Saturday, February 24, 2018

Deer Gardens

The intrepid Bella jumped from our bed and ran into the sunroom yesterday around 6:45 a.m. and started barking madly.  When I crawled out bleary-eyed but prepared to defend home against marauder or monster, I found her perched on the back of the couch, back and nose and tail straight as an arrow pointing to the danger.  How does a beagle/border collie learn to point?  Beats me.

How many deer do you see in the photo above?  Two?  Three?  Look carefully.   As you can see at the right, there were actually four deer around (okay, there were only three in the first picture).   The large bush that the nearest deer is so avidly feeding upon is my two year old Salix caprea ‘Curly Locks’, the white French Pussy Willow.  I hope it left a few buds for ProfessorRoush to enjoy next month, once winter breaks from its current ice-locked cycle.  I'm tired of winter.

Tired too of the posers, those deer who try to justify their garden meals by allowing me a still picture of their exquisite form.  Just go away, girls.  Go have your spring fawns and leave my garden alone.  To be truthful, I don't think they do that much damage, and my really juicy shrubs, such as most of the magnolias and my ain't-Red HorseChestnut, are behind fencing anyway.  Man learns to adapt from the incursions of nature, even though adapting means that I view my garden in winter through that same wire fencing.

I did notice, last weekend, the damage shown on the base of this Hibicus syriacus ‘America Irene Scott’, which sits right beside the Pussy Willow.  At the time, I attributed it to a hungry rabbit or rodent, but now I'm wondering.  Is it time to defend more fervently against all enemies, hopping rodents or doey-eyed villains alike?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Rose Rustlers

Surfing Amazon at the end of last year (okay, looking for ways to spend Christmas money on Amazon), I was surprised and excited to find this recent (2017) publication by Greg Grant and William Welch.  I clicked it straight into my shopping cart and ordered it, anticipating an interesting history of rose rustling from the perspectives of the rustlers themselves.  Something preferably as enjoyable as one of my favorite reads, the 1989 page-turner In Search of Lost Roses, by Thomas Christopher.  Has it really been nearly 30 years since the latter was written?

What I got, in The Rose Rustlers, was indeed an interesting historical outlook on the criminal rose enterprises of Texans that lead ultimately to the foundation of the Antique Rose Emporium, but after the first couple of chapters, it was not quite the engaging read I was looking for.  I suppose I'm just being too picky, and I'm biased by my preference for gardening essays that are more about the philosophy and lifestyle of gardening than the practice of gardening.  The quality of the photographs and detail of the book were fabulous, but it was a struggle to get all the way through.  The book did start out well, with chapters on Noted Rose Rustlers, Bill Welch himself, The Texas Rose Rustler organization, and the Antique Rose Emporium, but then it bogged down, for me, into a number of chapters on the favorite roses of the authors and their rose gardens themselves.  These would have been okay if the roses were unknown to me, but many are old friends and I didn't learn much in the remainder of the book that was helpful.  Particularly not much in light of my need to stay with Rugosas here on my home ground while I fight the losing battle against Rose Rosette Disease.

Spend money, if you want, on this book for the great photography, numerous examples of roses in the landscape, or the history behind the movement of rose rustling.  But if you want a nice fireside read, one more difficult to put down and be distracted away from, then pick up a copy of In Search of Lost Roses instead.  Sorry, but as I'm happy to disclose, my favorite gardening books are still mostly essays;  Thomas Christopher as mentioned, Michael Pollan (Second Nature), Henry Mitchell (any of his works), Sydney Eddison (A Passion for Daylilies), Mirabel Osler (A Breath from Elsewhere), Allen Lacy, or Beverley Nichols.  These are the classics that keep me thinking of spring gardens while in winter's grasp.


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