Dividing Daylilies

Every three years, I divide daylilies. Since I have one-hundred-plus on the property, I’ve staggered the schedule so that in any one year, I’m working on about thirty.

And, since I don’t have one-hundred different varieties, I always have the option of tossing the duplicates. That might happen this year.

When the bloom season is over, a daylily resembles the above photo EXCEPT it also has woody stems from the year’s flowers. You can pull these off the plant easily unless they’re still green. Green stems need to be cut.

I trim the leaves with a sharp pruner.

I could let the lilies pictured here go another year. But I’ll have fewer flowers. Dividing is worth the trouble as it promotes more blooms.

When you buy a bare-root daylily, you’ll get a “fan.” Wish I knew how to create those neat, little fans and retain the roots. I think it requires a special tool that I don’t own. I use a sharpened shovel edge and end up with perfectly viable clumps.

These are clumps I replanted in an empty veg-bed about three weeks ago. Thanks to the rain and cooler temps, they’ve done well and have already begun to grow.

Sadly, I haven’t mapped which daylilies grow where. That’s a job for next year. This year, I’ve got orange and yellow in one bed; pinks, reds, and maroons in another. Maybe…

If you live in the area and want some daylilies (no guarantees), send me a DM through Face Book Messenger. We’ll set a date after Labor Day. Bring a shovel–needn’t be large–and a bucket or box. Otherwise, half of these divisions will end up on the burn pile.

Stormy Sunday

Fall continues to advance apace–and it’s raining again. I can’t remember a year when we had so much rain in July and August. Usually by this time, the turf is brown and long past mowing. Today, it’s green and growing, and in all the wet, threatening to damage our mowers.

The flowers are loving it.

I’m okay with an early fall. I wouldn’t mind an early freeze to zap the bugs, either.

I have three more “stick” trees coming to plant in September, and I’m thinking about buying a few more. Hoping for oxygen.

Meanwhile, my pin oaks have grown so large that I have to move my “sun” plants out from under them and replace with shade plants. If it would just stop raining for a day or two…

Tell Me a Story: Part 3

For those who have been following along, the question at the end of Part 2 was whether a third character should narrate the story.

And the story so far: King Felipe promised to marry the Duchess Josefa if she bore him a son. But he betrays her and marries another. Josefa, duchess and witch, stays pregnant for nine years, maliciously keeping the King’s son from him. But when the Queen dies and the King once again plans to marry another, Josefa gives birth to a magical, evil child. Prince of the Black Heart.

To revenge his mother’s honor, Prince Severiano travels to the capital where Felipe’s wedding to the foreign princess is taking place. Accompanying him is my potential narrator, the giant Marquez.

If Marquez is to tell this story, he has to have some stake in how it ends. He also needs his own character arc.

As a young giant, he promised the Duke of Fontanár that he’d guard Josefa, then a child, with his body and soul. To keep that promise, he’s committed all sorts of heinous acts, including the murders of the king’s messengers. The story might begin with Marquez murdering the ninth of nine messengers, cleaving him from crown to groin with his broadsword.

He’s a giant, after all.

It’s the end that’s giving me fits. Josefa has a change of heart and arrives at the wedding in time to–what? Save the king? Or would it be better if Severiano kills the king? Save the foreign princess? That unfortunate young woman’s only purpose in the story is to die.

No, for this to work, Josefa arrives in time to destroy her son before he murders the sole remaining royal, the king’s daughter by his first wife. The princess becomes Queen of Talavera.

In destroying Severiano, Josefa destroys herself.

I dunno. It seems a bit of a snarl to me. Marquez as observer-narrator doesn’t really work. He may be horrified by events, but does he change?

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Bagworms and Cottonwood Borers Begone

I stumbled on Environmental Tree and Pest Solutions via Next Door. Looking at their website, I especially liked their focus on protecting the planet.

Here is Lauren, spraying the cottonwoods for borers on a day with little wind, and therefore not a lot of overspray. She’ll be back later this evening to help with the evergreen bagworms–I have one tree affected. She’ll also be treating my apple trees for leaf rust.

Sadly, in the last storm, one of the Granny Smith trees fell over. When I looked at the roots I found it had virtually none. Something’s been eating it, and so onto the burn pile it went. It’s hard to give up on a two-year old tree, but in this case, I think it’s better to just start over.

Here’s hoping our pests are a thing of the past–or at least till next spring–with little impact on the birds and the bees.

Partly Cloudy Sunday

Early Sunday morning. Found this leaf in the yard and asked, “Is it fall?”

Well no, technically not. Fall is arriving in approximately thirty-four days. It’s still summer, still August, and supposed to be still hot. But it’s not. We’ve had storms every night of the past three, and mornings have been cloudy and cool.

Once the sun burns through the clouds, though, it’s summer again, hot and steamy. So while fall garden clean-up has started, I work only early and retreat to air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon.

