Ever-Blooming Roses During the Good, the Bad, and the Bugly: Borers of Bitterness

The destruction of a cane borer.

Borers of Bitterness

While puttering about my urban rose garden one Spring day, I discovered a hollow and dying cane on one of my hybrid teas. Though small and usually unseen, the rose borer impacts the life of a rose’s cane and possibly the entire plant. The rose borer is a worm like larvae that typically digs into and hollows out a freshly cut cane. They also target young more pliable canes to dig in to and set up their nests. A rose borer could be labeled as a good bug as it eats its share of aphids. However, the rose borer could easily be labeled a bad bug as well for it causes canes to wilt and die. Furthermore, some borers just keep digging until they reach the bud union at the base of the rose bush potentially causing the entire bush to perish.

​To protect your roses from borers, seal off freshly cut canes with a dab of Elmer’s multipurpose glue. Refrain from using Elmer’s school glue as rain fall or watering your roses can wash off the sealant. Also, in a pinch, you could drop clear nail polish on the end of a freshly cut cane, but be advised chemicals in the nail polish could damage the cane, which defeats the purpose. If you notice the damage of a borer, go ahead and cut back the cane until you reach the healthy filling of a cane. Upon doing so, seal off the end of it. With each cut you make of your canes, dab on the Elmer’s glue so the borers will eventually run out of options.

​“Bind this warning, ‘Seal the Torah within My disciples’.” Isaiah 8:16

Elmer’s Glue seals a rose cane.
Smokin’ Hot, a hybrid tea rose.

The internal damage an unsuspecting rose borer does to a rose bush reminds me of how easily the unrecognizable sins of unforgiveness and bitterness creeps within the canes of our soul. I have noticed in my own life, I tend to forgive others for their harmful behavior towards me, but often I fail to forgive myself for some of my own harmful and impacting decisions. Without even realizing it, hints of bitterness borrow deep into my canes. Nightmares and other circumstantial triggers clued me into such a wilting and potentially devastating issue hidden within my heart. Despite knowing Abba Father (God) forgives those who repent (Psalm 103; Isaiah 1:16-20, 43:25), I would walk around with self-imposed shame, guilt, and condemnation. While I realize I cannot control the actions of others, I can control my choices. Unfortunately, we must live with the consequences of our choices and one particular decision haunted me for years.

Thankfully, upon realizing our Father’s love and lavish mercies, I could cut out the bitterness and unforgiveness bored deep within my soul, while sealing my heart and mind with His commandments like we seal the freshly cut cane with Elmer’s glue preventing further damage. When I reflect on His forgiveness, love, and instructions for living, I am free to flourish producing “ever-blooming roses”.

Ever-Blooming During the Good, the Bad, and the Bugly: An Aphid Attack

Aphids attack a rose (photo courtesy of GardenTech)

An Aphid Attack

​Spring, in all its glory, has a marvelous way of resurrecting my spirit. A spirit that seemingly had lost all hope in the blustery cold winter months. The hints of life burgeoning in my garden stirs renewed hope and energy within my aching bones. How exciting to see new canes sprawling out as if stretching from an oppressing winter! The new red leaves bursting in color declare, “I’m alive just waiting to bestow glorious blooms!”

​Irritatingly deceptive are the tiny green aphids that blend in perfectly as they cover an unsuspecting rose bud and other areas of the plant. Technically, aphids may appear in your garden as an assortment of colors such as black, brown, red, or even white. Aphids attack worldwide and their different species are in the thousands! Aphids arrive in the Spring, but can reemerge anytime during rose season seeking out the sap within your rose plant. They tend to cover the rose bud or hide under the plant’s foliage. Aphids can even transmit disease to your other roses. Thus far, every Spring when I look closely at my buds anxious for them to bloom, I am horrified to see a cluster of life sucking creatures curling the leaves around her, smothering her, and doing their best to prevent her from blooming!

​Thankfully, there are a few ways to resolve an aphid attack. One such option is to remove them by picking them off and squishing them although this method is quite tedious considering how many aphids typically plague a rose bush at any given time. Another much faster option would be to take a hose with a nozzle and blast off the aphids. This method won’t damage your roses and provides a quick, but temporary solution. Perhaps the best option is to develop an inviting host environment as previously discussed. Various herbs like dill, parsley, and mustard and flowers such as butterfly weed, tansy, Queen Anne’s lace and golden rod will attract ladybugs. Ladybugs thoroughly enjoy a tasty aphid and can devour the colony of pests in no time. You could also purchase ladybugs through an online source and release them into your garden. Follow the directions if you choose this option and understand most of the ladybugs will fly off but some will stay and enjoy the aphid buffet. Considering how aphids will seek out to destroy your burgeoning buds every Spring and into the Summer months, wisdom says to start establishing a welcoming host environment for the good bugs to permanently move in.

