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.


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