Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jens Munk mystery cont.

Well, I stuck to the plan and exhumed my dead Jens Munk rose.

I have to be truthful here and admit that I did not carefully follow and dig around each separate root to definitively examine the entire root ball.  In engineering terms, what I did would be described as considering all available environmental factors and determining that the best way to facilitate a solution to the issue was to apply increasing lateral mechanical force to an anchored beam, resulting in a separation of the fauna/soil interface. To the rest of us, it means that on a hot (97F) day, with the Kansas sun bearing down on me, the best I could manage before my body turned to dust was to dig out the soil around the crown of the plant to a depth of 3 inches and encircle it with a really thick rope.  I then tied said rope to the trailer hitch ball on my Jeep, jumped into the air-conditioned Jeep,  put it in first gear, and jammed the accelerator down until I ripped the plant out of the ground.  That is why the remaining roots look so short in the picture to the right.

I learned nothing, essentially.  I could not determine any earthly reason why Jens Munk died.  When you look closely at the picture above, you can see that what I really had here was two plants, the plant at the left of the above picture that died first, and the plant to the right of the picture that recently died.  I cleaved them apart with an axe, as you can see at the left, and examined the cut surface, as you can see below.  Yes, there was a little dirt in the center, but the wood and roots all around that area were firm and showed no evidence of rot.  Cutting into the crown above this with a saw demonstrated no hollow areas of rot or borer damage. There were no cankers or below-ground mushrooms growing here.  No chewed away roots or tunnels running into the prairie soil.  The soil around these roots was moist (but not too moist) and had a pH of 6.4, well below the prairie soil that exists outside my mulched beds, which normally runs in the pH 7.2 range.

So, I can't tell you that I learned anything to shed light on the apparent suicide of Jens Munk.  I have a small, actually a miniscule hope that one of the pieces of roots, now deprived of its above ground Master, will be healthy enough and have enough stored energy to put out a new stem of its own.  Hope, but little faith.  But I'm willing to give it some time, until next Spring perhaps, to see if a miracle will occur.  Then, I'll follow my usual pattern and plant something else in this spot, and shortly thereafter I'm sure that I'll find that Jens Munk is growing again, about one foot to the side of where I just placed the new rose.  It has happened to me that way time and again, but I'm quite willing to accept tempting the Fates, if that is the price of adding Jens Munk to my garden again.

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