How much eyesight does a rose gardener need?
This is a bit of a philosophical question that came up after a series of doctor's visits this week. We've had plenty of people showing how possible it is to keep rose gardening after physical limitations - Karl being a leader in that sense - but what about losing one's vision? A routine eye exam for me found a pigmentation pattern that suggested macular degeneration, or another equally progressive condition associated with having birds. Public service note - I never knew that living among caged birds and their debris could cause airborne particles that cause a fungus-like infection called histoplasmosis that deteriorates vision. Something to check if you have birds.
Anyway, further checking found that neither condition is likely for me (thank goodness), but I've now spent several weeks pondering how I would handle losing vision and what I'd miss the most. Nothing in life is guaranteed anyway, and it's a good chance to examine my own priorities. What I'd miss most by far is independence and seeing the people I care about, but I realized that ahead of most other work or living concerns came roses. I think I could enjoy roses without seeing them, presuming the allergy shots returns my nose to something like normal in appreciating them, but I don't know how competently I could grow them.
I'm sure I could garden with most perennials or vegetables without sight by training myself to feel for patterns of plantings that needed attention, and with a great deal of caution I think I could do some basic care of roses. However, particularly in a cold zone with a lot of unexpected cane death over the winter, I don't know how I would recognize the canker or dying canes or fungal diseases or other problems with the roses without seeing those patterns. So often we give advice to each other about rose gardening to "let the rose tell you what it wants", but I wonder how easy it would be to have the rose "tell" you if it couldn't "show" you. Much of the answer I'm sure revolves around how much vision one would have to work with, as well as the types of roses grown, but I'd be interested in your thoughts.