Monday, January 16, 2017

Blue Ice

The garden waits, entombed in ice.
Life suspended, frozen time.
Stiff and brittle, brown and silent.
Bowing low to winter's will.

Buried deep, it hides within.
Fire smolders, glazed in rime.
Ice the master, cold its maiden.
Staying spring with binding chill.

Blue the ice, reflecting sky.
Bluer yet, on cobalt glazed.
Crystal water stretches down,
Straining for the frozen ground.

Ice has come, and ice will go.
Sun will shine, new longer days.
Winter trembles, spring will win.
 Melting cobalt's shining crown.
Just a little ode to the ice storm that really wasn't.  Yes, we got some ice here in the Flint Hills, perhaps a quarter inch, more likely an eighth.  Not nearly the shel-icing predicted and simply an expected moment of winter caused by the collide of different weather fronts.  The only bright color in my garden is now the bottle tree, a shining gem with a fantastic multi-faceted coating.  It was for this moment that I cemented the post deep in the ground years past, stalwart against the worst of wind and storm, to shout defiance at the winter's worst.  I could only wish today for sunshine, to make it glisten and shine, if only for the briefest moment. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Still Here...Until the Icepocalypse

ProfessorRoush hasn't slept in, self-defined as any prone position of my body after 6:00 a.m., for years, but I had plans to make it until at least 7:00 a.m. this first morning of a three-day weekend.  Unfortunately, Miss Bella decided that she needed to protect me against the meanderings of monsters sneaking about the prairie and she moved up from the bottom of the bed to sit on my chest, facing the door and huffing to indicate her alarm, around 6:30 a.m.  When she didn't stop, I got up to prepare defenses against a home-invading horde of Huns and found that my mildly obese mutt was correct in all ways except for the home-invasion.  This particular horde of Huns was perfectly content to keep grazing around the mailbox, undisturbed by the barking Bella behind the glass storm door.  Perhaps they were expecting delivery of a late Christmas package and awaiting the mail truck.

We are expecting an ice storm here sometime tonight, and while I am happily anticipating the enforced solitude and the early garden pruning that the storm will initiate, the rest of Manhattan seems to be fearing that the end of civilization is upon us.  A quick trip to the grocery store for sliced ham on the way home last night revealed that the neighboring population had cleaned out the local supermarket of all bread, milk, sticks of butter, and, to my surprise, every package of lunch meat available.  I came home, amused and complacent in the knowledge that we have enough dry cereal and pasta in the house to tide us over until planting weather.  I'm even more secure that we can make it to warm weather after this morning's sighting of potential food on the hoof.   If they are going to eat my roses, the least they can do is hang around for dinner.

I'm quite serious about hoping that we get enough ice tonight to flatten the garden.  At the end of next week, temperatures are forecast in the mid-50's and I'm in a perfect mood to bulldoze and start over anyway, so que sera sera.  I miss you, Doris Day.  What a beautiful voice and bubbly actress.  Once upon a time, movies and television programming was more interesting than a group of profane idiots arguing over who should or shouldn't be sleeping with whom.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Baby Got Hips

I like big hips and I can not lie
You other gardeners can't deny
That when a rose shows up with its foliage rough and tough
 And puts some red balls all around
You get glad, want to make some jam
'Cause those hips ain't full of spam
Seeds in those hips she's wearing
I'm hooked and I can't stop staring
Oh baby, I want to plant them wit'cha
And take your picture

Sorry, but once again, Baby Got Back seems to be my muse for starting a post.  Our first frost is finally upon us,almost 4 weeks late, and 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' is ready, ripe hips shining in the sun.  These hips are the biggest and juiciest of the rugosas that I grow, and in these, I can finally see why wartime Britain relied on rose hips as a source of Vitamin C.  The first hip, at the top, is larger than a quarter, and the second is nearly that large.  Many sources state that these hips should be accompanied by fall color changes in the foliage, but I have yet to see my bush provide any color this fall.  Perhaps she will develop it later, once that first frost does its damage.

