Saturday, July 31, 2021

New Life, New Roses

You know how it is with proud new fathers, right?  Every gurgle, every smile, every first step of the infant is celebrated, photographed, and immortalized?   Well, ProfessorRoush  is absolutely no different with his infant roses, chronicling every new leaf and fretting over every new threat.  

The gorgeous little blush pink darling seen here to the right is the second bloom of one of two seedlings I was able to keep alive this year, from the first tiny sprout in late February clear through to transplantation into the garden proper.  I'm disturbed that I had better light this morning (see the movie at the bottom), but had my iPhone set to "video" and when I went to rephotograph her for this afternoon, the weather is cloudy, and sprinkling, and the light is terrible for her.  

Her first bloom, shown to the left as she opened in late April, showed me a lot of promise, a full double with delicate petals of a faint pink hue, but I am more thrilled to see now that she is remonant, blooming again today with two other buds waiting in the wings.

She's been healthy so far, protected from the rabbits by her milk jug collar and under full Kansas sun, and the bloom at the top appears undamaged by our heat and the rain, but of course she has to go a long way to prove herself before I trouble to name her.  Most important will be her winter hardiness, for I will not protect her from weather, just from marauding deer as the fall approaches.   A chicken wire cage is coming soon!

I have another new seedling, planted a few yards away, also healthy but she has yet to bloom.  Of course, I have no idea of the provenance of either rose although the foliage of each resembles its sister; both are the unknown orphans of a bunch of rose hips gathered in a hurry as the winter closed in and planted into a peat moss garden in the house under artificial lights.  Most of the hips were from Hybrid Rugosas, but neither seedling shows any signs yet of Rugosa heritage.  From her appearance, the one that has bloomed looks most like the English Rose 'Heritage' from my garden, the same delicate petals, similar bloom color and leaf form.  Sadly, I have no idea if I grabbed hips from 'Heritage' during my fall frenzy.

Keep your fingers crossed, my friends, and I'm open to suggestions for naming and for christening presents from godparents.  I gave both roses some extra water today after our week of 100ºF+ temperatures and dry conditions, but otherwise, they're on their own.  At least the Japanese Beetles have disappeared, their summer cycle of irritating this gardener at an end.  

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Fabulous Fuchsias

Buzz™ Velvet
Standing out, even from a distance, from the daylily yellow and oranges, from the hydrangea whites and green ornamental grasses, are a few eye-catching, awe-inspiring plants that are cheerfully dragging ProfessorRoush with them through the hot weather of late June.  Some might call them pink, some might call them "hot pink," but they are the definition, the epitome of fuchsia.   Fuchsia color without fuchsia genetics, you might say.

The most vivid, screaming at me from far away in the garden as I peer out my window each morning, is Buddleia 'Buzz™ Velvet', a  2014 planting in my garden introduced to commerce by the venerable British firm, Thompson and Morgan.  I've grown a number of Buddleia cultivars over the years, but this one and 'White Profusion' are the only ones that have stood the test of time and Kansas weather.  The latter may survive only because it's southern exposure and protection from north winds from the house behind it, but 'Buzz™ Velvet' is exposed out in the middle of the garden, protected only by some dead ornamental grass in the winter.     

Buzz, if I can use that shortened moniker, stands about 5 foot tall and is blooming its head off at the moment.   A dazzling vision from the house, I'm showing you the opposite viewpoint here, because looking from the deeper garden towards the house and barn, it is the backdrop to Hibicus 'Midnight Marvel' and the blue-foliaged seed-pod-ed remains of Argemone polyanthemos, the white prickly poppy that I allow to grow there.  Yes, I like Buzz™ Velvet, as do the butterflies who are all over it, all the time.

'Moje Hammarberg'
Marking the corner of a nearby rose bed, fuchsia-pink 'Moje Hammarberg' is also a bright bloomer, although a more diminutive one.   I've written of 'Moje Hammarberg' before, and I still have high hopes for this rose as a survivor in my garden.  He's still short, 2.5 feet tall at 3 years old, and he's a little wider at 3 feet around, but those loose fuchsia blooms are plentiful and were moderately untouched by the Japanese beetle invasion this year.  

