Four more roses bite the dust

Four more roses are gone. 'Cl. Old Blush' bloomed in my garden spot for over twenty years.
‘Cl. Old Blush’ bloomed in my garden spot for over twenty years.

I mentioned recently on the Oklahoma Women Bloggers blog that ‘Cl. Old Blush’ had Rose Rosette Virus (RRV). I don’t mean to harp on this subject, but gardening isn’t always just sunshine and bluebirds. I wish it were, but that would be heaven, not planet Earth.

'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Cl. Old Blush' in my garden.
‘Zephirine Drouhin’ and ‘Cl. Old Blush’ in my garden when they both were young. I’m down to one ‘Zephirine’, and she’s not doing well.

Since my son was here this morning, I decided it was time to tackle ‘Cl. Old Blush’ and the other rose I’d seen with RRV. I knew it would be hard to pull this climber down, so I started out early this morning with our DEWALT Bare-Tool DC385B 18-Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saw to get it down to size. Brennan came out later and dug out the roots. His part along took an hour an a half and much of his nineteen-year-old strength.

I thought I’d become philosophical about the demise of roses in my garden, but I’m afraid this one got to me. I pulled the canes off of the arbor yanking with everything I had. Claire took pictures.

Pulling rose canes and trying not to cry.
Pulling rose canes and trying not to cry.

Then, when she walked back indoors, I began to cry. I know it’s ridiculous to cry over a plant, but this was the first rose I ever planted in this garden. I started with two ‘Cl. Old Blush’ and two ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ roses over twenty years ago, twenty-five I think. It’s been an anchor since the back garden began, and I loved it. ‘Cl. Old Blush’ was the first and last rose to bloom each year, and it was never any trouble. It never needed spraying. It was a beauty year after year.

Now, it’s no longer part of the garden. It makes me sad even as I write this.

I'm sad that 'Cl. Old Blush' is no more.
I’m sad that ‘Cl. Old Blush’ is no more.

After we dragged all of the canes down into the lower pasture to be burned, I couldn’t help but think I’m going to lose every rose I have. This was before I found three more roses with the disease in my upper rose garden today. My sweet son dug out every one of them, and he never complained although roses are such a pain. I didn’t cry in front of him, but he knew I was sad. He even said maybe I should just dig up all the ones in that bed and start over.

Maybe I will.

I was going to go against my better judgement and move ‘Peggy Martin’ into the spot where ‘Cl. Old Blush’ was. RRV doesn’t infect the soil, just the roots of the plant. However, the roots were so extensive on the old rose that we couldn’t remove all of them. I don’t know what I’ll put on the arbor instead. I don’t want another Wisteria frutescens, American wisteria. I have two where other climbing roses once grew. I have also used American honeysuckle on another arbor. I’m fresh out of ideas. Before you suggest it, I don’t like autumn clematis. It stinks, and takes over here. I’m constantly digging it out. Right now, it’s taken over ‘The Fairy’ rose. By the way, I saw some suspicious rose foliage on ‘The Fairy.’ Like Scarlett O’Hara, I’m not going to think about that today.

By the way, Brennan wants me to tell all my gardening friends that if they have pretty daughters, he is available for rose removal anytime. With the way RRV is rampaging throughout Oklahoma, we may need to take him up on it.


  1. Les says:

    Rosette is an especially nasty disease. I am sorry your garden has been plagued. Last year at the botanic garden where I work, rosette was pretty bad and we had to pull about 30, but out of 3000 that’s not too bad. We have removed as many Rosa multiflora from the property as we could find, and have beefed up sanitation. This year we only had one or two affected.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Les, I hope the botanic garden continues to have good luck with its program. I thought rosette was gone from my garden, but apparently not. Still, there are roses not hurt by it yet. We shall see.

  2. Oh, Dee, I’m so sorry. I loved that rose over your arbor. I’ve been admiring it for years. What a tough pill to swallow. You are creative, though, and you will one day be blogging about what you found to replace it and it will be beautiful and bring you much joy.

  3. Sweetbay says:

    Oh no, I’m sorry to hear this. ‘Old Blush’ was so beautiful in your garden. I have that one too.

    I’ve lost some roses to RRD. Lost 3 or so in one year, went a few years and then Mermaid came down with it. I wasn’t sorry to have Mermaid gone but removing it — what a pain. DH had to dig out the roots and still didn’t get them all.

    Have you considered Goldflame Honeysuckle?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Sweetbay, I took out Mermaid many years ago because it was so thorny it made me crazy. I hadn’t thought about Goldflame. What a beauty. I did find a much neglected crossvine I planted along a fence years ago. I put it where Old Blush once reigned. I think I’m going to like it. I also planted a native shrub to replace another rose. It will be okay. I hope you don’t lose anymore.

  4. Wouldn’t you like to have a garden like this…Take a look at the whole photo album. via @reddirtramblin

  5. What an amazing garden…I really love your roses on the gate-arbor.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much Charlie. I’m sorry, your comment was caught in spam. I fished it out this morning.

