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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you.  Snails, fish, insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment.  Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
June 2013
San Juan Islands,
Pacific Northwest

Wild roses are blooming all over the islands right now, thousands of modest pink blossoms decorating what's otherwise impenetrable thorny thicket, treating passersby with clouds of the most heavenly fragrance. When the roses burst into bloom, summer has arrived, regardless what the calendar says. I can't send the fragrance out to you through the intertubes, but I can show you a little bit of this flamboyant Pacific Northwest display. The abundance of color and fragrance is all the more amazing, considering these are native roses, unlike the thousands of selectively bred cultivars with lots of petals and every imaginable color and scent.

We actually have several species of wild rose, all with pink, 5-petaled, many-stamened flowers, small serrated compound leaves, and thorns. Two of these are common, but in different habitats.

Rosa gymnocarpa, the Baldhip or Wood Rose, prefers shady woods and filtered sunlight. It's a slender open rangy shrub that rarely grows as tall as a person, and is inconspicuous when you're traipsing through the woods unless you trip over its spiny stems. This is a humble rose though, and a scratch from its straight bristles is as much as you'll feel unless you fall on it, or grip it tightly. The bristles look more threatening than they feel.

Baldhip Rose blossoms are very modest: small , few and with just a bit of citrusy scent. Chances are you won't notice the Baldhip Rose unless you're hiking in the woods.

In contrast, far more abundant and conspicuous in every way, the Nootka Roses are everywhere you look. They grow vigorously out in the open, and that's much more of the islands than deep dark woods.

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana) grows more densely branched, with more foliage and flowers. Its flowers are considerably bigger than the Baldhip's. Their floral features are very similar except for size, and even more importantly, their scent. The Nootka has a sweet heady intense fragrance that rivals any cultivated rose I've ever smelled. It can be overpowering, in a good way. It is just heavenly.

It's easy to get a good whiff right now, since Nootkas form dense thickets as hedgerows in fields, alongside the roads and in our backyards. The Nootka Rose prefers open sunny places, and grows aggressively into wiry tangles as tall as 15 feet.
Take a look at the thorns on these leafless winter branches. They are curved, so when you reach your arm in and try to withdraw, your skin is snagged and ripped. I say skin because they go right through everything but the heaviest clothes and gloves. Even deer, who munch through cultivated hybrid roses like candy, leave the Nootka roses alone.
The red fruit is the rose hip, containing many hairy seeds (the Baldhip's hips are bald because they lose their sepals, the brown leafy bits at the ends, early on). Some folk collect rose hips to make a tisane rich in Vitamin C. From experience I recommend straining out the hairs, and adding a good dollop of honey or sugar.
Roses can spread by seed but not easily. Their vegetative propagation is far more successful, with rhizomes growing just under the surface, popping up new growth everywhere. Here are a few suckers in my lawn. I am constantly pulling them out of garden beds too. I know there is a giant network underground all over my property.

Roses are unbelievably resilient too. This orange fungal rust doesn't even slow it down, nor do wasp galls.


In winter, the bare rose branches provide much appreciated color, the thickets a mass of reddish branches.

But their full glory comes in June, when the flowers proliferate wildly. Where else do the weedy shrubs along the road tempt you to stop and breathe their lovely fragrance? Even the buds are strongly scented, and I like to pick a few, string them in a garland, to remind me months later of this wonderful June time. I forgive the thorns and suckers all the rest of the year, remembering these lovely fragrant wild roses.
~  ~  ~

Summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. What's blooming or fledging in your back yard? Is it stormy or sunny? Let's hear your observations below. I'll be by in the morning Pacific time to reply and comment.

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