Revivifying a Rose

Years ago, I grew a plant of the rose “Fragant Cloud” from a cutting. Grown on its own roots, rather than grafted onto a vigorous rootstock, it was always rather a feeble plant, but managed to bloom modestly most years, even when plagued by black spot. It went into last winter looking pretty bad, probably because of the ferocious maple and Ailanthus roots that have turned my garden into a challenging site for all but the toughest plants.

This spring, the poor thing put out some new leaves, which were promptly chomped by the visiting buck. They didn’t even have a chance to develop black spot. Deciding that Something Must Be Done, I dug it up and planted it into good soil in a big pot I happened to have on hand. I rather botched the digging up business, leaving very few roots on the unfortunate rose plant. It sat there for weeks looking skeletal, and I gave it only a fifty per cent chance of survival. About midsummer, I was happily surprised to see new growth — nice dark green leaves without a trace of black spot. It grew several new stems, each with 3 or 4 buds. A dozen buds in all, more than this plant had ever managed, even at its former best. Now it’s in full bloom, perfuming the late summer air and providing a small splash of lushness in the generally desiccated scene here, after nearly two rainless months.

Sometimes things work out better than expected.