Sunday, May 29, 2016

Resilent Regrowth

I've worried myself to distraction, this past month, concerned about the true costs of our April hailstorm on the garden.  The loss of a year's worth of irises, peonies, and non-remonant roses is disappointment enough, but what of other garden inhabitants?   In all the years I've gardened before now, I hadn't experienced hail that struck at the peak of spring, just as the garden year was beginning.  I knew that roses and irises and peonies would survive decrepit and tired, building sugars from damaged factories until they were reborn next year, but what about other plants?   If I grow tired of shredded iris leaves, I can always cut them off and force a rebirth, but gardens contain other lives that need to persist beyond a single cycle.

Foremost,  I wondered, what would become of the trees, the eternal trees, pummeled just as they opened their leaves, an entire year of stored energy wasted in seconds?  Garden experts wrote fleetingly about possible regrowth on trees and other plants, regrowth that seemed too dependent on this condition or that condition, but I could find little documentation for my comfort.  I wondered how the trees could possibly know if there was enough time left in the summer to try again or whether it would be better to save their resources for next spring?  But I offer these pictures, captured one month after the hailstorm, as encouragement to those searching after me.  For myself, they are lesson again that life can be both fragile and resilient in the same moment.

The first two photos above are of new growth on two different Maples in my yard, the first an "October Glory" Red Maple, the second a Paperbark Maple.  Both display their damage and regrowth at the same time, as do most of my trees that were so foolish as to get an early start on spring, hanging on to damaged leaves for sparse nourishment, but rebuilding with a vengeance.  The third photo is a Redbud, an understory tree, also exhibiting torn and shiny new leaves on the same branches.  Together, they are all evidence that this year is not a total loss, for me or for the trees.

In these lessons about hail, I also learned something about Darwinism and survival of the fittest.  The least damaged trees of all in my garden were the trees that are traditional Kansas natives.  My oaks, walnuts, and cottonwoods are all seemingly untouched, the first two because they kept their buds tight until well after the hailstorm and the latter because it seems that the bouncing poplar-like leaves of the cottonwood either dodged the hail stones or turned aside at the slightest touch, nimble as ninjas in the wind.  There are many lessons here that the Homo-sapiens-introduced maples can learn from.  The particular Homo sapiens also known as ProfessorRoush now understands again that despair is fleeting and hope is eternal.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Drought End and Storm Tracks

Can ProfessorRoush get a "Hallelujah" from the chorus, please?  Just this week, the National Weather Service (or whatever organization tracks such things) declared the entirety of Kansas to be drought free for the first time since July 13, 2010.  I don't think my specific area has been suffering continually for that long, but certainly the subsoil moisture has been nonexistent for at least 2 years here.  As a matter of fact, as late as 4/12/16, 97% of Kansas was still designated in some degree of drought or another.  The rains of late April and early May really helped us out, even though my garden performed better in previous years with a little drought AND NO HAIL!

On a related note, for those readers who subscribe to various New Age theories, there is a pattern to storms here in Kansas that I'm at a lost to explain.  Storms often seem to follow one or two tracks across the state from west to east;  they parallel I-70 either south of it or north, but they seldom seem to cross I-70 diagonally.  Look closely at this screen shot of the radar on my iPhone on Tuesday morning.  I-70 is the horizontal highway that runs through the dots that designate Topeka and Salina.  This storm touched the highway, it but stayed just north along it all the way across Kansas.  I've seen this pattern very often.  So what is it about the highway that seems to direct the storms?  Geomagnetic lines?  Ley lines?  Ancient Native American pathways?  UFO flight paths?  Will this change as the Earth's magnetic poles continue to weaken?   Inquiring gardeners want to know.

But they'll only get to wonder for a short time.  Because I'm only leaving this post up to head the blog for 24 hours before we return to plant-y things.  ProfessorRoush is far too grounded to worry much about the mystical things.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Friends, Old and New

At a certain stage of life, gardeners begin to notice that their connections with childhood friends are intertwined with rare reunions and increasingly frequent funerals.  While their qualitative value seldom changes, those friends seem to quantitatively dwindle at each successive reunion or wake, until at last the gardener is forced to acknowledge that he is old and nearly alone.  Old enough that lost loves are rekindled only from memory.  Old enough to compare present with past and wistfully remember better times.    

'Konigin von Danemark'
My recent hail hellstorm put a significant damper on the number and quality of roses that are blooming this year and has left me with the feeling that I'm attending a diamond reunion of old friends and classmates, many of them missing due to illness or death.  Some lost most of their blooms.  The survival of the new little ones is still questionable.  I have, however, taken some comfort in greeting a few old friends and precious new ones who persevered through the pummeling to provide me their pleasing presence.  Take, for example, 'Fantin-Latour,' photographed above, a fifteen year survivor of the Kansas prairie, yet as delicate and refined as a society debutante.  Or 'Konigin von Danemark' (seen at left), mine a cutting from a plant on an 1850's Kansas grave.  If this rose could tell me stories, I'm sure it could keep me entertained for hours with tales of its world travels and of pioneers and death and struggle.

'Marie Bugnet'
'Marie Bugnet', the purest white angel, bloomed second and sparsely for me this year, beaten to the garden by the bright sunshine of Harison's Yellow, as I noted earlier, but 'Marie Bugnet' is cherished all the more for its few perfect blooms.  I never understand why this rose goes unnoticed by most rose fanatics, because it would be one of my "must-haves" in any future garden.  She's a little sparse, but I have placed my dreams in several new basal breaks on the bush.

'Souvenir du Docteur Jamain'
'Souvenir du Dr. Jamain' added his deep red hues again to my garden, his foliage stripped away from naked canes, but each tall cane topped with a masculine carmine bloom.  I'm planning to cut him way back as soon as he finishes, in an attempt to strengthen and fill him out for a better season next year.  In fact, a number of my Old Garden Roses are overdue for rejuvenation and they're about to be given some help from my pruners.

'Due de Fitzjames'
Newcomer-to-me 'Duc de Fitzjames,' perhaps a Centrifolia and known before 1837, certainly lived up to his class, the blossom tightly packed with "red" petals and strong fragrance.  Why, I wonder, do we persist in labeling dusky pink Old Garden Roses as red when they are barely more than pink?  And is it really a Centrifolia or is it a Gallica as some sources claim?  Are there two different roses living under this name, one a deep magenta Gallica, the other a lavender Centrifolia?  This rose is young, but tough and I hope it will continue to survive.

'Gallicandy', in contrast, flashed off its neon-candy-pink blooms to perfection against the rough dark green foliage that survived the hail.   In fact, it seemed brighter than ever, perhaps taking advantage of the paucity of neighboring blooms.  The vibrant color of this Paul Barden introduction pleases me so much more than 'Duc de Fitzjames."  Or am I just biased for brighter modern dyes and colors rather than accepting of older norms?

'Snow Pavement'
One rose that I'm sure is going to be a keeper is my one year old 'Snow Pavement.'  I watched this rose for years, straggly and struggling in the shade of a large elm in the K-State Gardens, and I was underwhelmed.  Last year however, it was yet another "impulse buy" for me and I'm very impressed by the compactness of this rose in full sun.  I'm also coming to appreciate the light lavender-pink tones of 'Snow Pavement' more every day, especially when other roses aren't stepping up this year to steal away the limelight. I'm also becoming quite fond of the Pavement Series of rugosas and I plan to write more about them soon.

I'd love to have introduced you to more old and newer friends if space and time permitted, but yet another storm was on its way and Bella was wanting to move inside, her bravery under assault by the low-lying clouds trying to envelop the garden.  At least you know that my garden is a shadow of its former self, but there are treasures still to be had.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Yeah, They Got Me

I, ProfessorRoush, of normally sane intellect and body, must now confess that yesterday I participated, nay, I joyfully surrendered, to that most simple of marketing techniques; The Impulse Buy.  While browsing a Big Box gardening center, in hopes of finding something besides 'Stella de Oro' and 'Knock Out' relatives, I happened upon this 'Raspberry Sundae' peony in full bloom.  In my own defense, I would ask that before you harshly condemn me, you click on these photos that I took on my iPhone the second after I plunked down my $24.98 and placed this peony in my Jeep.  Spend a few quiet moments in contemplation of this gorgeous girl.  Look at the immaculate blooms.  Look at the healthy, tall, foliage of this peony.  Oh, if only I could reproduce the fragrance for you!  For the gratification of others with similar weak-willed buying habits, it came from Menard's,

'Raspberry Sundae' is a 1968 introduction by Carl G. Klehm, a bomb-shaped midseason lacriflora with pale yellow and pale pink and cream mixed into the most delicate display I've ever seen.  Martin Page, in The Gardener's Guide to Growing Peonies, states that "few flowers have been so aptly named," and he uses 'Raspberry Sundae' as his example when describing the central raised mass of petaloids that develop from both stamens and carpels, suggesting that the "bomb" name refers to a similarity with a "bombe" ice-cream sherbet.  I didn't have this peony in my garden before, but I will as soon as I can dig a hole this morning.  I need to find a prominent place for 'Raspberry Sundae' since she is very likely to soon become one of my favorites.

