Saturday, May 1, 2021

So, It's Not Just Me?

 I've spoken before about the surprise to me that peonies seem to volunteer everywhere in my garden and of the volunteer peonies that have thrived here.  Until this week, I've felt like either a deep, dark gardening secret has been hidden from me despite all the reading I've done, or alternatively that I'm just blessed with a peony-fertile climate.  Just recently, however I've seen that the volunteer peony issue can plague others in the area.  I was taking my first walk of the new spring in the K-State Gardens at lunchtime the other day and came across this obvious aberrant peony growing out of the first tree peony to bloom there.

It is likely, I suppose, that since a tree peony is grafted to the roots of another herbaceous peony, the above break of a graft understock is not so really so surprising.  I'm used to rootstocks growing up and being a nuisance in grafter roses.  During the same lunchtime constitutional, however, I also observed another herbaceous peony rising from this Itoh hybrid, which I highly doubt is grafted.  Itoh hybrids are usually propagated by division according to my reading.  I predict that if I watch while the dozens of peonies at K-State bloom, I'll see other wild children, exposed by their flowers after hiding inside more similar foliage clumps.

Regardless of the wanton explosion of unplanned peonies at the K-State garden, however, my own volunteer peonies continue to crop up.  Just this week, I noticed this small seeding trying to grow next to the Knautia macedonia and Monarda of this bed.  

And I've lost count of all the volunteers that grow for me.  In this vertical line of three distinct peonies, I think that only the center one was planted and the other two are volunteers.   And then there is the volunteer peony with the burgundy foliage growing nearby (and pictured below);  it bloomed last year with a deep red, single flower.   It is worth keeping for the foliage alone.

Should I now run across the city, screaming warning about the unplanned peony population explosion?   Should I be interrogating this advance guard about their alien invasion plans or likely non-terrestrial planet of origin?   Both seem like a slight overreaction given the innocuous and welcome presence of a plant that doesn't smother nearby neighbors and will survive the worst things Kansas throws at it.  No, I think I'll just keep nurturing these babies along.  At worst, they don't have good disease resistance and don't make it.  At best, they'll survive for generations and be my legacy, my lasting joke on those who garden here long after I've become part of the landscape rather than a gardener of it, as they try, and fail, to identify what peony varieties I planted here.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Disaster Averted?

ProfessorRoush has a question mark on the title because I'm not entirely sure yet, but the 4 inches of wet snow last Monday seems to have hardly bothered the plants, and any real damage probably came in the next two nights with lows of 27ºF and a really hard frost one of those mornings.  A late snow does make some pretty pictures, however, even though I and this pink crabapple didn't appreciate it like we could have.

I know that you're wondering how all the plants fared, so I'll try to get right to that.  I'm actually pleasantly surprised that anything at all is left, as green and leafed out as things were, but almost everything came through with minimal damage.   Yes, it whacked the 'Ann' and 'Jane' Magnolias, but they were on their last moments anyway.   The variegated iris shown below has not even blinked, if anything, shining brighter today than ever.

I think a lot of the damage was limited by the heavy blanket of very wet snow insulating all the plants and then quickly melting off.   Fantastically quickly as a matter of fact.  The picture at the left was taken around 7:20 a.m. on the morning of 04/20/21.  The picture below of the exact same view was taken at 6:38 p.m. the same evening. 

Fernleaf Peony
Fernleaf under snow
And the plants recovered just as quickly.   The picture on the left is of the fernleaf peony and tulips covered by snow, and on the right, just a few nights later.   That fernleaf was blooming fully beneath the snow and it never looked back.  You can click on them if you want to see them larger.

And the lilacs, the lilacs that I was so worried about?  Well, here are the row of lilacs tonight, and the exact same bloom from 'Declaration that I showed you in the blog entry from 4/20.  I think the cold seems to have lightened the blooms a little bit, but they have retained their fragrance and held up remarkedly well.   Stepping on my garage pad tonight, in the middle of a brisk wind, is like stepping into a perfume factory.  

Last, but not least, I'm sure you're all wondering about my beloved 'Yellow Bird' Magnolia.   Before the snow, I thought it was going to give me the best show yet, the blooms just ready to peak on the exact day of the snow.  Well, I can't say it came through it unscathed, but I think it will survive to bloom another year.   The leaves that opened early are a bit frost-damaged, and the blooms are discolored up close (see below), but it seems to not be nearly so damaged as I feared.  And that, my friends, is my summary for the entire event; a near-heart-attack-inducing late spring snow that wasn't nearly so bad as I feared.   Thank you, God!
'Yellow Bird', today
'Yellow Bird', today.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Cardinals in Bloom

I took these out the kitchen window this morning at 7:15 a.m.   I know it's unusual for ProfessorRoush to shut up and lose the commentary, but this real set of lovebirds can speak for themselves.  There's nothing like an image of a male and female cardinal pair in a blooming redbud tree to start a day right.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


'Yellow Bird' Magnolia
Spring almost happened.  So fleeting, crushed dreams in a few early morning hours. Redbuds, magnolias and lilacs in full bloom on 04/20/2021.   I'll post more later.  For now, the pictures will have to speak my devastation.

'Declaration' Lilac

The Maiden

Fringed Tulips



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