Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spanish Rhapsody

'Spanish Rhapsody'
About time for a new rose, I think. I've written about this one before, but I've got some better pictures now and she's a survivor.  Allow me to reintroduce you to 'Spanish Rhapsody', a Griffith Buck rose bred in 1976 and introduced in 1984.   I planted her late last summer, and she seems to have survived at least one very dry winter without protection here on the Kansas prairie.  She's blooming her head off now, her first season in my garden, and I'm in love with those delicately colored blooms.

'Spanish Rhapsody' is a shrub rose, officially labeled as a pink blend, although the blend is actually pink, yellow, and something stippled that approaches deep rose.  The medium size bloom starts out with hybrid-tea-form and then opens over a day or two into a semi-cupped double blossom with yellow stamens.   The blooms primarily are one-to-a-stem, but there are some clusters as well.   I'm convinced that the petals darken the first day or two, and then start to lighten as they age. There is a medium fragrance, raspberry-like as advertised by others.  Take a look at the photo on the left, which shows several phases that the blooms pass through.  Try to ignore the two copulating Melyridae on the bloom at the top right of the photo.  Seems like I'm not the only one stimulated by those blooms.

My 'Spanish Rhapsody' bush is nothing to be excited about yet, only about a foot tall and several months old, but at least she's growing. Leaves are light green with a matte finish.  She's got a little blackspot, maybe about 15-20% of her leaves at present, but I'm not going to hold that against her because we're having an unusually bad blackspot year.  Even 'Carefree Beauty' was having some lower leaf blackspot by early June.   I'm not going to spray 'Spanish Rhapsody' so I can judge how she'll carry through a long summer.

'Spanish Rhapsody' is listed as a cross of 'Gingersnap' and 'Sevilliana'.   According to helpmefind/rose, she is a full sister to 'Gee Whiz', and 'Incredible'.  I've grown both those roses and they do resemble 'Spanish Rhapsody' with their stippling.   Neither of the former survived their third winter here, so I'm hoping 'Spanish Rhapsody' does better in the long run.  She's certainly the prettiest of the sisters in my opinion, the Spanish Cinderella, if you will, of the group.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

K-State Adaptive/Native Plant Garden

I risk being accused of a new shallow approach to the intellectual content of this blog, and perhaps of  random promotional content and motivation, but while the iron is hot and before the weather turns hotter, I want to place another Manhattan attraction on the radar of those who may visit.  Appearing every day, approximately 364 times more frequently each year than the Manhattan Area Garden Tour, is the most excellent display at the K-State Gardens of the John E. Tillotson Sr. Adaptive/Native Plant Garden.

Those of you who are native plant enthusiasts should plan a whole trip around this garden because it is, in my experience, unequaled for the use of native prairie forbs in a garden design. Here columbines, milkweed, echinacea, butterfly milkweed, yucca, coreopsis, penstemon, prairie larkspur and evening primrose, all mix in glorious harmony and mature abundance.  The display is at its peak now, in early June.    

This view, down the long axis of the garden looking towards the old conservatory will give you an idea of the flowing masses of perennial forbs that make up the display garden.  Coreopsis in the foreground and Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) in the background provide the basis of a pastel palette for your pleasure.

I often find myself trying to take a peerless photo of a group of these echinacea in the fruitless pursuit of  photographic perfection.  It is most definitely an exercise in frustration for an amateur like myself, but there are lots of opportunities here to experiment with depth of field, framing, focus and shadows.  The hardest choice for me is always where the focus should be;  the plant in the center or the plant closest to the lens?   Sometimes, I capture a pretty nice image, only to realize that, on closeup, one of the flowers is damaged or blemished, marring the effect of the photo.  

The honeybees were going crazy over this newly-opened Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) during the Garden Tour.  The whole area was alive with bees moving quickly from bloom to bloom, humming with excitement and loud enough to drown out the noise from nearby traffic.  Does anyone else wonder, while viewing closeup photos of bees, how they ever lift those pudgy bodies with such small delicate wings?

I assume this is a form of Showy Evening Primrose, (Oenothera speciosa), but I've never seen it quite so blazenly pink in the wild.  I don't know if it is a collected species or a commercial cultivar, but the delicate petals laugh in the face of the hottest sun.  According to Internet sources, some of the Showy Primrose that start out pure white age to pink, like these, while others stay the pure white that I associate with the wild species.


