Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Do My Hips Look Big?

'High Voltage' rose hips
ProfessorRoush believes himself the successful survivor of a long-term marriage, if only because the bruises and welts from Mrs. ProfessorRoush's rolling pin have been infrequent enough that I haven't sustained memory loss or cognitive dysfunction from repeated concussions thereof.  At least I don't think that my increased frequency of rummaging around in the mental attic recently has anything to do with such spousal corrections.  I'm confused, however, and not sure.  Regardless, one of the reasons I view myself as a successful husband is that I learned early on in our blissful honeymoon days to feign deafness when asked to answer that most treacherous question of all married wives, "Does this (...outfit, pantsuit, belt, chair, blouse, sofa cover, etc) make my hips look big?"

'Morden Centennial' rose hips
But now, I ask you, do my hips look big this year?  One of the side benefits to being a lazy rosarian is that I can use the excuse that I'm allowing the roses to develop hips instead of running around in a frenzy deadheading any bloom that is more than a day old.  It's all for the benefit of the avian wildlife.  What, you didn't know that birds will eat rose hips?  Well, maybe it's advantageous to keep the roses from stressing themselves over summer trying to bloom too heavily.  It develops stronger canes, you know?  Oh, you've never heard that either?  Okay, then will you accept that the red rose hips make nice winter ornaments in your garden?

Because they do, you know, make nice natural ornaments in the few days in Manhattan Kansas when the snow falls.  Most of them do, anyway.  It never seems to work out exactly like I wanted it to.  Some roses that I didn't expect to develop hips are reluctant to rebloom and are covered with hips (like 'High Voltage' that I wrote about recently).  Others are widely touted to have large, tomato-red hips.  The Hybrid Rugosa 'Purple Pavement' is such a rose, but this summer, the large red hips swelled, showed promise, and then shriveled.  First, they turned into reddish-orange prunes like the picture at the right, and then they just turned brown and ugly like the picture below.  Who really wants to show off a bunch of prun-ey shriveled old hips unless they have no choice?

I don't imagine these dried hips of 'Purple Pavement' would make very good eating, either.  I'm aware that rose hips are rich in Vitamin C and were harvested in Britain in WWII to make rose hip syrup as a vitamin supplement for children.  Rose hips are also promoted for herbal teas, sauces, soups, jams, and tarts.  These days, health experts far and wide are proclaiming the anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits of the anthocyanins and other phytochemicals contained in rose hips.  I ask you, looking at the picture at the left, would you expect any medicinal benefits other than as a purgative?   They have even been used to control pain from osteoarthritis in a 2007 Danish study.  Maybe so, but I ain't eating them. 

For now, I'm quite happy to leave my rose hips for the birds or to let them drop to the ground and occasionally grow more little roses.  As long as I don't have to deadhead the bushes.  And maybe it is my aberrant "Y" chromosome, but I don't care if you think my hips are big.  I think they're beautiful.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Golden Fantasie

'Golden Fantasie'
On this chilly pre-Winter Saturday, as the nighttime temperatures drop into the 20's and the high today, a football Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas, is predicted for only 48°F, here I am, still blogging about Summer's roses.  Never fear, for those of you who frequent this website to get an occasional taste of the roses, I've stacked up a few pictures to keep us all going through winter.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a "surprise" rose;  one that you don't often hear or read about, but one that could be a great one for your garden.  I picked it up almost 10 years ago for $5 during an end-of-the-season sale at a Manhattan store that no longer exists.  It was a potted rose, but I'd never heard of it at the time.  After growing it for a decade, I'm now unable to understand why we don't see and hear about it all the time.

