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ROSE ROSETTE AND PUBLIC GARDENS                            

Due to the amplification effect (chapter 12) a large collection of roses (often a public rose garden)  may be the first place RRD will be noticed in an area. Not only are there more roses gathered together than in many private gardens, but there are more people enjoying them and someone will note that something is wrong.

The appearance of RRD in a garden neither reflects badly on the cultural practices of the people tending the garden nor on the garden's management.  RRD is a result of random mite drops -  random occurrences that are inevitable in some areas even some areas with low disease pressure.  Allowing  RRD infected plants to remain in a garden, however, does reflect on your cultural practice, and disaster will follow.

Each garden is different.  High versus low external disease pressure, amount of commitment to having a rose garden, responsiveness of the governing authority, money for replacement plants, availability of labor, availability of land, control of surrounding land, relations with neighbors, authority to change bed layouts, access to information and countless other factors influence a rose curator's ability to deal with this disease.  The purpose of this chapter is to inform and help to the extent that we can, curators who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to deal with Rose Rosette Disease. The pictures at the end are for education and also a sort of "Misery loves company" list of gardens that are (with one exception) survivors.  These are simply gardens we have visited and doubtless there are hundreds of other public gardens with the disease.  Some are dealing with it and some managers don't have a clue. A path to certain disaster is a lack of knowledge of the existence of RRD.  (A parallel path is marked with the fiction that RRD only infects Rosa multiflora, and that Hybrid Teas and other cultivated roses are not at risk.)

In many cases the first appearance of RRD is pronounced by local experts to be the result of accidental herbicide drift.  If, instead, it is RRD, treating it as herbicide drift will give the disease plenty of time to get a foothold in the garden and spread.  For the difference see the FAQ - "Are there false alarms?".  A lack of access to information has been a real problem.  Prior to the posting of this web site, Internet searches yielded misinformation suggesting that RRD was uniformly a good thing and that RRD seldom infected ornamental roses. State web sites were willing to repeat this assertion without looking at the data it was based upon and without an appreciation of the severe limitations of that assertion. This lulled people into a false sense of security that inevitably came back to haunt them.

"Corporate" reaction to RRD will determine how soon the disease is controlled. Public gardens are the culmination of actions of groups of people, many of whom will have to be consulted to solve a problem.  With RRD, reaction times should be minimized for best results. Even optimal  reactions,  may not solve the problem immediately because there are so many variables at stake.  A garden may be dimished or even lost to overwhelming disease pressure.  Success ultimately depends on having NO internal disease pressure and minimizing external disease pressure.   

Things not to do:
Don't quit and leave it to the next guy who may enter the situation clueless. If everyone does that, we will never develop protocols to deal effectively with the problem. Sadly, experience is the best teacher.  With experience comes an ability to recognize RRD early.

Don't deny the problem exists.  

Don't finger prune or cut off infected stems and canes to extend the bloom for an individual bush - this is certain disaster. It magnifies internal disease pressure.  Doing this will wipe out an entire garden in a few years!

Things to do:
Share what you learn as you learn it!  The Missouri Botanic Garden has been exemplary in this.  If you have the problem, others in your area do or will, too. Help them!

Know your surrounding area. Drive around and spot rose gardens and wild roses. Do this when 'R. multiflora' is blooming in your area and look for the patches of white.  Look up into trees; multiflora climbs when it can.   If you can't remember them, plot multiflora locations on a map for future reference.  You may need to inspect them when they are not in bloom. Keep an eye on them and get to know the local rose growers. Remove wild roses if possible or if it is necessary depending on your disease pressure. When multiflora sickens, the sick colors will catch your attention, if you know where to look.

Increase space between beds and use smaller beds with fewer plants per bed. Denser rose plantings greatly facilitates the spread of RRD. Mass plantings in an area of high disease pressure will be expensive to maintain.  How much money, labor, and comittment is available to keep the mass plantings? That will vary with different gardens.

If there are unmaintained mass plantings of "carefree" roses in public areas that are upwind of your roses, try to watch them for signs of RRD.

If you have the space, set up a quarantine area for suspect plants well away from the other roses.  This may save money over time, as well as provide replacement roses.  Also, if you teach yourself how to graft, you can test suspect plants.