Years ago, walking around the K-State Garden, I noticed an enticing sweet scent that seemed to be coming from some 6 feet tall, large-leaved plants.  In an embarassing display of naivete and stupidity, I asked what they were, only to find out that they were Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), the same weeds I'd grown up with in Indiana and fought hand-to-hand in my father's garden and fields.  They are a perfect example of how blind we can be to the good qualities of a plant that pops up in the wrong place.  I had no idea Common Milkweed was fragrant, nor that it would grow so tall if left alone.

I'll leave you with the sight of these bronze wildcats (the K-State mascot, for those who were unaware), which languidly observe the garden visitors during the day and come alive to patrol the native garden at night.   Sited in Phase I of the garden, right next to busy Denison Avenue, you can tune out the traffic and suddenly you're out in the middle of the Flint Hills.  I know that some gardeners (yes, I'm talking to you, Benjamin Vogt) believe that such an ethos is the only way we should be gardening.  When I view the success of this design, here at the Kansas State University gardens, I can only agree and encourage everyone to drop by and leave with some new gardening ideas.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

28th EMG Manhattan Area Garden Tour

I feel like I'm cheating a little on today's blog post.  It took no creativity and very little thought on my part to put this together.  I simply wanted to show the greater world what they missed on June 5th when they didn't attend the 28th Annual Manhattan (Kansas) Garden tour organized by the Riley County Extension Master Gardeners.  If you're green with jealousy when you get to the bottom, then I'll feel like I've done my part.

Truthfully, any creativity here is all on the part of the host gardeners for the tour, but my part in the garden tour for several years has been as the unofficial photographer.  Somebody decided years ago that I take decent photos and we got in the habit of providing the homeowners with pictures from the tour since the hosting gardeners have very little time to be taking pictures.  Call these photos, and the 700 others that I took on the occasion, small payment enough for all the work of the tour hosts.

As "photographer,"on the "pre-tour" evening when the EMG's tour the gardens, and on the tour day itself, I run around like a hyperactive madman, trying to compose decent photos in seconds and snapping the shutter madly at each bend in a path.

But I have lots of fun discovering the nooks and crannies of each garden, and cataloguing the  idiosyncrasies of all the gardeners.  This year, one of the gardens had a number of fairy gardens in various containers.  I, and Mrs. ProfessorRoush, especially liked the little pig family in this one.

There were garden rooms for big people too; one of the gardens had a number of outdoor sitting areas that gave the garden a romantic feel.

It's a small garden tour, in terms of city size, but there were some fabulous views and landscaping that I'd put up against others anywhere on this continent.  Notice the doorway in the hillside here;  it leads to an underground garden shed that was created to get around restrictions by the local homeowners association.

There were several water features on the tour, and lots of goldfish, but even I had to admit that these Knock Out roses made a fine foreground for this man-made waterfall.

The peonies and irises have faded, and it is too early for the main run of daylilies, but there were plenty of clematis and these bright Bachelor's Buttons to fill the views in the gardens.  And Knock Out roses, of course, lots of Knock Out's.

For reasons that I have trouble putting words to, I returned over and over again to this coleus container.  Something about their brightness in a shady corner and their contrast with the pot just called out to me.

These fine Castor Beans are planted in landscaping next to a semi-public swimming pool at the Manhattan Country Club, one of the site hosts for this year.  I have to make a mental note later in the summer to make sure  that the manager knows to remove the seed pods from these before the toddlers sample them.  Or before Homeland Security chases him down.

I always enjoy the quiet areas of a garden, and this peaceful angel and resident rabbit provided some restful moments from the hectic nature of the tour.

So, I'm sorry, but if you weren't one of the few hundred Manhattanites and locals who took advantage of the perfect weather of this year's tour, these photos will have to do until you can join us next year.  I keep thinking that the EMG's should make a calendar of these photos as a fundraiser.  What do you think?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Remembering David

Sometimes, in a routine moment previously and otherwise unremarkable in our hectic lives, we are thrust suddenly into a surreal experience and forced to ponder the unthinkable.  ProfessorRoush experienced such a moment last week, a moment where our vast-beyond-comprehension Universe shrunk to human dimensions and pace, and then reached out and slapped me into awareness.  An awareness that I want to share with everyone and anyone who comes across this post.  It's a message that you've all heard before from a Greater Being;  Love one another, because our time here is all too short.  No other words carry such importance for our daily lives and yet I fail, every day, to keep that thought at the front of my mind.  A gardener, a man, should be better.
Three months ago I found, on Linked-In, a lost friend from my college days.  I had searched before, periodically, but never crossed his electronic Internet trail until now.  His name was David Sonita and for those first few years of college we were as close as brothers, supporting each other past boring professors and changing lives and homesickness.  We weren't in the same professions or in many classes together, but our evenings were filled with rabid racquetball matches, brutal chess and backgammon games, and lots of laughter and gab.  We simply lost touch near the end of college, me preoccupied with a growing romance of a female form that eventually consented to become Mrs. ProfessorRoush, and David seeking to redefine himself in a paradigm shift of career and focus.  

