I am a stubborn and tenacious person. I don’t give up very easy on most things. If there’s a part of my that does want to consider giving up on an endeavor, I will hem and haw and consider the options for a long time. Tenacity can be a good trait, but there comes a point where you just need to be able to let go and say “yeah I tried and it didn’t work. I don’t have to feel guilty about failing, I just know better for next time”.
One such case of needing to let go is my climbing rose. When we moved into our house nearly 12 years ago, I bought a white climbing rose for my garden, thinking it would be pretty. I planted it about 10′ away from the house, just with a little fan trellis for it to grow on. And it was pretty. Then when it bloomed I thought “that’s odd, what’s that black spot?…and why is the leaf turning yellow?…and why are these other leaves getting black spots?” Black spot fungus took nearly all the leaves on that bush that year.
I read up and found out that you need to pick the leaves with the fungus as soon as you see them. OK, so next year I pulled the first diseased leaf off. Then another. And another…ad infinitum. I plucked off every diseased leaf and ended up with a bare bush, same as the previous year.
After about 6 years, I gave up. I’d cleaned the ground, added new mulch, used fungicide regularly, tried every suggestion I could find. I figured it was just that my yard had endemic black spot and there was nothing I could do. I gave the bush to a friend who had bought a new house, where she could plant it to have it grow up the front and be pretty.
The next year there was a tiny branch that grew out of the ground with thorns. Some small bit of the root had lived and started growing a whole new rose bush. To me, this was a sign. If I’d gotten rid of it but it was still there, who was I to kill it. Not sure why I had this approach suddenly, since I happily kill weeds that I keep getting rid of over and over (and over) again. Probably because it was a rose, and roses are pretty. It took a couple of years, but it started flowering, this time with dark pinkish red roses…and as soon as the flowering was done, the black spot shedding began again. I used bottles of fungicide to try to stem the tide, but no luck. The end result is always the same, a nude climbing rosebush. I finally read in my Garden Problem Solver book that basically this bush was probably not disease-resistant enough to thrive in the humid NJ summers.
So this year i hemmed and hawed again and looked at the now 10′ tall 12′ wide fanned canes as they exploded in beautiful flowers. I bought a Jackson & Perkins old rose this spring, which other than some issues with thrips has done fairly well and has no sign of black spot fungus even though it’s only 3 feet from the giant climbing rose. So it’s the bush, and it will never thrive in my yard. And me spraying a half a bottle of “safer” fungicide on it after every rain isn’t going to do anything in the long run, it will still just lose all its leaves and look big and ugly once the plant’s energy goes into flowering.
I’ve finally realized (for the second time!) that it’s not my fault and I’m not a failure as a gardener because I couldn’t get this rose to thrive. I don’t need to carry that guilt anymore. I have no control over the bush’s problems. I can remove it, and plant something in it’s place that will thrive in my garden, that I can sit back and enjoy without breaking my back and feeling guilty. It is time. I am giving up, and letting go.
Is there anything in your garden you’ve had trouble “letting go”?