The Author

Plant Monsters

All the rose bushes in our yard are gone. Over the last few weeks, I have cut and dug and pulled until they are no more. It was not a labor of love, but one of frustration and sadness because those spreading roses in the front yard were all-summer bloomers, the talk of neighbors who walked down the sidewalk just to get a view of the flowers. They were done in by the dreaded rose rosette disease.

If you haven’t heard of this evil, rose rosette is rampant on roses (and roses only) in this part of the world, taking out plants left and right. The irony is that it’s not really a disease at all, but a reaction to a mite that feasts on the canes and flowers. If the mites ever invade one plant, they will soon be on all of them. The only answer is to take them all out.

Almost impossible to see, blown in by the wind, the insect turns beautiful plants into monsters. For some reason, the plant reacts to the mite by sending out large red limbs that are covered with thorns. At the end of the cane will be a profusion of buds that never come to flower. They look like a thorny broom, which leads some people to call the problem by its other name, witches’ broom.

I know the roses don’t take it personally, but I do. It almost seems as though the change from beauty to ugliness is not only a signal of infestation, but a cry for help. The abundance of thorns, the gangly limbs, the bud that won’t come to flower – why would anyone self-respecting creature be proud of those? The inability to produce, the loss of beauty, says to all who pass by, “please help.”

All of this reminds me of the human brokenness all around us. Distortion and marred beauty are familiar because of the infestation that corrupts our lives. When those roses cry out, sadly, the only solution is removal, root and branch. How grateful we should be that God sees our brokenness as a cry for help and, through Jesus, removes the infestation. The beauty is restored. God sees it. Do you?