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.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Drive-By

My, my, how time flies by and leaves us standing in the dust of our best intentions.  I was on track for several months to add bi-weekly notes to this blog, but in the middle of June my resolve ran up against the Kansas climate and melted like butter on a stove. This toadstool photo, taken this morning, is illustrative of our gardening year here.

You see, friends, I came into this gardening year so excited for new life and new growth.  Ample rains in March and April erased our long drought and opened up all the nascent promise of
my garden, a green and growing paradise in my immediate vision.  It was almost perfect right up until we received the hailstorm in the last week of April, a hail that stripped leaf and promise and future.

May was quiet here, quiet except for the few peony buds and roses that survived the hail.  There were few irises, peonies, and roses in my early garden, and as the season developed, it was apparent that there were to be no strawberries, cherries, peaches, or apples to console my feelings.  I struggled even to enter my garden, pained by the lack of bloom and vigor, but I held out hope for my stalwart daylilies.

And then, in late May and through June, the heat struck and the rain stopped.  The garden dried and the ground cracked.  The grass turned brown and even the daylilies slowed their onslaught.  Hemerocallis is a tough genus, but not tough enough for early drought.  They bloomed, but not in their usual numbers or robust cheerfulness.

In late June and early July, it rained again, and kept raining at regular intervals, a unusual pattern for Kansas, and the grass greened up and the weeds rushed in.  Weeds, weeds everywhere, but not a domesticated flower to be seen.  Normally, in July, I can count on mowing every other week and relaxing from the heat.  Not this year, for I have been forced into weekly mowings of the entire yard and weeding at every opportunity.   Roundup is my new best friend.  And the ground is wet, wet enough so that toadstools grow in July right by the front walk.  You can guess that the tomatoes in this area are not performing very well in the wet clay.  Right now, the only crops that look to be decent are watermelons and cantaloupes.

And so I stand, on the brink of August, too busy with other things to garden, too depressed to even look at my devastated strawberry bed, too chagrined to even hope for a colorful fall.  I'll write when I can.  I've saved a few photos of the best of the year.  Maybe I can summon the cheerfulness in August to highlight them.

Until then, adieu.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spanish Rhapsody

'Spanish Rhapsody'
About time for a new rose, I think. I've written about this one before, but I've got some better pictures now and she's a survivor.  Allow me to reintroduce you to 'Spanish Rhapsody', a Griffith Buck rose bred in 1976 and introduced in 1984.   I planted her late last summer, and she seems to have survived at least one very dry winter without protection here on the Kansas prairie.  She's blooming her head off now, her first season in my garden, and I'm in love with those delicately colored blooms.

'Spanish Rhapsody' is a shrub rose, officially labeled as a pink blend, although the blend is actually pink, yellow, and something stippled that approaches deep rose.  The medium size bloom starts out with hybrid-tea-form and then opens over a day or two into a semi-cupped double blossom with yellow stamens.   The blooms primarily are one-to-a-stem, but there are some clusters as well.   I'm convinced that the petals darken the first day or two, and then start to lighten as they age. There is a medium fragrance, raspberry-like as advertised by others.  Take a look at the photo on the left, which shows several phases that the blooms pass through.  Try to ignore the two copulating Melyridae on the bloom at the top right of the photo.  Seems like I'm not the only one stimulated by those blooms.

My 'Spanish Rhapsody' bush is nothing to be excited about yet, only about a foot tall and several months old, but at least she's growing. Leaves are light green with a matte finish.  She's got a little blackspot, maybe about 15-20% of her leaves at present, but I'm not going to hold that against her because we're having an unusually bad blackspot year.  Even 'Carefree Beauty' was having some lower leaf blackspot by early June.   I'm not going to spray 'Spanish Rhapsody' so I can judge how she'll carry through a long summer.

