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.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Foxi Pavement

There are roses that you love from the first glimpse, and roses that sometimes have to earn your love over time.  ProfessorRoush is here, live on blog, to tell you that 'Foxi Pavement' is just another potential Hybrid Rugosa that you've heard of and don't really care about, right up until finally you grow her.  I promise that 'Foxi Pavement' will grow ON you as it grows IN your garden, just as it did for me.

'Foxi Pavement,' also known as Luberon®, UHLater,  and, inexplicably, as "Buffalo Gal" (the approved ARS Exhibition name), is a 1987 introduction Hybrid Rugosa by Jürgen Walter Uhl.  Well, according to she's a 1987 introduction, but Modern Roses 12 lists her under 'Buffalo Gal' as a 1989 introduction.  As readers know, because of the rose rosette catastrophe which struck here, I've chose to grow as many roses with R. rugosa heritage as I can find, regardless of their color or form.  I may not have formed the most perfect display rose garden, but the experience has made my garden into an exquisite testing ground for roses I might not otherwise have bothered after.  'Foxi Pavement' is one of those roses that I'm happy to have happened across.

In my Kansas climate, she is often a little frazzled and worn, but she's resilient and seldom without a few flowers. All the pictures on this page were taken this week, in a random moment while I was mowing.  Her R. rugosa genetics show up in the heavily rugose, light-green foliage and complete disease resistance.  The pictures on this page are of a mature 'Foxi Pavement' near the hot end of summer, only the slightest bit of blackspot near the bottom of the plant and a little mild insect damage on the unsprayed plant.  Most importantly, there are no signs of rose rosette disease anywhere on my 4 year old plant.  Her mature size is 4 foot tall and 5 foot wide in my garden, and the semi-double to mildly double flowers (17-25 petals officially) have a strong R. rugosa fragrance.  She is completely cane-hardy with no die-back in my Zone 5-6 climate, and she sets fantastically large hips after bloom, giving her a second season of display in my garden.

When compared with the other Pavement roses, that I grow, 'Foxi' is the intermediate color choice between pale 'Snow Pavement' and dark 'Purple Pavement', with a size and form bigger than the latter and identical to the former.  One big advantage of 'Foxi Pavement' is that she doesn't show any signs of suckering.  In my garden, 'Purple Pavement also hasn't suckered, but 'Snow Pavement' suckers occasionally and 'Dwarf Pavement' is a diminutive (2 foot tall) monster, spreading over 5 years to cover a 10 foot wide area in one of my garden beds.

'Foxi Pavement has earned her permanent place in my garden and I'd recommend her in any garden.  I grow a distant and better known relative, 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' nearby, and comparing the two, I think I much prefer 'Foxi' over 'Fru Dagmar'.  'Foxi' is taller and more upright, and although the lavendar-pink tone is similar to 'Fru Dagmar', I think 'Foxi' is a brighter pink, perhaps helped out by her higher petal count.  Both plants are very healthy and their gorgeous hips are almost identical in number, color, and size.   Remember, ProfessorRoush likes big hips and he cannot lie...(don't hesitate to click the link here, it's SFW...mostl)

Also...pretty proud of himself, and I'm sure you're pleased, that ProfessorRoush avoided any puns or plays on the 'Foxi' name.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Interlude

I promise you, I'll get around to making this post garden-related, but ProfessorRoush and Mrs. ProfessorRoush had the opportunity last weekend to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in concert in Manhattan, Kansas, and I want the world to know it.  We had great tickets, didn't we?  They are one of ProfessorRoush's favorites and I often play their music during surgery.  Yes indeed, your dog may have had its leg repaired to the tune of Mr. Bojangles!

Fifty-three years, 53 YEARS(!), this band has been entertaining gardeners and anti-gardeners alike.  Two original members of the band, Jeff Hanna (guitar and lead vocal) and Jimmie Fadden (drums, harmonica, etc), still lead it, along with Jeff's son, Jaime Hanna (guitar), and current members Bob Carpenter (keyboards), Jim Photoglo (guitar), and Ross Holmes (fiddle, mandolin).  That's Jaime at the far left and Jeff next to him, with Ross in the brown jacket, Bob at the keyboard, and Jim in the background.  Jimmie Fadden was a little hard to see (he's behind Jeff) from our vantage, but he's an amazing musician.  I was astonished at the sheer talent displayed by all the members, all of whom are also lead and background vocalists on various songs as well as musicians.  Unfortunately, they are so good in person, they made ProfessorRoush's dreams of becoming a rock star fade into the distance.

