Trick Or Treat?

Rose with blue and red spray painted leaves

Having stored up some brownie points by offering you a virtual treat yesterday, I thought I might get away with tormenting some of you today.

I found this rose growing on the land surrounding an art park in Austin, Texas, with its leaves spray painted blue and red. I could imagine this as an alternative greeting card, but there’s something of plant cruelty about it, assuming you agree with my sweetheart that there is such a thing.

If the rose was wearing an expression, I imagine it would be like the one old Rusty had that made us laugh so helplessly when he came back from the dog groomer looking like the spaniel version of a Chinese crested dog, closely shorn in some places and fluffed up in others, crowned with a bow.

Spray painted poison ivy leaves

We don’t have poison ivy where I’m from, but I believe this is what it is. Growing while spray painted, not far from the rose bush, this plant is looking more likely to quickly outgrow its paint job. Is it OK to spray paint a plant that attacks us? Or more OK? Let me know what you think.

Graffiti - blue and red heart

42 Replies to “Trick Or Treat?”

  1. It does not seem to have been done intentionally. Is it just overspray from the graffiti art? If so, it is no more abusive than accidentally breaking a limb off of something. Technically, it ruins the foliage, so it is ‘damaging’ but that it about all. It would annoy me more to see it done intentionally, such as those painted and glittery succulents that are so popular nowadays. Forcing poinsettias is even more abusive. Many of us think nothing of forcing bulbs. Prickly pear cactus sometimes get painted the colors of the Mexican Flag, with a third of the pads painted red, a third painted white and the remaining third left green. Yes, I would say that is sort of abusive.

    1. What do you think about the cactuses that have faces cut into them? My sweetheart was given one with comedy and tragedy masks cut in. It seems to do fine and the person who gave it is very much a plant lover.

      1. Since the pads are modified stems, this technique is merely fancy pruning. Painting is more abusive because it smothers something that is still trying to function.

        1. I see. I didn’t answer your first question, but I think you are right – it may have started off as accidental overspray, or an artist testing out a colour.

  2. I’m not a fan of painted flowers. Those ‘blue’ orchids that seem so popular in supermarkets make me shudder. Obviously no damage long term, but how could anyone think to improve something natural that is already perfect?

    1. Gilding the lily – to quote Shakespeare, although I imagine a gilded lily might be quite nice. They pick the wrong blue for the orchids. And then there’s that wild goose chase for the blue rose…

      1. So true! I think wild roses are my favourites – but then I like Rosa ‘Complicata’ … and we go on endlessly! I love the way breeders try to push boundaries, but can’t stand the shortcuts.

  3. I think it’s wrong to paint plants. You mentioned that the place is going to be demolished, so those plants will be destroyed as well. As someone who has suffered, and I do mean suffered, I get a lot of satisfaction killing poison ivy. I feel sorry for the roses though.

    1. I was torn with this. The rose was decorative, and as a one-off, interesting to see but if it was a fashion, I’d hate it. For me, there is no plant cruelty like pricking out seedlings. I’m going to have to do it in a day or so too.

  4. I can’t hit the ‘like’ button because this just seems so wrong, to spray paint plants. Can they even breath when they’re painted? I don’t know, just seems cruel. Somehow.

    1. I know what you mean. I’m sure it does not help, but the plant was still looking healthy when I took this. I may have picked the most colourful part to photograph.

    1. I would have agreed with you about graffiti at one time. I’ve come to think that street art is a great way to inject something positive into a neighborhood, particularly one that has been allowed to get run down. I can’t imagine Austin without its graphic design and find it hard to seperate branding from the more casual street decorations of the various forms you’ll find there. There is a big difference between scrawling something to deface a building, which I hate, and colourful art, which I like. I think the plant was a one off, perhaps partly accidental, as Tony suggested.

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