'Spanish Rhapsody' is listed as a cross of 'Gingersnap' and 'Sevilliana'.   According to helpmefind/rose, she is a full sister to 'Gee Whiz', and 'Incredible'.  I've grown both those roses and they do resemble 'Spanish Rhapsody' with their stippling.   Neither of the former survived their third winter here, so I'm hoping 'Spanish Rhapsody' does better in the long run.  She's certainly the prettiest of the sisters in my opinion, the Spanish Cinderella, if you will, of the group.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

K-State Adaptive/Native Plant Garden

I risk being accused of a new shallow approach to the intellectual content of this blog, and perhaps of  random promotional content and motivation, but while the iron is hot and before the weather turns hotter, I want to place another Manhattan attraction on the radar of those who may visit.  Appearing every day, approximately 364 times more frequently each year than the Manhattan Area Garden Tour, is the most excellent display at the K-State Gardens of the John E. Tillotson Sr. Adaptive/Native Plant Garden.

Those of you who are native plant enthusiasts should plan a whole trip around this garden because it is, in my experience, unequaled for the use of native prairie forbs in a garden design. Here columbines, milkweed, echinacea, butterfly milkweed, yucca, coreopsis, penstemon, prairie larkspur and evening primrose, all mix in glorious harmony and mature abundance.  The display is at its peak now, in early June.    

This view, down the long axis of the garden looking towards the old conservatory will give you an idea of the flowing masses of perennial forbs that make up the display garden.  Coreopsis in the foreground and Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) in the background provide the basis of a pastel palette for your pleasure.

I often find myself trying to take a peerless photo of a group of these echinacea in the fruitless pursuit of  photographic perfection.  It is most definitely an exercise in frustration for an amateur like myself, but there are lots of opportunities here to experiment with depth of field, framing, focus and shadows.  The hardest choice for me is always where the focus should be;  the plant in the center or the plant closest to the lens?   Sometimes, I capture a pretty nice image, only to realize that, on closeup, one of the flowers is damaged or blemished, marring the effect of the photo.  

The honeybees were going crazy over this newly-opened Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) during the Garden Tour.  The whole area was alive with bees moving quickly from bloom to bloom, humming with excitement and loud enough to drown out the noise from nearby traffic.  Does anyone else wonder, while viewing closeup photos of bees, how they ever lift those pudgy bodies with such small delicate wings?

I assume this is a form of Showy Evening Primrose, (Oenothera speciosa), but I've never seen it quite so blazenly pink in the wild.  I don't know if it is a collected species or a commercial cultivar, but the delicate petals laugh in the face of the hottest sun.  According to Internet sources, some of the Showy Primrose that start out pure white age to pink, like these, while others stay the pure white that I associate with the wild species.


Years ago, walking around the K-State Garden, I noticed an enticing sweet scent that seemed to be coming from some 6 feet tall, large-leaved plants.  In an embarassing display of naivete and stupidity, I asked what they were, only to find out that they were Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), the same weeds I'd grown up with in Indiana and fought hand-to-hand in my father's garden and fields.  They are a perfect example of how blind we can be to the good qualities of a plant that pops up in the wrong place.  I had no idea Common Milkweed was fragrant, nor that it would grow so tall if left alone.

I'll leave you with the sight of these bronze wildcats (the K-State mascot, for those who were unaware), which languidly observe the garden visitors during the day and come alive to patrol the native garden at night.   Sited in Phase I of the garden, right next to busy Denison Avenue, you can tune out the traffic and suddenly you're out in the middle of the Flint Hills.  I know that some gardeners (yes, I'm talking to you, Benjamin Vogt) believe that such an ethos is the only way we should be gardening.  When I view the success of this design, here at the Kansas State University gardens, I can only agree and encourage everyone to drop by and leave with some new gardening ideas.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

28th EMG Manhattan Area Garden Tour

I feel like I'm cheating a little on today's blog post.  It took no creativity and very little thought on my part to put this together.  I simply wanted to show the greater world what they missed on June 5th when they didn't attend the 28th Annual Manhattan (Kansas) Garden tour organized by the Riley County Extension Master Gardeners.  If you're green with jealousy when you get to the bottom, then I'll feel like I've done my part.

Truthfully, any creativity here is all on the part of the host gardeners for the tour, but my part in the garden tour for several years has been as the unofficial photographer.  Somebody decided years ago that I take decent photos and we got in the habit of providing the homeowners with pictures from the tour since the hosting gardeners have very little time to be taking pictures.  Call these photos, and the 700 others that I took on the occasion, small payment enough for all the work of the tour hosts.