'Golden Fantasie' in September, 2012
The rose is 'Golden Fantasie', a light, bright yellow, Hybrid Tea, introduced by Roy L. Byrum in 1971.  The registered name is 'HILgofan', but you might also find it under 'Joan Brickhill'.   'Golden Fantasie' has a medium to large double bloom, with about 20 petals, and an excellent high-centered bloom form.  She has bloomed in 4-5 flushes for me each season, and the moderately fragrant blooms are held on a broad round bush about 3 feet tall and wide, with absolutely great dark green, leathery leaves.  New growth is red fading to green, and it is moderately resistant to blackspot in this climate: not completely resistant, but better than most other yellow Hybrid Teas. The recent picture of the full bush at the left shows a bit of "bare-leg syndrome" from late summer blackspot, but for a Hybrid Tea that was not sprayed at all this summer, it did just fine.  'Golden Fantasie' is completely cane- hardy in my former Zone 5B climate (now 6A).  She is an offspring of 'Dr. A. J. Verhage' (a deep yellow Hybrid Tea)  and  'Anniversary', a now-extinct yellow florist's Hybrid Tea bred by Byrum in 1959.

Roy Byrum, as a rose breeder, is as unknown to me as his roses were, and it is difficult to track down any information on this Richmond, Indiana native who shares my Hoosier background.  Byrum hybridized roses from the 1930's through the 1970's, and although there are 52 other roses listed under his name at helpmefind.com, I'd never heard of any of them.  Several seem to have been introduced through the Joseph H. Hill nursery of Richmond Indiana, and 'Golden Fantasie' is the only one of these listed with a modern registration name.   Byrum is listed in an 2011 article titled "Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?" and you can find him as the holder of any number of plant patents.  He was issued plant patent #154 in 1935, and obtained others running clear through 1976, often in association with the Joseph Hill company, which was a huge source of cut roses in the middle of the 20th Century. 

I'll keep searching for more information about Roy Byrum, but if you run across 'Golden Fantasie', at any price and in any condition, I'd advise you to grab it up and plant it in your garden.  You'll never be sorry.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blowing Wind

West of Salina, Kansas
Every time I make a little trek west on I-70 from Manhattan to Denver, I become more and more impressed by the rapid expansion of efforts to harvest wind energy, and simultaneously more and more amazed that anyone or any organization could be opposed to them.  There are two stretches of wind farms on the route, one west of Salina Kansas stretching 20 miles long and another near Burlington Colorado.  Along a highway of inner America where the landscape is charitably described as stark, where the population is scant, and where the per-acre profit for dry-land farm income and ranching is minimal, I can't imagine a better place to build an industry based on the value of what is above the land, rather than what is beneath it.

ProfessorRoush is part of a generation who were told as children that by now, in the second decade of the 21st century, the world would be completely out of oil.  I admit that I feel it is a testimony to science and human ingenuity that there are now believed to be more oil reserves (and ways to get at them) than were ever dreamed of in the 1970's.  On my most recent trip to Colorado, a radio program celebrated that the United States is again the world's largest producer of oil this year, surpassing even Saudia Arabia.  I'm surely not alone, however, when I say that record oil production is not a positive event for the Earth in the long term.  I say leave it all in the ground. 

Oil is nice. Natural gas and coal are nice. They're known, dependable entities, somewhat like the skanky relatives we'd like to pretend not to know.  But they're not renewable.  Whether it is this decade or this century, they will run out. Even a global warming skeptic, like myself, can admit that we'd be better off if we didn't use fossil fuels in any form.  And the answer is right in front of us, clean, free for the taking and equally profitable right now. Wind. Wind blowing across land whose best use as a Buffalo Commons was once proposed by some meddling Easterners. Wind driven by the energy of the sun across the vast grass prairies, almost free for the taking. I complain about the difficulties of gardening against the wind in Kansas constantly, but I applaud any effort to use that wind for the better. 

The future, stretching into the distance.....

I'm astonished, sometimes, at the opposition to wind energy, but then, I also recognize that "all politics are local", and that most of the groups in opposition just don't want the turbine towers in their back yards.    Heck, I'll take them in mine.   Riley County has several "experimental" turbines of varying heights that are already visible from our home. I think they're haunting and beautiful, clean and statuesque.  Concerns about effects of wind turbines on wildlife and people have either been proven unfounded or have been minimized by design changes.  Wind farms are a source of local jobs and an extra income source for ranchers who can still farm and graze cattle beneath them.   On a per-kilowatt basis, taking into account initial capital costs, maintenance, fuel, and operation, and excluding tax incentives, wind energy is already cheaper than "clean" coal, nuclear, and solar technologies (according to the US Department of Energy), equal to conventional coal and geothermal sources, and only slightly more expensive than hydroelectric power.  Other sources list it as being among the cheapest of all sources of electricity generation.  And it will only get cheaper as the technology develops, and better as we learn to store the generated energy for use when the wind doesn't blow. Take that, oil wells.

