I promised to throw in a ringer from time to time and this is one of those times.
I’ll confine my book adventures to one paragraph. I delivered copies of Crossings to the Alsea Bay Bridge Interp Center in Waldport and The Crossings Guide to two of Florence’s bookstores in Old Town, met a genuine fan of my writing who has her own impressive resume, and set up another PowerPoint presentation in Eugene. As to the Florence Festival of Books, I sent follow-up letters and updated the tally sheet for new applications Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and I responded to participant questions every day this week. I also wrote a news release Monday profiling three local authors that I finally remembered to send to the newspaper and radio today. As to the Arcadia Book, I wrote a letter to the editor (actually to the community) requesting help on acquiring photos, spent a couple of days at the library on research, and on the third day, I was there on duty as a docent. That day, I was able to interview one of my fellow docents who just happens to be a descendant of pioneers. So my life as an author continues to be busy on all fronts.
Enough of that, I want to write about my roses.
I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote by Gertrude Stein––a rose is a rose is a rose. Well, I’m going to paraphrase: a rose is a rose is a rugosa. I was in the garden this morning admiring each blossom among my rugosas and decided to write about them.
The Rosa rugosa is hardy enough to stand up to salt spray at the ocean (and I mean within the spray zone), drying winds, nibbling deer, and even ongoing neglect. And they never need the fertilizing, spraying, or pampering of hybrid teas.
I speak from experience. For 20 years, I had hybrid tea roses—beautiful, exquisite long-stemmed roses––that I loved, but so did the deer. I had to spray for powdery mildew, rust, and black spot as well as fertilize and water often. I would’ve willingly gone on forever pampering them because the blossoms were so lovely. I even had them behind an electric fence, but those roses were an attractant to the deer. And that was the main problem. They crawled under, climbed through, and jumped over the electric fence, and it was always turned on. They got so they would eat every blossom, bud, and most of the leaves. So in 2006, with the help of a friend, I pulled out all nine of my plants. Now in those beds I have red emperor pole beans and blue lake bush beans. (I do love green beans.)
I learned about rugosas in the early 1990s when I was doing an article for Oregon Coast magazine about landscaping within the salt spray zone and decided I’d like to plant some. For many years, I did the gardening column for the magazine. But it was 2001 before I did anything about planting rugosas. That year I made many garden changes, including planning rugosas. To create a new flowerbed, I cleaned out the gravel and worked the soil in a wide section of gravel walkway.
With the new flowerbed, I was ready. I visited The Bramble and the Rose Nursery in Yachats that specializes in rugosas. I was surprised to find that they come in many colors and configurations. I bought two magenta-colored roses—one double and one single petal and two pink ones––again one double and one single petal. And I couldn’t resist a large double white. So I planted five small plants that looked lost in the new flowerbed because I followed the directions to space them far apart. They survived the first summer and endured some deer nibbling. But they were not an attractant. The deer could take ‘em or leave ‘em.
I learned that these hardy plants grow from their own roots––not grafted like hybrid teas––and they really don’t need fertilizer. From time to time, I add my homemade compost, and like all roses, they love a good soaking.
Although I started with five plants, I discovered that they send underground runners that pop up nearby, creating new bushes in a year or two. If you cut the runner and move it where you would prefer it to be, it may or may not make it. And it will take years to set roots. I’ve learned to let them have their own way. If I see a runner popping up outside of the bed, I move the stones and change the shape of the bed to accommodate it.
I wanted those five little plants to turn into a big bramble of rose bushes that flowed one into the other. With runners popping up and filling in the spaces and the plants getting larger each year, it finally happened. It took seven years. Now, it’s been 12 years and they look just the way I envisioned them back in 2001. I have my own wonderful bramble of rugosas.
The hybrid teas do make better cut flowers and last longer. But oh I love these rugosas! While their blossoms don’t last more than two or three days and they don’t make good cut flowers, I enjoy their fragrance and beauty daily during the blooming season May through September. I like to bring in just the petals and put them in shallow dishes where I can enjoy the fragrance indoors. Some rugosa varieties sport large red hips in the fall. Of my five varieties, only one has really good hips. So I break off the hips on most of my plants and toss when I take the petals. But I’m going to start leaving them on the one plant that has such gorgeous hips.
After I pulled out the hybrid teas, the deer weren’t as much of a problem. From time to time they nibble new growth or pick on one plant, but this year they’ve kept their distance. And the fence, needing repair, has been turned off. Wonder if there’s any connection! Hmm!