The Curator's Dilemma: Several RRD roses have been revoved from this bed of 'Betty Boop' and  the rose at left now shows RRD symptoms -  If the remaining six roses could be isolated in a quarantine area, they might be saved. They may or may not become infected from the rose at left.
The latest 'Betty Boop' to sicken (above, left hand most rose.)  Click to enlarge.  The plant did not show symptoms when the others were rogued out.  Reddish contorted new growth, right of center, is not normal for midsummer growth for this cultivar, nor are the short internodal distances.

Keep records of how many plants you lose to RRD.  See if there are patterns in the gardens that relate to wind patterns.  If you have a digital camera, take pictures, too. I scan blooms, buds, stems and leaves that show symptoms that I haven't seen before.  In my first two years of looking at RRD, I didn't notice the aberrant growth on stipules and sepals; I'm glad that I have some photo records from those years to show symptoms that I didn't notice at the time.

Something we don't know with any precision is the time of the year at which gardens in a certain geographic area are most likely to become infected.  Large rose gardens could be an excellent source of information to determine the months at which symptoms are most likely to show.

The personnel at Iowa State reported that no one in Iowa has reported RRD in their rose gardens recently.  Perhaps.  I know of one rose grower fighting RRD who lives just south of the Iowa-Missouri state line.  Doubtless her roses would be totally healthy if she were to move them to Iowa instead of seeing them begin to die of RRD in Missouri.  (I almost should apologize for this snide comment, but I really don't think man-made boundaries affect or limit the spread of RRD, and I consider that the Iowa State comments beg the problems currently suffered by states and nations downwind of Iowa.)

Since that was written I have had reports of RRD in the well known and loved Reiman Rose Garden at Iowa State as well as in private gardens in adjacent counties.  The northward spread and recognition of the disease was inevitable.

I do know a lot of rose growers and I talk to some of them.  Talking about sick roses is seldom a priority especially with some age groups.  Some seem to think that all roses except their own are perfect and they are very hesitant to ask for help when something they don't understand happens.  Further, attempts to report this to extension agents leads to varying success.  If the reporter is in an urban county, where there's an extension agent who deals with home landscaping, there may be some interest.  In other counties, extension agents will tell the anguished rose grower that RRD is a good thing in that it will destroy Rosa multiflora.  The anguished rose grower is seldom amused.

Once a gardener has dealt with RRD, there is potential to do good.  Applying the golden rule to rose growing means helping your neighbors deal with this disease. A side effect will be to make your rose growing environment healthier.  There will, doubtless, be symptoms I haven't seen yet or that I didn't recognize.  There may be roses that are resistant or that can live with the disease.  There may also be hypersensitive roses; their identifications need to be known.  Please share what you learn.  

Add to the body of knowledge. You are in a position to learn more about RRD.  Notice which plants don't seem to get it (if any).  This is where the grafting comes in.  If the plant has RRD and simply doesn't show symptoms, a graft onto a seedling multiflora followed by subsequent RRD in the seedling will tell you that the asymptomatic plant is just that.  Such a plant would be bad news for a garden as a continued source if infection.  There is no list of such plants.  That knowledge simply does not exist.  

Second Guessing:  As a rose grower in a private garden, I'm lucky - nobody is looking over my shoulder except my husband and he shares this passion.  Somebody has to have the final say on the matter of pulling out a plant.  We have established a threshold of three separate symptoms as our personal standard to prevent misdiagnosis. If the plant next to the suspect plant had RRD, we count that as one symptom, so two more will condemn it.  We find it works well for us, but acknowledge that it is an arbitrary standard.  Establish and use what ever standard works for you. The decision to say that a plant has RRD, at the earliest possible time, is a judgment call.  I have asked total strangers to tell me if certain strange growth is something they have seen on their examples of certain cultivars ('Seven Sisters' and 'Rosa foetida bicolor').  Many rose growers are good people and I've had help from as far away as England and Washington State and Australia.

Digging a rose out of the ground and putting it into an isolation area is an alternative to immediate destruction. You might choose to call it quarantine, but whatever the name, the roses should be doused with a systemic miticide to kill any mites that might leave that rose.  This allows you to remove suspect plants and stop further spread from within your garden.  With time, you can see if you were right or wrong, so your future determinations will be more accurate and you will be more comfortable with them. With experience you can spot a growth problem across a garden.  Something might "just look wrong". Then you look closely for specific symptoms by comparing potentially sick parts with healthy parts of the plant.