I was happy to see that 'Raspberry Sundae' was a creation of Carl Klehm, the third of a four-generation (John, Charles, Carl, and Roy) peony dynasty in the Midwest.  As I've mentioned previously, I have seen Roy Klehm speak in person at the National Arboretum and I grow a number of Klehm's striped peonies.  Now, my garden is host to yet one more Klehm peony.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Globemaster Grumbling

I've always believed that one of the best ways to learn new techniques or information, in a permanent manner so that it sticks, is to learn from your mistakes or from the mistakes of others.  I've often said to my students that the difference between a good veterinarian and a bad veterinarian is that a good veterinarian recognizes an error and never makes the same mistake again.  There are plenty of mistakes to be made in medicine without repeating them, but if you don't repeat the same errors, you eventually limit the damage you can do and by "practicing" you become good.  It might not be desirable to be the "practice-ee," but certainly over time the practitioner should get better and better.  Or so I believe.  Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, backs me up by hypothesizing that with 10000 hours of practice, anyone can master almost anything.

'Pinball Wizard'
It is certainly not a mistake for a gardener to plant fabulous large ornamental alliums, but in a hail-prone area, I just learned that you might not want to base an entire garden theme on them.  Of all the plants in my garden, they were the most damaged and seem to be the slowest to show any recovery.  The Oriental and Orientpet lilies were a close second in terms of initial damage, but they are now all putting out new, normal growth at their tops. In contrast, my large alliums are not responding to a tincture of time very well.  'Globemaster', photographed above, had developed buds of about 2 inches diameter before the hail and it went ahead and bloomed well after the hail, but the foliage at the base of the plant is still....horrible.  A similar group of three 'Pinball Wizard' bulbs, show here at the left, were only 10 feet away but were simply flattened, barely discernible now among the columbine and Dutch iris foliage.   They may not survive to bloom next year.

From my despair, I'd like to tell you that I at least learned something of the best variety of allium to plant in this region.  Last summer, I appreciated the display put on by the few allium in my garden, and by those in other area gardens, and I resolved to add more to my garden.  So last fall, I ordered and planted a number of new cultivars, including 'Ambassador', 'Pinball Wizard', 'Globemaster', and 'Gladiator'.  Of those, 'Globemaster', the trio pictured at the right, all kept their heads and necks intact, blooming well, but those were the only alliums to bloom well in my garden this year.  Is 'Globemaster' tougher than the others?  I'd love to say "yes," but my scientific training tells me that my data is inconclusive.  Not enough bulbs scattered around to form a valid opinion.  These were just as exposed as the others, but perhaps they just got lucky.

One might hope that a plant named 'Gladiator' could hold its own against a hailstorm, but the 'Gladiator' buds broke off and then proceeded to bloom like broken purple scepters (photo at left).  My group of 'Ambassador' wasn't able to negotiate at all with the hail and looks the worst of all these allium, not a single stem intact and leaves simply dying.  I'll spare you the horror of showing you a photo of the latter.

Is there any conclusion, any small thought or idea, that I can learn from this hail-ish experience?  Because I'd like to not repeat the same mistake of spending wads of money, nursing dreams of beautiful allium through fall, winter and spring, feeling hope rise with the stems, taller and taller, only to be dashed alongside the broken leaves in an instant.   Maybe, perhaps, just one.

Don't garden in Kansas.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cheerful Christopher Columbus

'Christopher Columbus'
Often, in the worst of times, one is rescued by friends who were sorely overlooked in the best of times.  Friends who were always nearby, as solid as dry Kansas clay, and often just as inglorious.  Such it is with my 'Christopher Columbus', a quiet and brave lad who has always stood in the shadows of my garden, but never, before now, occupied the spotlight; an understudy who has suddenly stolen the show from the ill lead.  Please don't misinterpret my feelings for him here;  if I seem less than enthusiastic, my mood is not related to this stalwart rose as much as it is about the lack of other rose companions in this cruel spring.

I've briefly mentioned his presence before, but 'Christopher Columbus' has been in this garden since the summer of its founding.  I purchased him in 2001 from Heirloom Roses, a mere sprig of a rose with the virtue of a striped and cheerful disposition.  He rests still where he was first planted, in a southern exposure with the protection of a large 'Josee' lilac to the west and a yet taller Viburnum lentago 'Nannyberry' to the north, both of which served to protect him from the earlier hail storm that smashed the rest of my garden.  One of my few roses to bloom this year with some semblance of their normal abundance, I'll simply thank him for his survival over many years and thank Provenance for his protection this year.

'Christopher Columbus' has never topped 4 foot tall in my garden and grows almost as wide, about 3 feet in most years.  The clustered, semi-double flat blooms are 2" in diameter, and I disagree with Internet sources that claim it is strongly fragrant; mine has only a very slight fragrance.  He does repeat bloom, although sporadically and with less abundance over the summer.  The foliage is dark green and completely blackspot and pest free in this environment.  You have only to trim out the dead canes after each winter (which do seem to occur somewhat frequently even though he is cane-hardy in this marginally Zone 5 garden) to keep him looking his best.  The stripes however, the pink and white stripes surrounding bright yellow stamens, are magnificent, every bloom unique and eye-catching when it first opens.

If you choose to acquire him, you must be careful for there are at least two 'Christopher Columbus'-named roses out there and both bred in the same year, 1992 of course, for the quincentenary of their more famous namesake's Atlantic crossing.  One is an orange-blend hybrid tea introduced by Meilland, but my 'Christopher Columbus' is a floribunda introduced by Poulsen, also known under the aliases of Candy Cover, Dipper Hit®, Nashville™, and POUlbico.   That's a lot of names for a rose bred from two unnamed seedlings.   Nashville™ is its exhibition name, and it is known as Dipper Hit® within the PatioHit® Collection.  With all these names you might wonder why I still call him 'Christopher Columbus', but the latter is the name I purchased him under.  If you lust after his stripeness, just tell the nursery you want the striped 'Christopher Columbus'.   But good luck finding him because right now he is only listed under a German nursery and even then under the 'Candy Cover' alias.

In the meantime, however, I feel only fortunate to observe 'Christopher Columbus' as it leaps into this brave new post-hail world and receives its fifteen minutes of fame.  I appreciate it even as I know it is destined to fade back into my landscape until such time as it is thrust again into the forefront by a freak storm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Snake Ninja

Well, that respite didn't last long.  My winters in this Kansas garden seem long and harsh, but I number among my few blessings that the winters here are also relatively snake-free.  I say relatively because there is always the chance that lifting a rock might expose a hibernating little milk snake.  I actually saw my first snake this year, a small foot-long, pencil-thick, rat snake, about a month ago when I picked up a bag of mulch that had been lying in the yard in the sun for a week.  That one was pretty sluggish on the still-cold ground, although I presume it had taken shelter under the bag because the plastic-bagged mulch was warmed by the sun and beginning to compost.

 Two weeks ago, however, I spotted this rather large common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) stretching out in the open grass while I was out with Bella.  It was interesting that my nose-driven, curious and crazy dog did not notice this snake at all, dancing oblivious within several feet of it before I called her away.   Can dogs not detect the scent of snake?  I've seen Bella follow the exact track of another dog through our yard more than a half hour after the dog ran through it.  But she can't smell a snake several feet away?

If you've read this blog for any long period, you know of my snake phobia.  I hate them, but since I hate rodents more, I don't kill the snakes.  Well at least not the non-poisonous ones and I have yet to run across a poisonous snake in my yard, although I'm sure there are plenty of Copperheads and Rattlesnakes in the vicinity.  Thankfully for my mental stability, I most often find either rat snakes or these pretty orange-black-yellow Common Garters.  This guy is likely an old one.  Wikipedia lists their maximum length as around 54 inches and although he didn't stand still for measurement, he was at least 48 inches nose to tail.  Based on my reading, he may be a Kansas record, but now I'll never know.

As I've noted before, frequent noxious exposure has conditioned me to moderate my response to the sight of a snake and I was calm and collected as I spotted the snake and got the clear picture above.  As I went in for a closer shot of the head, however, the snake moved with ninja-like reptilian swiftness and I found myself looking at a coiled, ready to strike, four foot long snake from about 2 feet away.  Mildly startled, I produced this moderately blurry image from an elevated position of spontaneous levitation.  The snake was not moving, but I certainly was.  Or perhaps the image is just blurred from my heart rate, which went from 60 to 200 faster than an Indy 500 race car.  My primitive brainstem doesn't seem to care that my highly evolved human cerebral cortex knows this snake is nonpoisonous.