  6. Rose says:

    Oh, Dee, I am so sorry. Losing ‘Cl. Old Blush’ must have been like losing an old friend. I probably would have cried, too. How sweet of your son to help you with such a difficult task.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Rose, losing that rose was one of the worst. I’ve since removed even more. It is rather sad.

  7. Well, I do have a very pretty (available) daughter, but … she’s off to college again in Minnesota for the semester. 😉 I’m so sorry about the Roses! Argh. I’ve lost other beloved plants (not many Roses here), and it stinks! Especially because, as you say, those special ones that have been with you for a while are more than just plants; they’re memories, too. Good luck, and I’m sure you’ll find the perfect plant for the next phase. The transitions are hard, but you’ll work your magic as always. 🙂

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thanks Beth. He’s in college too, but you never know. Just kidding. I dug out three more roses today when he wasn’t here, and when he got home, he chastised me asking why I didn’t wait for him. He’s a sweetie. I have already replaced some of what I’ve lost. It’s all okay, just different.

  8. Bruce Batman says:

    Dee, I share your sadness. I lost two last year that came from my mother-in-laws garden. I sure hated to dig them out…… But, I made a perennial garden in that area, and I do enjoy it!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I’m sorry Bruce. You know, here’s the good thing…I have a lot more native plants including beautiful grasses in my garden now. So, that’s a plus. 🙂

  9. Cheryl says:

    What do you think about what Howard Garrett, the “Dirt Doctor”, says about Rose Rosette?

  10. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to cry over a lost rose, especially one that has been an old friend and a big presence in the garden. I lost ‘Westerland’ to RRV. However, there was a ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ right next to it and it never became diseased. Are there wild roses native to your area? They tend to be very disease resistant. I grow R. setegira. How about Lonicera sempervirens – a wonderful vine in every way except that it is not fragrant.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Jason, yes, I think some wild roses are native. That’s a good thought. I do love Lonicera sempervirens, American honeysuckle. I have it on one of the arbors at the end of the garden where two ‘New Dawn’ roses once grew. Thanks for the suggestion. I may do plant another. I need to do a post on what you can plant to replace climbing roses. I’ve lost seven.

  11. Cynthia DeJong Abbott says:

    How about crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, as a vine to replace the Old Blush? It's rated Zone 5 to 9, so it should be hardy, even in Oklahoma! I know it's not the same look as a rose, but it might be an interesting option. I'm sorry to hear about your travails with RRV – so many roses are being lost because of it throughout this area…..

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Cynthia, crossvine would be interesting, and it’s a good pollinator plant. I may try it especially if I can find the beautiful ‘Tangerine Beauty.’ Thanks!

  12. Carol says:

    Have you checked out the Dirt Doctor’s method of fighting rose rosette?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Carol, I have. I’m not going to argue with the Dirt Doctor, but I’m always suspicious when someone tells me I can fight a systemic virus with the products they are selling. Not that I don’t think Garrett Juice is good. It probably is, but every scientist from every university has said there is no cure. It’s sad, but in this instance, I’m trusting science. Also, organic vs. chemicals has nothing to do with whether your roses fall prey to this virus. I’m completely organic, live out in the country where there is no Rosa multiflora, and darn, I still have it in my garden. Thank you so much for the suggestion though.

  13. Oh Dee I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful roses. I don’t have any suggestions for perennials at this point as so many have already given you many. Sometimes annual vines for a while would be a good idea until the virus is gone…

  14. thequeenofseaford says:

    How heartbreaking Dee. There was a segment on our local PBS gardening show where someone asked about a problem with their roses…I knew right away what it was from your posts. To take such a mature climber is devastating. On a brighter note your son has a good sense of humor in his offer to help other gardeners.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      He does have a great sense of humor especially when he was speaking like crazy. 🙂

  15. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening! says:

    It’s the plants that we started our gardens with that are the hardest to lose. I only had my first experience with RRV this year, luckily on a rose that I was debating removing anyway.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Alan, I hope you don’t see it anymore. It’s a terrible disease.

  16. Hedgerow Rose says:

    Oh Dee I feel your pain! We have a really serious case of rose midge here and it makes me cry seeing all those beautiful buds destroyed one after another. Many, many roses haven’t even bloomed at all for a couple of years and I wonder why I’m even holding onto them. I’m keeping a wary eye out for RRV as I know it’s in our area, too.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Oh Rose Midge! Yuck. I’m so sorry. I’m rethinking about of my roses. I really am.