‘Peace’, a hybrid-tea

“And now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me; moreover, I have seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.” Exodus 3:9

An aphid attack on glorious roses reminds me of the affliction of the people of Israel, also known as the ancient Israelites and today known as the Jewish people.  It seems quite unfair to notice and delight in a flourishing bud, such as God’s chosen people, only to have them smothered by pest likened to antisemitism!

Nevertheless, the Hebrew Bible repeatedly both warns and encourages the Israelites, whether natural born or grafted-in such as Caleb (Numbers 13:6, 14:24, Joshua 14:13-14/Genesis 15:19) and Ruth (Ruth 1:2,8-18), both grafted-in Jews, for example, to not fret and to even expect affliction, but in the end, God will literally save the Jewish people, collective Israel scattered throughout the world raising them to be victorious (see Isaiah 30, 41-42, 49, 53-56, 60; Ezekiel 34-37; Joel 3; Zephaniah 3; Zechariah 8-12 as a few examples).

‘Diamond Eyes’, a miniature rose

 “Even though you planned evil against me, Elohim (God) planned good to come out of it.” Genesis 50:20

Furthermore, suppose the oppressed rose bud was crying out to you, the master gardener, to rescue her from such bondage. She was unable to free herself of the smothering aphids but her gardener could. What if we learned to cry out to our Abba Father, our Master Gardener, rather than try to fight off the aphids ourselves or worse, choose helplessness and hopelessness by giving in to slavery, depression, or fear. Surely, He hears our cries (see Exodus 2:23 and 3:9). Sometimes though, for the greater good and for the bigger picture that we cannot comprehend, it may feel like God, our Abba, has abandoned us so we cry out like the Israelites did, which David penned about them stating, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” (see Psalm 22:1). But ultimately, they were rescued from the oppression of Egypt. We see from the Psalm in verse 5, “To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.” David also encourages Israel and future readers, to understand the blessings coming to those who trust in the LORD when he scribes, “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” David further encourages the often oppressed and afflicted Israel while prophesizing about future world stating,

“You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all the seed of Jacob, honor Him, and fear Him, all the seed of Israel. For He has neither despised nor abhorred the cry of the poor, neither has He hidden His countenance from him; and when he cried out to Him, He hearkened. The humble shall eat and be sated; they shall praise the Lord, those who seek him; your hearts shall live forever. All the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall prostrate themselves before You. For the kingship is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations..” Psalm 22:24-29

The point, sweet sister, is even though Israel or the Jewish people collectively and possibly those who align with them, may be heavily afflicted throughout the centuries, ultimately, God is grooming and preparing a world to come full of victorious overcomers! Whether you need to tediously hand pick those aphids right off of you, blast them off in one clean swoop, develop an environment full of ministering angels, or better yet, cry out to your Master Gardener, then just do it! I’m here to remind you, beloved daughter of God: He hears you. In His strength and His time, you can overcome the attacks of pestilence! ​

“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

‘Miss All-American Beauty’, a hybrid tea

The Last Pruning

As an unusually warm February day invited me to take off my jacket to embrace the glow of the sun, I found myself inspecting my wintered roses. Despite being in the hardiness zone 6b and it still being technically winter, my roses were bursting with eye buds as well as signs of eager growth. Generally speaking, it is best to wait till the forsythia begin blooming before doing any pruning – at least for this area. You never know in this wacky Pennsylvania weather when a large snow storm could strike. Last year, I had blooms and black spot in January, then over 20″ of snow dropped on just one February day.

josephcoat.5.24.16.web

Spring 2016

Nevertheless, this particular warm February day, my heart warred as it wrestled with joyful signs of Spring, but also feelings of remorse. After having our home on the market a few months, we received an offer and settle in April. Although there will be much I miss about our home of 10 years, my rose garden will be sorely missed. We hope to do some traveling while settling somewhere in the South – most likely the Myrtle Beach area, which is hardiness zone 8a/b – a whole 2 zones warmer (that much I am looking forward to)! Alas, if we move there, we would purchase a condo with a balcony. Because if I have to give up my rose garden, I require at least a balcony. It wouldn’t surprise me if rose bushes mysteriously pop up around the condominium community too! 😉

While perusing my eager rose babies, I decided to clean up the garden and do some pruning. After all, they still are mine and I long to see a stunning Spring flush one last time before we have to say our goodbyes. Oh, how I hope the young lady who purchased this safe haven, this small glimpse of heaven, will come to cherish it as I have. I can’t even comprehend anyone ripping out rose bushes to settle for ordinary grass. Yet, I realize not everyone is “obsessed with roses” as my friends and family notate about me.

Upon completing my work in the garden, I dusted off the dirt that gathered around my lower limbs, discussed with my husband my accomplishments, and then cried.