I must apologise for my recent absence. You see, I have been battling dark forces. Just look at the state of my roses and you’ll see what I mean:
What is causing these roses to look so sickly? I found this page on the RHS website which lists common problems in roses: leaf curl, aphid, black fly, white fly, green fly, rust, black spot, dieback, brown scale… A feeling of horror and despair came over me as I compared this list of infamies with the signs and symptoms in my roses, their curling, brown-speckled leaves, bare branches, infestations and knobbled wood: my roses are suffering from every single affliction!
For some reason I was particularly infuriated by the aphids. Look at this rascal! See how nonchalantly he adventures across the leaf in search of fresh shoots to maim. Now imagine hundreds of his bastardly cousins on the underside of the leaf, gorging themselves on the rose’s lifeblood.
Between the acute infestation of bugs and the chronic infestation of moulds, I decided the bugs were the most urgent problem. The first thing I did was to fill a sprayer with a dilute soap solution, because I’ve read that soap makes it impossible for the aphids to stick to the plant. I saturated each rose plant with this solution, and the next morning was most gratified to find scores of yellow, dead aphids all over the roses.
However, I was not sure how sustainable this answer was. Would the soap eventually concentrate and degrade the soil? I decided to throw some money at the problem and bought from the local garden centre an organic pesticide made of ‘a blend of fish and vegetable oils’ suitable for an organic garden. It promised not only to eliminate all types of bugs, their nymphs and their eggs, but to control the black spot and rust moulds too. It promised to be safe for the plant, and to be non-toxic to animals and beneficial insects such as bees.
It sounded almost too good to be true.
I gave my roses a really good dowsing and found that the organic pesticide of natural oils was as good as its word as far as the aphids were concerned, although I did notice an increase in black fly, possibly moving in opportunistically now that the aphids were mostly gone. The moulds will take longer to go as once a leaf is discoloured it will remain so for good. The spray simply prevents the mould taking hold in new leaves.
It may be too late for one of the roses. It lost almost all its fragile leaves overnight in a storm. Only time and patience will tell if it survives.