Sunday, May 1, 2016

Healing Time

(Sung to the tune of Closing Time by Semisonic)

Healing time,

I've shut the doors & I've stayed in from the cold hailed-on world.
Healing time,
Waiting for new leaves out for every boy plant and girl.
Healing time,
I need some alcohol so send me your whiskey or beer.
Healing time,
My garden's messed up, but I can't stay in here.

I wish there were buds to bloom right now.

Why aren't there some buds to bloom right now?
I need for some buds to bloom right now.
Bloom right now.

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but one week after the hailstorm, my parade is certainly characterized by crushed hopes and trashed flowers.  Besides that storm, there have been several others.  Forget the drought in this area of Kansas.  I've had over 10 inches of rain in 6 days and the rose garden is back to swampland.  What is a simple gardener to do?

Wrecked are the irises and peonies.  Well, if I'm being truthful, they are only moderately wrecked.  Irises and peonies who were leeward of the house from the storm or were sheltered by large neighboring shrubs came through largely intact and are still contributing color to the garden, although the blooms are damaged from up close (see the several examples on this entry).  In many cases, the stems were broken but the irises are blooming, albeit closer to the ground. 

Peony 'Scarlett O'hara'
Some roses lost buds, and, as I've investigated the damage further than my brief outside survey last week, the strawberries and blackberries are toast for this year.  Not "jam for toast", they ARE toast.  Peony 'Scarlett O'Hara', normally so beautiful, looks a little beaten up this year, a soiled dove more befitting my personal nickname for her of Scarlett O'Harlot. 

It is actually interesting, setting aside my deep despair, to look around and see what plants did or didn't stand up to the hailstorm.  I should be making lists and writing down names.  Most native plants, of course, like this Asclepias at right, shrugged off the hail and seem completely undamaged.  There are some varieties of peonies who survived intact despite being right out in the open, while others beside them were either shredded or lost their fat buds.  Some roses lost leaves or buds, while others haven't paused. 'Morden Blush' for instance, shown below, went ahead this week to open blooms that were even more blushingly beautiful than normal.  

'Morden Blush'

On the opposite extreme are the alliums.  I had such high hopes for some new alliums I planted last year.  Many broke off entirely and never bloomed.  Others, like this decrepit specimen, survived to rue the day they poked their head above the ground.

Iris 'Roselene'
I must be patient now, patient to wait for nature's repair, patient to wait another year for the promise of some to return.  'Roselene', fair Roselene, how I miss your cheery face and exquisite form.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shredded Former Garden

My initial inclination was to title this blog entry "Oh Hail No!" but I'm having a little trouble maintaining the required tone of humor today.  Feel free to join me in a simple soul-cleansing wail because I'm at a loss for words.  Following the example of the recently deceased Prince, perhaps I should just refer to this as "The Garden Formerly Known as ProfessorRoush's."

For those easily depressed by gardening disaster, this is your fair warning to move on to the next post.  For the rest of you, those curious souls unable to avoid gawking at car wrecks or fascinated by visits to Civil War battlefields, you can keep viewing this photo-heavy post, but I would caution you to have a barf bag at hand.  Feel free to "click" on any picture you want to enlarge.

We had a little storm here last night.  When I say a little storm, I am, of course, channeling our British cousins to understate a meteorological apocalypse that included a near miss by a possible tornado, a deluge of 4.2 inches in 2 hours, and about an inch of hail the size of marbles.  The photo at the right is a shot of my back patio during the storm, all while the radio weatherman was telling me to take cover.  It's illuminated by the porch light and it's dim and poorly exposed, but if you can see the ice on the ground you've grasped the obvious.

For a little better glimpse of this catastrophe, the proverbial plague of biblical hail, these two photos of the left and right sides of my front walkway, just after the storm, may be more illuminating.

I woke up this morning to a lot of damage.  There was no real structural damage to the house, but the garden has seen better days.  Just yesterday morning, I was admiring this 'Blue Angle' hosta placed right next to the front door; it was perfect then, not a bit of slug damage.  Look at it now.

This 'Globemaster' allium was getting ready to bloom.  I suppose it still might, but I'm betting it won't reach the glory I was expecting.

The Orientpet lily to the left was the picture of health yesterday.  Today it appears to have been through a meat grinder.  Still, it fared better than the Asiatic lily whose photo is at the top of this blog.

I had scores of irises starting to bloom.  I suppose they might still, but one wonders what kind of display I'll have from these.

This was a Sedum.  'Strawberries and Cream' to be exact.  "Was" is the active verb here.

