Sunday, June 25, 2023

Hello, I'm Orange....ish

While mowing this morning, ProfessorRoush was also assessing the garden.  I've been absent for nearly a week and the garden has gone the way of teenagers who have slipped from parental oversight; in short, chaos and a sense of testing limits is radiating from the garden. We've lacked rain for nearly 2 months, the paltry singular decent rain of a couple weeks back merely a fond memory now.   Summer heat seems to be moving in for an extended visit, like a troublesome relative who doesn't know when to leave.   Weeds are hellbent on world domination.  

Asclepias tuberosa
I can see the buffalograss thinking about dormancy amidst the drought, and the redbud leaves are curled at nightfall, stressed and sullen.  The first rose flush has fled to the past, accompanying the peonies and lilacs along into memories.  Oriental and Asiatic lilies are budded up, but yet to color.   The garden is green, but not the green of early spring, it's now the deep green of late summer, spotted here and there by a hint of yellowed or browned foliage that has been burnt by the hot sun.   One has to look hard to see color, but it's there, hidden in shade, the early daylilies and lilies and perennials vying for attention beneath the shade.

You have to look closely beneath this volunteer Redbud in back of my house, but deep in the darkness there are small fires burning.   The prolific 'Kaveri' lilies are in full bloom, orange and rust-red in ostentatious display.   Lower, a self-seeded Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly MilkWeed) has escaped from the prairie into my border and I happily provide refuge for it in exchange for the spectacular play of sunlight and shade on its blooms and for the butterflies it attracts.    Another neighbor under the tree, the daylily 'Spacecoast Color Scheme' exerts its own orange-red theme on the venue.  Floral fires in my landscaping are, this week, the pride of my garden. 

'Space Coast Color Scheme'
Beyond these, I welcome the daylily season that's just getting started and the Knautia macedonia taking over my front landscaping, and the Shasta Daisies blooming and all the other minor garden players who contribute to the daily symphony.  There is, however, no rest for this gardener in the foreseeable future.  The second flush of roses is coming and I noted today the first Japanese Beetle on a 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup', a find that extended this weekend's garden chores with the necessity (in my view) of a good spraying of all the roses.  I am still in last year's mindset of all-out Beetle genocide, and so I sprayed and poisoned a good portion of the roses in the first preemptive strike of the season.   And then I rushed in and showered them pyrethrins away, leaving the garden to find its own way for another week.  

Sunday, June 11, 2023

2023 Manhattan EMG Garden Tour

I'm not sure, in these days of 5G cellular and massive bandwidth, whether anyone needs the warning anymore, but I suppose there are those still out there on 26K modems, so Warning:  picture heavy!  Click on the individual pictures if you want to see them in more glory then these small blog photos!

Yesterday, June 10th, was our annual Manhattan Area Garden Tour, and Thursday, June 8th was the "pretour" for the EMGs, so ProfessorRoush was on picture duty.  I took about 290 pictures on Thursday evening and over 600 hundred on the Tour and kept 836 for the homeowners and EMG's to view.  A handful are here for your enjoyment.   Each garden on the Tour gets a commemorative stone like the one above. I'll bet, however, that unlike this homeowner most of you don't think about painting stones to look like ladybugs in your gardens!   The rain prior to the Tour was a little tough on the flowers, but this 'Peach Drift' seemed to take it in stride.

This year's Tour was cloudy and took place after a hard rain the night before, while the pretour was pre-rain and sunny, which made for some gloomy tour photos that were challenging.   The photo above, my favorite of the entire set, was taken at the Thursday pretour, and the evening light through the redbuds was a happy accident which I tried my best to recreate on Saturday.   It's just impossible, however, to follow good photography principles when the light doesn't cooperate (tour photo at right).   This pair, taken of the same area in different light, is quite illustrative of the importance of good filtered light in photography.

The Garden Tour had the usual distribution of features and focal points around each garden.  One house had both a running water feature and a koi pond.   The artificial heron at this water feature looks at home in the environment but is perpetually disappointed at the lack of prey in this short waterfall.

I always make sure I get photographs of the views through garden gates and at entrances to gardens.   The gates that lead us into the garden are often as beautiful as what lies beyond them, and they often reflect the character of the garden to come.

A couple of houses had deep enough features to support water lilies, but on the actually cloudy day of the tour, it was difficult to find one blooming.  I struggled just for you, however, taking multiple exposures to grab this photo for your enjoyment.

