Sunday, August 11, 2019

Alaska Times

The Turnagain
Friends, sorry about the long lapse in posting, but ProfessorRoush was away from gardening while visiting family in Alaska and OPSEC is that I not disclose my location during my absence. The photo at the right is our first glimpse of some real Alaskan terrain, at an area known as the Turnagain on Highway 1 south of Anchorage.



Fireweed and Black Spruce
Most specifically, we were visiting the Kenai penisula, home to Seward, Homer, and all manner of small outposts.  ProfessorRoush, the traveler, was well satisfied by the scenery, all of it beautiful as demonstrated by the several examples posted below.







Fireweed
Devil's Club
ProfessorRoush, the naturalist, enjoyed the local fauna and flora, at least that which bothered to show itself.  Everywhere, native Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) was blooming, in meadows and singularly, fields and fields of it surrounding the Black Spruce trees and in open areas.  And I became intimately acquainted with Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus), its scientific name aptly giving warning about this prickly undergrowth of the forest.  Look closely at the prickles on the woody stem...and remember not to brush against them!

I also, fauna wise, saw my first real live hornet nest, complete with the hornets, who themselves were not nearly so monstrously large or vicious as the cartoons suggest.  These pictures, however,  were about as close as I wanted to venture and the hornets still didn't seem to like the clicking of the camera mirror. 











Edge Glacier, Seward, Alaska
In Seward, we hiked to the Exit Glacier, one of more than a dozen glaciers spilling off the vast Harding Icefield, and the blue ice and outflow was everything we could have wished it to be.  Seward, rebuilt since it was wiped clean by a tsunami from the 1964 earthquake, also has a really nice aquarium you should visit if you are ever in the area.




Marsh and Mountains, Highway 1, Alaska
For large fauna sightings, however, I was shut-out.    I will report that we saw plenty of salmon fishermen and other tourists during the trip. However, we didn't see a single moose or bear during the trip, despite being out and about every day, and I only saw one Bald Eagle from a distance.  In fact, it got to be a bit of a joke.  My son claims there are only 9 state troopers in all of the very large Kenai penisula, and I saw three of them on the trip, but no moose.  On the way back north to the Anchorage airport, Mrs. ProfessorRoush and I were scanning all the marshes and flat areas, hoping in the late evening to see some large mammals coming down to feed, and at long last I spied two brown lumps moving over a field along the road and turned in for a better look.  They were buffalo at an Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. I'll not bother you with a picture of the buffalo, but I'll leave you with a beautiful scenic view of Homer, Alaska, and its tourist-haven "Spit" extending into the bay.


Looking out towards "The Spit" at Homer, Alaska

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Butterflies and Digger Wasps

Today was that rare day in a gardener's world when ProfessorRoush awoke knowing that his mundane garden chores (mowing, weeding and watering) could be at least temporarily set aside and a more seasonal chore could be tackled.  The chore du jour, moved into the limelight after tickling the back of my mind for weeks, was to bush-hog the pasture, cutting down the weedier prairie forbs to discourage them from seeding and shading out the grasses.

I was greeted immediately at the door of the barn by  this gorgeous creature, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), a female, happily ensconced on the purple-leafed honeysuckle growing nearby.  Obviously auditioning to be noticed, it flittered around for a second and then landed within reach, posing prettily as my iPhone got closer and closer, fearless and serene. I've seldom seen one that will hold still within my arms reach, but I appreciated its willingness to cooperate for a good photo.

Perhaps it knew what I was about to do and was implanting its own seed in me.  In a butterfly-state-of-mind, I soon ended up leaving a large area of the pasture (photo, left) unmowed in hope that the many large milkweeds in this specific area would feed the Monarch migration that will soon come through.  If you click on the picture, you'll see that almost all of the tall "weeds" are Common Milkweed.  These milkweeds grow here, and not abundantly elsewhere in my pasture, because this is where the dirt was moved during the excavation of the barn over a decade ago.  The disturbed prairie soil in that area has been the home to milkweeds ever since, silent testimony to how long it takes the prairie to heal.  I did see, from the tractor seat, a single Monarch flitting around the area, so I know more will follow.  I'll mow this area later in the fall, after the Monarchs are gone.

Later in the morning, during a mowing break, I was passing through a garden bed, weeding as I often do along the journey from barn to house, when a little movement of earth and an odd sandy hole caught my eye.  Looking closer, I made acquaintance with none other than what I believe to be a Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus).  I've never seen one before, but a little Web research informed me that these are one of God's more useful and fascinating creatures.  The Great Golden Digger Wasp paralyzes the bodies of Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets) and places them in these ground nests to serve as food for its developing larvae, thus endearing it to the gardener through its slaughter of our common enemies.

Yes Dear Reader, I am aware that at times my gardening blog has a tendency to morph into a naturalist journal, but even while apologizing for such digressions, I also have to point out that this is one of the risks you take when you follow the meanderings of a curious mind.  I pray, sometimes, that these little side journeys enrich your life.  Join me please; preserve all the milkweed you can for the Monarchs and, now that we know what they are, help me protect all the Great Golden Digger Wasps that want to burrow in our gardens.  The butterflies, digging wasps, and I, thank you!


Sunday, July 21, 2019

This Incredible Place

I do not know what changes that retirement, ever more imminent and ever more imagined as my clock winds relentlessly down, will bring to this life, but I was struck tonight, and related to Mrs. ProfessorRoush, that whatever the future holds, I don't think I can ever move from this place, this piece of earth that I know so well.

I know its moods; its sunny overbearing exuberance, its threatening and yet beautiful summer storms, its winter icy blizzards, its fall foliage kaleidoscope, and even its few cloudy, dreary days.  I can sense the rains coming hours away and predict when the officially-predicted storms will go around us.  I curse, sometimes, at the fickle nature of this land, like the thousands before who washed up on these prairies, but I love her always.

This morning started with the wall cloud pictured here, moving over us far earlier than the weatherpersons had predicted, delivering just enough moisture to wet the grass and suspend my mowing, but not enough to drive me in.  I puttered, I weeded, I fertilized, damp throughout, but happy in the garden.  The periodic clouds later afternoon became a drizzle, and then a smidgen of wetness, not enough to grace the ground deeply, but carrying some badly needed cooler temperatures.


Then, late evening, as I was passing through the kitchen, I noticed the setting sun and golden skies in the clearing west shining into the drizzle continuing to the east and thought to myself, "that means there is likely a rainbow to the south."

Wow.  I mean, wow was there ever a rainbow!  The most glorious double rainbow I've ever seen started just at the next hill south and arced completely over the house to the northeast, enveloping my house and world in wonderment.  The first photo above shows the view at the north corner of the garage, the photo at the left follows the rainbow as it rounded the south corner of the house, heading towards the neighborhoods of Manhattan.


I'll leave you here tonight, at the southwest caress of the rainbow onto the prairie.  You can click, if you wish, on the perfect iPhone panorama below of the complete double rainbow and enlarge it to full glory.  Stare in awe as long as you like, just as I did on first sight of it.  This rainbow tonight has welcomed the sunshine back to the prairie, chased the heat of summer from the Flint Hills, and reminded ProfessorRoush that life is more beautiful and precious with the passing of each moment.









Thursday, July 18, 2019

Noel, how am I doing?

7/18/2019
A few weeks back, I read a blog post of Noel Kingsbury's titled "Mind the Gap," a very interesting read about the evolution toward ever-increasing plant density in garden design.  Kingsbury, whose blog I follow and whom I believe is one of the best of current garden writers and researchers, tries at least, to stick to some science-proven basics in gardening.  I find that his blog entries often break through the dry and compacted surface of homespun garden wisdom to provide some fresh nourishment to garden practices.

In his blog, Noel was sharing the results of a seven-year experiment in planting density published in the April 2019 Plantsman. and he related how "delighted at how little time I spent on this (weeding), only a few minutes per plot per year."  Despite the naturalistic planting methods he was investigating, he was able to conclude that, unlike previous widely-held gardener expectations, the plots did not become a monoculture of a dominant plant; "no one species took over."  At least in Herefordshire, about as far from my Kansas environment, in terms of sunshine and moisture, as a garden can probably get.

5/25/2019
As a gardener, ProfessorRoush is by no means so focused on a garden design plan or even a logical planting sequence as the eminent Mr. Kingsbury, but my inner farm-boy hates to see bare ground.  So my front landscape is essentially a hodgepodge of crowded plants developed over a period of now almost 18 years.  I started out with some nicely spaced plants, but my gardening has evolved and the plants in the border have undergone an intense Darwinian thinning.  When something dies, or gets crowded out, I replace it or remove it with something else, with the result of a dizzying mess of plants that I very rarely need to weed and only then usually with a quick tug at an errant solitary stem as I pass by.

The photo at the top of this blog was taken just this morning facing east at sunrise, and in a quick glance, you can take in blooming 'David' phlox, three varieties of daylilies, some bright red Monarda, and a white oriental lily.  Faded away are the Paeonia tenuifolia and Iris, and waiting in the wings you can discern some garden sedum biding time until fall.  Like Noel's experimental plot, I simply clear the dead foliage every spring and weed every third week for a few minutes.

Another view 7/13/2019
The second photo above shows the same area from a slightly different viewpoint taken in late May, with voluptuous herbaceous peonies, iris, and globe aliums predominant, while more subtle yellows are added in the background by the variegated foliage of Forsythia 'Fiesta' and Euonymous 'Moonshadow'.

Another perspective of the bed, taken recently from the front, shows the opposite end of this bed, which I fully admit is mostly a morass of Knautia macedonia that is successfully outcompeting most of the daylilies and irises of this area and pushing the red Monarda to the edges of the Knautia empire.  Next year, I need to remember to thin back the volunteer Knautia seedlings.  I certainly don't want to eliminate it; Knautia macedonia was one of the first plants I sought out that was specifically recommended for the brutal Kansas climate and it survives the droughts that have killed off other groundcovers in the area.

Turning around from the previous perspective, facing west, the opposite bed is a mass of Orienpet lilies, and daylilies, with a rose or two thrown in.  There is also a pair of barely visible panicled Hydrangea up against the garage here, planted just last year and yet to reach full growth.  Some asters to the left are overgrown this year and yet to bloom.




So my obvious question now is, "Noel, how am I doing?"  Aside from perhaps allowing the Knautia to self-seed a little too exuberantly (in defense of its neighboring plants, it seems to have been over-stimulated this year by the excess rain), am I approaching the new crowded-planting conception? Is there anything else you think I can crowd in here?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

My (Orien)pets

Oriental 'Montana'
Calling my Orienpet lilies "my pets" is almost as bad as labeling them "my precious," isn't it?  I'm trying not to think of myself as the decrepit Sméagol/Gollum in Lord of the Rings as I say it, but I'm sure I have the rasping inflection and covetous smiling expressions down all the same.  They are just so beautiful and fragrant that they overload my senses.

After my experience with 'Yellow Dream' (picture below) a few years back, I had resolved to buy more Oriental Lilies and Orienpets and you can see the result here.  Oriental lily 'Montana', pictured above, is the most fabulous of the new Orientals I planted, just to the left of my front door, pouring out fragrance for 5 yards around.  Don't you just love her freckles?

Orienpet 'Yellow Dream'
Although some of the new lilies have struggled, others are flourishing and expanding, particularly the Orienpets.  Now if only I could get the Kansas winds to stop throwing them onto the ground, I'd be in semi-heaven for a few weeks.  I prop some of them up with stakes, but I neglect others and pay for it with a few more broken stems after every storm. 

Orienpet lilies, or OT lily hybrids, are hybrids of Oriental and Chinese Trumpet lilies, as opposed to the Oriental-Asiatic, or OA hybrids, like 'Kaveri' that I pictured recently.  Orienpets inherited the best of both their parents and are very disease-resistant and have better drought, and cold tolerance than either parent.  Most are very tall (some gardeners call them "tree lilies") and floriferous, and the only drawback of them that I've seen so far is that blooms of some of the hybrids, like 'Beverly Dreams', face downward, diminishing their impact.

Orienpet 'Beverly Dreams'
I complain about 'Beverly Dreams', but on the other side of that coin, those thick waxy petals survive the searing Kansas sun without shriveling, and indoors, that fabulous color lasts a week or more in a vase.   'Beverly Dreams', in particular, is tempting me to get my first black light since the 70's, since I suspect it would light up spectacularly in ultraviolet.











Orienpet 'Purple Prince'
'Yellow Dream' is, as always, a standout this year, but the rainy spring and early summer here have left her yellow hues more muted than previously.  I also made the mistake of intermixing her clumps with 'Purple Prince', and their colors clash a bit.  I'm not as crazy about the downward facing and slow-opening 'Purple Prince', and I may move these bulbs eventually to a less prominent spot. 










Orienpet 'Anastasia'
The most recent to open, and one of the prettiest, is 'Anastasia', the newest Orientpet in my garden; delicate-colored and beautiful, and reminscent of 'Montana', pictured above.  I must be irrationally partial to the pinks since those two are my "pick of the season" so far.  There are, however, more buds warming up in the bullpen.  And stay tuned, because I'm preparing a "best-of-show" entry of the new daylilies I'm seeing.  Wowsa!






Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Arrival

I turned the corner last night, July 5, 2019, and there, right there on the top of virginally white 'Blanc Double de Coubert' in full-on public display, fornicating, yes FORNICATING, in flagrante delicto, caught red-handed (or, in this case, green-bodied) in naked embrace, were the first of the Japanese Beetles to invade my garden this year.  Immodest, immoral, deplorable and disgusting Japanese Beetles!

All right, all right.  My indignation is false, my outrage is fake, although this Japanese Beetle sightings is most certainly not "fake news."  I've actually been expecting them, waiting and watchful, forewarned and forearmed.  In point of fact, while I'm spilling the beans, these weren't the first Japanese Beetles that I saw yesterday evening.  I had already found one a few moments earlier on 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup', cornered it, captured it, and crushed it under my sole.  On the first day, the total casualty count for the Japanese Beetle army at my hands was 6; the pair above on 'Blanc', the pair below on 'Applejack', the single stag male on 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' and another single male on a second 'Applejack'. 

They are right on time, these horrible hordes.  Based on a search of my blog, from the very first time I spotted one in my garden, 7/7/2013, to the beginning of last year's seasonal foray on 7/1/2018, they've never been earlier than July 1st, nor later than July 7th, with the exception of the fabled beetle-less summer of 2016.  My blog is full of beetles, and I noticed tonight that if you click on the search box at the right and type in "beetles", I've accumulated almost a dozen musings on these hard-bodied trespassers.  Go ahead, I promise it is an entertaining side-path through the blog.

Sore from recent marathon weedings of the garden, nursing what I suspect is my first ever episode of trochanteric bursitis, and in no mood to trifle with more garden interlopers after the earlier spring invasion of rose slugs, I've chosen the nuclear option this year.  Full-on, no-prisoners-taken, garden-wide thermonuclear war in my garden, insecticide at 50 paces, and may the human win.  My sole concession to the less onerous garden critters was to spray as early in the morning as possible so as to spare as many bumblebees as I could, but I'm in no mood this year to stand on the ethical high ground and spend every night and morning searching the garden by hand to interrupt and dispatch Japanese beetle couples in the process of making more Japanese beetles.  So this year, I'll spare myself the bursa-inflaming activity and spare you the daily body count, and I will simply report any spotted survivors here later.  To my fellow gardeners, ye of beetle-inflicted pain, the skirmishes have begun again.  Good hunting, my friends.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Thoughtful Rest

OA lily hybrid 'Kaveri'
ProfessorRoush is almost there; nearly to the autopilot period of the summer garden, the period of the summer where the grass barely needs mowing, the weeds are under control, and the primary chores are behind him.  Time to rest and enjoy the garden, perhaps not to read in the garden shade along with these bright lilies, but at least to slow down and enjoy what he can.  Before fall arrives in haste, before finishing the rose dead cane removals, weather-protecting the patio, staining the gazebo, re-blacktopping the blacktop, and the thousand other things that I think of when I'm in the garden, I must take time to enjoy it's life, the life of my garden.  Besides, keeping it all running smoothly can be chore enough.  Yesterday, the lawn mower quit 20 minutes before I was ready to finish.  I was far too hot and tired during my 7th hour in the garden when the temperatures hovered between 95º and 100º to care to work on it yesterday, but I got up this morning and revived the lawn mower, a major victory by this gardener of no mechanical skill.  Sometimes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut, as the old saying goes.

'Fru Dagmar Hastrup
I need to enjoy my garden alongside the bees, who are certainly enjoying the second bloom of 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup'.  This one and his friends were going crazy spinning around the many fresh blooms.  Lots of blooms, lots of hips, healthy foliage, and not a single Japanese Beetle yet to be seen. 'Fru Dagmar' is having a moment, and it's a moment not to be ignored.










'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' second bloom
 Despite all my complaining about rose rosette disease and its devastation of my garden, I'm beginning to see the other, brighter side of the post-RRD schism.  The young rugosas and old garden roses are coming along and there are now small shrubs in many places where there were bare spots last summer and fall.  And the older, more mature rugosas, like 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup', are picking up the slack, providing me some needed bloom and food for the bees.  I'll soon be blogging about new roses again, new roses to my aging garden.








'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' hip
'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' is also going to provide a second later season of pleasure for me, these big plump hips from the first bloom just starting to turn and covering the plant alongside the newer blooms.  Their shear mass, the size of a plum or large grape, is only rivaled in my garden by the bodacious hips of 'Foxi Pavement' , pictured below.  I like big hips and I cannot lie. I'm interested to see which hips are more red as we progress towards fall, and which hips stay so prominent and full.
'Foxi Pavement' hip


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hitchhikers and Heartthrobs

Most gardeners, ProfessorRoush included, labor under the delusion that we choose our plants, the plants we value enough to care for, but, truth be told, it is often the plants that choose us.  My list of the plants that co-inhabit our garden with me contains three main subcategories; the very, very, very long list of plants that I purchased that have subsequently perished from the prairie, the surprisingly short list plants I purchased that still survive in the garden, and the unintentionally long list of plants that chose my garden as adequate shelter for their own purposes.  I've spoken before of the native plants, like Asclepias tuberosa, or the Salvia azurea that I allow to grow as they desire in any bed of the garden.  I've also written about some plants that insist on growing everywhere here, such as Ambrosia artemisiifolia, despite my constant efforts to eliminate them.

There is a fourth category, however of gardening troubles that we purchase, sometimes intentionally and sometimes by accident, and come to regret.  Such an accidental hitchhiker in my garden is illustrated by what I think is a type of hops vine pictured above, photo taken just today.  This vine has been a constant nuisance in this one spot in my garden for the twenty years we've lived here.  About every two weeks, I have to search out and destroy the many sprouts of this fast-growing vine, lest it overwhelm every other plant in the area.  I've never grown it intentionally, but I can trace its arrival to a load of "good" soil that we had brought in to provide a decent border around the stamped concrete patio in the back when we built the house.  Interestingly there were 3 actual truck loads delivered to form this border, but the only area that grows the presumed hops vine was from a single truckload.  If asked, I can attest that the seeds of these vines survive and germinate at least 20 years after being deposited.  The only remaining question is whether the hops seeds will ever cease to germinate or whether I leave this Earth first and am beyond caring about it.

Aralia cordata, K-State Gardens
I suppose, when pressed, I'd have to admit to a fifth category of garden plants; those plants that we covet and have never grown.  I've been admiring this Japanese Spikenard, Aralia cordata, for several years.  Pictured as it grows in the K-State Gardens (beneath the shade of the American Elm), it glows like a lighthouse beacon.  I keep waiting, secretly hoping, to find the flaw in this plant, the insect damaged foliage that it has never displayed, the fungal disease which it doesn't seem to get, but it just thrives there, short and pretty, as I leer and drool over its perfect form.  I know that I want it, deep in my gardening soul.  I also know that it would die almost instantly here in my shadeless garden, blasted by the Kansas July sun into dry tinder.  Just another heartthrob plant that I can never grow.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Timeous Turtle Trek

"Arf, Arf, Arf;" the neighbors dog, Huck, was barking incessantly last night as I traipsed around the garden, trimming dead canes off a rose here, transplanting a rose or two there, and watering seedling, just-purchased roses.  Eventually, Bella and I sought him out, curious as to what he had found on the prairie, 20 feet off of my neighbor's driveway.  I was betting snake, but as it turned out, I was quite wrong.  The dog had found a large turtle, probably a quarter mile west and above our pond, heading straight as an arrow towards my neighbors pond, across the blacktop driveway and another quarter mile down the next draw.




This seemingly ancient creature is a
Snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina, identified by its long tail and ridged shell.  Yesterday evening, that turtle's tail was as expressive as any dog's, flipping angrily whenever Huck got too close.  Hunkered down for the photo here, he just wanted to be left alone on his journey, presumably in search of more abundant food or agreeable mate or both.  As always, when I run across such creatures, I do a little reading, and found out from Wiki that the folklore about snapping turtles biting off fingers and toes is just a myth, with no confirmed cases.  Although they can certainly apply a painful bite, and while you shouldn't pick one up by the shell because their necks can stretch completely around their armor, they actually have less bite force than a human.  They often live 20-25 years, with a maximum reported age of 38 years, so I wonder what the chances are of this being the same just-hatched turtle that my daughter found during a 2014 burn?  Probably not a likely coincidence but it's fun to think about it.

Up until the turtle, it was a peaceful evening in the garden.  I had spent some time admiring the first blooms of some dark red Asiatic lilies (photo at the top) that I planted as summertime filler among the viburnum bed.  There used to be other colors and varieties planted in the bed, but the only long term survivors seem to be deep red.  Not that I'm complaining, because I swoon over that dark rich color against the green of rose and viburnum foliage.


I have and encourage other fillers in these beds, but I count on serendipity and Mother Gaia to supply the most important.  Everywhere that the Butterfly Milkweed,  Asclepias tuberosa, (left, above) decides to show up as a "weed," I let it remain in all its orange glory.  In a similar fashion, I'll allow any Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) (right) to grow unmolested in any bed.  The fantastic fragrance of these wildflowers, especially the Common Milkweed, are an early gift to me, and their value as a food source for caterpillars and butterflies make them all keepers in my gentle garden.

Turtles and milkweed were the sendoff last night for me to seek satisfied slumber with dreams of butterflies and blooms.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pink-Maybe-Alba

Mystery free rose
ProfessorRoush has been waiting patiently for several years to identify a rose that has struggled in my garden; trampled by deer, dehydrated by drought, and encroached upon by neighboring plants (including an overbearing 'Applejack' in the vicinity), it has nonetheless survived.  Before this year, this year of over-rain, she has never bloomed, growing slowly from a seedling that I protected to the current bush, about 2.5 feet tall and as wide.  Now, I ask you, what is she?

I've looked at my obviously lousy records for clues to her provenance, and there have been several roses planted in this area, mail-order rooted cuttings, in the past 10 years.  Some grew well for a season or two and then faded, or succumbed to RRD.  For instance, 'Amiga Mia' was to the left and forefront of this plant in the bed, and I well remember "my friend" and her loss to RRD.  I had hopes that this was the Buck rose 'Countryman', but now, upon seeing the first blooms, I can now eliminate that rose, a much deeper pink than my current demure blushing bush.   Similarly, 'Frontier Twirl', 'Aunt Honey', and 'Enchanted Autumn' have been in this general vicinity, do not match this rose in bloom or behavior, and all have moved on to another higher gardening dimension.

Because this rose has never bloomed before, I have concluded that it must be a non-remonant rose, since I haven't seen her try to bloom before, likely an Old Garden Rose, perhaps an Alba or even a very shy Bourbon?  The foliage, closely examined, is moderately shiny and glossy, not like a Damask or Gallica, and it is reasonably healthy, with little or no blackspot despite all the rain.  The blooms are very double, light pink, fading to cream on the outside, and they almost recurve with a button eye.  Thorns are sparse, small, and curved down on the stem. The round buds did brown up and deform like 'Maiden's Blush' often does in my garden in a wet year.  The fragrance is strong and sweet with no tea overtones .

Sadly, I think the solution to this particular mystery lies in a rose band I planted in 2011, obtained as a "free rose" from Rogue Valley Roses.  RVR used to provide a free extra rose or two with their orders, depending on the size of an order, unsaleable roses that they had mislabeled or managed to lose the label or overstocked roses they had on hand.  Usually they would pick a rose for you that would survive well in that customer's particular hardiness zone.  My notes show that my free rose that year was planted in this area, and although 8 years seems a long time to have this struggle in my garden, I really can't remember how long this particular plant has been here. So, if it was my "free rose," I probably never will know exactly who this rose is.

Still, it has a beautiful bloom, relatively healthy foliage, and seems to be resistant to RRD, so I'm hardly in a position to really care about calling it by its given name.  I'll just christen it "Pink-maybe-Alba" and enjoy the show when I can.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Numbing Nutsedge Nightmare

Sometimes, a little gardening knowledge is a burden too difficult for the gardener's soul to bear.  We see things that others don't, the subtle hues that don't belong, the texture that doesn't blend, and it tears at us, ripping away the mantle of civil society and bearing the dark soil within.  We try to seek justice, try to shift the weight of wisdom off our shoulders, but find no relief.  Such it was with ProfessorRoush this past week.


Every day, as I come to work, I pass the simple bed pictured above along the sidewalk, a few short yards to the left of the entrance.  On May 30th, I noted with some amusement the overgrowth of yellow nutsedge in the bed (circled in red) among the struggling daylilies (circled in blue), and brought it to the attention of the individuals who oversee the care of the bed, passing along both my identification, my recommendations for a nutsedge-specific herbicide, and my general angst at discovering this unholy mess outside my workplace.

 Today, I noticed that the bed had been sprayed (see the photo directly below) and that all the plants were dying, nutsedge and innocent daylily alike.  Obviously this area was sprayed with glyphosate or some other non-selective herbicide.  While my call to arms had been heeded, my renowned advice had not.


While cogitating this distressing development, reeling and staggering from the renewed load placed upon my shoulders, I meandered to the beds on the right side of the entrance, and realized to my horror that these beds were no better, in fact far worse, than the original abomination was.  Preserving them for prosperity, I present them here for you to ponder:

Bed portion 1; Containing a world-beating crop of yellow nutsedge (circled in red in the foreground), with some barely surviving ornamental grass in the back (circled in blue).  I think this grass was originally Panicum 'Cheyenne Sky' or something similar.












Bed portion 2: A really not-delightful mix of more original ornamental grass (blue circles), crowded into the margin by what I think is a wild tri-lobed sumac (orange circle), and more yellow nutsedge (red circles).







Bed portion 3:  A miserable grouping of ornamental grass (blue circles), common dayflower (yellow circles) and yellow nutsedge (red circle).  The common dayflower, as you know from my previous rants thereof, is a virtually indestructible weed in this region.






I shall suffer on here, sickened by the senselessness of the slaughter I've seen, but not in silence, nay, I have again unleashed the furies of  unsolicited advice on the herbicidal unwashed.  Unrequited, I may soon have to resort to guerrilla gardening in the shadows of night, spray bottle and trowel in hand, a furtive figure following a path to futile madness.   

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