“hardy until devoured”

Hello everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to tell you all about my fascinating day. You may remember me from such delightful and informative posts as “Guess The Weather” and “A Change Of Pace”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I just got back from my walk. And I mean just got back; you can see my harness hasn’t been put away yet. The walk was excellent, thank you.011301In fact, here I am on my walk. The sun had gone behind a cloud or something. The path ends beyond that patch of snow, and then we turn around. 011303Here, the guy I live with had asked me a question, and I was thinking about the answer.011304The grass is still green. Some of it, anyway. This is Kentucky bluegrass. The guy I live with says that people who say it isn’t a native grass are wrong. 011306This book was sitting on the front porch this afternoon. (It was in a box.)011302The guy I live with likes squishies (that’s what he calls them; he thinks it’s funny), but there has been a serious problem with them being eaten during the winter. He says it was voles. One minute the leaves are nibbled, and then the next, the whole plant is ripped out of the ground and devoured. My grandpa Flurry hated voles, and it wasn’t until after he passed away that the voles dared to come back into the garden. They seem to be gone now. The guy I live with says there’s too much sand and gravel in the garden for them. I’m not sure this is really true.

You know how people say things like “hardy in zone 5 with protection” or “drought tolerant with irrigation”? (The guy I live with says the first one means “not hardy in zone 5″ and the second means “not drought tolerant”.) Well, now we have “hardy until devoured”. He says that various species of Stomatium, Nananthus, Chasmatophyllum, etc., have been perfectly hardy here until someone ate them. (It wasn’t me.) He says he used to try to get my mommy to go out into the rock garden on nights in February (the weather was like this, pretty nice) and kneel down and smell the pineapple-scented flowers of a stomatium and she never wanted to. “But they smell like pineapple” wasn’t a big enough selling-point, I guess. The flowers smelled so much like pineapple that the plant was eaten soon after that. Pineapple is okay, but it’s not my favorite.

Anyway, the guy I live with says this is a dazzling book, written in the author’s usual witty, erudite style, with beautiful photographs, and he’s happy he got it. He purchased it here.

The squishies in the front garden, which he’s shown before, are fine, though maybe the flowers on the titanopsis (T. calcarea) won’t be blooming after all that below zero (F) weather early in December. Now he says he needs more, to try in this bed in the front yard. 011307And Aloinopsis spathulata looks good, too.011308Squishies are really easy to grow from seed, the guy I live with says, and you can get most anything from Mesa Garden. Plants, too. And from Sunscapes.

Well, I think that’s all for today. Oh, the guy I live with says to say these plants are “not hardy in ‘zone Ate‘”, because he says that’s funny, but I don’t know ….. “Zone Ate, get it?” It really is time to go now.011305


Until next time, then.

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14 Responses to “hardy until devoured”

  1. petabunn says:

    Zone Ate, you’re guy IS funny. When we move my mummy hopes to be planting more seed, if it is still viable, she has had a lot stored for a couple of years and is worried the weather may have been too much, we’ll see. And I hope to go on walks like you. I don’t go walking now because the traffic sometimes shoots past at 100km instead of 80, which is bad enough, on our road. And you have to walk in the dirt next to the road, too scary for my mummy. You look very happy after your walk.

    • paridevita says:

      My walk goes in pretty safe places. The walk didn’t used to; it went through the woods, which was nice until they were bulldozed, but then across a street where people drove really fast for no reason at all, because they were headed toward a stop light, and then back again. You never know about seed viability ….

  2. Yes, you like your walks, Chess, that is evident.
    I begin to believe that every book the guy you live with reads is by a witty author. I suppose I’m grumpy because I just started on Meetings with Remarkable Trees, and now there is another book.
    Chess, I like your thinking moment on your walk. My two are too busy sniffing and scratching dirt to do much thinking. You are to be commended, dear dog.

    • paridevita says:

      Walks are excellent. I prolong them with sniffing detours, but today I thought for a second. I forget about what. The guy I live with is very selective in his book acquisitions. He also says you have to read Remarkable Trees of the World and In Search of Remarkable Trees and even The Remarkable Baobab. You may remark that “remarkable” is used kind of a lot here. The books are delightful though. We don’t talk about the awful books, or even the mediocre ones. There are a lot of them.

  3. I heartily agree with your re-interpretation of the hardiness and drought-worthy comments. They remind me of a definition I once read somewhere:
    perennial – any plant which, had it survived, would have bloomed every year.

  4. Deborah S. Farrell says:


    I would be one to get down on the ground to sniff something that smelled like pineapple. My husband & I have a running joke about “Smell this.” I triple dog dare ya is always implied.

    The dogs I live with like to stop & sniff on walks — we call it ‘reading their pee mail’ They generally reply with pee-mails of their own.

    The gauntlet has been thrown down re: the nativity of Poa pratenis. Source, please?
    I understood it to have been introduced as forage for cows because cows couldn’t/wouldn’t eat native prairie grasses.

    I found this interesting entry online:
    Geographical range
    Native Range: Europe, northern Africa, Siberia and North America, Australia, southern parts of South America (Clarke & Malte, 1913).
    Introduced Range: Antarctica, Canada, Falkland Islands, French Southern Territories, Mexico, New Zealand, Saint Helena, South Africa, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, United States.

