Clarified

A clarifying moment this morning.

July 15, 2018
I haven’t written regarding Trump for weeks.

I watched In horror as he again made an ass of himself (which he doesn’t recognize); as he trounced our allies (which he doesn’t care about); as he skirted treason (which he doesn’t understand).

The occasion of his perfidy was his petulance with NATO; his lies with PM Teresa Mays; his uncouth behavior with the Queen of England.

I was so glad to read this morning that Prince Charles and Prince William declined to meet with him.

Bravo!!

I have read so many articles in the last few days I lost count.

I lost any sense of what each was about.

I had a clarifying moment this morning.

We learned on Friday that Special Counsel Mueller indicted 12 Russians spies with 112 counts of invading the United States of America.

These were not just ordinary spies. These were officers in the G.R.U. or the Main Intelligence Directorate or now known as G.U. Main Directorate under the Russian Military.

As the Travesty of Trump unfolded during the week, I kept wondering what was he trying to do under that just plain sowing of his evil mind and spirit.

After Mueller’s indictments were unveiled on Friday, I still had not put the pieces together.

When Assistant Attorney General Rosenstein announced that he had briefed Trump on Monday before his departure for Europe the light finally shone into my dimly lit brain.

The hammering of the leaders of NATO, the lies told about PM Mayes, the continued threatening of the bailing out of NATO then made sense.

GEORGIA A FEW AGO FASCIST

He was showing President Vladimir Putin that he was a good ole boy and will follow Putin’s desires to the letter

The media had not mentioned that Putin and Trump conversed on the phone.

Yes, they have spoken eight times.  This is a list of Trumps calls to Putin and other heads of state.

They have spoken twice this year.

I will bet that Trump knows exactly what Putin wants to do: destabilize NATO, destroy the European Union, and sow more discontent in the United States.

Even after Trump made his manners to the NATO leaders and PM Mayes, he tweeted on Sunday morning the FOE is the European Union.

So much for making peace with his adversaries.

It is a good thing he meets his good friend on Monday.

Putin doesn’t have to do a thing.

Trump has done the ‘wet work’ of breaking up allies (a Russian term for spilling blood).

We only hope that Congress will let Mueller finish his work and understand collusion/no collusion.

The Amercian Eagle always on watch for treason Google Images
The Amercian Eagle always on watch for treason

Roger Stone admits that he was Russia’s American connection.

Another major connection to the Russians, one of even greater standing was and is David Keene, President of the NRA.

David Keene’s connection to Russia?

Alexander Torshin.

This in-depth article by Rolling Stone portrays the decade-long advancement of Russia intruding into the politics of the USA and funneling money to Trump via the NRA.

It is a spellbinding read.

The Russia Bear illustrated by Victor Juharsz for Rolling Stone
The Russia Bear illustrated by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone

Thanks for stopping by.

Craig

Antique eagle and flag. Facing the correct direction to render its opinion of Trump Google Images
Antique eagle and flag. Facing the correct direction to render its opinion of Trump
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My Rose Garden Party part 4

July 7, 2018

This week, we look at the Front Garden

This garden has seen the most changes. It has been almost in constant change mode.

Some changes: from moving a clematis to make room for a honeysuckle; from rose Darlow’s Enigma to Purple Smokebush; from tall cedar to clematis. And almost everything in between.

Some permanent fixtures are the hosta we brought from Becky’s mother’s house in Grand Rapids. It is easy to tell summer is wearing on because the green leaves turn brown due to slugs feasting on them.

I tried the beer bath to annihilate slugs. I tried putting chicken grit to tear open the slugs stomachs.

My most successful eradication is no eradication at all. Let the slugs eat cake. Let them feast and don’t worry about it seems to be the most successful, at least less stressful solution.

Front Garden Images by Craig
Front Garden

Let’s start from the left (west).
The first bush you notice is one we have talked about before. When we moved in 43+ years ago, there was a Snowball Bush (Viburnum). It was smaller than it is now. I have cut it back to the ground frequently and fertilized it on several others.

Snowball Bush, Hydrangea Limelight and Jackmanii Clematis in the background Image by Craig
Snowball Bush, Hydrangea Limelight and Jackmanii Clematis in the background

Now it stretches around the corner and almost encroaches on the Jackmanii Clematis.

 

Several years after we moved the clematis from the west side of the porch to the present location and fertilizing it every year it grew wide enough so we could add another width of a support.

Now it will grow wider and wider for years to come.

The most recent addition to this garden is the Hydrangea Limelight. We purchased a very nice plant from Bloomer’s Greenhouse in Grand Rapids MN.

 

I always include good Moo-nure purchased from the Home Depot when we plant. For the next few years, I top-dressed with more Moo-nure.

It is now a superlative plant that will provide many years of pleasure in nature and as cut and dried flowers.

Next to the LimeLight is a Serviceberry Bush.

I had not heard of Serviceberry Shrubs until my wife said we should try some.

She was correct. They grow strong and tall and the berries change into three colors and the birds love them. A winning combination.

 

Serviceberry Bush – berries change colors as they ripen
Next is a perennial favorite. Yes, I intended the pun. The Variegated Dogwood has a special place in the garden.

It is in the middle of the Front Garden and is the focal point for the background.
It has been a strong vigorous grower until a few years ago.

 

 Variegated Dogwood

That year a Serviceberry and the Variegated Dogwood got hit with a black blight. All of the branches suffered a black coating that seemed to suck the life out of the bushes.

I suspected the cause was brought in by our newest lilac, The Beauty of Moscow.

It was the unwitting accomplice in bringing the blight to our garden.

 

                                                                    The Beauty of Moscow

The Beauty will be an awesome lilac and is in a garden on the far side of the yard. It is not even close to the infected bushes, Variegated Dogwood and Serviceberry.

A few weeks after planting the Beauty, I noticed a blackening of the branches and the leaves also curled.

I had never been confronted with a disease of this nature. My usual nasty visitors consisted mainly of rose gall.

I found an effective countermeasure at Menards. It is a systemic fungicide/insecticide made by Spectracide.

It worked. As long as I kept up a daily routine of spraying the affected bushes the blight did not progress. It infected only one of the Serviceberry Bushes.

After that rigorous routine of daily doses, I reduced the application to once a week.

It stopped the blight. Now the damage assessment began. The Beauty of Moscow lilac suffered no longlasting ills.

However, the Serviceberry and the Dogwood had to be pruned to the ground.

Even the next year the blight returned to these two bushes. Again the daily doses that were reduced to the weekly regimen.

It is now the third year after the nasty visitor showed up. Since we moved out of the house before the blossoming of the Serviceberry I could not gauge the extent of the ‘cure’.

The branches came up strong and that encouraged me. Hopefully, the new owners will provide the hands-on work of rescuing these bushes.

I still find it interesting it affected only one Serviceberry bush.

I need to get back to talking about another great bush.

The Green Smokebush or Green Sprite is just that. It grows tall and full with bright green/gold leaves.

This bush is now the centerpiece of the garden. It is slower to grow each spring (I prune it back almost to the ground).

 

Green Smokebush aka Golden Sprite

This year my wife had to prune the Limelight Hydrangea and the Green Smokebush since I wasn’t able to walk in the garden.

Becky has always been a real asset in growing these gardens. She has undertaken the challenging but necessary task of deadheading the rose bushes.

The opportunity to clip a blossom of our favorite roses, the Snow Pavement came up.

She had been making several trips back to the house each day to haul more stuff to the apartment. She clipped just one blossom. Such a treat.

A melancholy fell on me when I saw that she had brought the single blossom into our apartment.

Rather than endless bushels of rose blossoms to add to our home each summer and early fall, we would now have none.

Maybe next year the landlord will let me plant a Snow Pavement on the property. I will wait and gauge my enthusiasm for the project next spring.

Now it doesn’t seem to grab at my heartstrings the way a normal spring would.

Also, I am struggling to make the change to a smaller desk.

For years I have had the pleasure of a drafting size desktop. Much more space than I needed but enough space to stretch out my elbows.

After much discussion, I listened to the reasons why I should not take the big desk. My bride and her helpers won the day and I greatly appreciate the smaller desk now.

I now have enough room in my ‘office’ (the second bedroom) to have shelves and small bookcases. I would have lost too much mobility if I had brought the ‘monster’.

Alas, my dog would have loved it.

 

Berkley, asleep at my feet under the big desk
She has always crawled under the desk to be at my feet.

She doesn’t have that luxury anymore. We both can’t be in this desk area at the same time.

She is a Landseer Newfoundland and weighs 135 pounds.

She still takes her place when we leave on an errand but I think she is despondent that she can’t lay at my side for all of the hours I am typing up these posts.

Sorry, Berkley.

