Roses planted in a vineyard??
If you are from rural Italy or France or California you probably know about this tradition.
But it was news to me when our tour guide pointed it out on June 12, just as the scene was quickly disappearing from the bus window.
We were traveling through the Jerusalem Hills, west of Jerusalem.
He explained the roses as an early warning system.
Roses are more susceptible to the same type of fungal disease (e.g. powdery mildew and downy mildew) than the grapevine.
So if there are signs of trouble on the roses the farmer knows that action needs to be taken soon or the grapevines will be infected next.
I later read on a European website:
Another reason I have heard is that in addition to being a ‘canary’ when the vines were worked with draft horses or oxen, roses encouraged them to turn properly at the end of the rows because of their thorns, ensuring that the working animals weren’t tempted to cut a corner and damage the last vine.Or this from Australia:
". . . many a vineyard manager would smile at this quaint romantic notion. Their job is more sophisticated than watching the roses bloom. In these days of modern technology roses are planted at the rows end for purely cosmetic reasons, but don't let that spoil another great story...UPDATE: See more in the Comments section about the "pit ponies," the horses, mules, and ponies which worked in the dark coal mines of many countries for more than two centuries.
Some time ago in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales I quizzed one of the “old timers” in the area about the same issue. His response left me wondering whether or not he was “having a lend of me”.In the early days of grape growing, before any mechanisation, the vineyard work was completed using horses and horse pulled equipment. The best source of strong “draught horses” were the local coalmines where any pulling work involved horses.Sadly the distance underground was so far that the horses used were stabled in areas deep underground and, while they were very well cared for, their eyesight eventually became a casualty of the environment. The period horses were kept underground was mercifully short but permanent damage to their vision occurred. As the horses were “traded out” the local farmers and grape growers sought to utilise their great strength and stamina, particularly working with ploughs in vineyards where the rows were quite narrow.
Now the reason for the roses at the ends of the rows, as explained by this particular veteran, was to let the ‘blind’ horses know when they reached the end and it was time to turn. Roses in the Hunter Valley constantly bloom almost all year. I was never able to convince myself either way with his story; Australians can be very straight-faced when “spinning a yarn”. I will leave it up to you to decide."