    So it’s native to North American but introduced in the United States. Verrrrrry interesting. But also very strange. Also, the insects that eat it all seem to be from Europe & Asia.

    • paridevita says:

      Intermountain Flora, Volume 6, page 232. “Poa pratensis is considered to be entirely a European introduction by many botanists, but its occurrence on remote meadows in areas like the Uinta Mountains and numerous places throughout the region must be native populations. Weber (Rocky Mt. Fl. 362, 1967) treats Poa agassizensis Boivin & D. Love as the native counterpart of P. pratensis:
      1. Basal leaves bright green, etc. P. pratensis
      2. Basal leaves glaucous, etc. P. agassizensis
      Our apparent native stands, however, cannot be separated from the introduced material with any degree of satisfaction.”

      Now, the guy I live with, who incidentally got a pine needle up his nose the last time he bent down to look at a plant, says he’s never going to do that again, let alone sniff anything, says suppose someone discovered that these stands in remote meadows were shown somehow not to be native; well, then what else isn’t native?
      The thing he thinks is that people who really hate Poa pratensis often point out that it’s not native, which apparently makes it eviller, and that making it native might make it sound not so awful. I mean if we discount the amount of water and fertilizer poured on it when it’s part of a lawn, which really is a separate issue.

      (This had to be edited, because the original reply said “our apparent naive stands”, which raises all kinds of questions.)

  5. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    Well, if it stayed on that mountaintop, there’d be no problem at all. But it’s everywhere (Antartica, even) and there’s the watering and fertilizing and all that time & energy put into keeping it from reaching its manifest destiny height of 3 or 4 feet – all the gas-powered mowers contributing to the air pollution/bad air summer days here in the Ohio River Valley; I can’t go out and garden on bad air days.

    But the real reason KY Bluegrass is a bad turfgrass choice for a large chunk of the country is shown in the root posters (sorry I couldn’t find a better way to include the image).

    The first time I saw this image was in 1997 in Michigan, at a talk given by Gerould Wilhelm about native plants and water. Water trickles all the way down those deep native prairie roots but can only go down about 4” for bluegrass turf, so there’s lots of run-off – and that combined with all our pavement run-off has led to flooding. He talked about the accounts of the first Europeans here talking about rivers with gently sloping banks and little variation because the water perked down roots & through the aquifers into the streams and rivers, rather than running off and eroding stteep banks. I got home from the conference that evening just in time to see the national news, where they mentioned the historic flooding of the Ohio River. If Wilhelm hadn’t hammered it home, the images of that flood sure did. And now I live just a few miles from that river, and volunteer at the Falls of the Ohio State Park, where they have a red line painted on the sidewalk to mark the flood of ’97.

    Even with all that, I don’t think Bluegrass is evil – just horribly, horribly misguided. Bermuda grass, on the other hand, is evilness incarnate.

    • paridevita says:

      We’ve seen that poster, too. From the perspective of a purebred border collie, which is an important one since humans are all caught up in stuff, buffalo grass and blue grama make nice lawns, since the guy I live with has this tendency to plant much taller grasses in the lawns, too, and tall grasses are excellent. I understand that here, Bermuda grass is said to be the next buffalo grass, but better, for some reason.

      • Deborah S. Farrell says:

        My objection to Bermuda grass is from a gardener’s perspective: it is impossible to kill once gets a toehold in any bed. It’s totally masochistic – anything you do to try to kill it just makes it spread. Don’t dare throw it on the compost pile.

        I’m not a purist when it comes to plants. I avoid ones deemed invasive because they decrease biodiversity in natural areas. But I have over 120 varieties of a non-native plant, which shall remain nameless because I remember reading that your mommy wanted it in the garden there but the guy you lived with didn’t.

        I also avoid native plants that are aggressive, or “too happy” — seemingly bent on world domination, like Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) which I planted here a decade ago & have spent the last 8 years trying to get rid of it.

        I’ve been fascinated by buffalo grass since hearing about it, but the conditions were too shady in Flint although I did grow some from seed in a sunny spot. I think we might be too wet & clayey here, but I really haven’t paid attention to what kind of cultivars might have been developed in the last decade or so. Will definitely check on that.

      • paridevita says:

        Yeah. We don’t know anything about Bermuda grass. Or the shorts, either. They’re just saying it’s the next new thing. No one talks about it getting into the garden. Buffalo grass prefers clay soil. The guy I live with was told this is the Pathetic Fallacy, anthropomorphizing plants, saying they “prefer” something, but he does it anyway. He of course doesn’t do that with anything else. Purebred border collies, if you didn’t know, are really people in dog suits, who don’t get enough Brie. Anyway, there are varieties of buffalo grass said to be suitable for places other than here; check out Stock Seeds or Sharp Bros. The garden here is mostly native plants but, then again, mostly not. That’s how we describe it. We’re not purists about almost anything. Northern Sea Oats won’t grow here. It’s hardy, but needs so much water the guy I live with gave up on it.

  6. Cute pic of Chess thinking about his answer. In my household, squishies are canned cat food, which the four felines enjoy each evening at midnight.

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