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Hello. My name is Tim. And I am a Rose-aholic.
Chorus: Hi, Tim. And I am a Consulting Rosarian. OH? Oh.
It isn’t easy being a Consulting Rosarian, a CR. When people read that you are a CR, all kinds of erroneous associations form in their minds. Typists think we stand for Carriage Return. Scientists think we are a symbol for Chrome. People who only pay slight attention to ER give us a wide berth because they think we are going to jump on their chests and yell: ‘STAT.’ Nor is there any increase in social status once you become one; people respond to some titles like JD (with loathing) or a PhD (with admiration) or an MBA (with big bucks), but CR just gets you a quizzical glance and quick inquiry as to how about them Dodgers.
For one thing you now have to be proactive about roses. It used to be, you could just wait until someone asked you a question about roses, take a deep breath and talk. But now they want you to go out of your way to introduce people to roses and vice versa. You have to proselytize and make converts. It is really hard to do when people don’t listen. I was talking about the damage that Japanese beetles can do and suggested that keeping down the populations was one approach and this lady overheard me and accused me of fomenting hate crimes. When I suggested that Chinese rose beetles also deserved extermination, she actually hit me.
Not only that, but there are some people who not only ignore the advice you give, but keep on looking for bad advice until they find it. There is a kind of Gresham’s law (Bad Money Drives Out Good) of rose advice: bad advice drives out good. Like I was on this list serve where people write in for help with their roses, and someone wanted to know how to grow roses indoors. Well, my first suggestion was as annuals. But he persisted. So I carefully explained how roses really were outdoor plants and preferred not to be indoors because they became inundated with spider mites and scale. Several other people wrote saying about the same thing. Finally, someone wrote in to say that he had grown roses successfully for three months indoors and there was nothing to it so long as you kept the roses in wet soil with a reservoir of water at the bottom of a saucer. Somewhere back East there is a systematic and serial rose killer leading perfectly good outdoor roses to their deaths and doom with wet feet and insufficient sunlight. And now there are two of them.
By far the worst experience as a CR is when someone wants you to identify a rose. My friend Carol believes that all CRs automatically acquire a special ESP in rose identification. I would rather name the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse than try to identify any rose. There are 24 thousand roses listed in MR 11 and every day there are people out there bringing new and different roses into the marketplace. And they don’t even try to keep things straight! The Betty White rose is pink. The Nancy Reagan Rose is apricot despite the fact that she wore red for eight years in the White House. Precious Platinum is a red red rose that Robert Burns would have swooned over had he been able to figure out that Precious Platinum was red instead of gunmetal gray.
Nevertheless, someone brings you a rose to identify. First they cut off all the foliage because it has mildew. My friend Carol cuts off the thorns so I won’t hurt my hands. The rose is pink. In the last stages of bloom. Ripped untimely from the candelabra so I won’t be distracted by the other roses. It has no scent. Grandmother Meehan planted it either twenty or forty or sixty years ago and no one remembers where she got it. Lately though, the flowers have been turning purple—bright purple with yellow stamens. Is that a disease? No, as I murmur ‘Doctor Huey’ under my breath. I picked up the rose. Oops. Carol missed one of the thorns; it is now lodged in the area beneath my fingernail and the beginning of severe pain. I confess my ignorance as to the name of the rose. A vast Eco-logical sigh arises from those assembled.
Then why are you a CR if you can’t identify roses?
Finally, there is the person who wants to eradicate from the planet any one of a variety of rose insects ranging from aphids to leaf cutter bees. Now you can spray until there are alien and arthritic glowworms in your garden, but unless you get a direct hit, you aren’t really going to get rid of leaf cutter bees. Nevertheless, the merchant of death is out there misting with aerosols, bombs, and containers of everything from triforine to containers of Flit dredged up from some forgotten cellar stash.
I have picked up some real treasures at their estate sales.
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