 'Moje Hammarberg's lack of attractiveness to beetles is most interesting to me right now, almost as interesting as its fuchsia coloring.  He stands only six feet away, directly across from and mirrowing 'Hanza'.   'Hanza', has nearly the same color, the same rugosa foliage, a little larger bush, and the same loose bloom form, but it is a beetle magnet  In fact it is host for the massive orgy of beetles at the top of another recent blog entry.  The primary difference I can see between the bushes is not one of appearance, but of fragrance;  'Moje Hammarberg' has a little fragrance, while 'Hanza' is loaded with a spicy aroma.  Is that the attraction?   Are Japanese Beetles more apt to attack fragrant roses?   Or is the whole thing just one big fuchsia-tinted coincidence this year?   Inquiring gardeners want to know. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Just Housekeeping

 Folks, I'm confused about what's happening with Feedburner and email subscriptions to this blog at the end of the month, but in an attempt to keep subscribers, if you stop getting emails from this blog, keep coming back to the original at until I get the subscription fixed, or try the Feedburner feed direct at

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Changelings and Oddities

When one gardens long enough, and within a large enough garden, mislabeled plants and unexpected seedlings and woebegone cultivars will eventually apparate at will and often in surprising numbers and places.  And I'm not referring to the occasional 'Doctor Huey' rootstock that takes the place of your favorite rose after a long cold winter, nor to the frequent peony seedlings that I encounter in the garden and have spoken of before.  I'm talking specifically about those Flying Dutchman- and Mary Celeste-type mysteries that befuddle the mind and are spoken of later in soft-whispered legends after nightfall.

This Viburnum lantana pictured here and, at fruit, above, was once a green and gold-leafed variegated form that pleased me so much for a few years and has now been replaced by this more bland-leafed but still beautiful shrub.   The original plant just seemed to wither and die two years ago as this changeling sprung up a couple of feet closer to the edge of the bed.  I don't know if this imposter is a seedling or some rootstock from the plant I purchased, but the taller it grew, the more the original plant faded.

I'm never surprised when a variegated plant gets overwhelmed by a reversion to a fully-chlorophyll-ed mutation, having seen it in sedums and euonymus, and lots of other perennials, but I was initially disappointed at the loss of the variegation in the V. lantana.  Now, however, I'm reconsidering that disappointment while the contrast of foliage and bright red fruit is providing a fine ornament to the garden, whether the weather is wet and cloudy, as above, or bright and sunny, as it was this morning.  A gardener should never look a gift wayfaring shrub in the seed head, to mangle a phrase.

And then there are the surprise volunteer seedlings of other plants than peonies in the garden.   I recently noticed that this brassy yellow daylily has sprung up in a bed composed entirely of irises (with only a few Asian lily bulbs scattered among them), and I have no idea how it got there.   Now, granted, some of these iris were moved from a bed that contained both daylilies and irises, but there are several reasons I don't think it was accidentally just transplanted.   

First, this volunteer seems to be growing in the middle of the 5 or 6 year old iris clump and it was never there before.  Second, there are no other yellow-ish daylilies in my garden, anywhere, that are identical enough to be the parent clump.   The most similar daylily I have at present is 'Hesperus', the 1950 Sprout Medal winner, but the latter has wider petals, is a little less brassy, and is more fragrant than my garden-crashing volunteer.  No, I think this is a new daylily, a random seed scattered by a bird or rodent that happened to like the soil here. 

My volunteer daylily
So, feel free to compare and contrast, 'Hesperus' above at right and the brassy interloper here at left, but I'm certainly not going to complain at a free daylily.  I'll move it, this fall, to a place on its own, perhaps into a new bed with other volunteer seedlings of my garden.   I consider it, as I stated before, an afterlife effort to drive the next owner crazy as they try to identify the plant or its provenance from my messy garden notes, a vain attempt to continue to influence the garden from places beyond.  If gardeners can't find satisfaction in this life, it's one way to have a good laugh in the next. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Surrender of ProfessorRoush

When the detailed annals of twenty-first century gardening history are collected and indelibly written to the internet, today will be noted as the day that ProfessorRoush grudgingly conceded his unwilling submission to the Japanese Beetle horde.   I have lost my solo battle here on the Kansas Flint Hills, completely and irrevocably, crushed by the sheer prolific mass of beetle fertility.  How many beetles do you count on the single 'Hanza' flower at the upper left?  There are at least 14 engaged there in disgusting Caligulan debauchery by my count.   