I'll fully admit that my aesthetic tastes are often questioned, but I think these clean, white towers are the picturesque equal of the Parthenon or the Taj Mahal.  And they're the best outcome that modern technology can give to the 7th Generation and to the Earth.  I dare you to convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Green Gold

News flash!  Stop the presses!  ProfessorRoush has won the gardener's lottery! 

Sunday, I noticed that my southern neighbor was out doing chores, so I walked down the road to greet him with idle chatter.  He was out removing the dried remnants of native Baptisia australis (Wild False Indigo) from his western fence line. Baptisia blow around like tumbleweeds out here on the prairie and then act to catch snow drifts and help pull down fences.  During a 20 minute conversation, that mainly consisted of cursing the damned Baptisia, another neighbor came driving up in the way of country folk, whose neighborhood meetings are often spontaneous roadside conclaves convened to discuss the weather and current state of the Kansas State Wildcats football team.

This latter neighbor, however, had an agenda.  She wanted to ask me if I'd like to be the beneficiary of weekly reoccurring five gallon tubs of purest manure from her horses.  Would I???  Quickly picking my jaw up off of the gravel, and putting aside any qualms about who I'd have to kill for her in trade for the manure, I accepted on the spot and without reservations, doing a little dance of joy in my soul.

I'd been wondering, in my treeless landscape, how to make up for the compost generated annually from the 50 or so bags of leaves that another friend had previously supplied.  That, now former, friend had listened too well to my advice about starting her own compost pile and, thusly realizing the value of what she had been giving away, had chosen to cut off my pre-compost supply. 

It seems, however, that what the Garden Gods taketh away, they giveth back, in plentiful greenish nodules of purest gold.  I finally stopped to take the photo above after I had already emptied half the tub around some rose plants and realized that I should stop to commemorate the occasion.  From this day forth, every Saturday will find me picking up another five gallon bin of odoriferous splendor, and spreading it to the hungry roses.  My garden is now a happy place, and destined to remain so until the first rainy Spring day when Mrs. ProfessorRoush opens the windows and learns what I've been up to.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Night activity

As Fall moves along and Winter draws ever closer, ProfessorRoush is not the only creature participating in increased garden activities.  My game camera has been rather quiet all summer, but as I checked it today, I saw a sudden increase in the number of automatic exposures taken, so I brought the chip in for download.
I've only seen this doe twice before this summer, assuming it is the same doe each time, and the last time I'd caught her was on September 28th at 9:15 in the evening.  She next shows up on October 15th, early in the morning.  The picture at the right was taken at 05:56 a.m. and I'm sure if I had looked out the window that morning, I'd have seen her since I usually rise about that time.
There were several pictures of her that morning, all taken while she nibbled on the two-year-old 'Conrad Ferdinand Meyer' closest to the camera.  I have evidence that she'd been around since at least 5:27 a.m. that morning, because if you look closely at the picture to the left, you'll see her head just on the left most edge of the picture.  Sneaky, aren't we?

She came again Friday evening, October 19th, but this time she visited in the evening again, at 8:34 p.m.   She must not care that we're home, because you can see the lights on in the house at the upper right corner of the photo to the right.

I've captured a new visitor as well, a coyote, sneaking through just at dusk (7:31 p.m.) on October 16th.  You can see the twilight sky in the picture in the background, as further evidence that this guy is starting early on his night of hunting.  It's the only time I've caught a picture of a coyote this year, and the big question on my mind is whether he knew that October 16th, 2012, was my 30th wedding anniversary to Mrs. ProfessorRoush?  We were dining out ourselves at the time the picture was taken, so it is entirely possible that the little guy sensed the quietness of the house and took advantage of new mousing territory.  Seeing a coyote is no surprise here on the Kansas prairie because I can hear them frequently on clear nights when I leave the windows open.