There's always a potting bench here and there among the houses, and this Tour featured two of them tucked away from sight.   This one is my favorite of the two, although it's a little too tidied up to be believable among the garden!

The garden containing the potting bench above really needed it, however, since it contained a vast multitude of container plants in a shady sitting area.  I loved the garden but I'm glad I'm not the one who has to keep all the containers watered there, containers including wall pots and window pots and porch containers and hanging pots.

Live fauna were lacking on this year's Tour, the cloudy and cooler weather keeping bees and flies and butterflies all suppressed.  In the pretour sunny evening I was able, however, to catch this swallowtail indulging in a large planting of milkweed.  He left me a little frustrated even then because he wouldn't climb up to the top of a bloom but kept hanging off the bottom.

Garden tours are always learning events as well, and at this one I learned that my iPhone 13 can identify almost any plant and completely free of charge.  I overheard a conversation between a gardener and a visitor complaining that his ID app needed an expensive upgrade and so my world just became a lot easier.  If you haven't discovered it, take a picture, like the one at the right, and then open it in Photos.  At the bottom, you'll see an information icon "i".   Click on the "i" and it gives information about the photo, but it also has a link to "Look Up--Plant" which correctly identifies this picture as "Veronica". 

Some gardeners, as always, are really good a creating vignettes and themes in their gardens.  Bunnies and Beatrix Potter held sway in the garden containing this bench.

I finished off, as always this year, at the K-State Gardens where plants and expensive bronze statues mix as one perfect unit to show off the things that grow best in Kansas, like Mr. Crane here in the fake swamp with milkweed beside it.   Yesterday, my thought here was that if I survive the Apocalypse, be it zombie- or diety-driven, I'm coming here soon after to make sure these bronze statues have a good home and are well cared for, especially the "Rose Girl" statue who graces the entrance to the rose garden and who would make a good companion to the cement maidens in my own garden.
I bid you, at the end of this long post, adieu, until we meet again, with Old Glory as it proudly flew over one of the gardens yesterday, gardens and gardeners alike expressing their freedom of expression and the beauty of creation on the 2023 Extension Master Gardener's Manhattan Area Garden Tour. 

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Purple Poppy Pain?

The little devilish side of ProfessorRoush sometimes enjoys asking the uncomfortable questions, just to watch the answer-maker squirm a little, to make them question themselves.   I'm not at all above playing devil's advocate either, espousing opinions with which I don't agree, just, once more, to draw out that philosophical moment of realization.

So I ask today, how many of you would give up the beauty of a nice stand of Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) in order to attain that perfect thick sheen of uninterrupted blue-grass of fescue that seems to be the suburban ideal?  Purple Poppy Mallow is a sprawling wildflower in my lawn, a smothering thug which makes it hard for the buffalograss to truly compete with it for light and water, but one which blooms in drought and in rain, reliably opening to sunshine and shutting down at night.   Yes, many, myself included, weed out the dandelions and thistles from our lawns, and some even fight a continual battle against clover, and many readers here would be horrified at the stand of Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius) that I'm letting grow in the "rain gardens" of taller grass in the side yards, but I believe we should and would all draw the line at purple mallow.  

One of the benefits of simply mowing the prairie grass and not starting a "lawn" when we built our house is that I've always had a long section of Purple Poppy Mallow (left) near the driveway, which is slowly expanding across the cut lawn and has jumped this year into adjacent areas.  I suppose I'm selecting for it by mowing high, and this year I'm mowing higher than ever with my new lawnmower.   Right or wrong, my old lawnmower, set at 4 inches, mowed a lot lower than the new one at 4 inches, and I'm taking advantage of the high cut to conserve moisture and to try to help the buffalograss to spread.   The mallow seems to like being mowed high as well, the sprawling or "reclining" stems surviving each mowing.

Despite the almost-complete perfection of Mrs. ProfessorRoush as a spouse, she does lack in her environmental awareness and has in the past complained about the mallow as a weed in her vision of lawn perfection.   We'll see this year if she notices as the Purple Poppy Mallow achieves June dominance in my blooming landscape.   Although she doesn't or rarely gardens, she's not above lodging complaints with the Gardener-In-Residence if she believes something doesn't measure up to her standards.

Are you squirming at the site of the mallow stand, pictured above?  Feeling a contentment that the world is still okay, or having a little discomfort or pain?   To Purple Poppy Mallow or not, that is the question!


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