As "photographer,"on the "pre-tour" evening when the EMG's tour the gardens, and on the tour day itself, I run around like a hyperactive madman, trying to compose decent photos in seconds and snapping the shutter madly at each bend in a path.

But I have lots of fun discovering the nooks and crannies of each garden, and cataloguing the  idiosyncrasies of all the gardeners.  This year, one of the gardens had a number of fairy gardens in various containers.  I, and Mrs. ProfessorRoush, especially liked the little pig family in this one.

There were garden rooms for big people too; one of the gardens had a number of outdoor sitting areas that gave the garden a romantic feel.

It's a small garden tour, in terms of city size, but there were some fabulous views and landscaping that I'd put up against others anywhere on this continent.  Notice the doorway in the hillside here;  it leads to an underground garden shed that was created to get around restrictions by the local homeowners association.

There were several water features on the tour, and lots of goldfish, but even I had to admit that these Knock Out roses made a fine foreground for this man-made waterfall.

The peonies and irises have faded, and it is too early for the main run of daylilies, but there were plenty of clematis and these bright Bachelor's Buttons to fill the views in the gardens.  And Knock Out roses, of course, lots of Knock Out's.

For reasons that I have trouble putting words to, I returned over and over again to this coleus container.  Something about their brightness in a shady corner and their contrast with the pot just called out to me.

These fine Castor Beans are planted in landscaping next to a semi-public swimming pool at the Manhattan Country Club, one of the site hosts for this year.  I have to make a mental note later in the summer to make sure  that the manager knows to remove the seed pods from these before the toddlers sample them.  Or before Homeland Security chases him down.

I always enjoy the quiet areas of a garden, and this peaceful angel and resident rabbit provided some restful moments from the hectic nature of the tour.

So, I'm sorry, but if you weren't one of the few hundred Manhattanites and locals who took advantage of the perfect weather of this year's tour, these photos will have to do until you can join us next year.  I keep thinking that the EMG's should make a calendar of these photos as a fundraiser.  What do you think?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Remembering David

Sometimes, in a routine moment previously and otherwise unremarkable in our hectic lives, we are thrust suddenly into a surreal experience and forced to ponder the unthinkable.  ProfessorRoush experienced such a moment last week, a moment where our vast-beyond-comprehension Universe shrunk to human dimensions and pace, and then reached out and slapped me into awareness.  An awareness that I want to share with everyone and anyone who comes across this post.  It's a message that you've all heard before from a Greater Being;  Love one another, because our time here is all too short.  No other words carry such importance for our daily lives and yet I fail, every day, to keep that thought at the front of my mind.  A gardener, a man, should be better.
Three months ago I found, on Linked-In, a lost friend from my college days.  I had searched before, periodically, but never crossed his electronic Internet trail until now.  His name was David Sonita and for those first few years of college we were as close as brothers, supporting each other past boring professors and changing lives and homesickness.  We weren't in the same professions or in many classes together, but our evenings were filled with rabid racquetball matches, brutal chess and backgammon games, and lots of laughter and gab.  We simply lost touch near the end of college, me preoccupied with a growing romance of a female form that eventually consented to become Mrs. ProfessorRoush, and David seeking to redefine himself in a paradigm shift of career and focus.  

So, there we were, thirty years later, catching up in a few emails on life and family and thoughts and it was as if the intervening years never existed.  We wrote of losses and dreams and my philosopher-friend was gray-haired and likely wiser, but just as alive as in my memories, wry humor confronting life head-on.  We poured out our souls, started a correspondence chess game, and looked forward in time despite the old bodies housing our still-young minds.          

And then, last Thursday at 6 a.m. while I was frantically packing for a trip to the wedding of a former resident, I received an email from his wife and learned that David was gone, 56 years young, stolen away without warning by a massive heart attack the previous week. 