The little doe and the coyote haven't been causing any visible damage to the garden (unless it was the coyote who dug the holes recently), so I'm leaving them alone and allowing them to enjoy my garden.  The increased frequency of the visits tells me, though, that the search for enough energy to tide them through Winter has begun.  I can also tell from my camera that All Hallow's Eve is surely near.  Twice, on October 10th and October 20th, the camera has been tripped between 12:00 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., but no living creatures are visible on the photos.  Since the animals only seem to trip them at dusk and at dawn, I can only conclude that ghosts are coming into the garden now during the witching hour.  I do wish they'd show themselves on the photos, though.  Imagine what those pictures would be worth!

Friday, October 19, 2012

UnElectrifying Failure

'High Voltage'
I'm sure many of you out there in roseland grow some of the Bailey Nursery Easy Elegance Roses, a new-ish line of shrub roses bred over the last decade by Ping Lim.  Ping's roses are gaining wide acclaim for health and performance, and have won a number of national awards, including the honor of having three recent AARS winners. I grow and enjoy several of the Easy Elegance line myself, among which are 'Sweet Fragrance', 'Super Hero', and 'The Finest'.  I'm especially fond of the apricot color and fragrance of 'Sweet Fragrance'. 

'High Voltage' at 2 years of age
In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you, however, that I'm disappointed in the light yellow Easy Elegance shrub 'High Voltage' ('BAIage'), introduced by Bailey in 2009.  I am not trying to deny that 'High Voltage' is a vigorous and healthy rose.  At four years of age she stands about 4 foot tall and wide in my garden and I've never seen her badly affected by blackspot or other disease. And she is reliably cane-hardy in my climate.  The rotund little vixen has not, however, atttained her advertised "vase-like" shape, and the stiff thick canes are now making a massive attempt to smother adjacent, less vigorous roses.  I am also not overwhelmed by the beauty of the light yellow, double blooms. They are small and barely double and definitely not electrifying.  The advertised moderate to strong fragrance has not appeared and the color of just-opened blooms is not bright enough to grab my eye as a garden fixture.  Here in the blazing Kansas sun, they fade quickly and melt, and the delicate petals seem to spot easily with rain. 

'High Voltage' hips
Most disappointing of all, to me, has been the lack of rebloom.  As you know, I don't deadhead the vast majority of my roses and I wouldn't even think of deadheading this shrub offering any more than I would deadhead  'Knock Out'.  I discovered this year that if you don't deadhead 'High Voltage', at least here in Kansas in a drought, you get a mass of ultimately uninspiring dull orange hips, but no significant rebloom. This year, I admit, has been a tough test, but although this rose put on a strong first showing, there was not a single bud again until very recently, when a few random blooms appeared right before the freeze that ended my garden year.  And those just aren't enough for the formal part of my rose garden.

Since I'm one of those gardeners who is unable to kill a plant outright, I think I'm going to move it next year to one of my beds with more non-remonant roses, where I won't be so disappointed in its inability to rebloom.  Maybe somewhere out there, among the pilgrims, it can still earn a place in my garden, but I can't recommend her as a landscaping plant for the more-discriminating homeowner.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who Digs There?

I had an unexpected and unpleasant surprise last weekend in my garden.  All over several beds, some devious night-walking creature had excavated holes; here, there, and everywhere.  Not deep holes, most around 6 inches deep, and all had the appearance that a frantic, clawing Tasmanian Devil had occasioned across my garden.  I say this despite never having seen a Tasmanian Devil except in the Bugs Bunny cartoons I was allowed to watch in my youth.  I wouldn't even know that a Tasmanian Devil existed but for the Warner Bros. cartoon character, but that puts me one up on all of the younger gardeners reading this who have been deprived of even that knowledge.  Isn't it a shame that our modern enlightened society now views Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner as violent cinema and indicative of poor parenting?  

