Transplanting Roses

English: Rosa 'Knockout'

English: Rosa ‘Knockout’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a warm spring day I looked out the bay windows of my bedroom and saw billows of pink blossoms. Too many blossoms. They spilled over each other to the point of trying to break through the screen that separated my carefully decorated interior from the bug-infested world outside. I need to move them, I thought to myself.

On went the grubby shoes and faded jeans. Out I went, plotting a place to move the double pink Knockout roses that had, in spite of all my neglect… thrived. An open space several feet from my back porch begged for a flowerbed. There was plenty of green metal edging in the garage from my last rogue flowerbed attempt (don’t ask), so in my mind, all that was left to do was dig up the roses.

Armed with a sharpshooter shovel I had commandeered from my daddy, I marched around the house from the garage. The two completely innocent bushes nodded their pink speckled heads in the breeze. I dug. And I dug. And I dug and I dug. They weren’t budging. Time for bigger guns.

I crept inside, looking for the truck keys, leaving a wake of telltale dirt in my path. With keys in hand and a willing accomplice in my then seven-year-old son, we went in search of the come-along. This handy tool has been the go-to “move it” device in my family for years. Stubborn red tip? “Get the come-along, Abby!” Dad would say. A landscape boulder that needed repositioning? “Bill… can’t you move it with the come-along?” Mom would inquire.

Yes. I was so familiar with this all-purpose tool that once, when helping Dad chain some rather stubborn volunteer crepe myrtles at my grandmother’s house, while he prepared to yank them out with a tractor my usually oh-so-conservative father said, “Well honey, when you get back to SMU you can tell all your friends you were the hooker at a tractor pull.”

So with my considerable experience to back up my decision, I backed the truck up to the happy bushes and wrapped the yanking chain around my first victim. Plant and roots came up with a jolt. My little helper cheered. On to the second one. It was ripped from the dark, damp earth with similar results.

I left them laying in the warm sunshine while I prepped the new flowerbed, tilling the dirt and adding mulch. Large holes were then dug, and water poured into the earth’s cavity. I transplanted the roses, along with a hearty vitex I had also yanked up by its roots.

My new bright spot of colorful bushes looked beautiful. For three days. Turns out, even take-anything Knockout roses don’t take kindly to being jerked out of the ground by a come-along. They were perfectly content pressing their thorny bodies against my window screen. I’m left with brown withered branches on what once were beautiful green canes. But the vitex isn’t quite as finicky. It has weathered not only the brash transplanting, but a hot Texas summer too, and lived to tell the tale.

So the moral of the story is… plant a Knockout rose once. Where you really want it to be.


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