Friends, ProfessorRoush stumbles mostly around life as a happy fool, but I know when I've been touched by the hand of God or Fate or whatever Higher Power you choose to call it.  I was clearly meant to reconnect with David at this time and juncture, to touch an old friend's life and learn that I am now the last keeper of those memories of his life. There are so many lessons here for us; to appreciate always those in our lives, to cherish time spent together, to recognize the signs of God's influence in our lives, perhaps just to go see our cardiologists.  I know, for one, that I've again a little more aware of what I eat and militant of my exercise.  But most of all, I'm left remembering David, a pod bursting with promise, returned again to grace old ground, a gentle angel on the wind.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Soft Kashmir

'Kashmir', first day
I grow or have grown several roses belonging to Bailey Nurseries Easy Elegance series, and I certainly have mixed feelings for the roses in this group.  I've written negatively about 'High Voltage' and with a positive endorsement of  'Sweet Fragrance'.  I also currently grow 'Paint the Town', 'Hot Wonder' (bred by Ping Lim and introduced by Bailey's although it may not be listed today as an Easy Elegance rose), and 'Yellow Brick Road'.   I tried and lost 'Super Hero' and 'The Finest'.  I finally shovel-pruned 'High Voltage', a vigorous rose that only bloomed once a year, had no fragrance, and died when I transplanted it to a less prominent site.  I suppose in all fairness that I should disclose that I didn't take very good care of it after transplant.

'Kashmir', about day 4
I believe, however, that Easy Elegance 'Kashmir' is going to be a keeper.  'Kashmir', also known as BAImir, is a dark red, very double rose bred by Ping Lim and introduced by Bailey Nurseries in 2009.  One the first day of its appearance, 'Kashmir' will form a tight bud of almost perfect Hybrid Tea form, and then over the next few days it opens wider to a full blossom but still keeps the deep red color on those velvet-textured petals.  There is an occasional white streak on a base petal or two.  The official description from Bailey's suggests that it was named 'Kashmir' because of the "cashmere" softness of the petals.  The blooms are around 3-4" in diameter once fully open, and the bush has remained globular in shape, about 3.5 feet in diameter and height in my garden.  It blooms in flushes over the season and the red doesn't "burn" badly in the hot summer sun, but there is little fragrance.  I suppose one can't ask for everything.

'Kashmir' had some buds knocked off by the recent hail, so it is not blooming as prolifically as usual this year.  At first flush, this rose was covered last year.  You'll also have to excuse the grass growing at the base of the bush in the full view photo at the left.  I'm a little embarrassed that I'm just now getting around to weeding this summer and haven't got here yet.  On the positive side, 'Kashmir' has had no pruning this year either.  I was a bit concerned over one cane with some signs of Rose Rosette on it last year, so I've left it alone after pruning the aforementioned cane to the ground, to see if the RRD returns.  So far my pruning appears to have been successful.  The foliage is very healthy, no blackspot at all, and it never needs spraying.  My three-year-old bush has been cane hardy here in Zone 5.

I think 'Kashmir' is a good landscape rose, and the blooms are nice enough and on long enough stems to cut and bring indoors, even if it isn't 'Olympiad' or 'Mr. Lincoln'.  I can positively say that, so far, this is a plant-and-forget rose, and I prefer the size, form, and color to my detested 'Knock Out.'

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Resilent Regrowth

I've worried myself to distraction, this past month, concerned about the true costs of our April hailstorm on the garden.  The loss of a year's worth of irises, peonies, and non-remonant roses is disappointment enough, but what of other garden inhabitants?   In all the years I've gardened before now, I hadn't experienced hail that struck at the peak of spring, just as the garden year was beginning.  I knew that roses and irises and peonies would survive decrepit and tired, building sugars from damaged factories until they were reborn next year, but what about other plants?   If I grow tired of shredded iris leaves, I can always cut them off and force a rebirth, but gardens contain other lives that need to persist beyond a single cycle.

Foremost,  I wondered, what would become of the trees, the eternal trees, pummeled just as they opened their leaves, an entire year of stored energy wasted in seconds?  Garden experts wrote fleetingly about possible regrowth on trees and other plants, regrowth that seemed too dependent on this condition or that condition, but I could find little documentation for my comfort.  I wondered how the trees could possibly know if there was enough time left in the summer to try again or whether it would be better to save their resources for next spring?  But I offer these pictures, captured one month after the hailstorm, as encouragement to those searching after me.  For myself, they are lesson again that life can be both fragile and resilient in the same moment.

