Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Globemaster Grumbling

I've always believed that one of the best ways to learn new techniques or information, in a permanent manner so that it sticks, is to learn from your mistakes or from the mistakes of others.  I've often said to my students that the difference between a good veterinarian and a bad veterinarian is that a good veterinarian recognizes an error and never makes the same mistake again.  There are plenty of mistakes to be made in medicine without repeating them, but if you don't repeat the same errors, you eventually limit the damage you can do and by "practicing" you become good.  It might not be desirable to be the "practice-ee," but certainly over time the practitioner should get better and better.  Or so I believe.  Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, backs me up by hypothesizing that with 10000 hours of practice, anyone can master almost anything.

'Pinball Wizard'
It is certainly not a mistake for a gardener to plant fabulous large ornamental alliums, but in a hail-prone area, I just learned that you might not want to base an entire garden theme on them.  Of all the plants in my garden, they were the most damaged and seem to be the slowest to show any recovery.  The Oriental and Orientpet lilies were a close second in terms of initial damage, but they are now all putting out new, normal growth at their tops. In contrast, my large alliums are not responding to a tincture of time very well.  'Globemaster', photographed above, had developed buds of about 2 inches diameter before the hail and it went ahead and bloomed well after the hail, but the foliage at the base of the plant is still....horrible.  A similar group of three 'Pinball Wizard' bulbs, show here at the left, were only 10 feet away but were simply flattened, barely discernible now among the columbine and Dutch iris foliage.   They may not survive to bloom next year.

From my despair, I'd like to tell you that I at least learned something of the best variety of allium to plant in this region.  Last summer, I appreciated the display put on by the few allium in my garden, and by those in other area gardens, and I resolved to add more to my garden.  So last fall, I ordered and planted a number of new cultivars, including 'Ambassador', 'Pinball Wizard', 'Globemaster', and 'Gladiator'.  Of those, 'Globemaster', the trio pictured at the right, all kept their heads and necks intact, blooming well, but those were the only alliums to bloom well in my garden this year.  Is 'Globemaster' tougher than the others?  I'd love to say "yes," but my scientific training tells me that my data is inconclusive.  Not enough bulbs scattered around to form a valid opinion.  These were just as exposed as the others, but perhaps they just got lucky.

One might hope that a plant named 'Gladiator' could hold its own against a hailstorm, but the 'Gladiator' buds broke off and then proceeded to bloom like broken purple scepters (photo at left).  My group of 'Ambassador' wasn't able to negotiate at all with the hail and looks the worst of all these allium, not a single stem intact and leaves simply dying.  I'll spare you the horror of showing you a photo of the latter.

Is there any conclusion, any small thought or idea, that I can learn from this hail-ish experience?  Because I'd like to not repeat the same mistake of spending wads of money, nursing dreams of beautiful allium through fall, winter and spring, feeling hope rise with the stems, taller and taller, only to be dashed alongside the broken leaves in an instant.   Maybe, perhaps, just one.

Don't garden in Kansas.

1 comment:

  1. Its no wonder there aren't too many flower farms in Kansas. We didn't get nearly as much hail as you did, but our vegetable garden is a veritable swamp right now. Maybe they should make a movie like "Under the dome" but "Under the hoop" where a disgruntled Kansas gardener tries to put the whole state under a giant hoop house to protect it all from hail.

    The only alliums I have ("Purple Sensation") fared pretty well, minus a stock. My main issue now is the cooler than expected nights we've been having. I'm not sure my hyacinth bean will survive them. I'll just have to plant more when it warms up, though. Unless its just another tease of warm weather!


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