Sunday, May 22, 2022

Storm Smiles

The weather gods finally opened the spigot and ProfessorRoush's garden got some badly needed rain.   Not from the storm pictured here, a quick downpour that came in last week and left only about 1/2 inch and some pea-sized hail.  No, it was from another, the middle of last week, that left 3 inches in all my gauges.  Three beautiful inches of rain.

But this earlier storm was gorgeous, coming in quickly from the west, while the setting sun kept it all illuminated for the camera.   See how the dark sky highlights the mix of the prairie remnants from last year's growth and the patchy newer growth in the distant hills?   Last week the grass of my front yard still struggled to turn green.  Today, after a small rain and then a deep soaking, it's as green as emeralds.

While these storms can also bring trouble, and the time-lapse here might make many uneasy, they only bring me calm and a sense of wonder at the power behind it all, the power building at my very doorstep and passing me by, God and the Grim Reaper together at once, mysterious and yet always nearby.

I feel the danger nearby, and yet my peace is generated by the sure knowledge that life comes with the storms.  Four days later, yesterday, and my garden was this, roses coming into bloom and, at last, the full rebirth of another gardening year.  No dribbles of a bulb here or a wind-damaged lilac there, I now relish the full gifts of a garden.

Here and above, Canadian rose 'George Vancouver' is in the foreground, sprawling over the nearby bench.   Please excuse the weeds you see there at his feet; I sprayed them yesterday, the only way to kill the rapidly spreading ambrosia.   Behind George, bright red 'Survivor' blooms, and then 'Polareis', a hint of pink in her blooms, and then, in the rear, bright white 'Blanc Double De Coubert', ready to begin to make her hips and start another crop of blooms to feed the hungry bees.   
So fear not the storms, I beg you, for the storms bring color and glory to the garden.  Storms make me smile, smile as wide as a mile, a grin to wrinkle my chin.  If I were only a dog, I'd be wagging my tail happy for the world to see.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Turnabout Transgression

Turnabout IS fair play, isn't it folks? "Any eye for an eye?" Or is it "all is fair in love and war?"   Whichever the case may be, my post today is a sweet and long-awaited revenge on Mrs. ProfessorRoush, who regularly steals my photos from this blog for her Facebook page and whom, I might add, seldom gives credit for the artful photography she pilfers.  I'm, as you might say, "returning the favor" with my photo-heavy blog today.  Today's words are mine, but the pictures are all from HER Facebook.  Ha!

In my own defense, I couldn't help but download these beauties from Mrs. ProfessorRoush's Facebook because she's really upped her photo game.  Many of these photos are not merely the pictures of pretty flowers that she usually captures, they were COMPOSED, artfully arranged according to classic principles such as placing the subject by the "rule of thirds" and using depth of field.  

Look at the beautifully photographed white Columbine above.  Mrs. PR got it perfectly right, with the most focused bloom precisely placed in the upper left third.   But then, as in the second photo, she incorporated depth of field with the same subject, placing the columbine in perspective against the house and cloudy sky behind it.

A few steps back, a shift of a few degrees, and yet another view echoing the first, but a different subject, this time the 'Batik' irises filling the foreground, framed between the evergreen to the right and the distant River Birch to the left.   She resisted posting the 'Batik' head-on, but instead showed off its abundance, its proliferative nature at bloom time.  I was impressed as well by the framing between the evergreen to the right and the distant River Birch to the left

Here, another example of photographic value of thirds, this nice double-flowered purple columbine, it's unblemished foliage in the lower left third balanced by the out-of-focused green foliage in the upper right and contrasted against the bright flowers on the left of center.   The grounding weight of the columbine foliage at the base of the photo is almost palpable.

Mrs. PR has even evoked emotion with her photos!   Can't you just feel here the loneliness of the single native Baptisia australis (Blue Wild Indigo)  among the new prairie grasses, my garden shade house far in the background?   Hear it calling "here I am, here I stand, fragile yet defiant."   What a nice composition and what a vivid message.