The first two photos above are of new growth on two different Maples in my yard, the first an "October Glory" Red Maple, the second a Paperbark Maple.  Both display their damage and regrowth at the same time, as do most of my trees that were so foolish as to get an early start on spring, hanging on to damaged leaves for sparse nourishment, but rebuilding with a vengeance.  The third photo is a Redbud, an understory tree, also exhibiting torn and shiny new leaves on the same branches.  Together, they are all evidence that this year is not a total loss, for me or for the trees.

In these lessons about hail, I also learned something about Darwinism and survival of the fittest.  The least damaged trees of all in my garden were the trees that are traditional Kansas natives.  My oaks, walnuts, and cottonwoods are all seemingly untouched, the first two because they kept their buds tight until well after the hailstorm and the latter because it seems that the bouncing poplar-like leaves of the cottonwood either dodged the hail stones or turned aside at the slightest touch, nimble as ninjas in the wind.  There are many lessons here that the Homo-sapiens-introduced maples can learn from.  The particular Homo sapiens also known as ProfessorRoush now understands again that despair is fleeting and hope is eternal.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Drought End and Storm Tracks

Can ProfessorRoush get a "Hallelujah" from the chorus, please?  Just this week, the National Weather Service (or whatever organization tracks such things) declared the entirety of Kansas to be drought free for the first time since July 13, 2010.  I don't think my specific area has been suffering continually for that long, but certainly the subsoil moisture has been nonexistent for at least 2 years here.  As a matter of fact, as late as 4/12/16, 97% of Kansas was still designated in some degree of drought or another.  The rains of late April and early May really helped us out, even though my garden performed better in previous years with a little drought AND NO HAIL!

On a related note, for those readers who subscribe to various New Age theories, there is a pattern to storms here in Kansas that I'm at a lost to explain.  Storms often seem to follow one or two tracks across the state from west to east;  they parallel I-70 either south of it or north, but they seldom seem to cross I-70 diagonally.  Look closely at this screen shot of the radar on my iPhone on Tuesday morning.  I-70 is the horizontal highway that runs through the dots that designate Topeka and Salina.  This storm touched the highway, it but stayed just north along it all the way across Kansas.  I've seen this pattern very often.  So what is it about the highway that seems to direct the storms?  Geomagnetic lines?  Ley lines?  Ancient Native American pathways?  UFO flight paths?  Will this change as the Earth's magnetic poles continue to weaken?   Inquiring gardeners want to know.

But they'll only get to wonder for a short time.  Because I'm only leaving this post up to head the blog for 24 hours before we return to plant-y things.  ProfessorRoush is far too grounded to worry much about the mystical things.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Friends, Old and New

At a certain stage of life, gardeners begin to notice that their connections with childhood friends are intertwined with rare reunions and increasingly frequent funerals.  While their qualitative value seldom changes, those friends seem to quantitatively dwindle at each successive reunion or wake, until at last the gardener is forced to acknowledge that he is old and nearly alone.  Old enough that lost loves are rekindled only from memory.  Old enough to compare present with past and wistfully remember better times.    

'Konigin von Danemark'
My recent hail hellstorm put a significant damper on the number and quality of roses that are blooming this year and has left me with the feeling that I'm attending a diamond reunion of old friends and classmates, many of them missing due to illness or death.  Some lost most of their blooms.  The survival of the new little ones is still questionable.  I have, however, taken some comfort in greeting a few old friends and precious new ones who persevered through the pummeling to provide me their pleasing presence.  Take, for example, 'Fantin-Latour,' photographed above, a fifteen year survivor of the Kansas prairie, yet as delicate and refined as a society debutante.  Or 'Konigin von Danemark' (seen at left), mine a cutting from a plant on an 1850's Kansas grave.  If this rose could tell me stories, I'm sure it could keep me entertained for hours with tales of its world travels and of pioneers and death and struggle.

'Marie Bugnet'
'Marie Bugnet', the purest white angel, bloomed second and sparsely for me this year, beaten to the garden by the bright sunshine of Harison's Yellow, as I noted earlier, but 'Marie Bugnet' is cherished all the more for its few perfect blooms.  I never understand why this rose goes unnoticed by most rose fanatics, because it would be one of my "must-haves" in any future garden.  She's a little sparse, but I have placed my dreams in several new basal breaks on the bush.