Discretion being the better part of valor, I chose at that point to stand still and watch from about 10 feet away while the snake uncoiled and swiftly slithered across the yard and disappeared into the irises, leaving me panting, and at the same time, a little sad.  I had great hopes for the irises this year, but now they'll just have to survive summer as best they can on their own.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fanatical Frisbee Fido

In this modern age, where self-proclaimed exercise experts abound and continuously expound their unsolicited and dubious wisdom through all forms of media, scarce any gardener will be unaware of the purported health benefits attributed to digging holes in soil to the point of painful arches or the lugging about on a regular basis of various potted plants and bags of organic materials weighing between 6 ounces and 20 tons.  Not to mention the aerobic benefits of sudden spurts of increased heart rate from snake-sightings and the mental stress that is purged alongside the profanity hurled at various garden plagues ranging from late frost to drought to hail.  Yes, gardening is generally regarded as good for your physical and mental health.  Why then, do others seem to want to keep us from gardening?

Many who revolve in the immediate vicinity of a gardener seem not to recognize the health benefits of gardening or, alternatively, they believe their own fitness regimes will benefit you more or are more important than the needs of your zinnias.  Take for example, my constant gardening companion, the intrepid Bella.  The lovable pooch is a frisbee fanatic.  Her morning routine for Mrs. ProfessorRoush and I is 1) wake us up by licking us enthusiastically chin to ears, 2) ring the bell hanging from the front doorknob so we will open the door and then stand outside in the chilled air sleepy and barely clothed while she pees, and 3) throw the frisbee as far as possible across dew-soaked ground and as many times as possible or until the neighbor catches us in our sleeping attire or lack thereof.   Sometimes she skips steps one and two and just wakes us by banging the frisbee into our face.

And it goes on all day.  Every time I turn around, she's waiting patiently, frisbee in her mouth or at her feet, for me to notice.  I'll be planting a shrub, step backward, and trip over the frisbee.  I'll be watering a container, feel eyes on my back, and turn around and there she'll be, frisbee in mouth, pupils wide with excitement.  I come home from work, ready to garden and gain some physical activity, and I have to play frisbee before I can fire up the lawn mower or pick up the pruners.  If, for an instant, rain or shine, she comes upon you sitting down or perhaps even moving slowly, her solution to your inactivity is to go find her frisbee.  The dog is as fanatical about exercise as Richard Simmons and just as bat-crap crazy.

All of this might make more sense if she was a Golden Retriever or a Labrador Retriever, but Bella the mostly-Beagle is a stubby, short-legged, portly, thirty-pound ball of obsessive-compulsive canine cuteness.  She doesn't actually want to play fetch, she wants the frisbee to be thrown for her, but when she brings it back, she fights you for it.  She teases, dropping the frisbee from her mouth but always keeping a foot on it, never willing to let it go without a battle.  So we get exercise at both ends, from throwing the frisbee and from wrestling it back away from her.  Some might call that a win-win but that "some" would only be Bella.

In the meantime, I may not be gardening much but I'm getting plenty of exercise.  In fact, you could say I'm bedogged by the doggone dog until I can't do my gardening.  Deep down, though, I suppose I don't really mind.  My exercise time is better spent increasing the rate of tail wag in a happy pooch than it is in growing alliums for hail to destroy.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In Pursuit of Beauty