And what of the contrast of the rustic look of the old trellis that stands attached to my gazebo, here with the newly blooming 'Ramona' clematis?   That trellis is a decade old, weathered, splintered, and, in truth, probably held up only by the young, beautiful and vigorous clematis.  Somehow here, in the back of Mrs. PR's mind, there may be some semblance to the old weathered ProfessorRoush and his eternally young and beautiful bride.  Or is the similarity sitting in the back of my mind?

Gaze for a moment on the perfect pinkness of this 'Scarlett O'Hara' peony in silhouette, all life and color among the healthy green foliage.  Since 'Scarlett O'Hara blooms early and brazenly, I refer to her as Scarlett the Harlot and so I might title this "Silhouette of the Harlot".    Titles are fleeting, but beauty eternal.

We might have had to admonish Mrs. ProfessorRoush this lapse into  the "Oh, Wow" centered composition of my massive and spreading 'Harison's Yellow.'   In her defense it is difficult to ignore the sheer floriferousness and vivid yellow of this Hybrid Spinosissima when she's in full bloom.   But even here, as you can see in the photo below, Mrs. ProfessorRoush suddenly redeemed her artwork, stepping back to use the 'Harison's Yellow' as a mere color spot in the line of the bed connecting with the Cottonwood of the background, framed within the confines of the nearer Purple Smoke Tree to the left and the American Elm to the right.  Bravo! Belisima! Magnifica! Mrs. ProfessorRoush!  

My garden, through another's eyes, through a lover's eyes, is new again.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Longhorns Ho!

Yesterday was an outside day in ProfessorRoush-land, work to be done, and some exploration in areas that I don't frequently explore.  I mowed and piddled in the garden to my heart's content, the second mowing of the year starting at 9:30 a.m. and then doing other chores until I looked up at last to see it near 5:00 p.m., the afternoon vanished seemingly in seconds.   Most of the work was prompted by the arrival this week of the Longhorn cattle that a friend (actually the son-in-law of a neighbor), summer pastures on our land and the neighbors pasture.  Aren't they beautiful?  ProfessorRoush likes having cows around, even skinny cows with big menacing horns, and they make a conversation piece for neighbors far and wide, creating a little traffic on the road from the townies coming to "Aw" and stare.  

The Longhorn appearance, however, prompts me annually to walk the far fence, the one that I DIDN'T rebuild when we purchased the land, my border line with the golf course.  It's an original, easily over 50 years old, maybe more like 80 years old, with Osage Orange posts that occasionally get caught in the burns, and I often need to hike up the back hill with a new T-post to shore it up.  The picture below is a view of my back garden and the house and grounds from the far hillside.  Yesterday, all was well with the fence and I opened the gate to let the cattle into my pond area.

White-Eyed Grass
Walking that fence line means I walk down through the prairie and cross the woods in the draw and come as close as I get in this area to shady woodland.   This time of year, that means looking at the flora of the prairie more closely.  The prairie is coming alive with its flowers, native Babtisia starting to bloom, and this White-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium campestre) blooming everywhere.   White-Eyed Grass is, of course, not a grass but a member of the lily family, a bulb, used by Native Americans to treat stomachache and hay fever.

Garlic Mustard
I also ran across this unusual plant, an invader of course.  Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a biennial weed that came from the Old World and escaped cultivation.  It isn't very prevalent on my prairie, requiring a bit of shade and moisture to thrive, but it seems to have found a spot here in the woods for it's temporary liking.

And speaking of invaders, while on my travels through the pasture, I also came across this unusual plant, seemingly beginning to spread in this area.   This is Purple-Leafed Honeysuckle, an escapee from my landscaping, which I made sure to come back and spray with herbicide yesterday.   I believe this clump was actually transplanted by the bulldozer that cleared it out from a bank where I placed the barn and pushed it into this area, but I surely don't want to see it begin to spread on it's own in the pasture

Poison Ivy
The woodland plant pictured here is, of course, not so desired in a woodland, but it's everywhere, hiding among others and waiting to cause pain and misery in some.  As shown here, among several similar plants, it effectively camouflages itself in early spring and then stands out in early Fall with bright red leaves to match the bright red blisters of the afflicted. Luckily, I'm immune to the toxic effects of  the urushiol in poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), but I know it causes misery in others.  "Leaves of three, let it be," say some, but I say "Leaves of three, I don't care."  It probably has some place in the ecosystem, a native to North America, so I leave it alone.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Fun, Disappointment and Home

ProfessorRoush has been away this past week, away from still cold and windy Kansas, to...well, I'll let you guess.  Where, might you guess, have I been this week?

