It's a very cold winter day here in the Flint Hills and while I was searching my phone for inspiration, I kept stopping at the bright, the cheery, the flashy photos. Many of these were photographs of last summer's daylilies, still beaming the sunshine of July into the freezing aura of January.
I had saved the picture above of 'Southern Wind', a 2003 introduction by Stamile, for just such a blog-worthy occasion, however in true keeping with my poor-recording nature I had mislabeled it as 'Summer Wind, which it obviously is not. Mislabeled or not, it certainly catches the eye doesn't it. Every new daylilean thing that one could desire is there; the crinkly edging in yellow, ribbed lavender of the thick main petals so resistant to drought, the clearly marked throat. My 'Southern Wind' is placed in back of the house with a direct southern view, exposed to all the burning sun and southern winds it could ever desire.
'Heavenly Flight of Angels'
'Southern Wind' and the rest of my newer daylilies pictured here are not your father's daylilies, as the saying goes. I'm too parsimonious to pay for all the newest and brightest, but even the divided clumps of daylilies sold each fall as a money-maker for the Flint Hills Daylily Society suffice to show how much the field of daylily breeding has changed the "ditch lilies" into queens of the garden. I do supplement my cheap daylily bargains with the occasional commercial purchase as well. I couldn't, for instance, resist the aptly named 'Heavenly Flight of Angels' displayed on the left. I described purchasing it and dividing it last year. A newer spider, the bright yellow is softened to perfection by the cream edges.
I won't try to name the rest of these daylilies on this page. After some process of elimination and searching records, I could, and I've labeled a few that I'm reasonably sure of, but it would take too long today to label the rest. I'll just leave you here with these beautiful but long-fallen daylilies, in hopes they brighten your day as much as they did mine today.
ProfessorRoush had to leave home before dawn yesterday morning, but returned home at noon to a sunshine-blue sky and a garden made of crystal. The view of Mrs. ProfessorRoush's favorite redbud tree and the lilacs lining the garage pad was otherworldly, an alien landscape of architectural glass forms.
The prairie grasses, themselves, were bent low with the weight of 1/2" thick ice, reddened by the strain of winter's fury. Even the buff buffalograss was transformed, a crackling surface rough on the paws of poor Bella, who decided she really wanted as few bathroom breaks as possible in this mess.
How much the ice must have affected all the wildlife who couldn't rush inside? At least the overhang from my bluebird boxes seemed to be protecting the precious structure and potential lives beneath it.
And, alas, all the poor shrubs. Viburnums, lilacs, honeysuckle and sumac, transformed to statues as stiff as the concrete and glass ornaments among them. Look at the icicle that was formerly my Star Magnolia, brittle branches defenseless to the first cruel wind that arises. Today's high is supposed to be 36ºF. I can only hope that the sun comes out before the south wind and clears the branches from their burdens before they shatter and break.
There is hope however, buried within the glass. No deer will be munching on these Magnolia flower bud popsicles in the near future. Glazed artwork, the protected buds will wait patiently and, maybe, just perhaps, decide to put off their spring debut until a more reasonable period of warming occurs.
For right now, my garden is a time capsule frozen by a winter's tantrum. A freak sudden climate change, a sudden shift to Ice Age, and millennia from now a future archaeologist might be uncovering a garden of magnolias, roses, and daylilies, wondering how they could all survive together in such a horrid place for gardening. He or she might come across that eternal granite garden bench of mine, an alluring seat in the sunshine of my photo last week, but not nearly so inviting now. A little more digging, however, and they'll discover the strawberry bed of the vegetable garden, protected behind an electric fence and under a layer of straw, and know that here lived a gardener, one filled with hope for a fruit-filled future and spring.
Well, that didn't take long, did it? The second day of 2020 and ProfessorRoush has already blogged twice! I simply couldn't restrain myself from a quick entry, given what I found on a walk outside after yesterday's blog.
The temperature reached 50ºF yesterday around 1:00 p.m. and the sun was shining, so despite a brisk wind, I took the lovely Bella out for a walk. Well, I walked. Bella ran around like the world was brand new, sniffed the cold earth for awhile, and then rolled in the sunny buffalograss like the puppy she still is. We sat for awhile, there in sunshine's embrace, me on the low granite bench in my front yard, and Bella on the warm grass, and together we contemplated how much trouble we would be in from Mrs. ProfessorRoush when Bella dragged all that grass back into the house on her fur. We discussed running to the nearest Greyhound terminal and heading for Florida, but Bella finally convinced me that was a ridiculous overreaction to the moderate scolding we would undoubtedly get later.
I didn't think that I yet displayed my granite bench to you, the granite salvaged from our kitchen island when we remodeled, but I was wrong, so wrong. I'm not shocked that I forgot about blogging about the bench, but I was chagrined that the linked blog entry was clear back in 2014. It seems like the remodeling project was just a year or two back. Where does the time go, and why does its passing speed up as we age? I wish, sometimes, I were more like the granite, impervious to time, ice, and burning sun, but then I remember that granite doesn't really get much accomplished year over year.
Showing you the antics of my energetic and loving Bella, however, was just a cheap ploy to draw you in for the real reason that ProfessorRoush is blogging again so quickly. Worked, too, didn't it? No one can resist a perky beagle!
I really wanted to share the photograph at the right and announce to the world that SPRING IS COMING! Yes, only 9 or 10 days past the beginning of winter, the first daffodils are foolishly pushing stems above the frozen ground out there in my garden. I was shocked to find them, even here in this bare patch of dark earth disturbed by some digging critter last fall. Early? I'd reckon so. But I'm happy to see them all the same. It's tempting to cover them up and tell them to go back to sleep, but instead, this old gardener will bow to their wisdom and leave them be, impertinent spring-rushers that they are.
All right, how's this for a morning photograph? I took it on the morning of December 24th, at 7:25 a.m. looking out my south window. It's a frozen wasteland out there but the partial clouds make for a glorious sunrise, don't they? This photograph is completely unaltered, with the exception that I took the picture below first, and then touched my finger to my Iphone on the garden garden area to change this second exposure to see more of the garden and a brighter sky.
Which do you like better? I was partial to the top photo with the contrast of the colors and the frozen ground, but the sunrise is more beautiful and the colors more vibrant in its "natural" exposure. The first brings out the cold and frost of the brutal Flint Hills, the second displays the promise of the morning.
Sunrise isn't the only time the colors of the Flint Hills help brighten my garden. The russets of the bluestem and the oranges of the Indiangrass and switchgrass on the prairie are amplified anytime there is rain or moisture. The buffalograss in the foreground and invading into the paths that I mow, stays the buff of this grass in winter, surrounding the house and biding time through winter.
These two photos, taken during the rainy day of 12/29/2019, are more subtle in their coloring and hues, but nonetheless quite an improvement over the normal tan. I cut the prairie low between the house and lower garden during winter for the purpose of deterring rodent migrations to the warm house and aiding the hawks that control them, but here the colors aren't nearly as amplified as in the taller mature grass in the background. It's a trade-off I make every year as a tactical strike against the ubiquitous pack rats.
And then, there's the color of sunset on the prairie. This panorama, taken at sunset on Christmas, 2019, shows the barrenness of the prairie in winter, yet the promise from the fleeting sun to return someday and green it all up again. This garden, this gardener, hibernates until those first days of spring return.
In the meantime, I seem to be on a scenery sideline for this blog and I think for the next few weeks I'll return to the pictures of summer. I've got quite a few "starter" blogs saved from last year's beauty that I want to share before "Gardening 2020" really gets rolling.