Sunday, June 18, 2006

Doctor Huey

What’s blooming in the area: Yucca, cholla, datura, milkweed, bindweed, buffalo gourd, golden hairy aster, Queen Anne’s lace, local dandelion, tumble mustard, roses, bouncing Bess, Russian sage, trumpet creeper, silverlace vine, grama grass, rice grass, three-awn grass.

What’s blooming in my garden, looking north: Red hot poker, golden spur columbine, lance-leaf coreopsis, enough chocolate flowers to smell in early morning, perky Sue, Hartweg evening primrose, fern-leaf yarrow, Mexican hat, miniature roses (Rise and Shine, Sunrise).

Looking east: Hollyhock, red rose rootstock, winecup, coral bells, cheddar pink, rock rose, coral beardtongue, floribunda rose (Fashion).

Look south: Daylily, sweet pea, climbing rose (Blaze), rugosa hybrid (Elisio).

Look west: Perennial four o’clock, white spurge, Husker’s beardtongue, catmint, purple beardtongue, blue flax, purple ice plant.

Bedding plants: Dalhburg daisies, marigolds, sweet alyssum, snapdragons, petunias, squash, zucchini, sweet 1000 tomato.

Animal sightings: Power line birds, house sparrows, quail, bird with red under neck, small green hummingbird in coral beardtongue, geckoes, white cabbage butterfly, black butterfly, large grey spotted beetle, squash bug, grasshoppers, ants, bumble bee; rabbit has eaten a tomato and killed a young oriental poppy it stepped on to get to the tomato.

Weather: High winds Thursday battered trees and shrubs, snapped small branches off the locust, and knocked petals off roses. Hot days, cool nights continue; 9 days since last rain.

Weekly update: Everyone here tries to grow roses. In our valley created by volcanoes and weather, those in the old village near the river do better than those of us on dry, windy, clay hills where only needle grass and an occasional juniper grow.

Until the arrival of Wal-mart and the big boxes, most came from our local hardware-lumber who got pallets of potted roses from Coiner Nursery. They were cheap, rising from $4.00 a few years ago to $6.00 this year. The labels may have been misleading, but most arrived in bud and bloomed in the store yard.

Most were tea roses, but there were usually some floribundas and climbers mixed in, picked up quickly by the knowing. People who live near the river have bushes at least 4 feet tall, and almost as wide that bloom every summer with large flowers on multiple canes.

People on the road away from the river are less successful. Mixed in with their tea roses are large rambling roses, the rootstock that survives when grafted roses die. As the road winds up to my place roses disappear. I don’t have a single tea rose that’s survived a year, but I do have some rootstock. I have one Coiner floribunda that’s several years old and some rugosas and miniatures I bought from mail order nurseries.

The rootstock is most likely Doctor Huey, a deep red rose with yellow stamens introduced around World War I by Thomas, and adopted as rootstock soon after. Since few bother to prune, clusters of semi-double flowers crowd the ends of two-year-old canes in June, before they subside into shrubs among the Virginia creeper that volunteers on fences.

Some plants along the road are about 5' tall, and even wider. One person in the village has built wooden cages for two large plants in his drive; another has trained one on a trellis to the top of the garage. Mine from 2002 are about 3' high with unbranched canes arching out 4'

Grasshopper watch: I’ve never known if any of my neighbors had grasshopper problems, since few tried to grow much. As a result, I never knew if my problems were worse than their’s simply because I lived closer to the prairie than they. Now that my neighbor has put plants along the drive next to another neighbor’s yard of weeds, I can see insects are eating her hollyhocks and white daisy flowers.

No comments: