Friday, April 24, 2015

Anxious Anticipation

ProfessorRoush seems to have been a little whiny about droughts and diseased roses this Spring, so I thought I would bring a brighter note to the blog, at least for this brief instant.  It is far too early for blooming roses here, except for an errant and precocious 'Marie Bugnet' currently gracing my garden, but I'll show you two roses from which I am anxiously awaiting a return performance this year.

'Snow Pavement', or HANsno, pictured above and at the left, is a rose that I've tried several times to grow from a bit of root rustled from an established plant om town, but I failed miserably until I found a specimen at a big box store last year.  I absolutely love the health and the pale lavender-white blooms of this very rugose Hybrid Rugosa. 'Snow Pavement' was bred by Karl Baum and introduced in 1984.  She grew in my garden last year to approximately 2 feet tall and wide, and should reach her mature 3 foot girth this year.  I saw two bloom cycles last year and I hope I see a few more cycles as this rose matures.  There is a moderate spicy scent.  I am, however, wondering a little about the hardiness of this rose.  Although rated hardy to Zone 3b, our hard winter blasted it down to about a foot tall for me this spring.  Of course, this was an exceptionally bad winter and I've seen several other normally tough Rugosas also smacked down to size, including usually untouched 'Conrad Ferdinand Meyer', 'Purple Pavement', and 'Blanc Double de Coubert', so just this once I'll let it slide.

A seemingly tougher addition to my garden last year was 'Charles Albanel' (pictured at right), another Hybrid Rugosa that is part of the Canadian Explorer Series.  'Charles Albanel' was bred by Svejda in 1970 and introduced in 1982.  He was a very low plant for me all last season, never reaching more than a foot tall, but he doesn't show any winter damage now and is leafing out the entire length of his canes.  He should get taller this year (normal mature height should be about 3 feet).  'Charles Albanel' seems to be a typical but not exceptional hybrid Rugosa, with mauve-rose tones, and untidy blossoms,   'Charles Albanel' is a thorny little guy, however, so I'm glad I've placed him away from the paths.   Like 'Snow Pavement', he is very healthy and I saw no blackspot on either rose last year.

Well, that's as cheery as I can be right now.  Please brace yourself for an upcoming whine about my rat-ridden tractor.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Puddle in Pink

No, the photo at the left is not a diagram of the Florida peninsula that I have outlined in pink to indicate the nesting areas of flamingos or the winter homes of manatees.  Nor am I illustrating coastal erosion nor designating the position of the continental shelf off Tampa Bay.  All of those might be useful illustrations for a discussion or lecture on those topics, but I will refrain from expounding on any of those at the present time.

This IS a rain puddle on my blacktop just past the garage pad.  In fact, it is not just any rain puddle, it is THE rain puddle, the MOST IMPORTANT puddle, the puddle that I seek after every rain to provide me with a first estimate of overnight accumulation when I want to avoid walking to my rain gauge in the morning chill.  Over the years, I've come to know what each area and depth of this puddle means in terms of rain on my prairie.  Small puddle; less than 1/10th of an inch of rain fell.  Medium puddle; rain measured in 10th's.  Large puddle; might have to watch or I'll slip when walking down the hill.  Puddle overflowing the blacktop; so rare here as to be counted with hen's teeth.

As this modest puddle illustrates, however, this past weekend did bring blessed, life-giving rain to us in several small spurts.  First there was 1/10th on Friday, then wind, then another 5/10th's on Saturday morning, then wind, then a bit more rain on Sunday.  I think we got a total of just over an inch.  We need more, meaured in feet, not inches, but at least we are now back above 50% of expected average rain for this time of year.  And the prairie is no longer coated in fine powder like the surface of the moon, nor does my clay contain cracks that Bella might fall into.

The small pink petals outlining the Saturday (larger) puddle and now floating in the smaller Sunday puddle are Redbud blossoms blown down from Mrs. ProfessorRoush's favorite tree.  Yes, the Redbud flowering period has come and again, regrettably, gone here on the Kansas prairie.  Time moves on and the gardener needs to get all those final Spring chores.  I think I saw the first blossom on 'Marie Bugnet' last night from the window.  If so, it is several weeks early, and I am running several weeks late..

Sunday, April 19, 2015

sesoR deredruM

In homage to my daughter's love of The Shining, and for Danny Lloyd's great child acting in the movie of the same name, you should read the title of this entry backwards to find the true meaning....

I had a sad start to this gardening year as I assessed the damages done by our recent cold dry Winter and still dry Spring, but I still had to face the worst moments of the season last week during my garden spring cleanup.  This Spring will hereafter live in my memory as "The Year of the Springtime Rose Massacre."  I set forth a couple of weeks ago with sharpened secateurs, honed trimmers and spade, intent on ridding my garden of any visible signs of Rose Rosette disease.  'Amiga Mia', 'Aunt Honey', 'Frau Karl Druschki', and 'Benjamin Britten' were ruthlessly ripped at young ages from my Kansas soil.  Shovel-pruned alongside them were 'Altissimo', 'Gene Boerner', 'Grootendorst Supreme', 'Calico Gal', 'Golden Princess', and 'Butterfly Magic'.  I was particularly sorry to sacrifice my favorite siblings 'Mme Isaac Pereire' and 'Mme Ernest Calvat', and I will miss their intense perfumes and come-hither blossoms this summer.  A once-blooming climber from a previous rose rustling episode was yet another casualty, forever destined to be an unnamed memory.  With malice in mind, I also took advantage of the wholesale slaughter to rub out 'Sally Holmes'.  "Sally Homely", as I refer to her, was only showing questionable signs of Rosette disease, but I pruned her on principle, a token offering to the God of Healthy Roses.

Only 'Folksinger' remains as a possible Rosette Typhoid Mary in my garden, on life support since I know she was previously infected, but in her defense she has shown no further signs since a low cane-pruning early last year, and her new growth all looks healthy at this time.  Of note, 'Golden Princess' was the second I have lost to unmistakable signs of Rose Rosette.  Out of 200+ individual roses, is that a coincidence, or is this cultivar unusually susceptible to Rose Rosette?  And stalwart survivors 'Purple Pavement' and 'Blanc Double de Coubert' died back to their roots this year.  Did these tough old Rugosas succumb only to the cold and drought of winter, or are they also silent casualties of Rosette infection?  Both appear right now to be growing back from their roots, but I've never seen the slightest winter kill before on either rose here in Kansas.

Today, I aim to continue the rose carnage, but this time I'm facing a different foe.  My beloved 'Red Cascade' was a victim of a pack rat blitzkreig this winter and I'm going to destroy their nest and free him from bondage,  You can see the mulch-formed mass of the nest in the center of the picture at the left, surrounded by all the dead and sick 'Red Cascade' canes.  I'm sure my counterattack will involve a great loss of innocent young rose canes, but I will not rest until the fascist pack rats have been pushed back to their prairie homeland.


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