Photo by Melody

A Tale of Two Pretties

By Lori Geistlinger (McGloryMarch 11, 2008
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Do you ever get the feeling that a particular plant is out to get you? Seems everyone can grow it easily except you. Do you spend hours wondering what you should be doing differently, moving it from location to location, trying different fertilizers? Relax and stop worrying. You’re right; the plant hates you. Here are two roses, recent additions to the same neighborhood. And this is their tale:

Gardening picture

It was the best of climes; it was the worst of climes.  Zone 5 is the best because we enjoy four seasons; the worst because summers are hotter than the bowels of Hades.  To call winters cold would be a compliment. 

I am Dorothy Perkins, the rambler rose, and I was born and raised in Michigan by a northern grower.  The Zone 5 cold doesn't concern me in the least.  Pinkie, my friend, is a Rosa palustris, supposedly hardy here, but with her Oklahoma upbringing, who knows?  I must remind myself to discuss with her the horticultural mechanisms of hunkering down for a cold spell.  Most gardeners don't think roses think or behave in any sort of hunkering fashion.  Let's just say that most gardeners are wrong. 

My owner is a grumpy man who has been gardening a long time.  I see many other roses as I look around his garden.  There are none as lovely as me, and I don't care to claim them, but you can't, as they say, pick your relatives.  I'm hoping they're far distant cousins.  Pinkie's owner is a young woman new to gardening, full of ambition, but not full of know-how.  Poor Pinkie.  I'm thinking Pinkie ought to teach that young squirt a thing or two.  At least I will be tended by a master. 

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Rosa 'Dorothy Perkins,' Narrator

After Week One:  I have named my master Mr. Arrogance.  I was planted the day after I arrived, which was nice after the cardboard box and rough ride on the UPS truck, but all he gave me for food was some erroneous mishmash.  I prefer fast food myself.  Many roses prefer a home-cooked meal, but his mix could have used a little more nitrogen for my taste.  This fellow and I are going to have problems, I can see it now.  It's good for me that he knows what he's doing, but I don't like his attitude.  As he put food in my new home, he was explaining to Miss Hyperactivity, Pinkie's mistress, how he mixes his own fertilizer, but then he wouldn't share his secret with her.  He thinks he's a rose expert.  We'll see, Mr. Arrogance.

Pinkie is still in her mistress's garage while Miss Hyperactivity is flitting about, concerned about hole depth, light requirements, and Mr. Arrogance's fertilizer.  Poor Pinkie.  Miss Hyperactivity is so nervous after Mr. Arrogance's rose lectures, she can't get anything done.  Let's hope Pinkie lives to tell about it.

After Week Two:  Mr. Arrogance checks on me daily.  He thinks I don't know how to grow and look beautiful?  I think I'll just sit here a while and see if I can make the old coot sweat.  I might even drop a few leaves for good measure.

Miss Hyperactivity finally put Pinkie in the ground.  The mistress mixed up the fertilizer, got it all wrong, but Pinkie is showing off anyway.  Pinkie got the right amount of nitrogen though.  I'm beginning to wish I had been purchased by Miss Hyperactivity.  At least she is pleasant.

After Week Three:  I haven't been checked on in five days.  Who does my master think he is?  Doesn't he know he's supposed to stew and sweat over my survival?  He acts like he thinks I'll be just fine with no attention.  I'm going to get myself some blackspot just to annoy him.  Ignore me, Bub?  We'll see.  He'll wonder how I got blackspot with no rain.

Pinkie is doing great.  Her poor little mistress fusses and talks to her all the time.  She even cut off some of last year's wood, which Pinkie doesn't need.  Pinkie is trying to humor her by looking as lovely as she can.  At least she is getting some attention!

After One Month:  Ouch, ouch, ouch!  Mr. Arrogance unceremoniously pulled off the leaves with the blackspot I especially created for him.  He had the nerve to curse.  He gave me a big drink afterward, making sure to get no water on my leaves.  It would be nice if he said sweet things to me.  I got him good with a couple of my thorns, and I think I'll sulk now.

Pinkie has buds.  Miss Hyperactivity is beside herself.  She came rushing over to Mr. Arrogance begging him to come see Pinkie's buds.  He didn't oblige her, saying something about beginner's luck.  You go, Pinkie, you go!

After Two Months:  Mr. Arrogance and I are still doing battle.  He feeds me stuff I don't like, I drop a leaf.  He topdresses me with compost, I droop just a little.  We'll see how much he knows!

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Rosa palustris, or "Pinkie" to the narrator

In the meantime, Pinkie has bloomed voraciously.  Miss Hyperactivity is beside herself with glee.  Since she couldn't even bring herself to pluck one rose to enjoy indoors, Pinkie rewarded her by seemingly dropping a perfect one on the ground at her feet.  It's a joy to watch, I tell you, a joy.  It's almost as much fun as watching Mr. Arrogance eat crow.

After Three Months:  AACCKKK!!!  Mr. Arrogance has kicked me to the curb!  He dug me up yesterday, told his wife I was defective and he wanted his money back.  I'm lying here out of the earth, dying, waiting for the trash man.  This Mr. Arrogance has no heart!  No heart, I tell you!  Whoever heard of a gardener with no heart!

Pinkie is nodding her fabulous blooms my direction.  All I can do is lie here and think perhaps I took things a bit too far.  My understanding was that gardeners never gave up.  I thought as long as I didn't die, he would love and care for me.  On the other hand, I didn't love him either. 

It's dark now.  I hear rustling.  There she is!  Miss Hyperactivity is nervously picking me up!  Run, Miss Hype, run!  She is digging a hole in the dark; she is tossing in fast food.  I love this woman!  I will bloom for her!  I will bloom all summer!  I will not get blackspot.  It is a far, far better thing that she does, this Miss Hyperactivity.  She will be rewarded.

 

***Gracious thanks to Melody Rose (melody) for her lovely photos of all these pink roses.  You may find her photos in Plant Files. 


  About Lori Geistlinger  
Lori GeistlingerLori and her husband, Handsome Man, garden in the heart of Tornado Alley in the Midwest. She likes perennials, because if they don't come back, chances are she forgot she planted them and doesn't realize she killed them. Don't take her too seriously.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Absolutely loved this! PAgirl60 0 0 Apr 22, 2014 7:54 AM
LOVE IT!!!! MistyPetals 2 18 Mar 20, 2008 7:38 PM
Loved the story VictoriaRoseD 0 4 Mar 18, 2008 3:45 AM
Too Funny! darius 16 94 Mar 18, 2008 12:09 AM
Enjoyed the article! 1mary2 1 7 Mar 17, 2008 7:10 PM
Not paranoid if they are out to get you rince1wind 1 10 Mar 17, 2008 4:42 PM
Delightful article! oldkate 0 5 Mar 12, 2008 1:01 PM
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