Training:  In our garden we both look at a plant to make a determination. Not only are two heads better than one, but if we both see it, one of us will often see something the other did not. That makes it a learning experience and gives greater confidence in the diagnosis. If someone spots a potential problem and tags a plant for the curator's attention, have your entire staff look at it so they will learn what to watch for in the future.  There are also lots of pictures on this site they can enlarge (by clicking on them) and examine.

Pesticides: There are no pesticides that are guaranteed to kill all the mites the first instant that they land on a rose. The aquisition time of RRD could be as little as fifteen minutes. Worse yet, with a "bug" that reaches adulthood in only seven days, the continued use of one miticide is basically a breeding program for a better mite.  

Avoidance: See Chapter 12.

Below is a list of public gardens where RRD has destroyed roses.  Many of these are based on our own observations.  Others have been reported by knowledgeable rosarians.

The late Lincoln Memorial University Rose Garden, Harrogate Tennessee
Click on Pictures to Enlarge

The Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Rose Garden was our first experience with Rose Rosette Disease.  Sadly, the garden,  first planted in the twenties or thirties, no longer exists. For more information see case 3 in Chapter 4.

Size: 261 bushes
Percent loss: about 90%+
RRD first identified Spring 2000

Atlanta Botanic Garden, Atlanta Georgia
An account of the first RRD in ABG is given in Part 1 of Chapter 5 called Ribs & Rosette.  This garden has been replanted repeatedly.  The most recent replanting was to remedy soil problems (the roses weren't growing well) and the garden layout was redesigned with more space between plants and a less formal arriangement.  

The RRD sick roses in this garden were limited to the tops of the arches (left) and on the other side of a high holly hedge to the right of this photo.  The first sick roses included 'Fourth of July' (seen in the rogued gallery, Climbing 'Old Blush' (next to FoJ), 'Lady Banksia' (which had three small witches brooms up in the mass of stems that could be mistaken for poorly built birds nests) and 'New Dawn' up this walkway from the other RRD roses.

Ben Lomond House and Garden, Manassas, Virginia
Witches Broom on Moss rose Blanche Moreau. Chlorotic growth with dense thorns of a different type that the average thorny moss.  Hips in the lower right are on a cane that does not yet show signs of infections.
Our website was first posted in response to the appearence of RRD in this garden in spring 2001.

A question on the Internet about a "rooster tail" loooking growth on a rose in a public park led to the identificaton of RRD at Ben Lomond, which was only the second RRD recognized in the state of Virginia.  

(These photos by Kathy George, October, 2002 illustrate the different looks of RRD on rose classes that are not closely related to hybrid teas and floribundas.  We thank Kathy for making the trip to the garden and recording these so that others might learn from them.)

Multiple small witches broom tufts on the Alba rose 'Belle Amour'. Note lack of reddish color and the single hyperthorny tuft at right center.

Lanier House, Madison IN
As with many public gardens, the rose curator had never heard of RRD although in the early 1990's RRD had been studied in multiflora in Clifty Falls State Park immediately northwest of and upwind of the town of Madison.
In this garden, a massive gallica had died suddenly and without apparent  reason following a careful transplant.
Elsewhere in Madison, also in 2001, a climber was sick with RRD.  What remained of the canes of the gallica looked somewhat twisted, atypical of Gallica growth. (Fall, 2001)
Fernbank Science Center Rose Garden, Atlanta Georgia
Summer 2001 A plant of 'Weeping China Doll' on a berm next to the old mansion was sick with RRD as was a plant of 'Scarlet Meidiland', down by the highway (seen at left).   

The dry conditions of the soils that this rose grew in (near the road) may have helped restrict the spread of RRD from this rose to the 'Alba Meidiland' canes immediately underneath this RRD infected cane. (See the black rosette tufts.) This bed was a low care area and was not watered and there had been a series of dry summers.

Based on this, we had hopes for 'Alba Meidiland' as a rose with some resistence to RRD, but these hopes were faded when  we saw a large group of "Alba Meidilands' in Morganton, West Virginia with RRD.  

Cheekwood Botanical Garden, Nashville Tennessee
Bob Whitaker reported spring 2002 that 'New Dawn' over an arbor was infected with RRD.