So, there we were, thirty years later, catching up in a few emails on life and family and thoughts and it was as if the intervening years never existed.  We wrote of losses and dreams and my philosopher-friend was gray-haired and likely wiser, but just as alive as in my memories, wry humor confronting life head-on.  We poured out our souls, started a correspondence chess game, and looked forward in time despite the old bodies housing our still-young minds.          

And then, last Thursday at 6 a.m. while I was frantically packing for a trip to the wedding of a former resident, I received an email from his wife and learned that David was gone, 56 years young, stolen away without warning by a massive heart attack the previous week. 

Friends, ProfessorRoush stumbles mostly around life as a happy fool, but I know when I've been touched by the hand of God or Fate or whatever Higher Power you choose to call it.  I was clearly meant to reconnect with David at this time and juncture, to touch an old friend's life and learn that I am now the last keeper of those memories of his life. There are so many lessons here for us; to appreciate always those in our lives, to cherish time spent together, to recognize the signs of God's influence in our lives, perhaps just to go see our cardiologists.  I know, for one, that I've again a little more aware of what I eat and militant of my exercise.  But most of all, I'm left remembering David, a pod bursting with promise, returned again to grace old ground, a gentle angel on the wind.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Soft Kashmir

'Kashmir', first day
I grow or have grown several roses belonging to Bailey Nurseries Easy Elegance series, and I certainly have mixed feelings for the roses in this group.  I've written negatively about 'High Voltage' and with a positive endorsement of  'Sweet Fragrance'.  I also currently grow 'Paint the Town', 'Hot Wonder' (bred by Ping Lim and introduced by Bailey's although it may not be listed today as an Easy Elegance rose), and 'Yellow Brick Road'.   I tried and lost 'Super Hero' and 'The Finest'.  I finally shovel-pruned 'High Voltage', a vigorous rose that only bloomed once a year, had no fragrance, and died when I transplanted it to a less prominent site.  I suppose in all fairness that I should disclose that I didn't take very good care of it after transplant.

'Kashmir', about day 4
I believe, however, that Easy Elegance 'Kashmir' is going to be a keeper.  'Kashmir', also known as BAImir, is a dark red, very double rose bred by Ping Lim and introduced by Bailey Nurseries in 2009.  One the first day of its appearance, 'Kashmir' will form a tight bud of almost perfect Hybrid Tea form, and then over the next few days it opens wider to a full blossom but still keeps the deep red color on those velvet-textured petals.  There is an occasional white streak on a base petal or two.  The official description from Bailey's suggests that it was named 'Kashmir' because of the "cashmere" softness of the petals.  The blooms are around 3-4" in diameter once fully open, and the bush has remained globular in shape, about 3.5 feet in diameter and height in my garden.  It blooms in flushes over the season and the red doesn't "burn" badly in the hot summer sun, but there is little fragrance.  I suppose one can't ask for everything.

'Kashmir' had some buds knocked off by the recent hail, so it is not blooming as prolifically as usual this year.  At first flush, this rose was covered last year.  You'll also have to excuse the grass growing at the base of the bush in the full view photo at the left.  I'm a little embarrassed that I'm just now getting around to weeding this summer and haven't got here yet.  On the positive side, 'Kashmir' has had no pruning this year either.  I was a bit concerned over one cane with some signs of Rose Rosette on it last year, so I've left it alone after pruning the aforementioned cane to the ground, to see if the RRD returns.  So far my pruning appears to have been successful.  The foliage is very healthy, no blackspot at all, and it never needs spraying.  My three-year-old bush has been cane hardy here in Zone 5.

I think 'Kashmir' is a good landscape rose, and the blooms are nice enough and on long enough stems to cut and bring indoors, even if it isn't 'Olympiad' or 'Mr. Lincoln'.  I can positively say that, so far, this is a plant-and-forget rose, and I prefer the size, form, and color to my detested 'Knock Out.'


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...