Sunday, August 25, 2019

Taking Stock

Occasionally, during the hum-drum of daily garden affairs (and often, as it happens, while mowing), ProfessorRoush's mind plays a little fantasy game.  A little game called "if I were moving, what plants and things from this garden would I want to take or duplicate?"  It's a thought experiment that can be endlessly repeated based on the size of the retirement garden to which one aspires.  And it suffices to pass the time while mowing.

This week, it was the Surprise Lilies (Lycoris squamigera) that prompted the onset of the mental gymnastics.  They've been in my garden a number of years and they never fail to surprise and delight me, as they have yet again this season.  Sometimes, in the spring, I'll see the daylily-like foliage and have to think a minute to remember not to weed it out, but I've spread these so they now pop up several places in the garden.  Whether my next garden is 10 acres or 10 square feet, I always want these Naked Ladies (their other, less politically-correct name) to pop up and delight me.

'Cherry Dazzle'
What else, from this pre-Fall period, would I want to preserve?  Well, crape myrtle 'Cherry Dazzle' is not maybe the most spectacular crape I have, but it certainly never disappoints with the color and floriferiousness and its under 2' circumference would fit in a small garden.

'Cherry Dazzle'
 I wouldn't want to live without a panacled hydrangea around this time of year, 'Limelight' or some other.  I just enjoy their brazen display when all else is turning brown.  And the Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) is starting to bloom and by next week it will be perfuming the garden from one corner to the other.  How could I go on gardening without at least one massive tower of C. terniflora?  Unfortunately, with Sweet Autumn Clematis, having just one is the difficult part since it self-seeds everywhere in my garden.

And then, last but not least on the seasonal list of plants that I would just have to move, there is the phlox 'David', massive pure white heads standing straight and tall, unmarred by sun and rain.  'David' is easily transplanted and easily propagated.  I believe it also comes true from seed, and doesn't revert to pukey majenta like many garden phlox seem to.  There actually may be an advantage to allow it to self-proliferate, because I have clumps that look identical but bloomed more than two weeks apart in the same bed.  I bought one plant of 'David', one time, and now I have 6 or 8, spaced all over the garden beds.  Yes, I divided and moved it once or twice, but it grows now in places I never placed it, where it had to have self-seeded.   

Unless, of course, it grew feet and walked.  Sometimes plants try to sneak past an inattentive gardener.

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.

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


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