In Kansas, of course, a Tasmanian Devil would be quite unlikely due to geography, and I have no idea about their actual digging habits beyond what Wikipedia tells me.   I have, however, no real evidence as to the culprit since no prints or scat or fur remnants exist to provide clues of identity.  I suspected first that Mrs. ProfessorRoush had allowed our Brittany Spaniel to run unsupervised, or perhaps we'd had a visit from our daughter's Italian Greyhound or the neighbor's Labrador, but quick blanket denials were issued by all suspected parties.

As regular readers know, I edge my mature beds with limestone to protect the mulch and contents against the occasional prairie fire.  The vast majority of the holes were next to the limestone edging rather than in the center of the beds.  Knowing that there are a number of voles and newts that like to hang out under the limestone edgers, my logical conclusion is that whatever sentient organism dug these holes and threw loose dirt all over the mulch and adjacent plants was after food in the form of those small garden delicacies.  I suppose it is also possible, since about 10% of the holes were in the middle of the beds (some were close to damaging young roses!), that the culprits were after the fat white grubs that inhabit every spadeful of my soil.  With this chain of logical reasoning, I hypothesize a nocturnal coyote as the most likely villain, with perhaps badger or anteater as other geographically possible criminals.  For now, my only chance at identification is if the culprit returns and provides me a footprint or poses for my game camera .  Maybe it has already since I never identified the animal in  the second picture I posted earlier.

I feel somewhat chagrined, however, that barring an escape from the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, a Tasmanian Devil is quite unlikely in my garden.  A resident Tasmanian Devil would be a cool addition to my garden and the carnivorous nature of the creature might help me prevent rabbit and rodent damage.  On the other hand, reading that the Tasmanian Devil has the strongest bite per body mass of any predator, and that it can take a back leg off sheep in a single bite, I might eventually regret having the creature around.  A badger might even be a better, if not exactly safer, choice.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dampened Desire

In the middle of the heat and drought this summer, ProfessorRoush had an epiphany!  Surveying my dry and disappointing garden during the first week of August, a time when even daylilies were failing me, I realized that I was deeply in lust with the defiant Orientpet and Asiatic lilies.  When everything else was turning to dust, those intrepid bulbs were putting out green foliage and colorful blooms;  strikingly cheerful flowers, if somewhat smaller than usual.  It was the perfect collision of opportunity and need.  I needed more, wanted more, just had to have, more lilies.

So I quickly did what every color-hungry lily-deficient gardener would do.  I sprinted to the computer, credit card in hand, and ordered lily after lily, bulb after bulb, until my bank account was screaming under the strain.  Restraint didn't matter, my lily insanity had no bounds.  I was mentally eyeing the bare spaces in my landscape and visualizing a few gorgeous and gigantic lilies in every spot, each aspiring to stand tall next year among the roses, grasses, and viburnums.  I intended to shoehorn lilies into every spare inch between roses.  I was planning a lily blitzkrieg of my garden.

Now, of course, in October, my lily craze has come home to roost.  Long forgotten, the lily bulbs made a sudden appearance on my front porch this past Wednesday, just two days prior to a predicted bout of colder weather and rain.  Work and the ever shorter Fall days, of course, immediately conspired to keep me from planting the bulbs before the rains set in.  Today, Saturday, I stare out at a sodden landscape, a brief foray into the garden rebuffed by mud and wind.  To be truthful, of course, I have absolutely no desire now, when the roses are again in bloom and the garden is green, to go about planting several hundred assorted bulbs, most of them lilies that require deeper holes than other bulbs.  Oh yes, I couldn't buy a few bulbs here and there, I had to buy the Asiatic naturalizing mix with its hundred bulbs and the Orientpet mixture, and I threw in a few hundred Crocus chrysanthus for good measure and I thought that a few 'Mount Everest' allium's would be a nice surprise for myself next spring.  Needless to say, the thought of excavating several hundred holes in my rocky landscape make my arms and insoles ache already.

From the somber experience of previous overzealous binges however, deep down I know that starting the task is hard part, and forcing myself into the garden tomorrow will get me underway and the digging day will pass quickly if not painlessly, after that.  Once the deed is done, I can lay up for awhile with aspirin and hand lotion, ready for a winter's rest and knowing that drought or not, next year's garden will be scented and colorful in the face of searing summer.  Because I'll have lilies while the prairie burns.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maria Stern Mopes

Among the roses I grow is one of those beautiful and elegant roses that also somehow remind you of a slow-motion nightmare.  You know what I mean; you're having a beautiful dream and then suddenly it all turns bad, in slow-motion you see the car crash or the long fall coming and you try to stop it but you just can't?  Well, that's how I feel about 'Maria Stern'.

'Maria Stern' is an orange blend Hybrid Tea bred by the Brownell family in 1969.  The blooms are admittedly, fantastically-colored, double, and non-fading, but typical of many of the '60's Hybrid Teas, that's about all I can find to recommend her.  She is one of the "Sub-Zero Roses" of the Brownell clan, bred to survive tough winters, but I'd give her a "D+" for vigor.  The bush under the strongly fragrant flowers is nothing special to see.  My 'Maria Stern' is a little over a year old and stands about 2 feet tall, with only two decent canes.  Several other roses planted at the same time, most of them Griffith Buck roses, are a foot taller and much broader and healthier.  'Maria Stern' has moderate blackspot resistance but by this time of the year, her legs are starkly bare and her hair is thinning as well.  A cross of 'Tip Toes' (another Sub-Zero rose) and 'Queen Elizabeth', she certainly isn't living up to her pedigree.  'Maria Stern' is supposed to grow to 4 feet tall and be hardy to Zone 4B.  The only recommendation I can find for it is that it was the Twin Cities Rose Club's Rose of the Month in March, 2010.

I absolutely love the color of this rose, I really do, but, alas, I feel that she is trying her best to slip away into the dark abyss on me.  This is my second 'Maria Stern'.  The first loss I attributed to being a decrepit bagged and budded rose, but this time she's on her own roots and still isn't thriving.  I planted her last year, almost lost her again right away,  protected her against all ill weather, and pampered the heck of of her this year, but no matter how many chocolates and wine coolers I bring her, she just sulks.  Maybe next year, if she makes it through winter, she'll finally find her way to shine.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Spider 1, Mrs. ProfessorRoush 0

For those who were rooting for the spider outside Mrs. ProfessorRoush's kitchen window, I thought I'd take this occasion to ease your fears.  Several hints and eventual outright demands last week for spidercidal action by the gardener of this marital unit went unheeded as I feigned deafness.  As a side note to other non-gardening spouses, be advised that there are times when accusing your spouse of being "increasingly hard of hearing" can backfire on you.  I fully agree with Mrs. ProfessorRoush, in fact, that I find it ever more difficult to hear suggestions for chores that I have no desire to accomplish. 

Outside looking in
After a few days of procrastination by her noncompliant and reticent husband, Mrs. ProfessorRoush took broom in hand and wiped the offending speck from the outside of her window in a merciless surprise attack.  I mourned the poor little guy briefly, but then went about readying the rest of the garden for Fall.  Just two days later, however, there it was one morning, the web restored to its former architectural disarray, and the spider back, calmly sitting in the middle of my spouse's long-distance view.  As an old and wise gardener would be advised to do, I carefully concealed my pleasure and quickly set about to ensconce the household brooms.

The view from the inside
You've got to give this spider some props for both persistence and pure gall.  When a wild-eyed, flailing monster wipes out your home and food supply in a fit of irrational fear, not all of us would have the will to rebuild, let alone right back in the face of the enemy. I've also got to give him some credit for his choice of venue.  His web design is haphazard, but that kitchen window web is protected from North and West winds, shaded from the hot sun, takes advantage of radiated heat from the brick behind it, and it sits right over the barbecue grill, a prime source for luring food to the web.  Talk about prime real estate!

