Sunday, August 24, 2014


'Podaras #2'
August, at least here in Kansas, should be renamed.  "Dog Month" might be a good choice.  Or "Browning Month".  Or just plain"The Garden is Tired" month.  Right now, as a heat spell lingers and everything green is in a life struggle to grow just a little more, my garden is certainly winding down, tired and old, unkempt and straggly.

Take, as an example, the Falso Indigo (Baptisia australis) 'Purple Smoke' below at the left.  Ignoring the fact that I've consciously tried to move or kill this particular clump three years running because it gets too large for the plants around it, I have to admit that it's a fabulous plant in May and early June, blue flowers towering above perfect blue-green foliage.  Now, it's a blackened, dried-up caricature of itself, seed pods blackened and brittle.  A good gardener would remove it now, condemned straight to a burning pile.  A bad gardener grumbles about it as he walks the dog, but puts off his seasonal cleaning and weeding until the temperature drops below 100ºF.

And the iris and daylilies all look terrible, suffering from heat and drought together, long past flowered youth.  The center of each clump tries to survive by stealing water and nutrients from their peripheral limbs, leaving the more visible outsides to dry and break. There are no signs of rebloom from the reblooming irises this year, no energy to spare for creating petal or ovary.

There are, to be sure, some bright spots in the garden.  My 'Sweet Marmalade Nectar Bush' Buddleia (otherwise known as 'Podaras #2') has decided to survive.  That's the picture at the top of this blog entry (surely I couldn't lead off with the decrepit Buddleia, could I?)  It was planted late in 2013 and the harsh winter almost did it in.  I didn't see a living sprout until late June and as some sparse gray-white foliage appeared, I've been pampering it with extra water and protection in the hope that it will gain strength and come back again in 2015.  I love the perfect foliage and bright orange flowers of this one and this morning I saw the only Monarch butterfly I've seen all year, feeding from this one bloom.

The sedums are also doing well of course, impervious to the drought and coming into their own season in the spotlight.  Autumn in the Flint Hills is a "Sedum Spectacular", in the words of auto salespeople.   Sedum 'Black Jack', backed up by Sedum 'Matrona', makes a quiet and gentle statement of survival here at the left, flower heads ready to bloom and feed the autumn insects.  I grow so many sedums here on the Flint Hills that I often forget there are roses in my garden, hidden and dormant as they are between the sedums and ornamental grasses.

I pray, this Sunday morning, that Fall comes soon to relieve the garden and gardener from our shared misery.  We're tired and both need to be put to bed for Winter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How Could It Not?

How could a storm like this one, only a few miles from Manhattan, with enough wind and lightning to wake me up at 1:00 a.m., still not drop any rain on us?  I was sound asleep, but startled wide awake to howling wind and rattling screens.  Our bedroom was lit up by almost continuous lightning flashes. The entire line of storms was
coming straight at us, west to east, bearing down quickly.  Oh, Joy!

But I knew something was wrong.  There were no watches or warnings on the local TV channels; a bad omen because these days the weather people seem to panic at every drizzle. The lightning was abundant, but was what we oldtimers call "heat" lightning; flashes of lightning high in the atmosphere without any accompanying thunder to scare the children.  All this fury and force, probably creating rain that was evaporating before it could reach the ground.  Curses.

We've seen no rain from mid-June through August 9th, almost two entire months during our hottest time of year.  On the positive side, I hadn't mowed my yard since July 1st.  On the negative side, the roses are not very prolific right now and things are drying up before their time.  We did have a brief respite on the weekend of August 10th, with a total of 1.9 inches of rain over three days.  That momentarily filled in the cracks and resulted in me having to mow down the weeds in the grass on August 17th.  But we're already dry again and the next few days are forecast to hit the 100's.

Please be warned.  I promise you that the next time I see something like this on radar, day or night, I'm going to do everything possible to see that it rains.  I'll rush out to water the hopeless lawn, I'll spray the weeds with weedkiller, and I'll quickly have the car washed and then leave it out to be rained on.  Heck, if the clouds form nearby but I see them start to move, I'm going to run out naked and do a rain dance.  Surely it won't come to that, but desperate times call for drastic measures.  You might want to drive by my house with blinders on for a bit, just in case.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Buck Rose Tease

Allamand Ho

There are a number of Griffith Buck-bred roses that are less than a season old in my garden and  I don't have enough experience with them to post full descriptions yet.  I thought, however, here in the August doldrums, that I could introduce them to you as "coming attractions" for next year.

'Allamand Ho' is going to be an interesting rose.  Although I planted this rose in May, this is the first bloom I've seen and I never expected the mix of pink and pale yellow that it is showing me.  Later blooms have also been as pink-rimmed and pale as this one.   I could only find one previous picture of this rose on the web, which was a much brighter yellow with less pink than mine seems to have.  One fact I can already tell you about it is that flowers are very slow to open up.  The buds seemed to take forever to reveal themselves, similar to .Paloma Blanca'.  Dr. Buck named 'Allamand Ho' from a square dance term given him by a friend.  

'Sevilliana' is a 1976 introduction with some nice stippling on the petals.  It starts out with an a pink bud so bright it is almost red, and it opens very quickly with lots of golden stamens.  She seems similar to several other stippled Buck roses and I'm biding time to see what may separate her from the pack.  'Sevilliana' was named to commemorate the music and dancing of Seville, Spain.

The Magician
'The Magician' has been quite varied in the coloring of its semi-double flowers and I had high hopes for it as a unique specimen.   Unfortunately, it started showing some rose rosette symptoms early after planting and I cut it back to the ground a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to prevent losing the bush.  Sadly, I suspect I'm going to lose this bush and will have to start over.

'Countryman', although  a small bush, is loaded with flowers, prolific to the point of forgetting to grow in stature.  The flowers are a very bright pink and she is showing signs of being more fully double as later blooms have opened.  If you prefer your roses in bright pink, I believe 'Countryman' has the potential to be a show horse in the garden.

'Hermina' has a pretty bright pink blossom with edges tending towards a lighter, almost white rim.  The rose also has a white reverse and white center.  The flowers are on the small size for a Buck rose, however, about 2.5 inches diameter at present.  They seem to be borne in solitary form but there are many flowers on the bush right now.  I like the white centers but I wish the blooms were larger.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...