Roses

February 22, 2022

We are puppy-sitting this week and I had forgotten how much energy a young dog has.  When we sat him several weeks ago it was over the weekend, and I had time to take him for a walk in the afternoon.  That would wear him out until supper time, and then Melissa would get down on the floor to play which distracted him in the evening.  This is a longer stint, and although I intend to go for walks, I have focused on work and chores around the house and had not yet done so.  I could tell Eddie wanted outside (standing by the door and looking back over his shoulder gave it away), so I decided it was time to finish pruning the rose bush in the front year.  We went out through the garage so I could get my tools and headed for the roses.  Eddie began an intense search of a new yard.

When I looked online, I found the “Knock Out” rose (Rosa radrazz) we have in the front yard is a hardy, disease-tolerant rose variety bred by amateur breeder William Radler in his Wisconsin basement in1989.  The cultivar was a cross between the floribunda, Rosa ‘Razzle Dazzle’, and the shrub rose, Rosa ‘Carefree Beauty’.  It was introduced in the US in 2000 and was named an All-America Rose Selections winner that year.  ‘Knock Out’ is a medium, bushy shrub, 2-4 ft (60-121 cm) in height with a 3-4 ft (90-120 cm) spread.  The saucer-shaped blooms are 2-3 in (5-7 cm) in diameter with single to semi-double (5-13) petals.  The flowers open in a bright cherry red with a white center and green-yellow-stamens and have a strong, fruity fragrance.  The blooms persist in flushes from spring through fall.  This was planted as a memorial by my mother-in-law.

I also found the “pointy flanges” that grow on rose stalks are not thorns.  For a botanist, thorns are firm extensions of the shoots with internal tissue connection making them hard to pluck off.  The prickles found on roses are outgrowths of the bark of the stem and have no internal tissue connection to the plant, making them easy to pluck.  The sharp bulges on the stalk grow to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long.  The flange is arched downwards and can provide a grip on other plants for support as the rose grows in the direction of more sunshine.  The sharp extensions also increase the surface area of the plant for photosynthesis, allowing the plant to make more of the food necessary for growth.  The downwards direction of the curve draws water droplets towards the roots.  The prickles are formed to protect the rose from predators and are curved downward to discourage insects from crawling up the stems to eat the leaves and buds.  To get to the flower, you need to brave the prickles.

THOUGHTS:  Whether called thorns or prickles, they are sharp.  While I intended to get my gloves before working on the rose, I did not.  This resulted in having my hands and forearms pierced numerous times.  I pruned the rose bush last year, but it was still unruly.  I was amazed how many dead stalks were now evident as the warm weather began to bring the rose back to life.  I pruned the stalks and threw them to the side.  When I look at a vase of roses I do not think about the prickles, but when I work with a rose bush, I am intimately aware of their presence.  When we interact with others, we need to find the inner beauty of each, but to get to know them we need to brave the prickles.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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