Those readers who follow my Monday gardening posts will be saddened to know that I do indeed have both bag worms and cottonwood borers. I’ll be posting the “fix” on Monday, weather permitting. And if the weather is bad, the blog will be delayed.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying this foretaste of my favorite season and sitting on my hands to avoid pulling out the Halloween decorations. Hope it doesn’t turn unseasonably warm in September.


Tell Me a Story-Part 2

Last week, I started thinking about Duchess Josefa of Fontanár, betrayed by King Felipe of Talavera. He promised her marriage. She slept with him and is pregnant with a son. He married another. Oops. That’s the beginning of the story.

The duchess is also a witch—bruja—and for revenge, she stays pregnant for nine years, withholding Felipe’s son. This is officially the start of the story’s middle. For things to move forward, someone has to act to change the status quo.

Felipe has been married to the wrong woman—in other words, someone not Josefa—for nine years. He has a nine-year-old daughter but no sons.  His queen dies and Josefa thinks, “Aha, now he will marry me, and I’ll give him his son.” She prepares to give birth.

But no. Felipe—let’s say for political reasons—has decided to marry the much younger princess of a foreign land. Do we need to know her name? Hmm. Depends on the length of the story and the princess’ role in it. For now, let’s call her the princess. As part of the wedding preparations, Felipe sends to Fontanár with a message. “My son must attend my wedding.”

Now, Josefa has a choice. She can continue the pregnancy or go through with the birth. This nine-year pregnancy, like all magic, has a cost. The baby is eating Josefa’s life force. She can’t live and stay pregnant. So she has the child, and what a hateful, awful, terrifying child he is.

Not surprisingly since it’s magic, Severiano goes from birth to nine-years old within a few weeks. Learning about his mother’s desire for revenge against his father, Severiano decides to go to the wedding and kill his father the King.

Rush to the end. Josefa realizes the evil she’s done. She has a change of heart. Hastening to follow Severiano to the palace, she arrives just in time.

The wedding is in progress. Severiano has already killed the princess, her bloody body is draped over the chancel rail. He has his arrow pointed at Felipe, ready to do the deed.

But here’s my quandary. Does Josefa destroy Severiano and save Felipe? Does Josefa arrive that single moment too late and Felipe is already dead? Does Josefa destroy Severiano and in killing her own son, destroy herself?

It seems inevitable to me that Josefa and Severiano die together. But then, whose story is this? Certainly not Felipe’s. First he’s unlikeable as the betrayer of an innocent woman. Second, he doesn’t appear in the story at all until his life is in danger.

No. The transformative moment belongs to Josefa. She is the main character.

Except. There’s that old adage: dead men tell no tales. Okay, in this case, dead women.

Maybe what I need is another character, someone sympathetic, someone who always tries to do what’s right, someone with enough skin in the game that it matters what happens to him. Or her.

Sigh. I have another week of thinking in front of me. Meanwhile, all comments welcome.

Cottonwood Borers

Do I/don’t I have borers in this cottonwood tree?

According to my Google research, the cottonwood borer is a longhorn beetle, Plectrodera scalator found east of the Rocky Mountains. Well, that’s Kansas. Problem is, looking at the photos of this beetle, it’s both large (inch and a half long) and distinctive, having a white body with black striations. I’ve never seen one. Promise.

Meanwhile, between the caterpillar chewing on my sweet gum tree, this cottonwood, and a Eastern Red Cedar that looks to have bagworms, I’ve called in an expert tree pest person. Arriving Friday to give me a bid. So it’s another cliffhanger today.

But here’s the backstory on this cottonwood. Seven years ago, I planted five cotton-less cottonwood trees. I needed a nice-enough tree that was also a fast grower. And for the first five years, all was well.

And then, one dark and stormy night, a deer stomped through my yard, stopping to rub itself against the bark of one of the cottonwoods. Resulting in damage to the bark, shown in the following photo.

Wowzer. I think this damage gave invitation to the borers, a little like inviting a vampire into one’s home. Please come in and drink my blood, said the tree.

If I lose this cottonwood to borers, I’ll plant a slow-growing, hardwood tree instead. A white oak or a sawtooth oak. What’s the saying? Planting a tree is a gift to future generations.

Rainy Sunday

The morning started with rain and thunder, and so far, we’ve had a quarter inch of rain. Lucky, Jim mowed yesterday, so the yard at least looks good.

If it would rain an inch every weekend from now until–say–October 1, I wouldn’t have to haul hose and buckets. That’d be good.

The chrysanthemums and Autumn Joy sedum are in bloom. It looks like I’ve successfully eliminated the balsam that reseeded every year. Now, all I have to worry about are the trees, one of which looks like it has borers. More on that tomorrow.

Just hanging out, waiting for Fall.