Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ann Endt

'Ann Endt'
It is high time, I think, that ProfessorRoush shows you a rose new in his garden.  My garden where every new rose has to be a Rose Rosette resistant Old Garden Rose or a Rugosa.  At present, the rugosa newcomer 'Ann Endt' is on deck, and she will suffice, I think, for a rose-related post today.

I obtained 'Ann Endt' from Heirloom Roses last year and she bided her time growing a little bit and basking in the summer heat.  This year she is still a small plant, about a foot high and little more than that in diameter.  Because her mature size is supposed to be anywhere from 3.5 to 6.5 feet, I'm expecting much more growth from her this year.

But she IS blooming, her continuous single (5 petal) blooms feathery against the Kansas winds, and so she's our favorite at the moment.  Last year she bloomed, as a seedling, sporadically for me, teasing me with only a few blooms before disappearing for the winter, but in my garden and full sun, she is pretty close to a real red, with not much blue in the mix.  Each bloom has, as you can see, prominent yellow stamens that sand out against the almost-red background.   'Ann Endt' is officially a dark red or magenta Hybrid Rugosa rose, discovered by rosarian Nancy Steen in New Zealand prior to 1978.  There are those experts who believe she is the same rose as a Rosa foliolosa x Rosa rugosa cross made by Phillipe Vilmorin in the 1800's.  Her buds are long, held above soft green, matte, mildly rugose and very healthy foliage.  No blackspot on this rose!  Her listed hardiness is Zone 2A, and she came through a really tough, dry winter for me with no protection, so I will choose to believe her reputation for drought and winter resistance.  There is supposed to be a cinnamon fragrance attributed to her R. foliolosa parent, but I have yet to really sample it. 

Named after a famous New Zealand rosarian, Nancy Steen wrote about her discovery of 'Ann Endt' in a 1966 book, The Charm of Old Roses.   I hadn't run across this book yet, but I have ordered a used copy from Amazon and hope to review it for you soon. I have seen a quote from the book stating that the rose is also shade-tolerant, relating that "Even the partial shade of a tall purple birch does not seem to affect its free-flowering habit."   She is also supposed to produce hips, a trait that I enjoy in roses and will take as an advantage.  Suzy Verrier, expert on all things rugosa, wrote in Rosa Rugosa that this is "an interesting hybrid of R. Rugosa", but "neither widespread nor well-documented."  Verrier herself did not provide a picture of the rose.  ProfessorRoush didn't find much else written about 'Ann Endt', but maybe this blog will serve to help others find and grow this tough rose. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Can You See Me Now?

In my garden, after all these years, I'm reasonably sure that 99% of what lives there won't kill me.  It took ProfessorRoush all these years of jumping at the first sight of a slithering serpent or running madly away from the minuscule movements of a measly mouse to finally cultivate calmness in the face of garden calamity.  Mrs. ProfessorRoush thinks I have lost my fear of snakes entirely, but in truth, although I still react with the instincts of a chimpanzee and want to scream and throw feces at them, I have simply restrained my response to reaching a safe distance in a reasonable period of time rather than at full panicked gallop.

Thus it was that this morning, while picking strawberries on my hands and knees, I didn't react at all when there was a rustling beneath the strawberry leaves and movement a few inches away from my hand.  I didn't, in fact, even move my hand away.  I had just picked strawberries from all over the area in question, so I figured that if it was finally time to encounter a scared and biting copperhead, it was just my turn.  In actuality it was something else entirely.  Can you find it in the picture at the upper right?

How about this one?  Can you make out the tiny furry ear in the center of the picture at left?  Both the diminutive creature at the center of the first picture and the non-moving ear in the second are a pair of baby rabbits who were concealed in a small depression in the center of my strawberry patch.  I imagine Mama Rabbit must have thought, "what a great place to put my babies, here in all this foliage where no one can find them.  And only 20 feet from a few nice rows of peas and garden bean seedlings"  Which also explains what happened to a row of my just-sprouted peas that disappeared one night last week.

Well, as much as I have plans to kill or trap the several adult rabbits that are eating my hosta and small shrubs presently around the house, I'll just leave these two babies alone.  They aren't bothering the strawberries (as evidenced by my harvest today, pictured at the right), and they already lost their best chance at causing me a heart attack, so they can stay.  At least until next year when they're fully grown and eating the baby roses and asian lilies.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Where Are The Butterflies!!?

ProfessorRoush tries to be a good gardener, and a gracious host of garden fauna, but once in a while he is incredibly oblivious to the obvious and dense to the details.  I've been so focused on catching up with spring--weeding, trimming, spreading 80+ bags of mulch, watering and weeding again--that I've been focused on the ground and the work and missing the big picture.  Well, to be accurate, I've missed the fact that the big picture is missing something.

 As my 'Blizzard' Mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard') began to bloom, however, it finally dawned on me that I haven't seen a single butterfly yet.  Not a skipper, not a fritillary, not a hairstreak, none, on any flower yet this year.  My 'Blizzard' is usually covered with them while it blooms.  Let alone a Painted Lady on the 'Blizzard', like the beauty above that I photographed in 2012, I haven't seen any butterflies at all this year.   My 'Blizzard' is in full bloom as captured two days ago in the photograph at the left and there is not a single butterfly on it. 

What's going on?  As I think back, my alliums have all bloomed and past, and yet I saw no butterflies like this Painted Lady pictured on the 'Globemaster' allium at right, again from 2012.  Honeysuckle, roses, Knautia macedonia, all are blooming now without their usual halo of winged angels.  It's not like I've been puffing the insecticides around this year.  I use a little in the vegetable garden when I'm desperate, but I haven't broke open the carbaryl dust on the potatoes yet this year, and I don't use it in the rest of the garden ever.

Frankly, I'm more than a little worried.  I knew we had a rough winter, dry and cold, because  I lost a number of roses and more than a few long-established shrubs.  But was it really that dry and cold?  We have fallen deeper into drought this spring, with every storm passing just to our east or north, like this one I captured on radar from 2 nights ago, slipping to the east without raining here.  There have been no ground-soaking rains since last September and already the temperatures are climbing to the 100's (today the temperature hit 102ºF in my garden).   My front lawn is beginning to dry up and looks like the browning turf of late July or early August instead of the usual lush green of late May.   Are the timing or sequences of butterfly and bloom off?  My allium and mockoranges bloomed together in 2012, yet this year the alliums bloomed and faded a week before the mockorange opened the first blossom.  Has any of this environmental variability affected the butterflies?  Am I to witness no joyous fritting about of a fritillary this entire year?

Is anyone else missing their butterflies? 

I'll let you know if, and when they arrive here.  Until then, I'm at a loss to know if this is a variation of normal, or an omen of the world's end.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Crane Fly Interlude

When ProfessorRoush spots an unusual insect in the garden, some chitinous-shelled life form beyond his ken, he takes note of it.  When it's on a rose plant, and particularly on a rose bloom, he moves into panic mode (or as close to it as he ever gets), and he looks it up as soon as possible. 

This week, in the garden, the unusual insect was this six legged, winged creepy-crawler that I believe I've correctly identified as the adult form of a "crane fly," Family Tipulidae,  known colloquially in England as a "daddy long-legs," or in other quarters, as a "mosquito hawk."  I first spied him on a bloom of 'Snow Pavement' as I was searching for the first appearance of Japanese Beetles, and then saw a second one nearby on the foliage of "Foxi Pavement."   A quick check of Internet sources tells me that it has no relation to the eight-legged monsters that I knew as granddaddy long-legs that infested the tents of my childhood, seemingly reconstituting themselves inside tents stored for decades between uses.  I also found that its diet does NOT include mosquitoes.  In fact the adults, which only live to procreate during a life-cycle span of 2 weeks, normally don't eat during that period at all.  They can reportedly copulate for up to 2 hours (who actually watches and times such things?), which would be pretty neat but would also make me pretty hungry, so unfortunately I'd conclude that the extended pleasure is not worth trading for the stomach cramps.

So what are they and what kind of fresh H-E-double toothpicks are they starting in my garden?  First, I learned quickly that these little morsels won't damage the rose blooms, much to my relief since I have few left to damage.  It may be the larvae, known as leatherjackets, that I have to worry about, if any.  The larvae live in the top layers of the soil and feed primarily on decaying organic matter, although they sometimes also feed on the roots, root hairs, and crowns of crops, stunting growth or killing the plants.  Bloody heck, in 1935 the little buggers invaded Lord's Cricket Ground in London, caused dead patches on the wicket, and the pitch exhibited unusual spin through the season.  What a balls up!
I've decided to leave them alone, as crane flies are also likely important in the soil ecosystem, improving microbial activity and recycling oganic material and because they serve as prey for other predatory insects and spiders, perhaps providing a food source to keep them alive long enough to consume other, more rose-harmful insects later.  I don't think I can blame them for the loss of so many roses to Rose Rosette Disease, and they're so much more dainty and delicate than the blundering Japanese Beetles I was expecting.  I'll consider the crane flies as my guests until they start tracking up the carpet or leaving the toilets unflushed.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Corpse Flower, indeed

Despite our existence in the "flyover states," there were many fantastic activities in Manhattan Kansas this weekend.  The Bill Snyder Half-Marathon, for instance, tied up a number of city streets and traffic policepeople for most of Saturday morning.  For those hip individuals in the know, however, the real attraction was the imminent blooming of a Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, right here in the Little Apple.

I was alerted to the potential bloom from Tuesday's K-State Newsletter, and I made a trip over to the greenhouses soon after that, so I would know where the darned thing was when I needed to get to it.  The picture at the upper right is from that Tuesday visit.  Believe it or not, the white line running into the bloom was the work of a chemistry graduate student who was taking a baseline sample of the air in preparation for the stench.

Live Camera Feed 5/18/2018
Soon afterword, the digital wizards at K-State placed a live camera feed on the plant so that extreme nerds onlookers could monitor when the actual bloom occurred, including a clock in the venue so you could see that it was live.  Being the nerd that he is, ProfessorRoush bookmarked the camera feed and began checking it several times daily.

Image property University of Wisconsin
The Titan Arum, native to Sumatra, is the largest inflorescence (made up of many flowers) in the world, the record for the "shapeless phallus" being 10 feet or so tall.  This lime-stone-loving rainforest plant stinks like a rotting corpse (hence the common name) to attract the carrion beetles and flesh flies that pollinate it during its one-day bloom period.  Every botanical garden that has one makes hay (sic) when it blooms, because of the crowd drawn to the stench and the fact that a plant takes 7-10 years of growth before it can support a bloom.  Most recently, the Chicago Botanical Garden's Arum provided some delayed gratification after several teasing incidents and finally bloomed in April, 2018.

True to the prediction of the local expert, Dr. Chad Miller, our Titan Arum began to bloom Friday evening, slowly opening to reveal its blood red center.  Can't you just feel the excitement?  The Titan Arum grows from a corm that typically weighs over 100 pounds and can weigh over 300 pounds, the largest corm in the world.  When it blooms, the temperature within the flower rises to 98ºF, to better volatize the odor around the area.

Titan Arum in full bloom, K-State, 5/19/18
On Saturday morning, Mrs. ProfessorRoush and I ran pell-mell over to see it in person.  The stench at that time was not nearly so bad as advertised, but I'm told it was at its strongest around midnight the previous evening.  According to the chemistry gurus, the odor is caused by dimethyl disulfide (Limburger cheese), dimethyl trisulfide, methyl thiolacetate, isovaleric acid (think sweaty feet) and  trimethylamine (rotten fish).   A regular one-day chemistry factory, this inflorescence.

During our visit, I noticed this glass jar containing blue desiccant in the bottom and, upon inquiry of Dr. Miller, learned that he planned to pollinate the flower within the next hour.  The pollen in the jar was from the recent bloom at the Chicago Botanical Gardens ("fresh pollen") and he was giving it more time to dry since it was a little moist and clumped.  The male flowers in the base of the inflorescence open up about a day after the female, a natural barrier to self-pollination as the female flower has begun to fade at that point and has presumably already been pollinated.  I didn't voyeuristically stay for the grand pollination, but I'm sure it was a satisfying moment for everyone involved.

ProfessorRoush is happy, however, a Nerd in Paradise as-it-were, to have finally seen a Titan Arum bloom, a horticultural bucket-list checkoff item at its finest.  I had always wanted to experience the stench first hand, ever since I read about it years ago from Henry Mitchell, writing in One Man's Garden, who, having seen one in 1937, said "Sometimes you don't need to paint a picture, but should just stand there amazed at one plant..." and termed the Titan Arum a "miraculous thing to behold, and it didn't paint any picture, it just sat there by itself."  Clearly, a thing worthy of missing the Bill Snyder Half-Marathon just down the street.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Bee-careful Out There

Such oblivious creatures, we Homo sapiens, we naked apes of tools and dreams.  We trod through millennia, intent on food, shelter, and water, occasionally motivated to art or to walk on the Sea of Tranquility, yet unknowing of the intricacies of the surrounding world, incapable of recognizing life on different scales than our own.  Civilized human-kind conveniently forgets the constant struggle of life at large.

ProfessorRoush has spent the past few days capturing flower photos, digitally preserving the blooms of 2018, as happy to welcome summer as an otter discovering a brisk stream.  I was seemingly, in fact, entranced this week by honey bees, happy to see them out and about, thrilled to know they haven't all disappeared into extinction.   A noon walk to the K-State Gardens on Thursday brought me green tranquility and the simplicity of the bee above, ensconced on a single bloom of Rosa eglanteria.  Later, I was drawn into the massive bounty of a full-grown and trellised 'William Baffin' and enticed further into the blooming mass (at left)  to capture another industrious worker strutting around its food source.

At home that night, however, I was starkly reminded of the dark side of bee life.  I had just noticed this motionless and soundless bee on 'Polareis' and began to look closer when it suddenly moved beneath the flower, all without wiggling a wing or leg.  Perplexed, I changed my perspective and exposed the true tableau, the bee expired and in the grasp of a victorious crab spider.   It is tempting at such times, to judge the spider as evil, but more correct to recognize merely life as it is, sometimes brutish and quick, unaffected by how we wish it to be.  I suppose the spider has its own reason to exist, just as the bee.  It's just that I like to root for the bee.

This is the real life of my garden.  I think only of flowers and prunings, mulch and plant combinations. To the bee, each flower could be nectar or death, each flight from the hive success or oblivion.  For the spider, each day may bring feast or hunger, no guarantees beneath the sunniest skies.  I've forgotten again the drama beneath, the life of a garden in constant flux, predator after prey, ultimately death for all.

Now reminded, I still am rooting for the bees.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Never Go Away!

'Buckeye Belle' least not when spring has arrived, a spring for which you've waited impatiently over the past 2.5 eons and change.  Trilobites have gone extinct since I first anticipated spring this year.  Then I was gone a mere 5 days and the plant friends that I missed are almost too numerous to count.  No, I at least didn't miss the luscious garnet-to-die-for Paeonia lactiflora ‘Buckeye Belle’ pictured at the upper left, but it was a very close thing.

'Prairie Moon'
Recall please, that I only left on the morning of May 9th, but on that morning, fickle peony 'Prairie Moon' was yet to bloom at all.  Five large buds were on the low-growing plant, just thinking about opening.  Yet, when I returned on May 13th, four out of the five flowers had opened in the 90ºF days and finished, with only one decrepit, ant-invaded, spider-guarded, ragged bloom to mark its passing.  I've waited three years for this immature plant to finally bloom with some mature size, and it was gone before I enjoyed it.

'Scarlett O'Hara'
And then there is 'Scarlett O'Hara', one of my most showy and favorite peonies.  No blooms when I left, but I returned to a fully-bloomed plant with all but three blooms faded from gaudy red-salmon into blush pink or white.  This peony normally takes a couple of weeks to open fully and fade.  What happened?  Spring was delayed by fickle fate and then time and the garden rushed headlong into summer, that's what happened. 

'Buckeye Belle' 05/13/2018
'Buckeye Belle' herself was a close one.  On the 13th, when I came home, she had three large blooms open, with several enormous buds in reserve.  Yesterday evening, the 14th, they had all opened, a soul-quickening sight to behold.  Today, these petals are falling, peak over, fading into another season.

'Buckeye Belle' 05/14/2018

A gardener should never go away during growing season.  In temperate climates the first two weeks of January might be safe, in a really cold year.  Might be safe.  But otherwise, forget it.  The other 50 weeks of the year there are things to be done, plants to check on, and beauty to behold.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Garden of Eden; Complete w/ Snake

What a difference five days can make in a garden!  Mrs. ProfessorRoush and I left for a trip last Wednesday (May 9th), and returned tonight (May 13th).  Before I left, Tuesday night, I took a photo of this Paeonia suffruticosa (Yellow Tree Peony), which had just opened its first bloom of the season that day.  The remnants of that first bloom are visible at about 2:00; tonight the petals of that bloom are already faded and gone, and now every other bloom on the peony is open.   Temperatures went from the 60-70ºF range last week to several days of 90ºF+ this week during our absence.  Wait all season for a brief glimpse of peony heaven, and almost miss it during a five-day trip!

For an added bonus, look closer at the bloom at the 7:00 position in the photo above.  See my little friendly neighborhood garter snake wondering who was disturbing the garden aura?  How about a closeup (at left)?  I had only seen my first snake of the season last Monday as I was cutting down a grass clump and a green snake went racing away too fast for a picture (in its defense, I was racing away in the opposite direction).  Now, already, I've run across my second snake of a still-early season.  Going to be a slithery year, I think.

The entire garden seems to have exploded over these 5 past days, and I think I'll catch up on my blogging and introduce you to the current bloomers at about two day intervals this week.  Tonight, however, I'll leave you with this tantalizing photo of 'Harison's Yellow'.  Before I left, only 5 days ago, not a single bloom was open.  Now, all of them are.  And to think I almost missed it!


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