If there's ever a musical band that a gardener can get down with, it's got to be the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, doesn't it?  I mean, even the band's name draws gardeners down the path towards them, you dig? Let alone the songs they've done.  Do you think any gardener can really resist Buy for Me the Rain?  Listen to the lyrics: (You-tube link if you click here)

♫Buy for me the rain, my darling, buy for me the rain; Buy for me the crystal pools that fall upon the plain. And I'll buy for you a rainbow and a million pots of gold. Buy it for me now, babe, before I am too old.

Buy for me the sun, my darling, buy for me the sun; Buy for me the light that falls when day has just begun. And I'll buy for you a shadow to protect you from the day. Buy it for me now, babe, before I go away.

Buy for me the robin, darling, buy for me the wing; Buy for me a sparrow, almost any flying thing. And I'll buy for you a tree, my love, where a robin's nest may grow. Buy it for me now, babe, the years all hurry so.♫

Need I go on?  Of course, I must.  A Kansas gardener can always Stand a Little Rain.  I can practically hear the brook in Ripplin' Waters and I like to Make a Little Magic in the garden as often as I can.  And when the day is done, it's ProfessorRoush singing to the Mrs.;  ♫Lazy yellow moon comin' up tonight, shinin' through the trees.  Crickets are singing and lightning bugs are floatin' on the breeze.  Baby get ready.  You and me going Fishin' in the Dark.  Lying on our backs and counting the stars where the cool grass grows.♫

Fifty-three years and counting!  Rock on, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, rock on!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Please, Fall, Come.

ProfessorRoush is absolutely, assuredly, positively, unquestionably, and undoubtedly ready for Fall.  Things out there in the greater garden are looking bedraggled and I'm decisively ready for Fall.  I'm tired of mowing the lawn every week without fail and I'm surely ready for Fall.  The lilac leaves are mildew-ing and dropping and both they and I are conclusively ready for Fall.  Everything is overgrown and I'm losing to the weeds and I'm categorically ready for Fall.  Come on over, Fall!

I woke this morning to the perfect hint of Fall, but I have yet to be convinced that we will see it.  There was moderate fog around and I love the fog for its dampening of sounds from town and the sense of isolation it brings.   The view above, straight into the garden and lacking the usual houses on the horizon, takes me back 10 years in an instant, to a time before those houses were built and it was just us and the sky to the south.  Click on it and dive in with your soul.  And the view below, at a slight eastern angle to the first, picks up the longhorn cattle grazing in the pasture and my neighbor's pond beyond.  Serenity at its finest.  Don't you feel calmed by the scene?

It has been such a weird gardening year with the rain and all.  If you knew anything of Kansas, you should know that the garden above should be browning by now, if not completely August-drought-dry.  Instead, the growth is nearly as green as at the beginning of spring, as it has been all summer long, just beginning to show the changes of grass color to the reds of fall. I've never, since moving to the prairie, mowed every week all summer and by this time of year I'm usually able to cut every other week if not just once a month.

I checked on Friday, and through that day, we've had 42.18 official inches of rain in 2019, an increase over average rain of 14.76 inches, or in other terms, 54% more than the average annual rainfall through September 6th!  Climate change or coincidence?  Just for those following the fictions of Al "the Arctic will be ice free by 2014" Gore, the high and low temperatures here for September 6, 2019 were 94ºF and 68ºF respectively.  The records for that date are a high of 106ºF set in 1913 and a low of 42ºF set in 1962.  If climate change it must be, I think I'd prefer the extra rain and today's temperatures versus the high of 1913.  In fact, even 1913 seems to be a weird record since the majority of the high temperature records in this area were established in the Dust-Bowl 30's. 

The strangest part of this year, to me, was that because of all the wet weather, my garden's fairy ring never materialized.  I have an enormous fairy ring in my garden, which I've never written about but have intended to.  In recent years, it has approached more than 50' in diameter, old and growing every year.  Instead, I waited and waited and they almost never came.  These two mushrooms above, the smaller posing for a close-up in the photo below, just popped up in the fairy ring yesterday and are the only two I've seen anywhere in the garden this year.  Since the same official rainfall records note that we are -0.72" behind our annual average rain for September (making the earlier part of the year even more wet in comparison), is it that this fairy ring only dances in drought times?  Inquiring minds would like to know.


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