I do intend to plant the seeds within this scarlet dreams this winter and try for a crop of Rugosa hybrids.  After the loss of so many roses to Rose Rosette, I might as well hope and pray that 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' was indiscreet with one of the Griffith Buck or English roses in the vicinity, making little roses that could have some RR resistance.  A gardener can hope.

Our average first frost in this area is around October 15th, but today, November 13th, is our first this year.  The view below was out my back windows into the garden as the sun rose this morning, bright and determined to chase away the frost.  I spent the cold morning indoors, and then ventured out into my garden on a beautiful afternoon to trim some volunteer trees from the garden beds; mulberry, elm, and rough dogwood are the usual culprits here.  It wasn't a huge chore, but I'm nibbling my way back into the garden slowly, picking away at the things that bug me the most from this dismal year.  For once, I welcome winter and I want a cold one to sweep the slate clean, so I can start over anew.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Angry Autumn

'Beautiful Edgings'
I'm angry at my garden.  There, I said it.  I'm ProfessorRoush and I'm angry at my garden.  There's no getting around it, no glossing over it, no mincing words to mitigate it.  The first step on the path to mindful recovery is always, no matter the circumstances, to admit your transgression.  It's not rational and it's not reasonable, but I'm angry at my garden.

I'm sorry, friends, that I haven't posted in such a long time.  I've been emotionally disengaged from my garden since the last days of April, lo those many Kansas days ago.  Disengaged since the late hailstorm ruined my flowery May.  Roses, irises, peonies; I've missed them all. Fruit, any fruit, was nonexistent in my garden this year.  No strawberries, grapes, blackberries, apples, peaches, and but a few cherries. You'd think that the usual summer daylily bounty wouldn't have been affected, but even the daylilies were subdued, either from the hail, or from all the excess rain.  Yes, to add injury to the hailstorm, my summer was filled with rain, normally welcomed in a hot July, but this year the rain just added misery; sprouting weeds everywhere, making a mess of the vegetable garden, and drowning the tomatoes and peppers.  We are officially, currently 8 inches over our average annual rainfall of 24 inches.  Rain is normally viewed as a blessing here, but 1/3rd more rain than normal on a garden that I've primarily filled with drought-tolerant plants is not a positive development.

The weather, of course, isn't my only excuse for a lousy garden.  There has been competition for my attention by events at work and by life in general, both of which couldn't be put aside as easily as deadheading or fertilizing.  My limited forays into the garden this summer have been to attend to seemingly incessant mowing needs and by occasional blitzkriegs against the hungry hordes of weeds, the latter motivated whenever I couldn't see the normal plants for the wild grasses and pokeweed and thistles popping up everywhere.

I'm also ashamed to relate this to my fellow rosarians, but you might as well know now that I have lost the battle against Rose Rosette disease here.  I've diligently pruned it out as I've discovered it, but as the hot days of August arrived, it became apparent that almost all my modern roses have succumbed; nearly all the Easy Elegance roses, English roses, Canadians and, worst of all, most of my beloved Griffith Buck roses.  Anything with modern breeding, including some "less-rugose" Rugosa hybrids, has abnormal branching and thorns from hell.  If there is any solace, it is that the 'Knock Out' hybrids perished first.

I'm trying, right now, to regain a smidgen of enthusiasm and to reengage with my garden.  I've tried to relish the bright spots during a dismal summer, chief among them the 'Beautiful Edgings' daylily pictured here.  It has bloomed almost incessantly for 4 months now, an ever-blooming daylily if ever there was one, an offering of hope that I cling to with each new daily flower.  This morning, as the fall temperatures start to move in, I noticed that the last honey bees are using its spent blooms for night shelter, slow to move until the sun warms the petals.  And the center picture shows the few remaining buds on the plant this morning, the last apologetic gifts of a graceless garden.

I intend to rebuild this winter, to start anew in any number of spots.  I've chosen to delay my efforts in favor of the "nuclear option," seeking the help of the first frosts to chase the marauders from my grounds and clear the lanes of counterattack.  Next spring, I will see a new garden or freeze in the attempt, less rose-focused but still flush with Old Garden Roses and Rugosas, empty holes filled with low maintenance shrubs and grasses, beds simplified.  And I'm going to plant as many divisions of 'Beautiful Edgings' as I can manage.  


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