Tuesday, August 8, 2017

War of the Roses

I might have codependent pets, but I also have codependent plants.

Actually, I think I'm the codependent one when it comes to the plants.

My mood shifts from sad to happy as soon as I see my petunias. It physically hurts every time I have to shear them down halfway in order to prevent "legginess" and to encourage the plants to bloom more. When I went on vacation for a week I had to cut all the blooms off and trim the stems halfway because I knew the Cowboy would not deadhead them while I was gone and I didn't want the plants to die.

I cried.

Rationally I know they grow back, but it still hurts me to cut beautiful flowers off when they are just exploding in blooming color.

It makes my deck look happy.

I landscaped my backyard several years ago and had plants put in along the border of the fence. I also planted a crabapple tree in the corner. That tree died at the end of last fall and the winter did nothing to revive it. When spring hit this year, it remained a skeletal statue of broken twigs with no leaves. Usually by mid-May it would sprout beautiful reddish/purple leaves and start bearing fruit by June. I'm not sure what happened to it, but sadly, it had to be chopped down.

Meanwhile, it had inadvertently reproduced. I had a tiny crapapple twig sticking out of the ground in May and after watering it all summer, it is now a good three feet high and getting bushy with leaves.

Every summer I attempt to plant a garden, and usually I yield a few carrots, some peas, and maybe a cucumber or two. This year, I planted four cucumber plants, four muskmelon plants, some radishes, some peas, and several types of herbs. I have about eight carrots. The radishes became food for pincer bugs, and although the cucumber plants are busy and beautiful and popping with flowers, I have all of three cucumbers trying to grow, and none of them the size they should be by now.

The muskmelons are doing the best. I have six melons all bigger than a softball, and I'm out there in my yard constantly, arranging their vines on trellises, watering them, rearranging the melons themselves so that they don't strain their vines, and eliminating pests as they attempt to destroy all my hard work.

It's exhausting, but I'm attached to those damn muskmelon plants.

My favorite plant is this crazy wild rosebush in my front garden. It's right up against the front of the house and it came with the property when I moved in fifteen years ago. At that time I rented, and I didn't pay much attention. The thing took care of itself, reviving every spring and blooming rose blossoms from mid June through August, and sometimes into September. I rarely watered it, but it didn't seem to care, and no snowstorm, windstorm, or burning 90 degree heat seemed to faze it.

After I bought the place I started taking care of it more, mostly because I admired how hardy it was
and I felt a little bad for not caring for it. I started to water it in the summers, particularly when it got really hot. Also, the Cowboy had planted other plants around it that need to be watered constantly so the rosebush reaped the benefits of that. Someone also told me that rosebushes love beer. One year after a particularly harsh winter when I wasn't sure the bush survived, I dumped a huge can of cheap beer on it, and within a week that thing exploded. Since then it gets a can of beer every year and also my coffee grounds daily.

It has flourished.

If it won't die lacking water and being beat on by dry hot sun, imagine what happens to this thing when it's actually being nurtured?

It took over.

The Cowboy had to get in there with shears and trim it back before it covered my kitchen window and crawled across the front lawn.

And since my lawn isn't big, it would have been crawling into the neighbor's lawn. I doubt they'd appreciate that because the thorns on this thing are wicked.  It acts like the perfect barrier against deer and rabbits for my tulips. The tulips grow right underneath the rosebush and nothing bothers those.

Over the last fifteen years I've become extremely attached to this thing. Added to the fact that it just won't die barring a nuclear winter (and even then I think this is the only thing that would survive), it's just a neat bush. It's not like those hothouse roses or domestic rosebushes. You can't buy these plants at the nursery or Home Depot. I don't know where it came from since it's been in my front yard since I moved in, but it's crazy, wild, and out of control. The guy at the feed store told me it's probably one of those old throwback bushes that grow wild in the mountains.

That makes me like it more.

I like to think of it has the protector of the house.

Wild rosebushes are said to repel vampires, like garlic and crosses.

It's not doing a very good job since California Guy still manages to cross the threshold, but hey, legend says, so it must be true on some level.

Now being faced with the possibility of maybe selling my house and moving, I'm in a conundrum. I refuse to leave this bush behind. The other plants are replaceable, but this rosebush has sentimental value, and let's face it, it's like one of my pets. No one will be able to care for it like I do, and true, it seems to do just fine on it's own, but still. We've become pals. We've bonded.

So California Guy had the bright idea of trying to clone it. When the time comes I might still hire a professional to dig it up and help me transplant it, but meanwhile, in case that doesn't work, I'd like to at least take some part of it with me. 

We bought some cloning gel, followed the directions, and tried to clone three branches from the bush.

We did it wrong and they all dried out and died.

A couple of weeks ago, we tried again. The directions aren't that hard. You find a branch with a spent bloom and snip it about 8 inches at a 45% angle. You dip the clipped end into cloning gel and plant it in a container with fluffy soft planting soil, the bottom lined with rocks. Then you spritz it with water, put it in a bucket and cover it with plastic wrap, making sure to keep the stem leaves moist at all times. It requires several spritzings a day. Set it in indirect light so it doesn't cook in the sun and cross your fingers.

So far both clippings are still alive. Despite my fussing and checking and rearranging the plastic wrap over the bucket, the clippings are actually thriving.

I can't seem to leave shit alone and just let it do its thing. The clippings would probably develop roots a lot faster if I'd just leave them alone and go away.

I have to say, I was skeptical reading the directions. Does this actually work? Coupled with the fact that we killed the last three we tried this with, I really didn't know how this last one would make out. We made some bad mistakes with the first three though. California Guy took them home which was a two hour drive so they dried out and started to die then. And then when he put them in a box and wrapped them, they just couldn't stay wet enough because the plastic wrap wouldn't cooperate.

I discovered the bucket was much easier rather than a box. With two clippings in there, it works like a greenhouse.

I have one more month to do this as the bush will continue to bloom through August and I can still get my hands on spent blooms. I have visions of cloning ten of these guys and planting them everywhere I go.

Otherwise it's another year before I can entertain the idea of moving as I will not leave this bush behind.

It's my baby.

But if these two twigs I have survive and actually become Rosebush 2.0 then I will definitely believe that nothing can kill this bush.

It'll be the cockroach of plants.

Keep your fingers crossed.


Rosebush 2.0 - it reminds me a little of Baby Groot


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