It’s a tough old rose bush. It’s more than 50 years old. But no matter what the weather, or what is going on in the world, this old rose shows a lot of “pretty” every summer, year after year.

It begins blooming in late May and keeps at it until early fall. Neither temperatures in the 90s or twenty-below zero seem to trouble it. I never water it, never fertilize it. Occasionally I do a little pruning. But that’s all.

The old rose stands nearly six feet tall. Different from many of the more fancy roses, my old rose bush has made it through the coldest of winters with seldom a dead branch, and without even any “dying back,” which is common with many rose varieties.

Its flowers are plain. Not nearly as fancy as the roses you buy in the store and give to your wife on Valentine’s day. I like plain. 

My dad grew a rose bush just like mine. He didn’t have time to fuss with it—that would have been the language he would have used. He didn’t have time for fussing. His rose bush was as tall as mine, maybe even taller. 

My hometown is Wild Rose, and my farm today is in the Township of Rose. I feel some obligation to grow at least one kind of rose. How could you live in the Township of Rose and but four miles from Wild Rose and not grow at least one rose?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Roses are red, violets are blue. I have a tough old rose bush, how about you?

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to 

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