A bush that has been the bane of my existence is the Crimson Honeysuckle.

 

It has seldom flowered.

It is invasive to the other bushes. It tangles with their branches and is really a lot of work to trim.

One of the bushes that suffers the encroachment of the honeysuckle is the Purple Smokebush.

 

Purple Smokebush

This was a discovery unmatched by any other plant.

We didn’t know what it was. We just happened upon it on a foray into a new (to us) garden center.

The light, fluffy tendrils captivated me. We scooped it up and didn’t look back.

It is an impressive bush. Strong, long branches arch over the whole back corner of the front garden.

It is the perfect spot for the plant. No other plant has done as well in this spot.

One last bush I included in the Front Garden is the William Baffin roses, one on each side of the front steps.

I sure was excited to see how the William Baffin has taken to those places of honor.

 

Canadian Explorer Rose, William Baffin

Each fall I have to cut the long canes back or the branches just chew our flag to shreds.

Pruning, digging into the rose canes to reach the dead ones and then carrying them back to the fire pit is a day-long project.

The big problem is that we can’t burn the canes until next spring. The wood is too green and generates too much smoke.

Two years ago we took out the sidewalk that ran around the east side of the porch.

That was quite a shock to the William Baffin on the east side of the steps.

It still hasn’t recovered fully. But it will.

The Canadian Explorer series of rose bushes are awesome. This is a great list of the roses and their characteristics.

They withstand the rigors of northern climates.

Each one I have purchased has withstood the test and proved to be not just sturdy and hearty but a blush of bright color in our gardens.

A few words of wisdom before I return with the next post.

When planting bare-root roses, always make the hole much bigger than you think you will need.

Use good topsoil, a dose of sphagnum moss and a healthy portion of Man-nure.
Your roses will delight you much sooner if you do.

Always water the freshly planted roots thoroughly.

I recommend a slow drip to completely water the roots. I lay the hose end right in the hole and let the water trickle for at least an hour.

Mulch. Mulch and mulch some more.

There are many colorful mulches now on the market so you can even decorate your landscape using a mulch of different colors and textures.

Two to three-inch deep mulch will help control weeds that will sap the energy from your roses and help regulate the water you lay down doesn’t get reabsorbed into the air. It needs to stay at your roots.

Always plant new bareroots before the days get long and the sun hot.

That reminds me of another lesson hard-learned.

Do not buy bare-root roses from your local big one-stop store. You may get them to grow at first.

But they will break your heart before long.

Buy from a reputable nursery such as Hortico that will ship your roses at the right time of spring to plant.

Discovering new roses to plant is a great winter’s day treat. Lighting a fire in the fireplace, thumbing through the newest Hortico catalog ( or the catalog of your favorite nursery) is a great pleasure.

Deciphering the language to picture the roses a few years after planting to envision their color, texture, height, and girth is a pastime of many winter days.

Follow the grower’s instructions on how to spread out the bare roots and then fill the hole you dug.

I just read the Hortico recommendation to use an antidesiccant in the fall to prevent the rose canes from drying out.

That sounds like great advice.

A trick I learned when I was planting a few bushes at one time. I laid a plastic tarp on the lawn.

I placed topsoil, manure and sphagnum moss (usually in equal measure) on the tarp. I then used a rake to mix the ingredients together.

This is much easier to get a well-blended soil that trying to mix the ingredients in a wheelbarrow.

Another wise word. One year my sons bought me a wheelbarrow with two wheels. I would never go back to a wobbly single wheel version.

If I was putting the roses in an area where I was concerned whether they would get enough moisture or if I was concerned about the soil compacting over time, I would also add a dose of perlite to the mixture.

It doesn’t mix with the soil and keeps it from packing down.

Friable soil is always the goal so that your hard work in planting will pay great dividends in blossoms and healthy plants.

Next post, we will make a run down the east side of the house.

My Rose Garden Party part 3

July 1, 2018

I have favorite names for my ‘gardens’.

The names are a bit grandiose in relation to the actual ‘gardens’ but it helps me remember which is what and where. I assure you it is entirely on purpose to no purpose except to point an old mind in the right direction.

You have to remember that I am more than 68 years old and my memory is impaired. I am scheduled for a 4-hour session with a neuropsychologist next week.

That sounds a bit scary and it is. But maybe this doctor can find where I lost my memory. I don’t remember where I put it.

In the front of the house are the west side garden, the west front garden, the front center and the east front.

