The first words in my mind, about three weeks ago, as I discovered the potential disaster pictured to the right, was a horrible parody of Draco Malfoy in the first Harry Potter movie: "It's true then. Rose Rosette Disease has come to Hogwarts." Read that statement with a really exaggerated English accent and you'll know how it sounded in my mind. Crazy, I know, but somehow I must have neurons cross-firing between "witches' broom" and my mental images of the magical world of Hogwarts to make that connection. And, yes, I'm a fan of the Harry Potter series, but, no, I haven't taken to calling my garden "Hogwarts." I don't have a name for my garden. Come to think of it, "Hogwarts" might be as good as any, but I'm guessing that Mrs. ProfessorRoush won't see the humor in it.
I digress, however, as I try to avoid the awkward subject at hand. Although I'm not entirely 100% positive, I highly suspect that the misshapen foliage and canes show above are Rose Rosette Disease on my 'Golden Princess' rose. I suppose there is always some faint hope that this was damage from herbicide drift, but that multi-prickled cane appearance and warped leaves are pretty damning evidence to the contrary. The canes on this rose should look like the photo at the left, a more normal area of the bush.
Either because of inborn psychology, or due to my veterinary medical training, I'm not one to wait around and ignore a potentially garden-fatal cancer. I'm not Scarlett O'Hara in my garden, thinking I can worry about this tomorrow. In my reading on Rose Rosette Disease, I know that immediate action is necessary to prevent spread to other roses. Since I grow over 200 other roses, an epidemic of RRD is to dreadful to contemplate, a fear which also helped me take decisive action.
I immediately initiated the "one strike and you are out" philosophy used by other RRD victims. I have chopped out every cane (yes, with an axe!) that appeared to have any disease and I included the roots of those canes, resulting in the small and normal- appearing remnant displayed to the right. This rose has one chance, a chance possible only because it is an own root rose and I could divide it without splitting a bud union. If it shows me any sign of RRD in the near future, then this remainder gets shovel-pruned immediately, day or night, rain or heat. I know there is no wild multiflora rose within over 0.5 miles, so I don't know how it arrived here except in the Kansas wind, but I'm not going to baby a diseased rose in my garden.
In the interests of rose-related education, if you've never seen RRD, take a good look at that top photo. Symptoms of RRD include excessive thorniness, leaf malformation, bright red leaf and stem pigmentation, enlarged cane diameter or elongated shoots, and "witches' broom", the latter characterized by a dense mass of leaves and stems growing from a single point. The causal agent of RRD has recently been proven to be a negative-sense RNA virus in the genus Emaravirus (Laney AG, et al, J Gen Virology 2011:92:1727-1732), that is spread by the Rose Leaf Curl Mite (Phyllocoptes fructiplilus) mite.
One deformed leaf, and 'Golden Princess' is no more. At least I've got another, ordered last Winter by mistake...or was it by fortuitous clairvoyant foresight?