Poor 'Hanza'
I wave the white flag at last, an unworthy descendent of the heros at Thermopylae, Masada, and the Alamo.  Despite twice-daily rounds of the battlefield under the searing summer sun, hand-picking and crushing the chitinous slobs as they fornicated in their own frass, and occasional mass desperate dispersals of chemical weapons, I can no longer pretend to be winning and must face defeat.  I know the war was lost long ago in the eastern and southern United States, but the battlefront continues its westward move.  The closely-cropped beetle mass at the top is only the most visible today.  Looking at the greater picture (at right) tells the true story, with smaller numbers of beetles on all the nearby blossoms, foreground and background.  At night, I dream now only of the crunch of the beetle masses as they feast on the roses, of their laughter during coitus in the bright Kansas sun.   

Beetles on 'Martin Frobisher'
I blame my defeat on many factors, not the least of which is lack of a national sense of emergency.  Forget the concerns of ecology and species diversity, Japanese Beetles hold no value to the world.   The extinction of these lazy disgusting creatures would make no measurable impact on the world's ecology.  They have no enterprise, no natural predators, no redeeming virtues to promote their preservation, seemingly existing for the sole purpose of consumption, defecation, and procreation.  Where are, I ask, the chemists to create a poison aimed directly at the demise of this sole species?   Where are the enterprising engineers to envision a fleet of affordable micro-drones capable of capturing beetles to transport and release in the fires of  Hell?  Where are the biologists to create infertile clouds of male beetles to slow their spread, or to genetically manipulate a lethal virus specific to Japanese Beetles ?  Where is, Lord Darwin, the evolution of the insectivore who views beetles and beetle frass as a delicacy?   

Today's pyrethrins and insecticidal soaps are worse then worthless on adult beetles.  Yesterday I drenched these beetle clumps directly in modern insecticidal death and an hour later, they still moved and defecated on poor virginal white 'Blanc Double de Coubert' at abandon. I dream, at times, of finding and deploying an old bottle of DDT.  Would it be worth a Silent Spring or three to rid the earth of Japanese Beetles?  I hear now only, in my mind, the Beetle Voldemort laughing at poor Professor Dumbledore; "You've lost, old man."

Daylily 'Sonic Analogue'
Future minstrels will not sing ballads to the losing effort of ProfessorRoush, but upon reflection I take solace that I am a true descendent of those at Masada and the Alamo. After all, despite their valiant and principled stands, they lost too, surrounded by enemies too numerous to count, without aid from the greater world.  If there is hope for the gardening world, it is in Old Garden Roses, resistant to Rose Rosette disease and too early to be ravished by Japanese Beetles, and also in daylilies.  I leave you with this 'Sonic Analogue' daylily, seemingly immune at present to the beetle appetites.  I may have laid down my weapons, but I keep hope that beetle predators will evolve faster than beetle defenses and these daylilies will remain to brighten the rest of my summer days.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Sunshine, Lilies, and Beetles

ProfessorRoush has been waiting breathlessly for these 'Kaveri' lily buds to open, desperately afraid that a strong wind or the neighbor's dog would take them down prior to their display.  They seem to have self-seeded or spread over about a 10 foot area and they're all strong and healthy.  Not bad for a free gift from a gardening company!

And other lilies are holding sway right now, the taller accompaniment to the daylilies which are coming in.  To the left, Orientpet 'Purple Prince' holds a proud place as the protector of a 'Beautiful Edging' daylily on my front walk.

Nearby, this group of 'Yellow Dream' and 'Purple Prince' (below)  will brighten up the area in front of the garage for the next two weeks. You know from my previous posts how much I wait for and love 'Yellow Dream'.   Downwind from this group is always a sweet fragrance treat that I have to stop each time and admire.  'Purple Prince', himself, is maybe not so pretty (at right), but he's a strong and stalwart fellow in the garden.

And then, somewhere in the back garden, this first of Asiatic's paints it's blood-red way among my viburnums.   I always see this lily first, only to watch it fade as the rest come on.

Last but not least, this is obviously not on a lily, Orientpet or Asiatic, but I always try to mark the first arrival of Japanese beetles in this blog so that I can keep track of them.  And here one is, first found on June 28, 2021, on top of  'Fru Dagmar Hastrop', frass sprinkled among the petals.  Thankfully, the disgusting creatures prefer this rose and 'Blanc Double de Coubert' and leave the others alone.  The spray I'm using doesn't seem to make any difference, sadly.  I'm just hand-picking and gleefully smashing under my heels.  Quite a sad comment on the activity of an otherwise peaceful gardener.


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