Saturday, July 4, 2015

Opinionated Gardening

'Stella de Oro'
Are all gardeners so opinionated, or is it just ProfessorRoush?  Because he has definite opinions about almost everything in his garden.  Sometimes even he tires of his opinions, his interminable rants about disease or weeds or flower color or poor performance that keep him from enjoying the garden.  Is it really necessary to constantly pontificate about whether this rose is better than that one, or how one grass is a thug, sprawling over everything in its vicinity, while another grass adds a really nice structure to the garden?

Take, for instance, his opinion about 'Stella de Oro'.  If you've read his blog for more than a few days, you know he detests the orange-yellow color of 'SDO'.  You've seen him rant about how tired he is of seeing it everywhere, often displayed in combination with a purple barberry or a group of banal junipers. One of the reasons that ProfessorRoush believes in a single deity is that creating 'SDO' as the most reliable, easy to propagate and longest-blooming daylily on Earth is surely a little cosmic joke made while God was in a good mood and resting on the Seventh Day.

'Happy Returns'
There are certainly better alternatives.  'Happy Returns' blooms a little less frequently, but the two fewer shades of orange in 'Happy Returns' makes it a much prettier addition to the landscape.  It is just as healthy and, these days, just as easy to find.  But, I guess it just doesn't contrast with purple barberries as well so it doesn't satisfy the peasant sensibilities of modern landscape designers.  And there are similarly named Stella's, such as 'Purple de Oro', which should be better, but they're less healthy and don't bloom nearly as often, at least for me.  The latter also isn't that purple, but that's another rant entirely.

Don't get me wrong, I grow 'Stella de Oro' in spades.  ProfessorRoush wouldn't, with his unlimited mental budget for plants, but I do.  In fact, a few weeks ago, it was the primary blooming plant in the landscaping in front of my garage, as you can see below.  'SDO's are almost all of the yellow that you see here, with the exception of a single 'Happy Returns' at center left.  In my defense, I'd like to tell you that I was a beginning gardener at the time and didn't know any better, but, truthfully, I grew 'SDO' in a garden before this one and I also hated it there.  Unfortunately, if you want to buy a lot of daylilies on the cheap at big box stores, you get 'Stella de Oro', sometimes even when it is labeled as something else.  And I was working on my budget, not that of ProfessorRoush's.  Thankfully, as I'll blog about in a few days, the 'SDO' are resting now and other, more attractive, daylilies and lilies are center stage.

Some would suggest that ProfessorRoush should strive to develop a more open mind and keep his opinions to himself.  But then what would he write about?  Endless essays about the beauty of every living creature would either cause his arteries to explode from the suppressed inner tensions or, alternatively, he would quickly run out of complimentary English language adjectives and his writing would be as boring as a landscape composed entirely of purple barberries and 'Stella de Oro's.  Writing, and gardening, is so much more satisfying if you can make use of all the options available.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lily Confederacies

ProfessorRoush has enjoyed a bountiful season of Asiatic lilies this year.  It is currently at its peak and I have been taking and collecting photographs of all the individual blooms to share the beauty on Garden Musings.  I may do that later, but right now, I thought I'd share a few of the accidental, but still stunning scenes that the lilies and I have created together.

There is, for instance, this photo of my Totally Zen Frog, sitting now among the lilies, resting among the color.  I once thought of placing a similar stone throne opposite the frog so that I could meditate along with him, but I know I never sit down long enough to make that worthwhile.  Still, if I had surrounded it with similar lilies, would it have enticed me to slow down and enjoy a moment?

And here, on the right, tall and stiff 'Karl Foerster' stands as a backdrop to these white and blood salmon lilies.  If you've read through this blog, you know that I'm not a fan of the overused 'Karl Foerster', but here, in this moment, he adds some nice airiness to the sold and stiff Asiatic lily blooms, white smiling boldly up, blood salmon shyly down.

At left, bright red rugosa hybrid 'Linda Campbell' compliments these orangish and pink Asiatic lilies nicely.  I love how the pink Asiatic is folding a stem down over the 'Linda Campbell' bloom, as if to cuddle with it.

Sometimes, it's a combination of different perennials or grasses with the lilies that add up to create a delicious photo of the whole.  Here, pink and orange Asiatic lilies combine with a creamy aging Yucca filamentosa bloom and some dark purple daylilies.

And at left, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Strawberries and Cream’ provides stripes to tie together the composition of the three different Asiatic lilies around it.  

Other times, it's the lilies themselves that just make a pretty production.  At right, the cream and pink Asiatic lilies stand out well against the aging prairie hay mulch and the healthy lilac foliage behind them.  And below, this group of pink, white and yellow Asiatic lilies trail off into the smaller yellow of 'Happy Returns' daylilies to the lower left of the photo, seemingly shrinking to infinity beyond the frame, evolving, if you will, into another species right before our eyes.

I'll end with my "Gentleman Rabbit", a small statue that usually guards the path into my lower garden.  Today, he's holding a bouquet for your pleasure, an invitation to come and enjoy the garden whenever you find the time.  In my garden, Asiatic lilies have held center stage for the past 2 weeks, and they're making way for the Orientpets and Oriental lilies to come.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sunday Scissor-Tail Snapshot!

Oh, you can't fathom the frustrations ProfessorRoush has endured this season while fruitlessly chasing this phantom, frustrations built on a foundation of years of failure.  I can't count the number of times I've tried to capture this feathered fiend in digital dots, a number that surely equals the number of times I've cursed over poor results.  How many trips up and down the blacktop road in front of the house have I made, stalking this Scissor-Tail?  How often I've glimpsed this graceful creature, camera-less, and how often he remained hidden when I had a decent camera at hand.  Once, weeks past, I chased him down the road, coming close enough to capture a far off silhouette, but never close enough for more than a speck of fickle Flycatcher on the frame.

Tonight, we set off for a carryout pizza run, and there he was, perched boldly on the fence, not 30 feet from my driveway.  And once more, there I was again, no camera at hand.  When we returned, he remained still, warily waiting to tease me with failure.  Always a masochist for the attentions of a sadistic bird, I ran inside the house, and returned with the camera and car, hoping that the familiar disguise of a Jeep Wrangler would allow me to get close enough for a decent photo.

But he was gone again, nowhere to be found on a pass up and down the road.  I moved slowly, scanning fence and sky for movement, meadowlarks and swallows happy to oblige, but no sign of the Scissor-Tail.  I prepared myself for another date with the demon of disappointment.

Then, just as I reached the driveway, another bird flushed him from the Osage Orange tree across the road and he flitted down, in his swooping scissortail way, to land again on the fence.  A quick 3-point turn aided by the short turn radius of the Jeep, and I was on him, snapping feverish photos and praying that I wasn't trembling to the extent of blurring the shots.  A few quick posed photos and he came to his senses, floating away on the wind, but leaving behind his soul, imprinted in my camera.

I sat still some seconds longer, stunned by the moment, my heart beating madly, my breath coming short as I savored my victory and tasted my triumph.  At last, with a lingering look in the direction he took, I moved on with my life, forever changed by crossing his.


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