Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Heads

My garden, especially this time of year, does what it can to add to the seasonal festivities.  At least, Mrs. ProfessorRoush thinks so, having recently referred to certain ProfessorRoush-approved features as "creepy."  I would like to take that as a compliment to the ambiance of my pre-Halloween garden, but I really think she means it in a seriously derogatory fashion.  Her tone and disapproving demeanor suggest that she doesn't like the harmless "heads" dispersed in my garden.  Yes, I'm sure it is the "heads" she disapproves of.  Before you go off creating fake news, I should make it crystal clear that SWBMB (She Who Butters My Bread) is not referring to ProfessorRoush, the gardener himself, as being creepy.  At least I don't think so.

In actual fact, Mrs. ProfessorRoush doesn't like my "heads" at all and never has.  There are several disembodied heads, you see, dispersed in the garden, popping up just when you aren't really looking for them.  Merely faces, really, they provide some companionship to me in the garden while watching over the safety of the tree peony or while they just simply keep a watchful eye on the scenery.  I don't see them as "creepy" at all, but I confess that I have a thing for them, these concrete or iron mute inhabitants of my garden.  I've gathered a few over the years, still far fewer than the concrete rabbits in my garden, but the heads are growing in number.

The Lurker, pictured above, is the most startling to discover, peering out beneath a variegated eunonymus through the iris leaves, keeping the corner of the garage and driveway under surveillance at all times.  He actually is "only" a face, a concrete pour into a plastic  mold I purchased for $5.00 at a bookstore in years past.  I made just this one Lurker, but I still have the mold.  Do you think Mrs. ProfessorRoush would regret her harsh condemnation if I made a few more, say twenty-five or fifty of them, and put all over the garden?

I am really quite fond of The Iron Maiden, a grape-cluster adorned goddess permanently attached to the brick of the east side of the house.  It is she, the unyielding cast iron visage, who protects my only tree peony, sheltered with it in a spot that receives only gentle morning sun and protected from both the north and west winds. Oh, the stories she could tell of the golden peony and its resident garter snake.

Evidence suggests, however, that Mrs. ProfessorRoush's disdain and loathing is most directed at this beautiful feminine pottery sculpture, the Goddess of the Stones.  A Hobby Lobby special purchase, I bought her a number of years ago on clearance for, as I recall, the grand sum of $2.  I will freely admit that at the time I expected her to last only a short season or two, believing her to be just a little fired clay figure that would chip and disintegrate under the first few freezes.  On the contrary, she has held both her striking lines and gentle cream complexion for nearly a decade, sitting undisturbed on the limestone landscaping corner at the southeast point of the house, impervious to wind, sun, and rain.  Mrs. ProfessorRoush has repeatedly referred to The Goddess in the most disparaging terms, and she refuses to acknowledge the simple symmetry of this most comely countenance. If I could bring one of the heads to life, I would choose The Goddess of the Stones for lively lunch conversation or other diversions.

Along with the satisfaction they bring this gardener, the "heads" have one more most redeeming feature in relation to Mrs. ProfessorRoush.  They have made her completely forget, and indeed perhaps almost accept, my Kon-Tiki head, the first and largest head of my garden.  When I purchased it, nearly 20 years ago, she thought it was the most stupid thing she had ever seen in a garden.  She mellowed as the 'Rugelda' rugosa rose thrived around it, and today she hardly mentions it and certainly not in the same  association with the other heads.  It has faded from its original artificial antique green shade, now weathered concrete, and the rose around it has perished and been replaced by other plants, but it remains in the same spot as ever, watchful for the return of the gods from the east.  Perhaps it is simply less threatening to her jealous bone than The Iron Maiden or The Goddess but it's hard to argue that Kon-Tiki is far less frightening to unexpectedly encounter than the Lurker.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Helianthus horridus ssp. horrendous

Well, that's not actually its name.  I could also call it 'Sneaky Santa Fe' and that moniker might fit better, and it certainly snuck by me, but that's not its name either.  This rampant invader, my friends, is Helianthus maximilliana ‘Santa Fe’, planted in my garden in 2010 and eradicated by 2017 along with its cousin 'Lemon Yellow',  when I realized that they self-seed the 7 foot tall stalks everywhere in this climate.

