appeared theirs had it. As I walked and left them, I noticed that a few houses had trimmed the most visible disease off, or hard pruned. I'd seen the roses before, and they were far beyond the one strike rule.

It's been several days now, too. Nothing else has been done, and I'm worried that every time the wind blows, another rose has a risk of getting rose rosette. I have taken to inspecting my roses daily and panicking every-time I see a red leaf. I am constantly finding infected material in my yard which doesn't help ease my mind.

This is not even scratching the surface of what has transpired over the past month!
Until next time I leave you with the Rose Rosette (Not So) Fun Fact of the Day.

The iconic breakfast cereal Cheerios was introduced in 1941 by General Mills as CheeriOats. This is also the year rose rosette was first identified!