Friday, August 19, 2011

Death of a Monk

'Jens Munk', 8/19/11
The game is afoot Watson, for a great mystery has arisen on the prairie.  On Monday, I returned from a 4 day trip, little knowing that gloom and despair had visited my garden in my absence.  From as far away as the windows of the house, though, I could easily see that a monk had died in my garden.  A 'Jens Munk' Canadian Rose, that is. I took a picture of it this morning so you could view the dearly departed with me.  Completely sad, isn't it?  Click on the picture if you absolutely must see it in vivid detail.

'Jens Munk', 4/24/11
I'd been watching and nursing this beautiful shrub rose along for over a year, pampering it with judicious compost and water, but now that it has given up the struggle, I'm determined to investigate the death until the culprit is identified and blame is assigned.  As regular readers of my blog know, I first noticed the rose had a problem last fall when approximately half of the bush suddenly died and I talked about it then in this blog post.  At the time, I was blaming the late summer drought we had last year and you can bet that I lavished some extra care and water on it this year, especially in the long stretch of 100+F temps we had in July.  It started out the year pretty decently, with the remaining bush leafing out well and looking healthy as you can see at the left.  A couple of new canes had sprouted in the vicinity of the dead ones I had pruned, and I had hopes that the bush was going to recover.  Alas, in the span of a few short days the rest of the bush went from green, to brown and shriveled, and it did it in the period after we had finally had some cool relief from the drought and summer heat stress. 

I'm slightly torn between digging it up to get "at the root of the problem" or leaving the roots alone in case some surviving tender rootlet wants to regrow.  This rose has never suckered as most Rugosa hybrids do, so I don't have the benefit of being able to get an easy start of it.  I've decided to uproot it to inspect the roots anyway.  I can't imagine what the issue was;  no visible disease, no rot in the canes I cut off last year, no rodent activity in the area, no sign of iron chlorosis. I've never seen crown or rose gall here on my roses and there is no evidence of it on the surface of this own-root plant.  The other roses closest to it, including 'Robusta', 'Blanc Double de Coubert', 'Alchymist', and 'Louise Odier' , are all doing well and look healthy.  At least two of those are also Rugosa hybrids, so I can't blame the bloodlines.  I'll examine the root system, the canes, and also test a soil sample for pH.  One thing I'm sure of is that the rose didn't get too dry this year.

In memory of this cold-hardy beauty of a rose, taken from me in the prime of her life, despite her excellent overall form, healthy foliage, nice pink blush, and the few plump hips that I always admired winter, I give you 'Jens Munk', glorious in May of 2009, before the decline started:


  1. I guess your going to have to add her to the tribulation day post. r.i.p.

  2. How absolutely gorgeous she was! No wonder you're in mourning. Hope you're able to figure out what went wrong and try another one.

  3. My guess: Rose-stem girdler, which hits rugosa hybrids almost exclusively. My most susceptible cultivar is Blanc Double de Coubert.

  4. How awful! I have two enormous Jens Munks outside my fence. They are about six or seven years old. They are very tall now, and bloom three times a summer. I would be heartbroken to lose them. If you find the culprit, please let us know.


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