When I first saw Redoute’s illustrations of proliferous roses — rose flowers sprouting directly from other rose flowers in a bizarre, beautiful chain — I thought they were some kind of nineteenth century practical joke, but according to UC Davis, this unusual condition is actually called rose phyllody, and I got to observe it first hand in my garden this year.
UC Davis’s web site says that rose phyllody can be caused by a virus, but is usually a result of environmental stress. Since the rose bush shows no other signs of disease, this probably occurred because of the extreme weather we’ve been experiencing, from stretches of sub-zero weather in the winter, to a very hot summer punctuated by occasional fierce thunderstorms (note the brown edges of the Botzaris flowers–they’re always sensitive to overhead water, and they don’t seem to like this heat either).
The bud sprouting out of the flower did open, which let Botzaris beat out Chapeau du Napoleon as the last once-blooming rose in my garden this year. It smelled as fabulous as I would expect from Botzaris, but was so crisped by the 100-degree weather it didn’t make for a pretty picture.