Once again, to be accurate, I should say "attempted eradication in 2017."   It seems I was successful with lighter-colored  'Lemon Yellow', but 'Sante Fe', or its open-pollinated offspring, lives on.  It has persisted in the form of no fewer than 8 separate clumps which evaded my periodic weed patrols and currently grace the garden.  I've spent the summer pulling it up wherever I noticed it, all except for this spot, which is so nicely placed and healthy that even the busy Bella had to stop and pose with it.  "Any Bella-approved plant can't be all bad," I thought. "Let it grow in just this one spot, and I'll cut it down before it can form seeds."  'Santa Fe' had other plans.

It grew rampantly here, along this bed, hiding among the native goldenrod, and then swiftly sprawled this week out over the path, flattening everything in its way.  I need to cut it off before it seeds again, and I have to cut it soon to mow this area, but it is so pretty that I just can't....yet.

It also grew tall in this bed, hiding among the variegated Miscanthus and other tall ornamental grasses, but once this baby blooms, it is hard to hide, isn't it?  Beautiful and bountiful and bright.  I know that I've found other volunteer clumps in this bed this summer and pulled them on sight, but the evidence suggests that I somehow missed these.

This last little 2-foot tall-but-avidly-blooming example has cropped up in the short time since I last did a major weeding and inspection of this bed, barely a month ago.  Helianthus maximilliana  must speed up its growth as blooming time nears so that it can cast seeds as far as possible, even if it only has a few weeks to try to outshine the sun.  Is it still 'Sante Fe', I wonder, or has it evolved under the harsh Kansas conditions into something more formidable?  The Kansas version of kudzu, perhaps?  I promise, I'll cut these all down before they form seeds.  Or maybe I'll just "gift" other gardeners with the seed this year.  Perhaps this plant is like a flu virus and you have to give it away to be done with it.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Foxi Pavement

There are roses that you love from the first glimpse, and roses that sometimes have to earn your love over time.  ProfessorRoush is here, live on blog, to tell you that 'Foxi Pavement' is just another potential Hybrid Rugosa that you've heard of and don't really care about, right up until finally you grow her.  I promise that 'Foxi Pavement' will grow ON you as it grows IN your garden, just as it did for me.

'Foxi Pavement,' also known as Luberon®, UHLater,  and, inexplicably, as "Buffalo Gal" (the approved ARS Exhibition name), is a 1987 introduction Hybrid Rugosa by Jürgen Walter Uhl.  Well, according to she's a 1987 introduction, but Modern Roses 12 lists her under 'Buffalo Gal' as a 1989 introduction.  As readers know, because of the rose rosette catastrophe which struck here, I've chose to grow as many roses with R. rugosa heritage as I can find, regardless of their color or form.  I may not have formed the most perfect display rose garden, but the experience has made my garden into an exquisite testing ground for roses I might not otherwise have bothered after.  'Foxi Pavement' is one of those roses that I'm happy to have happened across.

In my Kansas climate, she is often a little frazzled and worn, but she's resilient and seldom without a few flowers. All the pictures on this page were taken this week, in a random moment while I was mowing.  Her R. rugosa genetics show up in the heavily rugose, light-green foliage and complete disease resistance.  The pictures on this page are of a mature 'Foxi Pavement' near the hot end of summer, only the slightest bit of blackspot near the bottom of the plant and a little mild insect damage on the unsprayed plant.  Most importantly, there are no signs of rose rosette disease anywhere on my 4 year old plant.  Her mature size is 4 foot tall and 5 foot wide in my garden, and the semi-double to mildly double flowers (17-25 petals officially) have a strong R. rugosa fragrance.  She is completely cane-hardy with no die-back in my Zone 5-6 climate, and she sets fantastically large hips after bloom, giving her a second season of display in my garden.