'Souvenir du Docteur Jamain'
'Souvenir du Dr. Jamain' added his deep red hues again to my garden, his foliage stripped away from naked canes, but each tall cane topped with a masculine carmine bloom.  I'm planning to cut him way back as soon as he finishes, in an attempt to strengthen and fill him out for a better season next year.  In fact, a number of my Old Garden Roses are overdue for rejuvenation and they're about to be given some help from my pruners.

'Due de Fitzjames'
Newcomer-to-me 'Duc de Fitzjames,' perhaps a Centrifolia and known before 1837, certainly lived up to his class, the blossom tightly packed with "red" petals and strong fragrance.  Why, I wonder, do we persist in labeling dusky pink Old Garden Roses as red when they are barely more than pink?  And is it really a Centrifolia or is it a Gallica as some sources claim?  Are there two different roses living under this name, one a deep magenta Gallica, the other a lavender Centrifolia?  This rose is young, but tough and I hope it will continue to survive.

'Gallicandy', in contrast, flashed off its neon-candy-pink blooms to perfection against the rough dark green foliage that survived the hail.   In fact, it seemed brighter than ever, perhaps taking advantage of the paucity of neighboring blooms.  The vibrant color of this Paul Barden introduction pleases me so much more than 'Duc de Fitzjames."  Or am I just biased for brighter modern dyes and colors rather than accepting of older norms?

'Snow Pavement'
One rose that I'm sure is going to be a keeper is my one year old 'Snow Pavement.'  I watched this rose for years, straggly and struggling in the shade of a large elm in the K-State Gardens, and I was underwhelmed.  Last year however, it was yet another "impulse buy" for me and I'm very impressed by the compactness of this rose in full sun.  I'm also coming to appreciate the light lavender-pink tones of 'Snow Pavement' more every day, especially when other roses aren't stepping up this year to steal away the limelight. I'm also becoming quite fond of the Pavement Series of rugosas and I plan to write more about them soon.

I'd love to have introduced you to more old and newer friends if space and time permitted, but yet another storm was on its way and Bella was wanting to move inside, her bravery under assault by the low-lying clouds trying to envelop the garden.  At least you know that my garden is a shadow of its former self, but there are treasures still to be had.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Yeah, They Got Me

I, ProfessorRoush, of normally sane intellect and body, must now confess that yesterday I participated, nay, I joyfully surrendered, to that most simple of marketing techniques; The Impulse Buy.  While browsing a Big Box gardening center, in hopes of finding something besides 'Stella de Oro' and 'Knock Out' relatives, I happened upon this 'Raspberry Sundae' peony in full bloom.  In my own defense, I would ask that before you harshly condemn me, you click on these photos that I took on my iPhone the second after I plunked down my $24.98 and placed this peony in my Jeep.  Spend a few quiet moments in contemplation of this gorgeous girl.  Look at the immaculate blooms.  Look at the healthy, tall, foliage of this peony.  Oh, if only I could reproduce the fragrance for you!  For the gratification of others with similar weak-willed buying habits, it came from Menard's,

'Raspberry Sundae' is a 1968 introduction by Carl G. Klehm, a bomb-shaped midseason lacriflora with pale yellow and pale pink and cream mixed into the most delicate display I've ever seen.  Martin Page, in The Gardener's Guide to Growing Peonies, states that "few flowers have been so aptly named," and he uses 'Raspberry Sundae' as his example when describing the central raised mass of petaloids that develop from both stamens and carpels, suggesting that the "bomb" name refers to a similarity with a "bombe" ice-cream sherbet.  I didn't have this peony in my garden before, but I will as soon as I can dig a hole this morning.  I need to find a prominent place for 'Raspberry Sundae' since she is very likely to soon become one of my favorites.

I was happy to see that 'Raspberry Sundae' was a creation of Carl Klehm, the third of a four-generation (John, Charles, Carl, and Roy) peony dynasty in the Midwest.  As I've mentioned previously, I have seen Roy Klehm speak in person at the National Arboretum and I grow a number of Klehm's striped peonies.  Now, my garden is host to yet one more Klehm peony.


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