  17. Nell says:

    I feel for you, Dee. Rose rosette is rampant in western Virginia. Especially vulnerable are roses up on arbors. I cried when I had to cut down my fabulous ‘Alberic Barbier’, a pale yellow wichuriana descendant. The only two unaffected here have been an old ‘Silver Moon’ planted sixty years ago by my father (also with R. wichuriana in its background), and the patch of Scotch rose that I started about 15 years ago. Either the Scotch rose is protected by being completely covered with spines, giving the mites that spread the virus nowhere to pierce the stems, or it’s somehow genetically invulnerable, because it’s just as in the open and exposed to westerly winds in hot dry conditions when the mites are numerous. The Silver Moon is protected I think by being screened from the west by some trees, which also keep it a little moister and coooler. The only tiny comfort is that the multiflora rose in the hedgerows and in the fields is being knocked back quite a bit by the virus, too.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Nell, I guess the latter result is something good. It will be interesting to see what survives. That’s for sure. I’ve lost every rose that grows on an arbor. No, wait…I still have one ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, but it’s not happy either. Thank you for your kind words. I’m sorry about your roses too.

  18. So sorry Dee. They were beautiful. I have lost a couple to RRD but nothing like your devastation. Find something pretty!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      If only there was something as beautiful as a rose.

  19. Is there anything as romantic as a climbing rose? I hesitate to suggest anything, but have you considered a kiwi vine?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I haven’t thought about a kiwi vine. I’ll look into it. Thanks so much Kathy.

  20. Martha White says:


  21. Martha Ellen McMullin Figart says:

    I understand, Dee—I cried when we had to remove my beautiful New Dawn to rose rosette!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I’m so sorry Martha Ellen. I really am. I lost two New Dawns myself. It is tragic.

  22. Wendy Flowers says:

    I have lost three of my four rose bushes to RRV. They have been dug up and I thought I read do not plant another rose bush in the same spot. The only rose bush I have left is the one I received when my mom died back in 1994 – hoping it continues to fight off the disease! Sorry about your rose bushes!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Wendy, yes, you aren’t supposed to plant a rose in the same spot for many reasons. I was just thinking about it because I don’t want to let this rose go. It is the centerpiece of that garden bed. Oh well…. I’m so sorry you’ve lost roses too.

  23. ginnytalbert says:

    How about akebia? I planted one on my pergola and I love the sweet scent.
    Or you could do annual vines, which would give you the opportunity to try something new each year?
    How about hops (Humulus lupulus)? Of course those have to be cut to the ground every fall, which would be a pain when grown on an arbor (I grow mine on jute twine, also on the pergola). Maybe your son could take up brewing beer?
    Sorry about all your roses, it’s sad indeed. Happy hunting for a vine…

  24. Pam/Digging says:

    I’m sorry that you’re losing your beloved roses, Dee. Does ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine grow in OK? It’s my old-reliable evergreen vine here in Austin, with a lovely show in spring and light reblooming in late summer. Annual vines can be fun too because you can try something new each year: moonflower vine, Spanish flag, hyacinth bean vine, black-eyed Susan vine, and more.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Pam, those are all good ideas. I think what is most hurtful is losing them a few at a time. If I knew all of them would die, I could just yank them all out and start over. I’ve been thinking that maybe a pretty evergreen tree with some height would look good there and give the garden winter interest. I’m going to think about it for awhile. ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine does grow here. I could use it. It’s not evergreen here though. Too cold. I do grow morning glory. I must because it reseeds here everywhere. LOL! I just miss my roses, and my garden is becoming less and less English without them. Hugs.

  25. Gail says:

    I am heartbroken for you…I would have been crying my eyes out. oxxo

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you. Actually, I sobbed.

  26. Quite a bit in my mom's garden — and it flourished in my yard in Coral Gables. I love vines, actually, especially the bougainvillea I had.

  27. Jean Jones Campbell says:

    Is Confederate Jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides hardy where you garden? That's the only perennial vine that I grow intentionally. I am not a fan of vines.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Jean, Confederate Jasmine is marginally hardy here if I remember. It is very pretty.

  28. Linda Harless Belcher says:

    So sorry Dee. It is hard letting go of the best of our gardens.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Linda, I think change is sometimes very hard.

  29. Dee A. Nash says:

    Thanks Leslie. It was hard. Now the space is more open. What shall we plant there?

  30. Cindy McMorris Tournier says:

    Dee, I'm so sad for you and with you. Losing that Cl. Old Blush is like losing an old friend.

  31. Kylee Baumle says:

    I completely understand, Dee. We have a weeping willow that was the centerpiece of our largest garden – the one we call Max’s Garden – and we planned most of the garden around it. Two years ago, it was hit with bacterial wetwood disease and is now dead. I couldn’t bear to remove it, so it stays, a bare, yet nicely shaped tree. It will stay for a few years more, I think, and we’ve planted ‘Sweet Summer Love’ clematis at its base this year. We’ll see how that goes. I know you’re sad and I know you’ll miss those roses. *hugs*

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Kylee. I remember when you wrote about your tree. It is hard to lose plants central to one’s garden.

  32. Leslie Kuss says:

    I am so sorry Dee! I would have been crying too.

  33. @Naturesta says:

    Four more roses bite the dust #garden

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