Alas, Mr. Shakespeare’s life has ended tragically.  Sadly, it was a rather short life out in the garden.  He was lovingly planted by my son, Kai, back in January.  Next to him were planted his ‘brothers’ Graham Thomas and Abraham Darby.

Back in January, my three youngest children were so excited to plant rose bushes in our back garden.  We selected three David Austin English Roses, based on our local rose society’s recommendations.

All the kids pitched in in helping to dig the holes, amend the soil and plant the roses.

Under the watchful eye of Tobey, who will play a part in Mr. Shakespeare’s story later, we planted all three roses.

They were tiny, but we eagerly awaited the appearance of our first roses.

Mr. Thomas was first….

Although, Mr. Thomas was in a hurry to bloom before his brothers, he bloomed before his stems were large enough to hold up his roses.

Now Mr. Darby was not in a hurry and made sure he could hold up his flowers before they bloomed.

While both Mr. Thomas and Darby were producing numerous blooms, Mr. Shakespeare did not grow as much as his brothers and made no efforts at producing any rosebuds.

Then one day, my son came running in the house to tell me that he saw a single rosebud on his rose.  He was so excited because it had been a little tough on him with both of his sisters having rose bushes with lots of blooms.
We waited and waited for the rosebud to open and one morning when I went outside, there it was….

I rushed to take a picture of it and couldn’t wait for my son to come home so I could show him his rose.

When he arrived home, we went out to the garden, but the rose was missing.  Where could it be?  There was just a stem sticking up where the rose used to be.  Then, I noticed what looked like red confetti scattered on the back lawn.  Well, it turned out to be rose petals. 

Guess what happened to the single rose?

Here is the culprit – Tobey.  Evidently, the rose looked like it was something fun to play with, because Tobey just bit it off and tore it up.

My son, Kai, was disappointed but then decided he wanted to play football with his dad and promptly forgot about his destroyed rose.

As for me, I lavished extra attention on Mr. Shakespeare, determined to make him produce more blooms.  But my efforts were futile.  Summer came and he went into summer dormancy, which is what most roses do during the summer heat – they just exist and stop producing blooms until fall.

Last week I went out to water the roses and was happy to see Mr. Darby and Thomas doing very well.  Then I turned my attention to Mr. Shakespeare and to be honest, I had to look closely to find him.

Can you see him?

If you can see a few brown sticks amidst the bark mulch and fallen leaves from last week’s storm – that is what remains of Mr. Shakespeare.

I am not sure what happened to him…..he received the same treatment as his brothers but it did not seem to do any good.  Sometimes there are no easy answers as to why some plants die and some survive.  I am always telling this to my clients and now I am saying it to my son.

I was ready to dig Mr. Shakespeare up when I noticed a touch of green at the base.  I do realize that it is probably hopeless, but I will keep him in the ground to see if he can resurrect himself and maybe turn this story into a happy one 🙂
**I hope you all have a great week.  
My kids are back in school and my life is getting back to normal.  Today I am taking my first knitting class and my mom (Pastor Farmer of Double S Farms) is joining me.  I can hardly wait!
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

27 replies
  1. Rose
    Rose says:

    Ah, the tragedy of Mr. William Shakespeare…so sad, but in some ways appropriate:) I'm sorry that Kai's rose didn't make it, but I'm glad he has other interests to make up for this loss. When my oldest daughter still lived here, her pug liked to "water" certain areas…maybe Shakespeare appealed to Tobey in this way?

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    Looks like Shakespeare is making a come back. I was smiling at the names. School starts here on the 23rd. Where did the summer go?
    P.S. They are lucky to have a mom that knows … really knows gardening!! Have a good week, as well.

  3. Turling
    Turling says:

    Unfortunately, that is the story of my life. I'm glad to see Kai bounced right back, though. Amazing how kids keep things in perspective.

  4. Carol
    Carol says:

    I do hope Kai's rose pulls through… I thought I saw some green leaves there… a bitter/sweet story Noelle… It is so sweet to see your children and how you teach them about gardening.

  5. Teresa O
    Teresa O says:

    What a sad Shakespearean tale. I'm not sure if this truly works, but I was told to not allow rose bushes to bloom the first year, but instead let the plant put all its energy into producing healthy roots and canes. I always pinched off every bud, just like I do when I purchase perennials. Perhaps this is an old gardner's tale, but it seemed to work for me.

    I hope Mr. Shakespeare springs back to life, so Kai can have a bushel of flowers all his own. Well perhaps he can share one with Tobey.

    Have a wonderful day learning to knit!

  6. villager
    villager says:

    That is a sad tale about Mr Shakespeare. I confess to "losing" a few roses in the past myself, and I didn't even have Tobey to help me!

  7. noel
    noel says:

    aloha noel,

    its wonderful to see how your children have also enjoyed taking part of your gardening pursuits, what a great thing to share with your family including the joys and sorrows of caring for something personal and loved, its nice to hear about these experiences and thanks for sharing them 🙂

  8. leavesnbloom
    leavesnbloom says:

    Noelle I have a very similar story to yours – one of my standard roses – a real focus every year in the garden struggled to come back after the wintertime – a few new shoots appeared and then one bloom 2 weeks ago but I noticed at the weekened that it had all gone brown – the tiny root system left after the winter couldn't sustain those few stems – so this weekend I will have to dig it out. I'm really saddened and know that its risky to plant another rose in this place due to rose sickness now being in the soil.

    I'm sure its been disappointing for you all too as I remember those posts of when the David Austin roses arrived in the post.

    I hope Kai can get another plant soon to take its place.

    ( ours go back to school on w/c 17th – can't wait!)

  9. Elephant's Eye
    Elephant's Eye says:

    Give it a chance. My Spiced Coffee turned up its toes this summer. But sprouted again, and I have had 3 flowers. Just done the pruning, but that one I left to soldier on, with all its new leaves intact 😉

  10. The Violet Fern
    The Violet Fern says:

    I'm rooting for Mr. Shakespeare although his name does lean towards tragic endings! He did make a remarkable bloom. So great of you to share the kids' gardening fun.

  11. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    Oh, I hope you can resurrect Mr. Shakespeare. It would be so sad for two of the three to live and your son to be out his rose. 🙁
    It is strange why things like that happen tho.
    btw, I just read your previous post ~ the chicks grew up great. Would love the fresh eggs. I bet they taste great.

  12. Kathleen Scott
    Kathleen Scott says:

    You never know…

    If you have space for a BIG bush, maybe Kai would like Mutabilis, a heritage rose sometimes called the Butterfly Rose for the resemblance to the flowers. Prolific bloomer and the flowers first bloom in one shade, gradually changing color until the bush often has shades of pink, peach and yellow roses at the same time.

  13. David, Melanie and family
    David, Melanie and family says:

    Wow! It's great to get the kids so involved in gardening at an early age. It will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I worked side by side with my grandmother on their farm and cherished every second and I'm still gardening 44 years later. Hope the rose makes it!

    David at Tropical Texana/ Houston

  14. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    As long as there is some bit of green, there is yet hope. 🙂

    And if not, ah, well, roses are difficult enough with blackspot and thrips and aphids and such, even without the addition of a fiendish little dog. Who just happens to be so freakin' cute! I don't know how you'd ever punish or train such cuteness, anyway.

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