As I surround myself with rose catalogs and make my final decisions about this year’s purchases, I can’t help remembering all the roses I have bought and killed. When I was a new gardener I was ashamed of every failure and knew, rightfully so, that it was caused by my lack of knowledge and skill. It took time to realize that knowledge and skill grow from our failures. We learn about proper planting, proper siting, and proper maintenance. Along the way I also learned that I planted roses that were too tender, and sometimes took a gamble on purpose. I also learned that some deaths in the garden are inexplicable. A gardener in one garden may have trouble keeping a plant under control, but when it is transplanted in another garden nearby it perishes, and perishes again when the replacement comes.
Because these ‘failures’ are inexplicable and because we gardeners may really really want a particular plant, we buy it again and again. I know of one gardener who said he gave up on a plant only when he had personally killed it three times.
The Pink Grootendorst rugosa shown above is a magnificent success on my new Rose Bank. I have about 80 other roses in my garden, but when I glance at my old garden journals I think I come close to having killed nearly 40 over the past 25 years. Actually counting them would be too depressing. How do you handle deaths in the garden?