Saturday, April 20, 2024

Anticipation Abandoned

Where, pray tell me, does one start to explain one's absence from this minor blog of over 3 months?  Many, if not most, of my readers may not have noticed my lack of attention to their daily entertainment, although dare I hope that at least a few fleetingly wondered if I'd departed for parts unknown, upward to fulfillment or slipped into the cold embrace of spring ground?   And how do I apologize to my garden, my poor garden, neglected and abandoned to the whims of weather and fate?   Where does responsibility for the care and feeding of a garden or garden blog begin and end?

'Yellow Bird'
In the case of my garden, but not yet you blog followers, I've made the novice gardener's mistake of hoping for a return of affection, or mere notice, for my efforts.  But as winter rolled to spring and spring has settled into a teasing dance of welcome warmth interspersed with crushing cold, I've found my affection for and from the garden has been less than satisfying.   Simply put, is it too much to ask for a normal transition of spring bloom in return for my cultivating and caring efforts?

The evidence of an answer to that question this spring, has been a resounding "no!" from the Kansas climate.  The first bloom in my garden was the "Pink Forsythia", Abeliophyllum distichum 'Roseum', which I noticed had just opened blooms on February 29th.  One day and a cold night later its promise of love returned was reduced to a fountain of brown, never to shine again.  Then, in sequence, my beloved Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) teased me one day and crushed me the next, several forsythia teased a few cranky yellow blooms and then the rest froze and browned, and then the French lilacs, too embarrassed to carry the torch, refused to bloom at all.  So, at this stage, magnolias, forsythia, and lilacs are, in sports parlance, 0-3, while the Witch of Winter is 3-0.  The redbuds on my hills made it 0-4 in short order, also adding to the general woe and despair, and the red peach tree made me 0-5 for the early season.  

'Jane' Magnolia
Oh, yes, the first Scilla, Puschkinia, and daffodils bloomed, all surviving and promptly laid low by frost as if their diminutive status needed to be removed yet farther from center stage.  Even these minor spots of color were a jumbled mess, overgrown by Henbit and abandoned to my inability to work with frozen hands and ears to clear the garden.   I simply couldn't find a single day until April where it was warm enough, or windless enough, or I wasn't away to a meeting or work, to tidy the garden.  I just fail miserably to confront 70 mph gales as I work outside.  My front garden finally got trimmed and mulched last weekend, almost two months later than in previous years, and the back garden is yet to be touched, piles of bagged mulch waiting in vain as I struggle through a respiratory virus passed to me last week by the treacherous Mrs. ProfessorRoush. Yes, friends, even my spouse has taken sides with weather and fickle seasons against my garden.  

Paeonia tenuifolia
There are a few minor bright spots that I cling to.   Both my 'Jane' and 'Yellow Bird' magnolias have snuck in decent bloom this spring, and I share them with you here.   Mind you, I take no credit as my 'Ann' magnolia didn't show near the bountiful bloom of her sister, so any hue of success is a matter of chance and the random timing of nightly lows sparing individual bloom cycles.  For future hope, the late lilacs, like 'Boomerang' are opening up with some appearance of a decent showing, and so far the peonies are budding up well.   I got one day of  a fine display by the Paeonia tenuifolia, illustrated at left, after my return from a DC trip before it was ruined by rain. 

But did I yet mention that we've been bone dry, all through winter and spring, so dry as to make the ground as solid as cement and dry as far as I can dig?  We need rain to even have grass yet!   Should I will just roll over, cut my losses, sacrifice the troops, and wait until 2025?  I need color; beautiful sunrises and hope can sustain me, but not forever. What say ye?  (that last question asked in my mind with the voice of Gregory Peck as "Ahab" in 1956's Moby Dick, as he asked his first mate to follow him to their mutual death).  



Monday, January 15, 2024

So Long Absent, So Weak

ProfessorRoush apologizes, my gardening friends, for my long absence from the blog.   I simply haven't had anything particularly interesting to say or show for a quite some time.  Oh, sure, there have been the usual spectacular sunrises such as that illustrated below, first looking West on the morning of December 12th;  I've just been saving them until I had something to say.