When a tough daylily like 'Alabama Jubilee' gets shredded like this, well, you know you've had a storm.

And these were some gorgeous purple and white petunias that I planted just yesterday.  If I didn't know that, I couldn't even tell you what they were.

I tried to tell Mrs. ProfessorRoush that the remaining cherries would be larger and sweeter since these were pruned away early in the season.  She was neither amused nor consoled.

I'll leave you now, contemplating this abstract artform as it was created in my front buffalograss.  This is not a view of the Appalachians from space.  This is thatch, floated up from the roots of the buffalograss and deposited in waves on an almost level surface by the 4+ inches of rain.  I suppose I should be thankful that the torrential rain has cleared out the thatch for me and I have only to rake it up now.  I am most assuredly NOT thankful, however.  The magnolias were interrupted this year by the late freezes.  Now the irises, daylilies and alliums by this storm.  What's next?  The roses get hit by a meteorite shower?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tulip Trysts

A recent post by Carol, at May Dreams Garden, reminded ProfessorRoush that he previously started a draft blog entry on the species tulips in his landscape, the few colorful little clumps that add very little to my overall garden ambiance, but which mean so much to me as they sneak back into the garden each year.

Species tulips, you see, are one of my garden guilty pleasures, a little niche of my garden that others seldom discover, visible and yet hidden behind the more blatant garden performers.  In my garden, alternatively Zone 5 or Zone 6 depending on the whims of weather and weather maps, a few species tulips return reliably, while large and showy Dutch tulips return in annually diminishing numbers until they finally just don't return at all.  

'Little Beauty'
Such a species tulip is Tulipa hageri 'Little Beauty', photographed at left, a  4-6 inch tall dwarf (or to be politically correct height-challenged), fuchsia flower with a slate- or cornflower blue star-shaped  center inside a narrow white zone.  A daytime lover, 'Little Beauty' can be enjoyed only in the sunshine because she opens up her flowers every morning and closes them every evening, an exhibitionist by day and shy at night.  She is supposed to naturalize well, but mine seems to have confined themselves to a single clump, her survival in Kansas perhaps dependent on some combination of light, moisture and soil unique to that spot in my landscape.  
Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha
A similar "one-bunch" species tulip for me is Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha, the "Lady Tulip", originally thought to be native to the Middle East, but some more recent authorities believe it to be native to Spain.  Many T. clusiana are red and white, but my variety, 'Cynthia' is a subdued red and yellow blend, brighter if the springtime has been cloudier on average.  A little taller than 'Little Beauty', about 8 inches in my garden, the buds are also larger and longer and they also are shy to display their beauty at night or on rainy days.  To search for mine, you need to go to the westernmost point of my front landscape, where they return year after year to greet the afternoon sun.

If you're in search of a similar guilty garden pleasure, I'd recommend planting both or either of these little ladies in an out-of-the-way place of your garden.  You all know what I'm talking about; a spot with a gardening "no-tell-motel" sort of feel, away from the beaten path, a seedy spot where you can sneak away and enjoy some brief illicit pleasure, just you and them.  The best meeting times between gardener and species tulip are always, as one would expect, in the middle of the day, a gardening nooner of sorts.  Mea culpa, with these little Sirens in my garden, I can easily be be accused by a careful observer of slipping home more often at noon for a couple of weeks each April.  Mrs. ProfessorRoush thinks the frequent visits are for her company, but you can keep a secret, can't you?   

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The First Rose

When, oh Lord, did the first rose bloom?
Bright and shining 'neath a cloudy sky?
Stolen sunrays captured live,
Emerald green brushed deep inside.
Golden stamen columns round,
Over saffron pistils mound.

How and why did the first rose bloom?
Was it raindrop's sweet caress?
Sunshine, laughter coalesced,
Warmth and loam joined in success.
Graceful petals slow unfold,
Scent released from newspun gold.

Who was it saw the first rose bloom?
Felt the joy of world renewed?
First Man chose a rose to woo,
First Woman, love and home ensued.
Rose be blest, God's will be done,
Endowed to man by blazing sun.

Harison's Yellow, my first rose of 2016, opened two days ago beneath a rainy sky, the end of our lack of moisture and my drought of roses after a long winter.  I did not yet expect to find gold in this confused garden, this garden askew from whipsaw fluctuations of temperature and frost, but there it was, right where I knew it should be.  The coming of this captured sunshine was foretold by tulip and iris and forsythia, trumpets heralding the triumphant return of a favorite child.  I'm pleased for once, at rest again, patient now for the return of life, anticipating the joy of friendships renewed.


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