Sunday, March 21, 2021

Commence Operation Daylily

Here in Kansas, the weather seems to be turning, and when the wind stops blowing for brief instances of time, ProfessorRoush can get outside,experience fresh unmask-filtered air, and see what he's been missing all week as he drives into work in darkness and comes home too tired to visit the garden.  As you can see, my Magnolia stellata burst into bloom on Friday, the first spring shrub to show up this year.   The petals are a little brown on the edges and that alluring musky fragrance is barely detectable in the nippy air, even without the mask, but it's a sure sign that spring has arrived. 

I was able to take advantage of a productive few hours on Saturday, the sun just warm enough to allow me to shed a coat and the wind just quiet enough to let me pile up some debris, so I frantically attacked the back bed, ripping out the dry remnants of peonies and daylilies.  Those piles build up quickly, as you can see to the right, but only two trips with the sheetbarrow down the hill to the burn pile and they were gone.  

This bed, as you can see, now looks much more tidy, as tidy as I'm ever willing to make it.  I'm not a fanatic about picking up every stray strand of debris; the Kansas wind and God will do the rest.  But it is clean enough that the fully-blooming daffodil clumps that live here in a full southern, unshaded exposure now look much happier in their upgraded surroundings, reflecting back the sunshine in their cheery yellow faces.

As soon as the bed was cleared, I also executed a long-held plan to fill this area pictured to the right with daylily divisions from other areas; the most beautiful daylilies of my garden.   Formerly, this area held an overgrown and suckering bayberry bush that never caught my fancy, and a struggling lilac that the bayberry had strangled nearly to death.  Resolving last year to fill it with daylilies, I had staked out the best of my daylilies as they bloomed, the larger clumps all over the garden that were ready for division.  Twenty or so divisions later, an equal number of holes dug, a little water sprayed around, and the deed was done.  You can see one of the staked daylilies in the picture above.

Why daylilies, you might be asking?   Well, an old gardener, like ProfessorRoush, is also a wise gardener.  The fleeting gardening whims and indiscretions of my youth are far behind me, set aside and subdued by the realities of sore hands and thighs and a hundred scars.  To be a wise gardener, one becomes a simple gardener, and no plant creates beauty and requires less care on the Kansas prairie than a daylily.  Plant them, watch them bloom, and each year  it requires only a few seconds of the removal of dead debris and they're renewed again, a cycle of gracefulness and self-sufficiency that I can't turn down.  As I age with my garden, I turn to daylilies more and more often to provide color and carefree joy in the hot Kansas sun.  I'll show you this area again, later this summer, so we can enjoy the "fruits" of my labor together.

Friday, March 12, 2021

I'll Take It!

This is how Spring arrives in Kansas; not slowly, surreptitiously, slinking into sight, but with a sudden screeching shout of "Here I am!" and "Hello, it's me again!"   I was thrilled last evening, arriving home just before sunset, to glance out the back window and see this bright yellow face turned up towards my window, welcoming me from winter into heaven.

Three short weeks ago, it was -17ºF one morning, the ground rock hard and unnurturing, the air as dry and crisp as a potato chip.  Two Saturdays past, I got outside for the first time this year, spread a little straw down where the mulch was thin, trimmed a couple of fruit trees, and prayed for warm weather.  Last Saturday, I officially kicked off the gardening year, weeks behind, clearing two beds, spreading more straw, and protecting the just-growing ornamental onions from ungulate nocturnal predators. But still, Spring I felt, was but a distant dream.

This week, however, the temperatures rose rapidly into the 70's for several days, the daffodils shot up from nothing, and lilac and forsythia buds swelled.  With colder weather forecast tomorrow, I didn't expect to see anything actually BLOOM, but there was my garden, faithfully feasting on the sun's rays and defiantly leading the way to a new season.  Not to be outdone by their taller, brasher daffodil friends, the sky-blue scilla, left here, and crocus, below at right, were also blooming near the path, leading me to happiness with every step.

The next four days are colder and rainy, but I don't care.  That thawing ground out there is bone dry and could use a week of rain.   I'm renewed now, confident that somewhere, just around the corner and another week away, Spring waits for me.  I'll meet you there soon, my friend, loppers and Hori-Hori in hand, heck-bent to feel the damp earth in my hands and the sunshine on my face. 


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