It's official, folks. ProfessorRoush is declaring that his beloved 'Red Cascade' is well on its way to recovery. This formerly dismembered and pack-rat-pissed-on climbing miniature is fighting its way back from oblivion, or more accurately from an illness that I hereby designate as "Pack Rat Den Doldrums." As the first person to describe the condition in roses, I think I deserve the right to name it.
You'll recall that, in early May, I ripped out the pack rat den that had been woven around the plump and supple six foot long canes of 'Red Cascade', and I hacked the remnants of the rose back to sparse six inch stubs. This (at right) was its appearance after the massacre, a few green canes among a lot of brown canes, all barely free of a mound of rat-urine-encrusted mulch.
But, here it is on July 4th, photographed on my iPhone from the seat of my lawn mower, blooming for the first time in a year, and attempting to add its short cascade of red blossoms to the red, white and blue celebrations of the day. The new, smaller canes are pencil-thick and growing longer by the minute, and the foliage is completely blackspot free. It started blooming almost a week ago, sparse at first, but it seems determined to make up for lost time. I suppose that I should grudgingly chalk up the new found vigor of 'Red Cascade' to the rat urine and feces infested mound of mulch I left around its base but I don't really want to think about it.
Everyone in the neighborhood is trying to get into the act, however. A week ago, as 'Red Cascade' started blooming, I snapped this photo, again from the lawn mower. A native Asclepias tuberosa was trying to steal my attention away from my intensively-cared-for rose and it was doing a fair job of it. It sprung up last year, probably enticed to the spot by the as-yet-unnoticed aforementioned rat droppings. It's really disgusting to think about this bounty as a product of rat poop, but, I suppose, organic manure is organic manure, whether it is rat crap or cow manure or donkey dung. Luckily, I know that 'Red Cascade' is scentless so I won't be risking Hantavirus by trying to sniff the blooms.