Wormsloe Allée

If you guessed the South, you're correct, and some of you know of the Wormsloe Plantation ruins and its live oak allée.  You perhaps even recognized the statue photographed at the right.   I've been to Savannah Georgia, enjoying a few days traveling to new places with Mrs. ProfessorRoush while at the same time lamenting that I was missing the peak bloom of my lilacs back home.  The statue, for the unknowing, is Bird Girl, a bronze creation of  Sylvia Shaw Judson made famous by the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  At the time the book and the movie were famous it was located in the Bonadventure Cemetery of Savannah, but it is now exhibited in the Telfair Academy, an art museum we visited this week and where I took the photo.

Owens-Thomas garden and Enslaved Persons Quarters
Don't, please, think for a moment that ProfessorRoush is an aesthete, or that I, in fact, have any knowledge of art or appreciation thereof.   Most of art is lost on me other than the thought that I'm looking at a "neat painting."   We ended up at the Telfair Academy by accident, as the ticket is combined with entry to the nearby Owens-Thomas House (garden and enslaved persons quarters pictured above), which we DID want to see.  Although the art museum was lost on me, I did enjoy viewing the Bird Girl and I allowed myself to covet it for a brief moment for my own garden.  

Gardenia jasminoides 'Daisy'
I hoped to visit Savannah at the heart of the garden season, but I must admit I was sadly disappointed in the garden offerings there.   I missed by three days (although tickets sold out last November) the annual charity tour of private home gardens, which was probably spectacular, but the public gardens of Savannah were surprisingly few and far between and nothing to travel for.  The Southern Magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) were in bud everywhere, but not yet openly blooming.  There is a small, poorly labeled "Fragrant Garden" in the world-famous Forsyth Park where I took the Gardenia jasminoides photo at the right and enjoyed the vining jasmine and a nice blooming but unlabeled specimen of 'Zephirine Drouhin'.  However, honestly and without the slightest hint of humility, I have to say my Kansas lilacs and garden here rival the best that Savannah could produce for fragrance.  There's no place like home.

I had hoped to finally see, in person, a few Hybrid Noisette roses in their native south, or at least a good display of other roses in a warmer, wetter and kinder environment than Kansas, but I was completely disappointed everywhere we went.   I spied here and there a few barely-surviving English roses and some ugly Drift and Knockout roses.   But even the Savannah Botanical Gardens had a less-than-inspiring collection of a few straggly Hybrid Teas, barely surviving in too much shade.   It was at the SBG that I took the completely appropriate picture at the left.   The label says "Iceberg, Possibly Best Floribunda Ever," and the fact that the actual rose is completely absent here sums up my feelings about 'Iceberg' after I've tried several times to grow that overrated bush unworthy of being called a rose.  

One highlight of the trip, however, was a turn off the main road made on a whim to the Pinckney Island Refuge, which we happened to drive by as we came home from Tybee Island.  There, we saw this rookery of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets, socially nesting safe above the alligators waiting below in the pond.  I was tickled by the three fuzzy little egrets sticking their heads up in the lower right corner of the photo.   Click on either photo to blow it up to full size!

Now that I've mentioned both birds and magnolias, I'll close with photographs taken today of my 'Yellow Bird' magnolia, just past its blooming prime, and of my "lilac row", also past prime.  When we left, not a single bud of 'Yellow Bird' had opened, yet six days later I return to find that I almost missed it blooming this year; an unspeakable tragedy narrowly avoided.   Since the wind here has blown in gusts of 30-40 mph all day today after a thunderstorm and tornado watch last night, I expect another day of vacation would have left me missing the show.  If I can't see magnolias in Savannah, at least I've got them here.

'Yellow Bird'



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...