In my yard, I have two beloved bushes – a blueberry bush and a rose bush. Both have been with me for many years now, and I have grown rather attached to them. So much so, that in spite of their weight and size, when we moved to our new home last year, I forced our movers to load them onto the back of the truck.
You see, I am a big believer that plants can tell the story of your life and I really don’t like leaving things behind. This may sound crazy to a non-gardener, but each time I look at a plant in my garden, I can weave it back into certain points in my life.
For example, my sister gave me the blueberry bush. Ordinarily, one might say – so what? However, the story behind her gift is that she gave it to me while I was having trouble trying to conceive my daughter. I was quite sad, yet my sister knew that I believed that gardens promised a sense of renewal and rebirth, and it was her way of reminding me to be hopeful, despite how barren the situation seemed. Within a month or two after she gave me my blueberry bush, I found out that we were pregnant. How could I not move a bush that told such an important story in my life?
Not to be outdone, my rose bush also tells a tale, albeit a happier one. When my husband and I bought our very first house, I decided I needed a rose bush. I knew nothing of roses then, and I know only a little bit more now. But, I got it in my head that every home needs a proper rose bush so I picked out a beauty! She is drop-dead gorgeous, and I love her to pieces. Her story is that she will always remind me of our first home together and all of the other “firsts” that we have shared with each other.
So now that I have reminisced with you, I will tell you why I needed to fight for these two bushes this year. Even though they both survived the move last year, they sat unattended to in their planters and were very much unloved. However, they stayed true to me, and managed to fend for themselves – albeit with dire consequences.
This spring, I noticed that my beautiful rose bush was…ugly! She had become a knotty mess of dead branches and was practically falling off of her trellis. When I went to check on my blueberry bush, I was horrified to find it covered in little, white cocoons. I felt awful, and decided that I needed to shape up or give them a new home.
So, to pay penance for my lack of attention, I decided to go to the pros. As per my mother’s sage advice, I clipped some of their leaves and sealed them in plastic baggies before I left. As soon as my husband got home, I headed off to my favorite hangout – Stables Garden Center. (I’m pretty lame, eh?)
The owner took one look at my baggies and sent me directly over to the pest guy – who took another look at my baggies and pulled me over to the sprays. As I held up the rose baggie, I said, “Black spot?” He looked at me and answered, “Uhh, yeah, that and a whole lot of bugs.” Bugs? Gross. I hate bugs. I may love gardening, but I really, really hate bugs. The rose situation was so dire that he would only recommend one solution – ORTHO® RosePride®.
Then I handed him the baggie with the blueberry leaves. I was already grossed out about my rose bush, so I hopefully offered up, “Fungus?” He looked at me sadly and said, “Sorry – it’s not a fungus– you’ve got a mighty big scale problem.” If I thought I was grossed out about bugs on my roses, wait until he pointed out that the cocoons were only the beginning, and if I went home and looked closely at my bush, I would see hundreds of “scales” on the branches. I was feeling a bit woozy at that point, but managed to tell him, that if they grew, I wanted to be able to eat the berries. So he handed me a bottle of Espoma Earth-tone® Insecticidal Soap, but he didn’t look too hopeful.
Completely grossed out, I raced home to inspect my blueberry bush. Indeed, right in front of my newly-opened eyes, there they were – hundreds of brown scales. I almost hurled. More so because I doubt I ever would have noticed them if they hadn’t been described to me – which gave me the willies.
I knew I had to get cracking, if I had any hopes of saving these bushes, so I sprayed them down as per the manufacturers’ instructions. Weeks later, (and many follow-up sprayings), I am happy to report that my rose bush is doing much better. The black spot is almost completely gone and the leaf holes are minimal. Let’s not forget: her blooms have been spectacular.
But, as happy as I am about the rose, I am sad to report that I don’t think I’ll be making any blueberry pies this year. So far, only one lone blueberry has even dared to show her face…
The scales refuse to die, and they keep making cocoons with abundance. The organic soap just isn’t strong enough, but I can’t blame the bug guy because he warned me that this might happen. Yet, I made a promise to my blueberry bush that I’d keep fighting, so it’s off to Stables again tomorrow – to see what else I can try. Stay tuned my friends…