'Wonder Blue'
In need of solace this morning, I turned to my iPhone photos, in likely company with millions of my contemporaries but not, however, in a vain search for selfies.  In my post-hail apocalyptic milieu, I wanted only to recapture the stillness before the storm, the serenity of the unaware.  I desired the reflection of my soul and found it, gazing back from lilac panicles.  And then, lost again, I wandered into thought, my muse a lilac of unusual color but only moderate constitution. Allow me to introduce you to 'Wonder Blue', the so-called bluest of lilacs. This pale variety of Syringa vulgaris is renowned for its compactness and the unusual "blue" hue of its blossoms.  
I thoroughly enjoyed her brief show this season, a spectator to her splendor, yet she is a pretender, a false idol for lilac worshipers.  To my knowledge, there is no true blue pigment in Syringa vulgaris, just as there is no blue pigment in roses, but against the deep purple backdrop of 'Yankee Doodle', this lavender lass suffices for blue in my border.  Shorter than many of her cousins, however, she also is weaker, the least vigorous of all the lilacs I grow.  Compactness, in lilacs, may not be a virture.  Year-to-year, I'm happy to keep a few leggy canes growing to gift me these soul-mending tresses, but its survival always seems a little tenuous, as if beauty's cost were frailty.
Why is it that, in our quest for the quixotic, our pursuit of the perfect, we accept less for a close piece of the prize?  Is a beauty mark really the shining crown of a supermodel, the completion of a beauty such as Cindy Crawford, or is it merely a mole that we tolerate to bask in otherwise near-glory while knowing that melanoma lurks around the Darwinian corner?  Did Father John Fiala, its hybridizer, perpetuate 'Wonder Blue', fully aware of all its flaws but loving it still, merely for a pigment combination?  Is Man now the sole judge of evolution, the unnatural selector of the weakened unique?  Are we mere flawed assessors of beauty who lack a broader view of its true meaning? 

If all were beautiful and perfect, if Man returned, through science and sweat, to Eden, would we be satiated at last or merely full?  Would we be Adam, languidly accepting the gifts of life, or still Eve, restless and impulsive?  When I bring bouquets of lilacs to work, it's not beautiful 'Wonder Blue', or healthy 'Declaration' that draw the most attention, it's the sensational 'Sensation', itself another weak performing shrub of only mild fragrance that is valued solely for the unique picotee of the petals.  Is 'Sensation' the Kim Kardashian of the lilac world, 'Wonder Blue' the Bachelorette of the season?

Cast out these false idols, I beseech thee.  Do not follow the weak-minded, superficially-oriented ProfessorRoush into the gardening wilderness, content to oversee the mere survival of the odd and unique. Seek out true beauty, the beauty of strength and resiliency against all.  You'll be a happier gardener for it, albeit deprived of the bluest of lilacs.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Healing Time

(Sung to the tune of Closing Time by Semisonic)

Healing time,

I've shut the doors & I've stayed in from the cold hailed-on world.
Healing time,
Waiting for new leaves out for every boy plant and girl.
Healing time,
I need some alcohol so send me your whiskey or beer.
Healing time,
My garden's messed up, but I can't stay in here.

I wish there were buds to bloom right now.

Why aren't there some buds to bloom right now?
I need for some buds to bloom right now.
Bloom right now.

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but one week after the hailstorm, my parade is certainly characterized by crushed hopes and trashed flowers.  Besides that storm, there have been several others.  Forget the drought in this area of Kansas.  I've had over 10 inches of rain in 6 days and the rose garden is back to swampland.  What is a simple gardener to do?

Wrecked are the irises and peonies.  Well, if I'm being truthful, they are only moderately wrecked.  Irises and peonies who were leeward of the house from the storm or were sheltered by large neighboring shrubs came through largely intact and are still contributing color to the garden, although the blooms are damaged from up close (see the several examples on this entry).  In many cases, the stems were broken but the irises are blooming, albeit closer to the ground. 

Peony 'Scarlett O'hara'
Some roses lost buds, and, as I've investigated the damage further than my brief outside survey last week, the strawberries and blackberries are toast for this year.  Not "jam for toast", they ARE toast.  Peony 'Scarlett O'Hara', normally so beautiful, looks a little beaten up this year, a soiled dove more befitting my personal nickname for her of Scarlett O'Harlot. 

It is actually interesting, setting aside my deep despair, to look around and see what plants did or didn't stand up to the hailstorm.  I should be making lists and writing down names.  Most native plants, of course, like this Asclepias at right, shrugged off the hail and seem completely undamaged.  There are some varieties of peonies who survived intact despite being right out in the open, while others beside them were either shredded or lost their fat buds.  Some roses lost leaves or buds, while others haven't paused. 'Morden Blush' for instance, shown below, went ahead this week to open blooms that were even more blushingly beautiful than normal.  

'Morden Blush'

On the opposite extreme are the alliums.  I had such high hopes for some new alliums I planted last year.  Many broke off entirely and never bloomed.  Others, like this decrepit specimen, survived to rue the day they poked their head above the ground.

Iris 'Roselene'
I must be patient now, patient to wait for nature's repair, patient to wait another year for the promise of some to return.  'Roselene', fair Roselene, how I miss your cheery face and exquisite form.


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