Thursday, April 26, 2007

The rose of neglect

I've never been able to figure out why roses are supposed to be hard to grow. Yes, black spot disfigures their leaves. Yes, aphids descend on them. But they are definitely not the high-maintenance princesses they are made out to be. They are a lot of joy for a very little effort.

I do absolutely nothing for my roses. I think the s.o. might occasionally throw some fertilizer on them. But they all seem to do pretty well. I have a Don Juan, a Yellow Rose of Texas, and a Volkswagen-sized bush of stunning hot-pink roses that came with the house. I plan on planting more because they are such a pleasure.

This rose, a Cardinal de Richelieu, is in a particularly awful spot--a patch of unforgiving crusty silt, fire-ant-invaded, unmulched, baking in the sun on the south side of the house. We are in a drought, and this is the area we mostly reserve for prickly pear cacti, rosemary bushes, and ornamental banana plants. But the rose thrives anyway. It has put on about 20 buds this spring--twice as many as last year--even though I think I forgot to prune it. I don't think the picture captures its deep velvety purple color. It definitely doesn't capture its alluring grapey smell.

The only thing I can figure that this rose really has going for it is deep roots. It was one of the very first things I planted during our first spring here, in 2003. It's my favorite rose.