The Sick Rose

2 min readOct 23, 2015
Botrytis affecting Rosa ‘Reine des Violettes’ (purple) & Rosa ‘Maiden’s Blush’, pink

The Sick Rose
By William Blake (after 1789)

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

Hand-coloured print, issued c.1826. A copy held by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic fungus that affects many plant species and in my garden it attacks some of my old albas (Maiden’s Blush and Könegin von Dänemark) and hybrid perpetual (Reine des Violette). There is not much I can do as all effective fungicides have been banned. I alternate between sulphur and copper sulphate in spring to some effect but at almost the end of the season (they flower only once) the buds get yellow and fall off.I found out about Blake’s poem from my friend, poet former Canadian Poet Laureate George Bowering.

Rosa ‘Könegin von Dänemark’

Originally published at




Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at: