Sunday, December 29, 2019

Clarity in Winter

The 4th season, winter, is much maligned by most gardeners and ProfessorRoush is no exception in that regard.  As I grow older, my enthusiasm for colder weather ever ebbs and my casual glances at more southern states on the map grow ever longer.

Winter does, however, provide a gardener with one benefit in spades: clarity.  Loss of foliage and flower exposes the skeleton of a garden, highlights her hidden secrets and lays bare the flaws of our efforts.

I noticed, today, how Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), a common weedy shrub on the prairie, has incorporated itself unnoticed into one of my 'Therese Bugnet' rose bushes, the red fruits of the wayward shrub blending cheerfully with the burgundy-red new twigs of the rose (photo at top).   The season also throws back the curtains on my Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'), revealing just how badly the straight suckers of the grafted plant launch themselves skyward among the crooked branches I crave (photo at left).  Every spring I remove an armload of these straight stems and they immediately resprout to spoil the symmetry.

Winter exposes the activities of insects unseen and nesting birds in clear detail.  I found these bagworms on the top of a trellis, hanging from, of all things, a wisteria vine that provides the trellis shade in summer (right photo).  How, oh how, did these bagworms know that the wisteria would be unprotected while their preferred perches, the junipers of my garden, are all sprayed each June?

 This nest, in my 'Banshee' rose bush, is a repeat homesite for birds, although I forgot to look here this past summer to see if it was active.  One locates nests in the summer by observing the birds, not the plants, for their feeding patterns, protective dances, and loud scolding of passersby.  In the winter, a nest like this hints at a life unobserved, leaving a gardener to imagine all the possibilities it hid.  Was there a successful fledge?  Did a cowbird insert an imposter into this family?   I'll never know.


The gardener resolves, each year to do better as we see the bones left behind from a summer's toil.  This Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) escaped my best efforts to root its invasive nature from my garden (right photo), persisting even now in the protective embrace of an enormous Russian sage.  In summer, one sees the forest and not the trees.  In winter, one is left with the details, the struggles of life laid bare, ground gained and lost, homes built and vacated.  Clarity is what a gardener gains in winter; clarity of our highs and wins, and clarity of where we must improve.    

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Beauty Abounding

There are so many facets of a garden's beauty; bountiful blooms, flourishing foliage, silent solitude, love and laughter.  Seasons change a garden, and the garden changes with the seasons and even within the seasons, from frosted to flooding, sun-baked to Siberian.   During the majority of my winter, my garden is dominated by tan, exasperating ecru, bland and banal, uninspiring and forgotten.  The beauty of some days are left to sunshine and endless skies, bathing a garden that is a mere memory of the gardener's mind.

The garden also, can change the seasons themselves, signaling senescence during the bounty of summer or hope in the midst of frigid death.  Last week, it was snow bringing hope, thick and wet, turning tan to white in an hour, leaving behind a frozen, windswept tundra to greet the next dawn.  Hope is hard to find in such a scene, but I know, deep within, that a few days, a few weeks of this slumber, and the garden will awaken, refreshed with the moisture it was needing so badly.

This morning, this happy Sunday before Christmas, it was fog, cloaking the garden in mystery and calm, evoking the remnants of the color and joys of summer for a brief moment.  I awoke to this solitude, neighbors vanished behind curtains of mist, a shy sun vainly attempting to assert its influence from behind the curtain, masked in glory.  Could there ever be a more peaceful scene, a more expectant pause in the harshness of winter?
The garden, she sleeps, damp and warm within the clouds today.  My strawberries, my beloved berries, wait for spring beneath a blanket of straw, in the arms of the shade house above them.  And around, all around, the prairie itself hums with life hidden deep in the soil as roots hoard resources and renew, at the ground where chickadees search for the last seeds of summer, or in the air above where the hawks ceaselessly hunt.  Life in the deer that sample the shrubs, or in the mice that tunnel under the snow, the prairie is thriving despite the cold.

All of us, the strawberries, the garden, the fog, and me, we all know that today is a respite from reality.  Winter is officially declared and must have its time before spring pushes it to memory.  There will be more snow, more shoveling to come before the Triggering that wakes up the earth.  The snow last week passed in a few days, my temperate climate as always freeing the roads and soil to the rays of the sun.  Me, I'm just thankful this season for this morning between, for this muted sunshine, for this life of plenty, this life in the garden.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Sun Bulbs and Christmas Cactuses

Once upon a time, there was an avid gardener who spent all his time among green things, indoors or out.  Ourdoors, there was a prairie paradise of native grasses and cultivated beds.  Indoors, over 20 thriving orchids and a dozen Zygocactus purified the air and lighted souls.  

 ProfessorRoush is a terrible indoor gardener these days.  My former indoor abundance has suffered from inattention and dwindled to a few plants.  First, there was the Great Winter Plant Massacre of about a decade ago, when we left home for a Christmas vacation and I turned off the thermostat by accident when I meant to turn it down a few degrees.  We came back a week later to a house hovering just at freezing.  No burst pipes, thankfully, just one cracked toilet and a bunch of dying orchids.  A pair of Zygocactus survived from a wilting, blackening multitude of formerly happy plants.

Subsequently, I never really revived my indoor plant passion and the current plants that share space with us likely suffer under the belief that I've abandoned them to a harsh, unforgiving desert, so infrequently do I water them.  Oh, for a time, I always put the Zygocactus outside during summer beneath the Redbud where they could experience fresh air and shade, but even out there, this gardener's attention wandered and they dwindled during drought periods and were subject to insect attacks.

I have been reborn as an indoor gardener this year, however, by the surprise appearance of the fabulous Cattleya pictured above.  I never noticed the spikes as they formed, and suddenly, on December 1st at 7:00 a.m. while I was feeding Bella, there were these two bright spots against the early morning sky.  Blooming for me for the first time, this struggling little guy was a purchase from Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Florida in 2014 and it has hung on despite the worse conditions I can muster.  Amazingly, I somehow retained the tag, which correctly identifies it as Cattleya hybrid Lily Marie Almas "Sun Bulb" orange.  What a gift from the sun gods she is, and fragrant too!  Obviously, I couldn't let her bloom alone, so I recently purchased a pair of Amaryllis bulbs and potted them up, preparing to brighten our New Year with their bounty. 

I have resolved to take better care of my indoor plants and improve my too-rare watering schedule; hopefully, however, refraining from overwatering.  I retain a few other plants at present, red, fuchsia, and white Zygocactus, another reasonably healthy orchid that isn't yet showing signs of bloom, and a struggling little orchid youngster that will likely soon give up and perish.  The white Zygocactus pictured here is new, a replacement for one lost outdoors this summer, and I'll soon repot it into something more suitable.  I will, I will, I will promise to keep a few healthy and enjoyable plants indoors to see me through this winter, but I will not, will not, mess with the thermostat or harbor another forest of orchids indoors.  Moderation, in gardening as in life, is the key.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Moss Musings

Today's blog entry may be surprising to anyone who lives in an area where plentiful rainfall occurs during summer, but the fact that I care about a pad of green moss will not be surprising to anyone living and gardening in Kansas and other arid Western states. 

I've always cared about moss.  I've long been fascinated by the "primitive" botany of these spore-producing survivors whose ancestors first colonized land, evolving millions of years before flowering plants came along.  There was a period in my teens when I could identify most of the common mosses of the Indiana woods I grew up in and tell you what their presence meant for soil acidity and moisture.  That knowledge has sadly been crowded out of my brain over the years by other trivia, but my fascination for the persistence and presence of moss remains. 

I was astonished to see this growth this summer, documenting this scene in October in my garden on my camera simply because moss is unheard of in this exposed, predominantly clay area and practically impossible in July and August, yet it was there all summer.  This spot is in full sun right along the edge of my vegetable garden, and yet this moss thrived here, grew all summer long, and made it clear up until the first freeze.  If you look closely, you can see the low electric fence wire running across the picture; the very fence that I depend on to keep rabbits, deer, and other critters out of the vegetables, and the grass/hay mulch at the top of the picture that I use to cover the garden.  

Normally, I might find a little moss along the north edge of the limestone blocks that line some of my garden beds, perhaps occasionally in May or June when it warms and we have enough moisture to support it, but even in those sun-protected areas the moss is temporary, springing up in hours and drying and dying just as fast.  I haven't checked recently, but the 50% additional annual rainfall we've seen from January 2019 has held steady and we are going to finish the year with a near record rainfall for this region.  I guess that's what it really takes to grow moss. 
Most surprising to me, however, is that after all the moisture I expected to have a bumper crop of "fairy ring" mushrooms this year.  I've blogged  previously about this, only seeing the two pictured in the previous post and the singular warty puffball (above left) I discovered in a dry path halfway up the slope from the garden to the house on August 31st.  That's it, three mushrooms in an entire wet year.  Many are God's mysteries created to vex mortal beings.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Salacious Selfies

It was a week ago today that Bella, the garden defender, informed me that the deer were back grazing in the garden.  A few loud barks at 6:30 a.m., a furious nose pointing out the interloper(s) and she was praised for a job well done.   Can most beagles point?  I don't know if they all do, but my half-Beagle, half-Border Collie sure does.  She goes crazy and I just look down the line of her nose to find the disturbance.  Later, she chased one of the deer out of the garden, fierce and furious.

To my chagrin however, Bella and I ventured forth later to check the game camera and I discovered that she was indignantly posturing to cover her furry behind.  From October 17th through November 9th, my game camera captured 78 separate pictures of deer in this single small view of my garden . There are, as you can see, at least 4 different deer in the pictures on this page.  Two does together in a late afternoon shot (at left).  A large buck, at least 6 and maybe 8 points proud, with a couple of does with hiim (below).  Another smaller buck, with adolescent antlers (below left), likely the same one Bella chases from the garden in the gif above.

In fact, just two mornings ago I saw 4 deer at once from our bedroom window and the Stag wasn't among them, so at least 5 separate deer repeatedly visit the garden.  While I watched they meandered nonchalantly around the garden, nibbling here and there, sampling anything that retains moisture and chlorophyll, lifting their heads and staring at the slightest movement.  I swear that one, 60 feet away, saw me pry open two slats in the blind to see her better.  She froze and stared directly at the window, I froze in place, and eventually she went back to chewing the viburnum.

Deer seem to be inveterate self-takers, using my camera to preen and posture over and over.  Of the 78 pictures, at least over half are closeups of various partial body parts;  doey long-lashed eyes, rippling muscles,  twerking tails and other examples of ungulate pornography.  Deer seem to be fascinated by the camera and can probably see the infrared light, or hear the shutter.

Pose; click. "Rats, I blinked at that one."

Pose; click.  "Darn it, does my nose look too big?

Pose; click. "How's my profile, big boy?" At least one of them got it right, her lean and toned torso displaying perfect form, head held just right for the camera, a come-hither look in her eye.  This photo would do any deer-frequented Instagram account proud, don't you think?

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Hope-filled Hips

This winter, I will not lose these urns of life.
This winter, I will not forget where I stored these pomes.
This winter, I will not place these seeds where Mrs. ProfessorRoush might displace them.
This winter, I will not forget to stratify the seeds.
This winter, I will not overlook the chance to grow a new rose.

This spring, I will remember to plant these children in sterile soil.
This spring, I will scarify the seed coat to encourage germination.
This spring, I will not overwater the seedlings.
This spring, I will keep the mildew at bay.
This spring, I will keep the fragile growing babes in full, bright sun.

I collected these hips today, on probably the last 70 degree day of the year. In the past, I've grown a rose seedling or two, but more than once I have lost the hips over the winter or seen them dry to death.  Not this year.  I'm going to do everything by the book, as closely as I can. We have already had several light freezes at night and I don't trust the deep freezes forecast in the coming week so it was time to bring them in for protection and start their journey into the future. 

The multi-colored, multi-shaped hips of the top picture are collected from a variety of Rugosa roses; 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup', 'Foxi Pavement', 'Purple Pavement', 'Snow Pavement', 'Charles Albanel' and 'Blanc Double de Coubert', as well as a few hips from 'Applejack', 'Survivor', and 'George Vancouver'.  Yes, to a rose purist, they are all mixed up and worthless and I will never know the true parentage of anything that grows from them.  In my defense, they were all open-pollinated as well, so even if I kept them separate, I would know only half the story.  And I really don't care what their lineage is; I'm looking for health, beauty, and vitality in these offspring, not for any specific crossing. The Rugosa genes should be enough.

The lighter, more orange hips of the second picture are from one rose; Canadian rose 'Morden Sunrise'.  Well, okay, there are two hips from 'Heritage' that I will take care to keep separate. 'Morden Sunrise' looks to be a great female parent based on her hips, bursting with seed and plentiful.  I don't know if she'll be self-pollinated or whether the bees did their jobs, but, regardless, I did want to see if any seedlings from these hips will survive and carry the colors of the sunrise down another generation.

Next year, I will grow roses.  New roses.  My roses.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It's A Bit Early....

ProfessorRoush thinks so.  My outside thermometer thinks so.  Ding and Dong, the donkeys, thinks so.  And I'm darned sure these Fragaria think so.  We all agree that it is too darned early for snow in north-central Kansas.

These Burpee special, 'Berries Galore' strawberries (read it from the label) have graced three pots all summer long under the edge of Mrs. ProfessorRoush's favorite Redbud tree near the driveway, there always to provide me a few tasty treats as I wander in and out of the house.  I enjoy them and their slightly tart taste despite the effort I put out all summer to keep them watered and alive in the burning sun of this Western exposure.

But, today, October 30, 2019, here they are, feeling the chill of winter in their first light snowfall, weeks early for this area of Kansas.  In thirty years of living here, I can remember one snowfall on Halloween resulting in a very cold trick-or-treating effort with my young son in the mid-90's.  There were none before or since. 

Unfortunately, this will be the demise of these bright fushia-lipstick-pink blooms and the strawberries that would have developed from them.  This weekend, I'll bring these pots into the barn where they can have a little protection but remain dormant for the winter.  With a little luck, these berry plants will live to see another Spring for me. 

And never fear, in regards to our larger garden strawberry bed, my pride and joy, I put it to bed for the season under a light blanket of straw just this weekend.  Snug, happy, and deer-protected, I'm prepared for what I hope is a dynamite strawberry crop next May.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Last Blooms

'Morden Sunrise'
Puttering around yesterday, enjoying working outside on a perfect sunny fall day in a short-sleeve shirt, it suddenly dawned on ProfessorRoush that he was in the company of the last blooms of 2019, considering the cold front coming and 24ºF lows predicted in two days.  He felt it best to spare a few moments from cleaning the garage and covering the strawberries so that he could share these last few blossoms with you.  And fortunate it was, since the first bloom he could find was beautiful 'Morden Sunrise', awash in the golds and pinks of her fall colors.

More overtly bright and cheerful, this last Hollyhock greeted me as I turned the corner of the house.  Normally, this hollyhock is a bright pink, but fall seems to bring out her red tones, back-lit by the sun as she was.  I don't know what a Hollyhock was doing blooming this late in fall, but I was happy to see her waiting for my adoration.  She is completely filled out, too, not as beaten down by fickle weather as many other blooms.

'Comte de Chambord'
I was overjoyed to see this 'Comte de Chambord', a dependable repeating Portland that hasn't yet succumbed to Rose Rosette disease, but I was less happy, looking up how to spell her name, that all the internet sources show her as bright pink.  I've had her in the garden over 15 years, even blogged about her, and she does occasionally blush pink, but she never turns anywhere near the pink of her internet portraits.  Now, as I see her bleached completely white in the fall, have I been growing a mis-named rose all this time?  Rats. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the garden was to find 'AppleJack' with a single, scented bloom holding on for dear life.  This early Griffith Buck rose usually blooms only for 6 weeks or so during the main season, with seldom rebloom, but the wet year must have it working overtime to compete with the hollyhocks.  Regardless, both this beetle and I are happy to see it.

'David' phlox, or whatever my spreading white phlox is now, still blooms in several places but best here in a very protected spot between other shrubs.  Clean, pure, and white, it still is attracting pollinators even as it stares the coming winter right in the face.  Since snow is predicted tomorrow, I'll have to remember to revisit it to see if it blooms for a few moments in the snow as well.

'David Thompson'
It is my undesired, and unappreciated 'David Thompson' who is bringing home the prize.  As I've written previously, I've never really liked this rose, nor the prominent place I've given it, but I have to admit to its tenacity in the face of disapproval.  This Explorer series rose survives, and almost thrives, among neglect and disdain in my back border.  I've learned to keep if from suckering out of control by withholding fertilizer and water and love.   Today, however, those blooms are perfect and deeply colored, laughing at my lack of care and showing me who really deserves to be a part of this garden.

'George Vancouver'
Not last, but last pictured, Canadian rose 'George Vancouver' is attempting to keep a little bright red color alive to compete with the browning grasses and leaves.  I haven't grown 'George Vancouver' long or mentioned him on this blog, and he is still a small shrub, but he is going into its second winter for me and continues to show promise here on the prairie. 

Last, and not pictured, are a bunch of also-rans and almosts.  English rose 'Heritage' has a few bedraggled blossoms to sniff as you pass, and I've seen a really beaten lilac bloom here or there over the past couple of weeks.  I had some really nice reblooming irises show up last week, but I cut them all for the house before a recent frost could take them.   And the grasses, prairie and ornamental, blooming grasses everywhere I look.  I don't think grass blooms count, however, and those are a subject for another day.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Guess Where I Was?

As the title of this post asks, look at the picture to the right and take a guess where ProfessorRoush spent the week.....and you, yes you there, don't peek down the screen until you've guessed.  Hint:  Obviously I wasn't doing much gardening this week, but I did spend some time in a beautiful conservatory.

Yes, to those who have been there and guessed correctly, I spent the week in Las Vegas.  Nevada. USA.  For work, not for play, but that doesn't mean that I completely holed up in the hotel.  In fact, I tend to hate the hotels, because in Vegas, they still allow smoking in the casinos, which I wouldn't step foot in but you have to walk through them to get around anywhere, even from your room to the cafe or outside.

I never go to Vegas, however, even to work, without walking around the sights and I always make sure to visit the Bellagio.  I didn't stay at the Bellagio this time, in fact I've never stayed there, but it's a short walk from where I did stay.  For those who haven't seen it, raise your right hand and repeat after me:  "I will never visit Vegas without seeing the Bellagio fountain show at night and the Bellagio Conservatory during the day."  The more colorful pictures on the page are from the current display at the Conservatory, and of course the night picture above is typical of the Bellagio fountain.

These displays change seasonably and are always full of real plants.  Obviously, the current display has a Subcontinent feel, wedding and all, and it didn't have the overabundant floral display that I've seen before, but it was fabulous nonetheless.  Many of the animals in the display moved, tails on the tigers twitching, ears on the elephants swatting, the monkey turning its head side to side and the peacocks making whatever sounds a peacock is supposed to make.

I especially loved this little cornucopia of pumpkins and fall grasses.  The color and details of the grouping were just perfect.

So were the details on this monkey, standing next to a wagon and the intricately charged pumpkin.  This perfect picturesque pumpkin.

A trio of foxes were romping around a "Green Man" tree, the tree occasionally speaking in a booming voice and Tiffany-style dragon flies floating over the scene.

I was also pleased to see, in the corner of the conservatory over the entrance to a restaurant, this prominently-displayed American flag.  It doesn't belong on the Indian Subcontinent, but it also didn't look at all out of place.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for a little patriotism in the middle of artful excess.  Remember, never go to Vegas without seeing the Bellagio Conservatory and the Bellagio fountain at night.  It's a sure recipe for magic.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Heads

My garden, especially this time of year, does what it can to add to the seasonal festivities.  At least, Mrs. ProfessorRoush thinks so, having recently referred to certain ProfessorRoush-approved features as "creepy."  I would like to take that as a compliment to the ambiance of my pre-Halloween garden, but I really think she means it in a seriously derogatory fashion.  Her tone and disapproving demeanor suggest that she doesn't like the harmless "heads" dispersed in my garden.  Yes, I'm sure it is the "heads" she disapproves of.  Before you go off creating fake news, I should make it crystal clear that SWBMB (She Who Butters My Bread) is not referring to ProfessorRoush, the gardener himself, as being creepy.  At least I don't think so.

In actual fact, Mrs. ProfessorRoush doesn't like my "heads" at all and never has.  There are several disembodied heads, you see, dispersed in the garden, popping up just when you aren't really looking for them.  Merely faces, really, they provide some companionship to me in the garden while watching over the safety of the tree peony or while they just simply keep a watchful eye on the scenery.  I don't see them as "creepy" at all, but I confess that I have a thing for them, these concrete or iron mute inhabitants of my garden.  I've gathered a few over the years, still far fewer than the concrete rabbits in my garden, but the heads are growing in number.

The Lurker, pictured above, is the most startling to discover, peering out beneath a variegated eunonymus through the iris leaves, keeping the corner of the garage and driveway under surveillance at all times.  He actually is "only" a face, a concrete pour into a plastic  mold I purchased for $5.00 at a bookstore in years past.  I made just this one Lurker, but I still have the mold.  Do you think Mrs. ProfessorRoush would regret her harsh condemnation if I made a few more, say twenty-five or fifty of them, and put all over the garden?

I am really quite fond of The Iron Maiden, a grape-cluster adorned goddess permanently attached to the brick of the east side of the house.  It is she, the unyielding cast iron visage, who protects my only tree peony, sheltered with it in a spot that receives only gentle morning sun and protected from both the north and west winds. Oh, the stories she could tell of the golden peony and its resident garter snake.

Evidence suggests, however, that Mrs. ProfessorRoush's disdain and loathing is most directed at this beautiful feminine pottery sculpture, the Goddess of the Stones.  A Hobby Lobby special purchase, I bought her a number of years ago on clearance for, as I recall, the grand sum of $2.  I will freely admit that at the time I expected her to last only a short season or two, believing her to be just a little fired clay figure that would chip and disintegrate under the first few freezes.  On the contrary, she has held both her striking lines and gentle cream complexion for nearly a decade, sitting undisturbed on the limestone landscaping corner at the southeast point of the house, impervious to wind, sun, and rain.  Mrs. ProfessorRoush has repeatedly referred to The Goddess in the most disparaging terms, and she refuses to acknowledge the simple symmetry of this most comely countenance. If I could bring one of the heads to life, I would choose The Goddess of the Stones for lively lunch conversation or other diversions.

Along with the satisfaction they bring this gardener, the "heads" have one more most redeeming feature in relation to Mrs. ProfessorRoush.  They have made her completely forget, and indeed perhaps almost accept, my Kon-Tiki head, the first and largest head of my garden.  When I purchased it, nearly 20 years ago, she thought it was the most stupid thing she had ever seen in a garden.  She mellowed as the 'Rugelda' rugosa rose thrived around it, and today she hardly mentions it and certainly not in the same  association with the other heads.  It has faded from its original artificial antique green shade, now weathered concrete, and the rose around it has perished and been replaced by other plants, but it remains in the same spot as ever, watchful for the return of the gods from the east.  Perhaps it is simply less threatening to her jealous bone than The Iron Maiden or The Goddess but it's hard to argue that Kon-Tiki is far less frightening to unexpectedly encounter than the Lurker.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Helianthus horridus ssp. horrendous

Well, that's not actually its name.  I could also call it 'Sneaky Santa Fe' and that moniker might fit better, and it certainly snuck by me, but that's not its name either.  This rampant invader, my friends, is Helianthus maximilliana ‘Santa Fe’, planted in my garden in 2010 and eradicated by 2017 along with its cousin 'Lemon Yellow',  when I realized that they self-seed the 7 foot tall stalks everywhere in this climate.

Once again, to be accurate, I should say "attempted eradication in 2017."   It seems I was successful with lighter-colored  'Lemon Yellow', but 'Sante Fe', or its open-pollinated offspring, lives on.  It has persisted in the form of no fewer than 8 separate clumps which evaded my periodic weed patrols and currently grace the garden.  I've spent the summer pulling it up wherever I noticed it, all except for this spot, which is so nicely placed and healthy that even the busy Bella had to stop and pose with it.  "Any Bella-approved plant can't be all bad," I thought. "Let it grow in just this one spot, and I'll cut it down before it can form seeds."  'Santa Fe' had other plans.

It grew rampantly here, along this bed, hiding among the native goldenrod, and then swiftly sprawled this week out over the path, flattening everything in its way.  I need to cut it off before it seeds again, and I have to cut it soon to mow this area, but it is so pretty that I just can't....yet.

It also grew tall in this bed, hiding among the variegated Miscanthus and other tall ornamental grasses, but once this baby blooms, it is hard to hide, isn't it?  Beautiful and bountiful and bright.  I know that I've found other volunteer clumps in this bed this summer and pulled them on sight, but the evidence suggests that I somehow missed these.

This last little 2-foot tall-but-avidly-blooming example has cropped up in the short time since I last did a major weeding and inspection of this bed, barely a month ago.  Helianthus maximilliana  must speed up its growth as blooming time nears so that it can cast seeds as far as possible, even if it only has a few weeks to try to outshine the sun.  Is it still 'Sante Fe', I wonder, or has it evolved under the harsh Kansas conditions into something more formidable?  The Kansas version of kudzu, perhaps?  I promise, I'll cut these all down before they form seeds.  Or maybe I'll just "gift" other gardeners with the seed this year.  Perhaps this plant is like a flu virus and you have to give it away to be done with it.


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