We may only get through two gardens in a post. We’ll have to see how much gabbing I do.

The west side garden is probably the best place to start since it has the fewest plants.

West Side Garden

When we moved in more than 43 years ago there was a large chokecherry bush on a small hill. In order to plant a French White Lilac, we move the chokecherry bush to the west side of the house.

You can learn about Chokecherry Bushes here.

Chokecherry Bush. Photo by: Peter Dziuk
Chokecherry Bush. Photo by: Peter Dziuk

The major drawback to this location is that we can’t see the birds feeding on it.

It does well most of the time.

However, since an invasion of tent caterpillars a few years ago it has struggled. Tent caterpillars are a nuisance in town.

But in rural areas, they are outrageous and dangerous. Cars have slid into a ditch after striking a patch of caterpillars.

 

 

 

 

Area of Forest Tent Caterpillar aka Army worms forecast for 2018. MN DNR
Area of Forest Tent Caterpillar aka Army worm forecast for 2018.
Closeup of a single Forest Tent Caterpillar Image MN DNR
Closeup of a single Forest Tent Caterpillar

 

                                Forest Tent Caterpillars aka Army Worms in Minnesota

Find the species of birds and insects that feed on Eastern Tent Caterpillars and Forest Tent Caterpillars.

Just a glimpse of these crawling masses of Army worms is sufficient to bring back the odor of thousands (4 million can reside in one acre of a forest!) of these squished by car tires on rural roads.

They are nasty, ugly and bright green when squished.

People line the trunks of their expensive flowering trees to prevent these worms from climbing into the branches and devouring every last leaf.

Most of the time trees recover in the same season from being de-foliated. But there are times when the march of the Army worms is a contributing cause of trees dying.

I take this time to introduce you to one of my favorite image makers. Her name is Annie Spratt. Her images are found on Unsplash.com. You can download any image by thousands of professional photographers for FREE!

All the images are covered under Creative Commons License.

Rose images by Annie Spratt

West Side Garden

In the west side garden, in addition to the chokecherry bush, we planted two Jens Munk roses in memory of Becky’s sister Sue. These Canadian Explorer roses have blossoms that may look frail but their canes are not in the least frail or fragile.

They have nipped a grandchild or two so they just stay out of that area of the yard now.

Ms. Munk looks after herself. Her thorns are almost a wicked as the rosa glauca (more on that rose later).

In the background of this garden are Iris. This is a picture of the bulbs we grew.

Blue or purple Iris. A popular flower in Zone 3. Google Images
Blue or purple Iris. A popular flower in Zone 3.

This is a link to many other varieties of Iris.

The next flower is a favorite of Becky’s. Lily of the Valley.

Lily of the Valley. Image from Wikipedia
Lily of the Valley. Image from Wikipedia

A Lily of the Valley short primer is here.

The fragrance of this Lily is intoxicating. This flower can be invasive depending on where you plant them.

One last concern with Lilies of the Valley is pets. These Ladies are poisonous to cats and dogs. If ingested you will see vomiting and diarrhea.

As with all plants it pays to do the research. I once heard weeds described as flowers that are just in the wrong place.

I have hewed to this theory. As undergarments to many of the roses, I planted dead nettle in many of the beds. It is invasive and I planted purple and silvery pink flowers.

Within a few years of planting, they had filled the ground under the roses and choked out many other weeds. Their luminescent foliage was a pleasant sight when not many other flowers were in bloom.

Dead nettle as ground cover

The next flower in this garden is Globe Thistle. I planted two of these and they rewarded us with large and robust plants.

Blue Thistle by Annie Spratt.
Blue Thistle by Annie Spratt.

The Last Plant

This plant wraps around the corner of the house and shares some space with our Jackmani Clematis.

 

Our Viburnum ‘Snowball Bush’  was about 6 feet wide when we moved in. After fertilizing and cutting back to the ground several times it prospered and grew to about 15 feet wide.

A caveat, in the wet spring early summer the flowers will rust quickly just as white lilacs do.

I never researched in depth until now the difference between the Snowball Bush Viburnum and the Snowball Bush Hydrangea.

I would casually look up the Viburnum and then Hydrangea at different times. I would wonder why our Snowball Bush didn’t have the full shape that Annabelle Hydrangea has.

Next post we will look at Turkestan Burning Bush and a BIG chunk of Bluestone.

Thanks for stopping by.

Craig

Rose Image by Annie Spratt Unsplash!
Annie Spratt Unsplash!