When compared with the other Pavement roses, that I grow, 'Foxi' is the intermediate color choice between pale 'Snow Pavement' and dark 'Purple Pavement', with a size and form bigger than the latter and identical to the former.  One big advantage of 'Foxi Pavement' is that she doesn't show any signs of suckering.  In my garden, 'Purple Pavement also hasn't suckered, but 'Snow Pavement' suckers occasionally and 'Dwarf Pavement' is a diminutive (2 foot tall) monster, spreading over 5 years to cover a 10 foot wide area in one of my garden beds.

'Foxi Pavement has earned her permanent place in my garden and I'd recommend her in any garden.  I grow a distant and better known relative, 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' nearby, and comparing the two, I think I much prefer 'Foxi' over 'Fru Dagmar'.  'Foxi' is taller and more upright, and although the lavendar-pink tone is similar to 'Fru Dagmar', I think 'Foxi' is a brighter pink, perhaps helped out by her higher petal count.  Both plants are very healthy and their gorgeous hips are almost identical in number, color, and size.   Remember, ProfessorRoush likes big hips and he cannot lie...(don't hesitate to click the link here, it's SFW...mostl)

Also...pretty proud of himself, and I'm sure you're pleased, that ProfessorRoush avoided any puns or plays on the 'Foxi' name.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Interlude

I promise you, I'll get around to making this post garden-related, but ProfessorRoush and Mrs. ProfessorRoush had the opportunity last weekend to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in concert in Manhattan, Kansas, and I want the world to know it.  We had great tickets, didn't we?  They are one of ProfessorRoush's favorites and I often play their music during surgery.  Yes indeed, your dog may have had its leg repaired to the tune of Mr. Bojangles!

Fifty-three years, 53 YEARS(!), this band has been entertaining gardeners and anti-gardeners alike.  Two original members of the band, Jeff Hanna (guitar and lead vocal) and Jimmie Fadden (drums, harmonica, etc), still lead it, along with Jeff's son, Jaime Hanna (guitar), and current members Bob Carpenter (keyboards), Jim Photoglo (guitar), and Ross Holmes (fiddle, mandolin).  That's Jaime at the far left and Jeff next to him, with Ross in the brown jacket, Bob at the keyboard, and Jim in the background.  Jimmie Fadden was a little hard to see (he's behind Jeff) from our vantage, but he's an amazing musician.  I was astonished at the sheer talent displayed by all the members, all of whom are also lead and background vocalists on various songs as well as musicians.  Unfortunately, they are so good in person, they made ProfessorRoush's dreams of becoming a rock star fade into the distance.

If there's ever a musical band that a gardener can get down with, it's got to be the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, doesn't it?  I mean, even the band's name draws gardeners down the path towards them, you dig? Let alone the songs they've done.  Do you think any gardener can really resist Buy for Me the Rain?  Listen to the lyrics: (You-tube link if you click here)

♫Buy for me the rain, my darling, buy for me the rain; Buy for me the crystal pools that fall upon the plain. And I'll buy for you a rainbow and a million pots of gold. Buy it for me now, babe, before I am too old.

Buy for me the sun, my darling, buy for me the sun; Buy for me the light that falls when day has just begun. And I'll buy for you a shadow to protect you from the day. Buy it for me now, babe, before I go away.

Buy for me the robin, darling, buy for me the wing; Buy for me a sparrow, almost any flying thing. And I'll buy for you a tree, my love, where a robin's nest may grow. Buy it for me now, babe, the years all hurry so.♫

Need I go on?  Of course, I must.  A Kansas gardener can always Stand a Little Rain.  I can practically hear the brook in Ripplin' Waters and I like to Make a Little Magic in the garden as often as I can.  And when the day is done, it's ProfessorRoush singing to the Mrs.;  ♫Lazy yellow moon comin' up tonight, shinin' through the trees.  Crickets are singing and lightning bugs are floatin' on the breeze.  Baby get ready.  You and me going Fishin' in the Dark.  Lying on our backs and counting the stars where the cool grass grows.♫

Fifty-three years and counting!  Rock on, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, rock on!


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