As other flowers around it died, this little rose continued to bloom into November. Courtesy photo/Rachel Lovejoy

Nature often works in wondrous ways, sometimes even going so far as defying her own principles or breaking one of her own rules, or so it might seem to us at the time. But how do we really know what Nature is thinking, because she isn’t talking, or at least not in our language. That fact was again borne home to me during the weeks I followed the life span of one single red rose on the shrub outside my kitchen window.

That the rose bush was already here when I arrived six years ago means I have absolutely no idea what type it is. Starting some time in May, the bush starts sending out canes, some of which droop to the ground as the leaves develop and weigh them down. Because I don’t have the space here to let it do its thing, I keep it trimmed back. But that hasn’t diminished its ability, or willingness, to present me with plenty of crimson red blooms from June through early fall. And this year, “early” included well into the month of November, as one stalwart bloom is still attesting to as I write.

As for the variety, of which there are thousands in the world of roses, I haven’t a clue there either. The plant’s leaves look like standard rose bush leaves to me, and the flowers are, as stated above, bright crimson red, with the largest measuring perhaps no more than three inches across. From what I’ve been able to deduce from the various websites I’ve visited, I suspect that might be what’s known as a Knockout Rose. The KR has become very popular among gardeners who live in the colder growing zones, as it’s a very hardy plant that requires little maintenance and isn’t bothered by many diseases or insects. It grows in different levels of light and can tolerate heat as well as cold. As I stated, this is all just a guess by someone who knows precious little about roses, as any information about that sweet plant left with its previous “owner.”

All that aside, I’ve come to cherish what I now call “my rose.” When I noticed two years ago that it was starting to hug the front of the building, I moved it to its present location, where it now has center stage in my little flower garden. After cutting it back quite severely, I worried I’d damaged it beyond its ability to recover. But how wrong I was! For in the spring, there they were, the first tiny reddish wisps of growth that signaled the shrub was alive and well and would be gifting me with more new roses come summer.

Whoever planted the rose also very graciously included a small trellis for it to climb on, which has made it easier to keep its growth controlled and concentrated in a small space. My goal for next year is to clear the area around it of other growth, which I am slowly accomplishing by putting mats down to deprive the weedy soil of sunlight. So far so good. And if I have any doubt about how I’m proceeding, the one little trooper rose that prevailed into mid-November kept me focused and inspired. Its own survival was nothing short of a small miracle in itself.

I went a little crazy with the marigolds this year, sinking clumps of seedlings into the soil wherever I could find a space. Marigolds are completely no-maintenance, as they are impervious to the factors that affect other flowers. As the summer progressed, some of the marigold plants got so large that they all but obscured the rose bush. I had to keep cutting them back to give the bush a chance to get back to its former glory, and it did so against some incredible odds, not the least of which were several very tall sunflowers and some cosmos that grew way too big for their britches.

Once those plants started fading and dying back in mid-October, I trimmed them down to the ground, and that’s when I saw it, the single red rose that had bloomed on the bottom of the bush. I had no idea it was there, nor did I know just when it had budded and bloomed. But there it was, trying hard to hold its rich crimson head up, and succeeding valiantly against some incredible odds, including a couple of light frosts.

As I write this, November has already completed its first week, and that rose is still there. It’s a bit withered from last night’s frost and is clearly approaching its demise, not yet willing to go gently back into the soil from which it came.

If flowers could talk, I’m sure that gutsy little rose would have told me not to worry, that there’ll be more where it came from in just a few short months. Which points to another quality of flowers that endears them to us … their determination to live and to brighten our worlds in a decidedly eternal way…as if we needed anymore reasons to love them!

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