Saturday, June 27, 2020

Hope Lost and Found

Hemerocallis 'Blue Racer'
Life, as gardening, is a constant struggle, a process of waning and waxing hopes, heart-breaking failures and all-too-infrequent successes in a never-ending circle.  Without warning, we occasionally slam headfirst into low points, spiritual nadirs that test the strengths of our soul.  A pandemic disrupts our daily routines, throwing the world into chaos with our very lives perhaps dependent on the potential danger of a trip for groceries.  A senseless killing rips apart the fabric of a nation, leaving looted cities and downed monuments in its wake.  In my own world, yesterday, a cousin, a grown man struggling and in turmoil, committed suicide on an impulse, leaving his family devastated and lost.  Hope, at such times, seems a distant mirage, far off and never closer.

Hemerocallis 'Beautiful Edgings'
Gardening mirrors life in its roller-coaster of summits and valleys.   We fight daily against drought and heat and ice and flood, relentlessly watching for enemies, ceaselessly searching for beauty.  ProfessorRoush has been wanting for rain from cloudless skies for weeks, carrying water to quench the thirst of the weakest, ripping weedy competition from the ground, watching for leaves wilting and rolling.  Hope leaks away as the buffalograss browns.

Hemerocallis 'Space Coast Color Scheme' 
In gardening and in life, we must hold faith that the storms pass and calm mornings, like this one, will come.  A heavy rain filled the emptiness of the night during my sleepless tossings, and I rose to find the ground full and soft, and this year's first 'Beautiful Edgings' covered in jewels.  New daylilies, 'Space Coast Color Scheme' (Kinnebrew, 2008) and 'Blue Racer' (Stamile-Pierce, 2011), also greeted Bella and I on our rounds of the rain gauges, rejoicing with us at the modest 1.5 inches of heaven-gifted moisture and the cooler air.

Euonymus Scale
Three peaks and a valley this morning, the latter the finding of my 'Emerald Gaiety' euonymus suddenly covered in Euonymus Scale (Unaspis euonymi) and near death.  Twenty years of euonymus without scale ended in an instant, joy replaced by worry again to begin another cycle.

'Hope for Humanity'
This year, amidst despair, I cling to the thought and the survival of 'Hope for Humanity', the wishfully named Parkland series shrub rose with a prominent position in my backyard.  She has outdone herself this season, blooming with blood-red abandon, responding to my attentions and my efforts to give her more space and sunlight this spring.  I cling to the hope that, if we care for each other and for our world as I ministered to this rose, we can all keep a little 'Hope for Humanity'.  Just a little bright hope to grow with sunlight and push through hard times.  Shaun, I know you liked roses, I wish you'd known hope better, and I pray you find peace.

'Hope for Humanity' (the purple faded rose below and to the right is a nearby 'Dr. Hugo')

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Brazen Rabbit

All right, that's enough!   ProfessorRoush has let this go on far too long. 

I thought it was bad enough when I spied one little rabbit in my front landscaping.  Then a few weeks later, Bella was staring out the window, watching it  play right on the front porch.
But, wait, I'm seeing double now!  Two rabbits?  I shudder to think what they're nibbling on deep in my perennial beds. (this one might move if you click on it...I forgot and the camera was on "Live").
Bella, get to work! They're breeding like....bunnies!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Thistle Excite You

ProfessorRoush would have a more witty and winsome post this morning, but the evening stroll last night with Bella left him speechless at the beauty.  We had a brief rain this morning and, little as it was, the flowers were all the happier because of it.   We needed the rain; even the buffalograss was about ready to call it quits.  Besides, I'm tired from swinging steel (I'll explain at the bottom).  Now I'll shut up and let you enjoy:

This 'Kaveri' lily, an Oriental-Asiatic cross I've had in the garden for 5 years.  She's tough, about 3 foot tall, and blooms her head off.   I've got several clumps and comes back year after year.  She just started to bloom, a little later than the Asiatics, a little earlier than the Oriental and Orientpet lilies. 

'Spider Man' daylily
And here, the first bloom of a new daylily for me, Hemerocallis 'Spider Man'.  This Award of Merit winner has 7 inch blooms of the brightest, most soul-quenching red you would ever want in your garden.  I'm pleased this spider-type daylily has joined mine.

These perennial sweet peas have never climbed and covered this makeshift trellis as I envisioned for them, but they bloom a nice happy shade of pink in the down season between the first bloom of the roses and the blitzkrieg of the daylilies.

I didn't plan this combination of daylily and 'Tiger Eye's sumac, but the momma sumac seven feet away suckered over next to the daylily and embraced it.  This is one of those fortuitous moments in a gardener's life that won't ever repeat, because next year this baby sumac will be too big to allow it to stay here.

Another great combination provided by the wiles of fate, this grouping of orange Asclepias tuberosa, yellow-orange Black-Eyed Susan, and the young blood-red Hollyhock all self-seeded themselves to this spot; two natives and a cultivated garden escapee.  The only thing I planted in this picture was the low-growing yellow barberry, 'Gold Nugget' which has been there for years.

Wavy-Leaf thistle
So, why am I tired?  Well, that's the fault of Mrs. ProfessorRoush.  No stop it, that's not what I mean.  Yesterday, she photographed this Wavy-Leaf Thistle, Cirsium undulatum (at least that's what I think it is), and she posted it on Facebook.  I'd been eyeing the thistles in the surrounding pasture, knowing that they were close but hoping they would wait a week to start blooming.  But no, this one had to start early, and Mrs. ProfessorRoush had to post it on Facebook right away, thus providing photographic evidence for the county authorities that I was allowing a noxious weed to populate the prairie.  I discovered late in the day that she had literally forced my hand and so I spent an hour last night swinging a machete and chopping off thistles, in the wet grass no less.  Thistles are one flower I just can't tolerate proliferating in my prairie, any more than I can abide a wife serving as an unwitting spy for the county.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Deep Purple Passions

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the purple-ist rose of all?  My rose garden was deliciously purple last week, plenty of purple pulchritude (I always wanted to use that word) to lure me down into the garden for a closer view of the sumptuous rich colors.     

'Basye's Purple'
I'll present each in turn, but how better to start than with 'Basye's Purple'?  I probably shouldn't play favorites right away, but this year, 'Basye's Purple Rose' is the best, in my opinion, of my purples.  'Cardinal de Richelieu' might have given it a run for it's money, but my 'Cardinal' is a year-old rooted cutting that only had two blooms this year, my former one perplexingly perishing several years ago.  Like-wise, 'Purple Pavement' didn't bloom well yet this year, though I have comeback hopes for that repeat-bloomer.  For now, however, it's 'Basye's Purple', a thorny mass of a bush with very thick and spiny stems that has captured center stage.  Those large, single blooms covered the bush this year, deeply velvet and brooding among the clean foliage.  Thankfully, unlike many of the other dark roses on this page, the petals of 'Basye's Purple Rose' seem impervious to the hot sun, only the golden stamens fading slowly as they age.

'Charles de Mills'
'Charles de Mills' is not really so purple in my garden, but this flat-formed, short, suckering Gallica has some purple tones and its color deepens with age.  My 'Charles de Mills' grows more as a thicket of blooms than a rose bush, but it persists and pushes forth blossoms even in the worst springs.  The heady fragrance can be sampled without bending down to the rose, and it is so packed full of petals that I'll give it a pass for being more red than purple.  I was most chagrined, writing this, to find that I've never featured 'Charles de Mills' in this blog so you'll see that my links here don't go back to Garden Musings.  I think I'm too late in it's bloom cycle to get some nice pictures of the "thicket" this year, but I'll keep it in mind for next year.

'La Reine'
Another purplish Hybrid Perpetual, 'La Reine' has been in my garden for almost a decade and it has been a trouble-free, if perhaps only mildly interesting, bush.  It requires little or no extra care and has been free of Rose Rosette disease despite it's placement next to my ailing and super-affected 'American Pillar'.  The violet blooms are fragile, almost dainty, but it's exposure is primarily to morning sun so it doesn't suffer from the hot afternoon sun.   

'Orpheline de Juliet'

I raved last year about my young deep purple Gallica 'Orpheline de Juliet', and this year's display was no different.  Those purple buttons are just jewels against the lighter green matte foliage of this rose and the fragrance is, yes, "to die for."   I simply don't understand yet why this rose isn't more widely grown because it was a fabulous addition to my garden. 

'Souvenir du Docteur Jamain'

'Souvenir du Docteur Jamain' has become one of my favorite old garden roses, and is one of the only Hybrid Perpetuals I've found to be healthy and unfailingly hardy in my garden. I can count on it for a nicely presented spring bloom, although I question how "perpetual" it is; followup blooms are rare in my garden.  It's deeply scented and has a nice vase-like form, and is completely sans thorns so that I can bring those blossoms inside with a risk of bloodshed.

'Tuscany Superb'

'Tuscany Superb' is a delicious deep purple in my garden, but I have yet to decide if this old Gallica is going to survive Kansas.  My original plant struggles, a bare couple of feet high and of straggly form.  It has provided only a handful of blooms each of the 8 years it has lived in my garden and always looks on the verge of perishing, although it has suckered about three feet away into another small struggling bush.  I love the color, but the blooms only last a day in the full Kansas sun before they shrivel into blackness.   

So, which is your favorite?  Do you agree, with me, that Dr. Robert Basye's creation is the winner?   Is 'Orpheline de Juliet' in the running?  The Gallicas and Hybrid Perpetuals have their fair share of mauve-purple hues, but most are vulnerable to the sun and lack stature.  In fact, writing this, I'm struck that lists several of those roses as 3'-5' while they struggle to reach even three feet tall here in Kansas.  'Orpheline' is pretty in the garden, in a squat sort of way.  Who does the mirror choose as the most scrumptiously purple?  Who might get a chance in your garden?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Survivor Again

I'll speak now of one of the most beautiful rose blossoms in my garden, not the bush itself, but oh my the flowers, perfection in red, a scarlet lady adorned with gold.  I've spoken of 'Survivor' before and told you of how she survived shaded by two large roses, neglected in my garden for a decade.  Today, she stands worshiped, worshiped for the pollen she carries by her 6-legged admirers and worshiped for her grace under fire by me.  This bee wouldn't leave her alone today, molesting bloom after bloom in search of sustenance for the family.  And little wonder, click on the photo to enlarge it and examine the gold dust sprinkled on those regal petals!

I have three 'Survivor's now, proliferating solely at my pleasure, an occasional division allowed to place throughout my garden.  What she lacks in form, in body, she makes up for in splendor.  The barely semidouble blooms start out tucked away but they open quickly to a very showy bloom.   Is she gorgeous?  Yes.  Is she tough, yes?  Is she red?  Red and then some.

She only produces one crop of these bejeweled flowers each year, but she blooms over such a long period that I simply don't care.  The blooms hang on and hang on, lust on display for weeks.  The first photo of this bush, taken on 5/24, was almost a week after the very first bloom on it; the second photo from a different angle mere days later, and the third, taken on 6/]7, still in full flower and under full sun and absolutely no fade of the scarlet in those velvet petals despite the 90ºF temperatures for most of last week.  It was only today that I noticed the petals were turning to fuchsia and beginning to drop, her peak at least over and out.



As I said, not much form as a garden bush, but I'd put up the individual blooms over any other rose in the garden.  'Survivor', she is and survivor, she will be, sunup to sundown, spectacular and deliciously red.  As the garden pauses between roses and summer, she carries on, bridging one cycle of the garden to the next, carrying the fire in a relay until the flames reappear in the nearby budding daylilies, red forever into fall.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Moje Hammarberg

ProfessorRoush is proud to present to you, 'Moje Hammarberg', an astonishingly well-behaved Hybrid Rugosa born of Swedish origin in the same year as my father, 1931.  I planted Moje (pronounced "moyeh") two years ago as a mail order waif, wondered if he would survive the first winter here, and then fretted as he waited out the sodden swamp of solid clay where I planted my rose garden.  Despite my pessimistic expectations, however, in this instance his obvious Rugosa genes have come through and he looks like both a keeper and a survivor.  Well, a keeper so long as he continues his current healthy manner.
Moje may be a native Swede, but he fits none of the typical statuesque stereotype that a Midwest American expects from that far Northern country.  Moje is not a Viking warrior reincarnated in rose form, he is more representative of a squat little hobbit hiding behind the more heroic figures in the garden.  Of unknown parentage, the only thing for certain about Moje is that he must have some Rosa rugosa 'Rubra' in his immediate forebears, expressed in classic thick, wrinkled  and very dense foliage and a distinct tendency towards the mauve petals of the Rugosa genes.  There is, as expected, no blackspot or disease on this rose and he seems impervious to rose rosette virus as expected of that foliage.

Unlike many of the Rugosa's however, Moje is a complete gentleman and very diminutive in habit.  Rounded  and contained, at two years of age, he stands about two feet tall and two feet wide, healthy, but not overly vigorous.  His eventual size is reportedly only 3' X 4' from most sources (Peter Beales is alone in listing he could reach 6' tall), a tiny compact mass of restrained Rugosa hardy to Zone 3b.  In fact, he's shown absolutely no signs of suckering as yet, one of only two Rugosas in my garden to completely avoid that irritating tendency.  In that regard, he resembles my 'Purple Pavement', front and center in another bed only 20 feet away from Moje.  Perhaps those two polished specimens will have a good influence on the comely but aggressive 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' in their vicinity and serve as an example to repress her wanton ways.  
The large blooms of Moje, however, are not nearly as tidy as the plant and are, in fact, a fairly unimpressive 17-25 petal mop head of mauve crepe similar in appearance to the larger and more vigorous 'Hanza'.  Suzy Verrier, writing of Moje in her Rosa Rugosa, charitably describes the 3-4" wide blooms as "lovely, large, and asymmetrical,"  which is a very nice way of saying that they have form, but no substance, color without sophistication.  Peter Beales, in "Roses" describes the blooms as "nodding," and I would agree that they seem to hang from the bush to some degree.  Moje does, however have a strong spicy Rugosa fragrance and reportedly forms large hips in the fall, which I have yet to see.  He repeats sporadically but always has a few blooms around to display, albeit the display is nothing to get especially excited about.

You can probably tell that I'm less than enthusiastic about Moje Hammarberg, disease-proof as he may be.  It's not that he's a bad rose, he's just...uninspiring, although the members of disagrees and label him "excellent."  At this stage of my experience with him, I'd recommend him as a decent basis for a rugosa hedge, perhaps for those living in salt-prone regions, but I wouldn't expect him to be the centerpiece of a garden.  He's a workhorse, not a fancied up Dressage, prancing around in splendor.  


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