I will attempt to remain, like Switzerland, a neutral and aloof observer, bemused at the struggle of life and death taking place in my very home, but I sense that I will yet be drawn into the conflict on the side of the aggressor.  A gardener is ever reminded what side his bread is buttered on and we have a particularly uncomfortable spare bed upstairs.  Although I still fear for this individual spider, I fear not for the future of his race however, because I know that somewhere out in the garden, others, who have chosen safer and prettier homes for the time being, are biding their time and making plans for window domination.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Better Side

'El Catala'
Wow, the onset of Fall surely changes our gardens, doesn't it?  It also sometimes makes me reassess my evaluation criteria and reevaluate my favorites.  Then again, perhaps my favorites don't change, but it is now, in the cooler temperatures, that I realize that all roses, just like humans, have their good and bad moments.  Sometimes they are a balled-up, crinkly mess, and sometimes, they just shine.  You just have to find the best conditions to develop each one, human or rose.

'El Catala'
Take, for example 'El Catala'.  I haven't been crazy about the performance I've gotten out of this rose all summer, but right now, in the cool days and cold nights, it is the star of its bed. I was wrong about him, wasn't I?  Take a look at this bicolored floral hunk to the left and above.  Completely scrumptious right now,  isn't he?

'Charlotte Brownell'
And look at how the colder temperatures bring out the blush in the cheeks of 'Charlotte Brownell'.  Amazing, isn't it, how a girl can be blushing and brazen at the same time?

Just as the sun brings out the freckles in a young girls face, the claret markings of 'Freckles' are always enhanced by a little cold weather as well.  I'm learning that Griffith Buck had a number of these subtly streaked roses and I'm trying to grow a few more right now.

'Garden Party'
If I wasn't expecting a garden party after the heat of summer, 'Garden Party' is set on proving me wrong.  My 'Garden Party' struggles and struggles, a common affliction for many modern hybrid teas in this area, but coming out of summer, she's putting out these creamy white, perfect blossoms by the handful every day.

When I talk about favorites, though, there's always one rose whose beauty is never outdone; the everlasting 'Queen Elizabeth'.  When I want a picture of a perfect bud form, I can always count on the Queen to come through for me.
But then, as I pointed out, there is always 'Hope for Humanity', isn't there?  I can't imagine a more perfect cluster of dark red blooms, each vibrating deeply with life and hope.
'Hope for Humanity'
I've got quite a colorful landscape right now, this perfect time of early Fall, but sadly it all ends tonight.  I've watched the forecast all week, starting at a prediction of 32F tonight when I first looked, and then dropping steadily each time I checked it.  This morning, the prediction is for 25F tonight, so I know that I'm going to see a hard freeze and my garden is over.  I'm ready for it, though, the baby roses are all tucked into cloches and the grass has been mowed for the final time.  But I'm also not ready for it.  There are hundreds of beautiful roses like these right now and I'm trying to get half of Manhattan to come by and cut some today.  Somebody might as well benefit from a few more moments of beauty.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Garden Literature Goes To Pot

Dear friends, just as there is no hiding the fact that ProfessorRoush is a rose nut, there is also no suspense to the revelation that I am an entrenched bibliophile.  My love of printed and bound material stretches far back into my childhood, to that happy time when I was still an "only" child and had to find ways to occupy myself.  While burdened now with middle-age, a sister, a wife, and children, I continue to feel comforted with the feel of paper and printed letters, the smell of new ink and glue.  I aspire to become the last person on the planet to purchase a Kindle or Nook.

My long worship of books and growing interest in gardening has, for the past twenty years or so, connected in that genre we know as garden literature, in the words of Penelope Hobhouse and Christopher Lloyd and Lauren Springer-Ogden.  I have discovered natural gardening with Sara Stein, delighted in the philosophical ramblings of Michael Pollan, grown old with Sydney Eddison and grumbled with Henry Mitchell.  I've plotted spousal demise with Amy Stewart and searched for old roses with Thomas Christopher. 

All that, I fear, is disappearing.  Literally, it seems to be going to pot.  Marijuana.  Mary Jane, reefer, and cannabis.  Call it what you want, I was shocked, visiting a large national book chain, to realize that what was previously eight shelves of fascinating garden literature is now four shelves, two of them composed entirely of books about growing, marketing, or self-medicating with marijuana.  I counted 87 different books on pot cultivation, with such imaginative titles as Marijuana 101, Organic Marijuana, Everything Marijuana, and the Marijuana Garden Saver.  The Big Book of Buds is not about roses, much to my chagrin.  Only one even looked mildly interesting to me, Super Charged; How Outlaws, Hippies and Scientists Reinvented Marijuana, probably because it was more science and history-oriented rather than a how-to-grow-to-get-high-at-home manual.  I didn't buy it for fear someone might see it laying around our home.

