Sunday, October 23, 2016

Angry Autumn

'Beautiful Edgings'
I'm angry at my garden.  There, I said it.  I'm ProfessorRoush and I'm angry at my garden.  There's no getting around it, no glossing over it, no mincing words to mitigate it.  The first step on the path to mindful recovery is always, no matter the circumstances, to admit your transgression.  It's not rational and it's not reasonable, but I'm angry at my garden.

I'm sorry, friends, that I haven't posted in such a long time.  I've been emotionally disengaged from my garden since the last days of April, lo those many Kansas days ago.  Disengaged since the late hailstorm ruined my flowery May.  Roses, irises, peonies; I've missed them all. Fruit, any fruit, was nonexistent in my garden this year.  No strawberries, grapes, blackberries, apples, peaches, and but a few cherries. You'd think that the usual summer daylily bounty wouldn't have been affected, but even the daylilies were subdued, either from the hail, or from all the excess rain.  Yes, to add injury to the hailstorm, my summer was filled with rain, normally welcomed in a hot July, but this year the rain just added misery; sprouting weeds everywhere, making a mess of the vegetable garden, and drowning the tomatoes and peppers.  We are officially, currently 8 inches over our average annual rainfall of 24 inches.  Rain is normally viewed as a blessing here, but 1/3rd more rain than normal on a garden that I've primarily filled with drought-tolerant plants is not a positive development.

The weather, of course, isn't my only excuse for a lousy garden.  There has been competition for my attention by events at work and by life in general, both of which couldn't be put aside as easily as deadheading or fertilizing.  My limited forays into the garden this summer have been to attend to seemingly incessant mowing needs and by occasional blitzkriegs against the hungry hordes of weeds, the latter motivated whenever I couldn't see the normal plants for the wild grasses and pokeweed and thistles popping up everywhere.

I'm also ashamed to relate this to my fellow rosarians, but you might as well know now that I have lost the battle against Rose Rosette disease here.  I've diligently pruned it out as I've discovered it, but as the hot days of August arrived, it became apparent that almost all my modern roses have succumbed; nearly all the Easy Elegance roses, English roses, Canadians and, worst of all, most of my beloved Griffith Buck roses.  Anything with modern breeding, including some "less-rugose" Rugosa hybrids, has abnormal branching and thorns from hell.  If there is any solace, it is that the 'Knock Out' hybrids perished first.

I'm trying, right now, to regain a smidgen of enthusiasm and to reengage with my garden.  I've tried to relish the bright spots during a dismal summer, chief among them the 'Beautiful Edgings' daylily pictured here.  It has bloomed almost incessantly for 4 months now, an ever-blooming daylily if ever there was one, an offering of hope that I cling to with each new daily flower.  This morning, as the fall temperatures start to move in, I noticed that the last honey bees are using its spent blooms for night shelter, slow to move until the sun warms the petals.  And the center picture shows the few remaining buds on the plant this morning, the last apologetic gifts of a graceless garden.

I intend to rebuild this winter, to start anew in any number of spots.  I've chosen to delay my efforts in favor of the "nuclear option," seeking the help of the first frosts to chase the marauders from my grounds and clear the lanes of counterattack.  Next spring, I will see a new garden or freeze in the attempt, less rose-focused but still flush with Old Garden Roses and Rugosas, empty holes filled with low maintenance shrubs and grasses, beds simplified.  And I'm going to plant as many divisions of 'Beautiful Edgings' as I can manage.  


  1. A sad tale you tell, it is devastating to suffer such loss in something so obviously close to your heart but inspiring that you are forging wishes in your endeavours

  2. I have missed your postings, Professor, and am sorry for the losses you've had this year. I hope next summer's rebuilt garden makes up for all of this year's misery. May hail and hurricane, deluge and drought, be far from you this next year. "Next year" seems to be always a gardener's delight.

  3. Rose Rosette took out my favorite rose this year. I don't think it's savable. Due to many late-planted annuals, I did okay this year. But between deer and a late onset on a horde of spotted cucumber beetles (still trying to figure out how to get rid of them) it wasn't the best of year. Now I'm just waiting for a seemingly late first frost to knock everything back for the year.

    I was given charge of one of the courtyards recently and plant to move much of my plantings into there, where the deer can't get to them.

    I did miss your posts this summer, but having gone through a similar summer, I understand the need for distance and silence! Hang in there.

  4. I knew the elements couldn't get you down. In the spirit of devoted gardeners everywhere, trying to do our thing in spite of weather, pests, diseases, and the demands on our time, I trust your new garden will bring you as much joy as the one it replaces. Most of us have toyed with the idea of starting over as we learn and get to know our plants. Keep us posted!

  5. I am really sorry about your roses. We have RRD here in NC and, alas, there is no cure. However, as a Master Gardener and as someone who gives presentations on sustainable roses, I have learned that cutting out the visibly infected canes is not advisable because the whole shrub is infected. By cutting out the infected canes and letting the bush remain in the garden, you are giving the microscopic mites who carry the disease time to spread to other roses. It's important to bag the whole bush but don't put it out for garden refuse pickup. Rather you should put it with the garbage pickup. It's particularly important not to compost the infected plant.

  6. So sorry to hear that it's been such a tough year for you. I totally empathize with the dismay that Kansas weather sometimes heaps upon gardeners. As always, I trust next year will bring better conditions - and hopefully some new favorites and fresh combinations will result from the need to fill the recently vacated spaces. Cynthia
    P.S. Hope your family and work events have been positive ones.


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