Friday, July 26, 2013

Rose Rosette Disease

Rose Rosette Disease.

I've been out of the horticulture world for a while. I garden a lot, I learned a bit of plant taxonomy, took classes in plant propagation, helped build a greenhouse, toured nurseries around the northwest corner of Oregon, and drove my husband crazy by collecting plant samples and drying them in weird places in the house and spewing Latin names as we drove through neighborhoods while studying for exams.

This disease was never mentioned in class. It snuck up on me.

Part of the reason is because it hasn't officially blipped on the radar in this area. Part of it is because thanks to a newly-developed test and the devastating loss of some important rose gardens, in 2011 RRD and the rose rosette virus have gained new attention.

It has no cure. Roses that have the disease have to be destroyed, and no new rose may be planted in its place, as the roots remaining in the ground may transmit the virus to the new rose. This disease has destroyed a huge number of wild roses, and many healthy wild roses are destroyed in an effort to restrict the spread of this disease.

The primary vector appears to be a particular sort of wingless mite that doesn't appear to live in this area, and so it may be that my other roses won't be affected, but it may also be true that they're already infected, and I'll lose them all. As symptoms arise, I'll destroy plants, and in their place put lavender and rosemary and peonies and try not to think about how much I loved the scent of all those blossoms in the early morning as I walked down my favorite paths.

I suspect that the rose was infected when I bought it, probably through root stock or a graft purchased from a nursery in an infected region. Last fall, the rose sent up a bizarre shoot. I thought it might be just a weird sport, and wondered if it would bloom. It did, beautifully. The stem remained red, as did all the leaves, and the stem was covered almost completely in thorns. It grew so tall and thick and fast that it easily broke in the next strong wind. Very short side shoots developed, with more rose buds, and one more bloomed. None of the side stems grew more than a couple of inches--unusual for a knocked down branch that bothers to grow side shoots.

In the spring, my husband accidentally mowed it where it lay. The grass had covered it up. I snipped it and forgot about it.

While surfing I ran across an article about the disease, and my heart sank. The stem covered in thorns, the red foliage that didn't mature to green, the very lush, brittle growth ... I had everything except the witch's brooms, elongated and twisted leaves and short stems growing in profusion from a single node, eventually forming 'brooms'. The next morning I went out. That weird stem was long gone, of course, but I had the rest of the plant to look at. It looked normal, except ... the red leaves at the growing tips looked twisted and puckered. No more stems covered in thorns, but .... I emailed our county master gardener program. They concurred with my assessment. Dig it up, burn it. Don't wait for more symptoms. Even if the rest of the rose isn't blaring signs of the disease, even though those leaves might be twisting for other reasons, even though the leaves may eventually turn green, because the rose was probably infected via a graft or root stock, because there's no cure ... there wasn't much point in waiting to see if the rose might not be okay. It wouldn't be.

I may have unwittingly spread the disease. I didn't disinfect the clippers after I clipped off what I thought was a weird sport. I don't have a lot of problems with powdery mildew, and black spot is endemic ... all my roses have at least a little black spot, and so I don't worry about making that worse.

That lack of foresight and basic sanitary practice may have cost me my rose garden. There are always diseases, known and unknown, ready to arise in all our gardens that could kill living things that we prize and that rely on us for their survival. Sloppiness, laziness ... it's easy, but it's risky. I gambled. We'll see how much I lost. Maybe nothing. Maybe just the one rose, a rose I didn't infect, a rose that came infected, that was dying, though neither of us knew it. I surely hope so. Because I have some great roses, and I'd like them to stick around a long, long time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cat up a Tree, and Down Again

It's been one of those weeks.

The two main things are near and perhaps impending badness.

First, Wizard got stuck in a tree. I have no idea how he got up there. All I know is that the dogs went bananas, and then I heard people talking, and saw a pickup truck. And then I heard yowling. You know how a cat sounds like your cat, but not, because it's making a weird, not-usual sound? Yeah. So I head up there, terrified that he got hit by a car, and I'm a little grateful that someone pulled over because most people when they hit an animal keep going or worse, slow down, decide that they can't cope and jet away ....

But, he's not at the side of the road, bleeding. He's about 25 feet up a Douglas fir. I couldn't find my big ladder, and the folks that stopped (I still don't know if they hit him--thanks to today's sue-happy society, I'm sure they'd be terrified to admit they did, even though they wouldn't be liable for anything) and 'noticed him' stuck up there, had to go but they promised to come back and check on him. Right after they left, of course then I found my big extension ladder. I flagged down one of the folks that use our road as a bicycle training hill, and he held the ladder steady while I climbed up there.

For my family's sanity, I won't describe what it took to get a terrified cat, who has four clawed feet, off of a tree branch that he doesn't want to leave, while perched close to the top of a tall extension ladder set up in the back of my pickup truck because the ladder wasn't tall enough set up on the ground.

Wizard had a very, very bad limp when I got back to the house, so I took him to the vet. Right now he's still on major kitty pain killers. The vet suggested that if he's still walking funny with his elbow tucked in under his ribs in seven days that I should get him x-rayed. I'll keep all y'all updated. In the meantime his limp has all but disappeared, and he seems happy, although a bit confused about why I won't let him or Huntress outside anymore.