Can the drive for all these new books about marijuana really be sales-based?  I don't see these on the bookshelves of friends, sitting on tables of garage sales, or promoted in bestseller lists.  Perhaps the gray-haired members of my daylily club are only pretending to grow hemerocallis in my presence, but pass the potato bong when I'm not around.  Somehow, somewhere, are the same clueless editors and booksellers just surmising that these are what the public wants?  The same editors that contract good writers to produce lame and repetitious books of landscaping dumbed down for the homeowner, or to write the 200th tome cautioning against over-watering houseplants (which currently comprise the other two gardening shelves in the store)?  Would Scotts, Bayer, and other companies grow richer if they forgot about lawn care and rose chemicals and concentrated their marketing on hydroponic fertilizer and gro-lamps aimed to entice that little extra buzz out of hemp?

Don't answer that last question. It was rhetorical, not a suggestion for improvement.

I'm asking instead that all gardeners, from the lowliest bean planters to topiary artists extraordinaire, all of us vote with our pocketbooks.  Buy works authored by Mirabel Osler and Beverley Nichols and Helen Dillon and Henry Mitchell.  Read about the gardens of others, old and new, green and growing, famous or banal.  Become a fan of organic gardening, water gardening or prairie gardening.  Shun the Siren call of cannabis and read to garden for flowers and food! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Terrific Teasers

'Dolly's Forever Rose'
I know that some of my readers follow Garden Musings because you enjoy following my foibles with Mrs. ProfessorRoush, others because you like the dry humor or the rambling rants, some that want to commiserate with my tribulations in my Kansas garden, and still more of you just because you never know what I'm going to touch on next.  But then too, some few are the rabid rosarians, the true believers, waiting to see what I'm growing out here in the Kansas hell-land.

It is to the latter group that I'm dedicating this posting.  Several new little pretties have responded to the cooler September temperatures and I thought I would throw out a few little teasers in advance of future rose posts.  I'll let all these little guys get bigger, probably into late next season, before I show you their full glory, but I'm so excited that I just can't keep them secret.

'Dolly's Forever'
One dynamite little beauty with an eye-popping color combination is the Paul Barden-bred 'Dolly's Forever Rose' (upper right).  I've been growing her since early this past Spring and she has randomly bloomed throughout the worst of Summer, now finally a foot tall and blooming her skirts off.  I've become attached to checking on this little stunner and I'm a little worried about her hardiness, so I'm going to cover her up good when the cold weather comes. This little offspring of 'Scarlet Moss' and a complex seedling including 'Angel Face' is definitely going to bring some fire into her bed if she makes it to next summer..

'Vanguard' is another rose that has bloomed several times this season and is now stretching for the sky.  At 4 months old, this little Rugosa cross has already topped 2 feet and she has a strong fragrance to draw you down to the ground with her.  The pinkish-orangish-bluish blossoms should add a few more petals as she grows, and her flowers are more delicate than most Rugosa's, but she's certainly proved herself tough enough for a spot in my garden.  One oddity;  she's supposed to be a once-bloomer according to helpmefind.com but Rogue Valley Roses lists her as a reblooming rose and certainly, my 'Vanguard' has been freely spreading her beauty over the entire season.

'Dragon's Blood'

Another Barden rose that I'm tickled to grow is 'Dragon's Blood'.  This russet floribunda has small individual blooms, but the orange-red-rust color is eye-catching.  Freely-blooming and covered in healthy foliage, I placed 'Dragon's Blood' in a prime place for visitors.  At a prominent corner, they can watch the dusty hues (see the photo below) of each petal as they age and darken.
'Dragon's Blood'
Well, there you have them;  a few glimpses of next year's tantalizing offerings.  Are you teased enough yet to stay tuned?


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