A harbringer of the snow soon to come, eh?  And a little turn northward, a pink reflection of the sun to the east tinting the grass below sky.

And then looking East the same morning as I went around the "S" curve and crested the hill leading me to work, an orange horizon ahead:

 And then two days later, a similar sunrise, a repeat of the joyous awakening of a Kansas day:

But, Alas!, I cry, for the more recent days have looked like this:  my back garden two days ago.   Where you can see grass sticking up, the snow is about 5 inches deep, but that drift on the patio in the foreground is closer to 3 feet high.   That's NOT melting anytime soon!

On a less "fisheye" view, with normal perspective, we can all feel sorry for the roses in the foreground.   To the right of the white "post" below (a dead spruce stump that I painted as a stand for a bird feeder), they are in order from left to right, 'Rugelda', 'Madame Hardy', an immature 'John Davis', and 'David Thompson', all fresh from a low of -14ºF that night, with now several nights of that repeated.   The forecast shows another night reaching -9º and then some more "moderate" temps through the weekend before a night down to -7ºF on Saturday next.   I think I'm about to see how winter hardy those Canadians and Rugosa roses really are.

Anyway, if you wonder about the whereabouts of ProfessorRoush, I'm either sobbing intermittently about the plight of my poor roses, shoveling through the 2.5 foot drift that keeps reforming on the front walkway, or, just maybe, marveling in the knowledge that in about a month, it'll be 50ºF and sunny outside some Saturday in February and I'll be clearing garden beds for another year and finding the daffodils pushing up.  


Monday, November 27, 2023

White Now, Not Brown

ProfessorRoush's last post was about how brown the prairie has turned and now (with extreme misgiving), how sorry I am for posting that!   Because yesterday morning, it started to snow.

And snow and more snow came falling from the heavens, blanketing the yard and wiping out the uglies. 

And this morning, 5 inches later, you can see the results for itself, a bumpy thick covering of snow over the backyard, turning a drab landscape into a jeweled foreground for sunrise.   I shouldn't complain, but since snow means cold and shoveling and a general mess of the cars and garages, I find that I actually prefer the drab brown of fall to the icy breath of winter, even if I momentarily forgot while wallowing in my loss of gardening time.

Except for what snow does for the house.   My brick eyesore on the prairie now looks like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell scene in the snow, don't you agree?

And at night, better yet!   I took this one returning home from the pre-game function for the Kansas State-Iowa State game last night; a game played in the snow as some people (not me) think football is meant to be played.   I'm doubly pleased, both because I held the phone steady enough for almost no blurring on this 3-second exposure (it was much darker out than this photo shows), and because the Christmas Tree that we just put up yesterday is visible in the window.

We may have snow, but all seems right in the world this weekend.  I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving holiday and is looking forward to Christmas!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Brown Out There

Geez, Louise, our fall color sure went away quickly.   It was looking at least a little fall-ish out there a week ago, oranges and russets and reds and yellows and browns everywhere, and now it's gone.   Fade to brown, fade to drab, goodbye leaves.   The weather doesn't show it as it's beautiful and sunny everywhere and still days where it hits 70ºF, but that last cold spell hit the trees hard. 

I'm still encouraged on some warm mornings by the occasional fogs, though.   We had one this week and it set the colors back in place.  Except for this little redbud volunteer off my back patio.   It has given up its leaves but it is holding on hard to those proliferate brown seed pods.   I'll have a bumper crop of redbuds next spring!

On my drive to work, I was struck by the wispy clouds on the east side of town.   This picture may not do it justice, but it was surreal in real life, a landscape draped in the middle of the sky.

I did notice, outside on this foggy morning, that my bald cypress looked particularly drab and around it, the warm morning looks somehow more like winter.   It normally has a little more golden color, but not this year.   Just yesterday, driving, I was listening to a Saturday morning garden show that comes from Topeka and the host was lamenting the lack of fall color in Kansas this year and whining about how fast the leaves came down.   He blamed it on the drought we've had in the summer and fall, and on the quick cold snap of a week ago.   I blame it on Kansas.

Not so bad, it is though, when the fog hides the greater world away and leaves me with a nice, sheltered, view of my garden.   And a warm feeling that it was a good year.


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