Rose Garden  to honor Ted and Mary Alice Mills,Veterans' Park, Soddy-Daisy Tennessee
Fall 2001 Dr. Casandra Cansler, curator, saw a problem and we confirmed RRD on several red HTs in the garden.

Kentucky Arboreteum, Lexington Kentucky
Dr. Tim Phillips (who works with the rose garden although his primary assignment is turf grass) reported a list of RRD infected roses that added a number of classes to the list of roses that can contract RRD. He has seen symptoms on spinosissimas that are more pronounced than those reported in Viehmeyer.

Thornrose Cemetery, Staunton Virginia
Extinct is forever.
There are thousands of cemeteries where families have planted roses.  Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton VA is magnificent.  Members of the Staunton Rose Society working with cemetery management have tried to identify and preserve the roses  planted there.  Some roses date back to the early 19th century.  RRD moved into Staunton rapidly. The unknown China rose (at left) may have been the only surviving example of that cultivar.  It was important becaused it had survived  a century of zone 6 winters with no cover and little care.  RRD infected it  and killed it and its cold resistance may be lost forever.  In Thornrose, a second china  different from this was also lost to RRD.  

Red Cross Headquarters Rose Garden, Asheville North Carolina

'John Davis'  with RRD
Mrs. Wilson's 'New Dawn'
The folks at the highly innovative Asheville- Blue Ridge Rose Society have, in conjunction with the Asheville Red Cross, a "no spray test garden".  They are very serious about the no-spray aspect and chose not to spray the area after removing an RRD infected plant.  They did remove canes of 'New Dawn' that were in the vicinity of this plant.  It was early Spring and there was snow on the ground (not a condition for mite activity) and the disease has not recurred in this garden.  One stawart member (Rich Edwards)  drove around  Ashville looking for a possible source of infection. He found the heavilly infected 'New Dawn' at right, informed the owner, a widow lady who's eyesight was so bad she could no longer see the blooms on her 47 year old bush, and he removed the bush for her.  The Red Cross garden is doing well. May 2002 at their rose exhibition, they had a display to inform the public about RRD.
Mrs. Wilson's 'New Dawn'  heavily infected with RRD was a possible source for the RRD that infected the Red Cross Rose Garden.

Mrs. Wilson's 'New Dawn'

Phipps Conservatory and Garden, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
At the Phipps Conservatory  a mass planting  of 'White Simplicity' roses had a single plant with RRD symptoms.  
June 2002 we notified one of the workers and pointed out the rose with the problem.  
In this garden, the bright reddish purple, contorted foliage with short internodal distances defined RRD as no other 'White Simplicity' bush had contorted red growth, but rather normal green new growth.  
RRD had already been seen in that county and in surrounding counties.

Helen Cuddy Memorial Rose Garden, Shawnee, Kansas

The Helen Cuddy Rose Garden has an interesting layout in the middle of an urban area.  RRD infects several of the red roses around the fountain (at top) and in at least five of the other beds.  

The separation of the beds and the cold winters may have saved the roses that remain.

Capaha Rose Garden Cape Girardeau Missouri
At Capaha, a single bush of the Hybrid Tea,  'Mikado', was sick with RRD in October 2002.

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Missouri

Above: A beautiful rose garden still full of blooms dispite the RRD problem which accounts for some empty beds.

MBG has risen to the challenge of RRD and is educating the public at the same time.  No telling how many private rose gardens have been saved by this sign and the newspaper article they arranged for in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. (date).

At left: Are mixed planting the future of rose gardens? Do roses in them have a higher survivorship than mass plantings?
Gage Park, Hamilton Ontario Canada

At Gage Park in Ontario, winter damage (2002-03) caused the removal of many roses. The empty rose beds above do have some surviving roses, many of which have symptoms of Rose Rosette Disease. The three roses above (to the immediate left of the wheelbarrow) are 'TIffany' and two of them have the stunted leaves and parthenocarpic hips typical of RRD. The TIm Horton Doughnut truck in the back was there for a festival, not for the workers.

Gage Park has a spectacular setting at the base of the Niagara Escarpment. The raw rock of the escarpment is in the background here and provides some protection from the winds that blow across the Niagara Peninsula. It also allows for a decrease in wind speed that will drop mites out of the air.

Royal Botanical Garden Burlington Ontario Canada

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