Reason being, if it wasn't a truck that scared him badly enough to chase him up a tree, it was probably a coyote, or a bobcat, or some other critter bent on eating him. Neither cat is going out right now, and quite possibly ever again. Both our remaining kitties are older animals now, and it's simply too dangerous for them out there. I had no idea Wizard got that close to the road (assuming he wasn't chased across the road, of course) and the traffic is too ugly there, too. So, it's just best all around if they don't go out anymore.

The other news has to do with my roses. That'll be a long-ish post with pics and links, so that'll wait until next time. The gist is, I may lose some, or all of my roses over the next couple of years to a viral disease. You might too, so if you have roses, be sure to check in and I'll give you the skinny on rose rosette disease, or RRD, caused by the rose rosette virus or RRV. If you can't wait, Google a bit and prepare to be alarmed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More About Work

Not everyone gets to work at a job they love. I wonder sometimes if the vast, overwhelming number of people actually actively hate their jobs.

I think the world would be a better place if everyone loved their job, but that's sort of like wishing that diseases didn't exist. It's a nice sentiment, but it's not gonna happen.

Disliking or actively hating a job can damage a lot of stuff. There's that sense of time being wasted or lost, and we all have limited time, whether we like to think about that or not. Because most of us need to eat and like to have a roof over our heads and electricity and telephones and stuff, we're forced to endure the unpleasantness of work. Even really good, fun jobs can be boring or stressful at times. Unless you're independently wealthy, you just gotta power through.

That stuff is not that big a deal, and it's certainly not a revelation. Everyone pretty well does that every day without needing someone to remind them.

What I have been thinking about lately is how hatred of a job, of some aspect of a job, can twist and scar morality and spirituality. You may consider yourself a kind person, but be rude to someone who doesn't deserve it because the person before irritated you. You may consider yourself honest, but lie (or stretch the truth) to get out of doing something. Maybe, over time, core values get so worn away that the kindness that was once all yours to claim divorces you and moves away and you become bitter. The job did it to you.

Or did you do it to yourself?

I think I'm going to pay special attention at work today, to see if I'm upholding my work ethic, and to make sure I'm being myself, the self I want to be. I don't hate my job, but I certainly don't love it (though most of my coworkers and customers are great.) Sometimes it's stressful or boring (or both ... it's a bit mind-bending but it does happen) and because I'm there for such a great proportion of my overall waking time, I know my work shapes me. I think it's a good idea to periodically check and make sure that any changes are changes I want to see in myself.

And if I really want to be proactive, maybe I should think about ways I can change my work, or my attitude toward my work, to make sure I behave the way I want to be. In the end, I can't really blame my work for turning me into something I don't like. I'm the one living my life. My work isn't living my life for me. It can't. It's inanimate, unless I animate it. I have the power to work in a way that reflects my ethics, morality, spirituality, and creativity.  I may not choose when to work or what my work is, but I choose how to work, and how I work is what builds my character and shapes my soul. I choose.

I choose.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Work of a Lifetime

I've written about work and keeping busy before, but it seems to, like history, keep repeating itself every day.

Customers that come into the store where I work all have work lives that wrap around them like clothes. Sometimes its invisible, but most of the time it's clear ... not necessarily what they do, but how they do it, and how passionately they do it.

A friend of mine at work that recently retired always worked quickly, efficiently and with great attention to detail. She's busier than ever. She and I sometimes had a quick chat (no time to dawdle and talk at work!) about the work we had at home and how it never seemed to get done. Even with her day job behind her, she never gets done with all the things she wants to accomplish. I know it'll be the same for me. There's always something else that I'd like to achieve, whether it's to move the appliances and scrub the entire kitchen floor, weed out an ornamental garden bed, rough in another book cover, or finish the front porch (argh, there's so much to do!!) When my friend shops she's a woman on a mission. She's got to get back to work. Time is slippery, and we all have only so much.

But not everyone's life is like that. People shuffle in, bored, and roam the aisles looking for something to divert themselves. Sometimes it's just that they're exhausted and shopping is a vacation from the daily slog. But that in and of itself is telling. They slog, not just one day but every day. I have a beloved customer that always teases me when he comes in. He never seems to find anything to do. He shops out of boredom, often more than once a day, and more often than not leaves without getting anything because he can't find anything he wants. He's my opposite.

There are shopping explorers where everything is an adventure and fun and they're looking for something new to add to their homes or their hobby stuff. There are distracted people who can't pull their gazes away from their telephones or their conversations long enough to notice what they're doing. People who devote the vast majority of their time interacting with their children. People who come in with children and spend the vast majority of their time ignoring them or demanding that the children behave in such a way that they're easier to ignore.

It's just one shopping trip, but it's one of many that build into a pattern. I see the same people every day, week, month and watch them build this pattern. It's just one hour, of one day, of a lifetime. But the days form an architecture. Brick by brick, everyone builds their lives, and it's amazing and humbling to notice the ones that live in stark, empty rooms that they circle in restlessly with little to do, and those that have tidy homes and tidy gardens where they find enjoyment in the art and order, and those that beat trails through jungles, and those that build villages, or huge cities with all that they do and create ....

We are all of us, every day, contributing to the work of a lifetime, a masterpiece. It's not always beautiful or awe-inspiring, but it is who we are. Some feel like they're forced, some choose what they do, but we all do it just by managing our days. I find that endlessly fascinating.