Monday, June 27, 2011


Morden  Parkland "Sunrise" Rose

I am tired of writing about flood fighting and doom and gloom and am going to take a break from all that to tell you everything is coming up roses at my house! Usually all my roses are in bloom by my birthday, which was on Saturday. Because of the cool, rainy weather we're having this summer, only the Henry Kelsey, Morden Blush and an unnamed white shrub rose were in bloom, but the others are in bud.

And, thanks to my birthday, I have a few more new roses. Dan gave me a Morden Parkland Sunrise and my sister gave me a Morden Parkland Centennial. Plus, I treated myself to a Thérèse Bugnet rugosa rose. I felt I deserved to treat myself - it isn't every day that a woman officially turns retirement age, and seeing as how I won't be retiring in the foreseeable future I thought I deserved a reward for continuing to toil away.

Morden Parkland "Centennial"

You will notice that the names Morden Parkland and Explorer crop up a lot in this post. All of these roses were developed in Canada - the Mordens at Morden, Manitoba and the Explorers in Ontario and Quebec. Lovely lady Thérèse was bred in Canada in 1950 by Georges Bugnet and named for a family member. Since these roses are hardy in Canada, they're also hardy here in North Dakota.

Fortunately, Bismarck has two nurseries that carry a good selection of both types of roses, for I have absolutely given up trying to raise hybrid tea roses or the gorgeous English David Austen Roses. No longer will I grow a rose that needs fussing over or overwintering. The Canadian roses fit my needs to a "T". In fact, I don't even bother to look at roses hardy in Zone 4. I want the super duper roses hardy to Zone 3 or even 2~!

Thérèse Bugnet

I am not quite sure about the Morden Sunrise. It is the only Morden rose that even remotely comes close to yellow. Some photos on the Internet show it as all yellow, some show it as yellow with peach, and some show it a really unflattering orange. I understand that the color depends on where the rose is grown. The one Dan gave me was in bloom and definitely yellow, so I hope it continues to act that way.
Had I known about Sunrise's vagaries, I might have requested J. P. Connell, an Explorer, which starts out with a gold bud, opens to yellow and fades to cream. Yum! Or, I could have searched online for a Harrison's Yellow, the extremely hardy rose found surviving at old homesteads throughout the American West.

Morden Parkland "Blush"
I certainly have no reservations about my other gift, the Morden Centennial. It is an absolutely gorgeous hot pink. They will join the Morden Blush and the unknown white, which towers over the fence on the south side of my front yard.
Explorer "Henry Kelsey" climbing rose

Of my two climbing roses, William Baffin is the proven winner, coming back winter after severe winter. Trained on the arbor over the sidewalk leading to my house, it is both sturdy and lovely. The Henry Kelsey is planted on the other side of the arbor. Although it looks better this year than it ever has, it's still quite straggly. I have some affection for it because my niece is named Kelsey (probably why I bought it) but if it doesn't start living up to my expectations, I may replace it with good old reliable William.

Explorer "William Baffin" climbing rose
(not my rose, not my house!)

Thanks to the darned Internet, I have really been bitten by the rose bug this year. There are still more Morden Parkland roses, like Adelaide Hoodless, Cuthbert Grant, Morden Ruby, Morden Belle, Winnipeg Parks and Prairie Joy, and a great many Explorers (each named for a real Canadian Explorer). There are climbers like John Davis and John Cabot, and shrubs such as David Thompson, Martin Frobisher, Henry Hudson, Simon Fraser, (Samuel de) Champlain and (Comte de Louis de Buade) Frontenac.

When I was trying to grow hybrid tea roses it was fun to choose the ones named for a person or special event, such as Peace, Agatha Christie, Amelia Earhart, John Kennedy and Mr. Lincoln. Now I'm on a quest to find beautiful Canadian shrub roses named for interesting people like Emily Carr. When I looked her up on the Internet and read the description "Canadian artist and writer heavily inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest" I remembered that I have read a great book inspired by Ms. Carr: "The Forest Lover" by Susan Vreeland.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Flooded Minot neighborhood

The city of Minot, ND and the neighboring small town of Burlington have lost their fight with the Souris River. Some parts of Minot are now 8 feet under water, with more water rushing in. Minot sits in a natural bowl, and the bowl is filling rapidly. By tomorrow, the water is expected to be three metres, or 10 feet, above most city dikes. Because the water is rushing in so quickly, they are calling it a Prairie Tsunami.

Bridge at Burlington
Minot's primary levees have been overridden and the homes in the river's pathway are lost. The city is frantically trying to increase the height of those dikes hastily built to protect its infrastructure (sewer and water treatment plants) and the only north-south street through the city. The hospital is on a hill on the south side. If Broadway Avenue were to be breached, the city will be cut in half. People needing emergency treatment would have to travel 50 MILES to get to the other side.

The citizens of Minot urgently need your help with shelter and other immediate needs (because of the oil boom there are no apartments or motel rooms available) and with assistance of all kinds in the months to come.

To donate to the Minot (ND) Red Cross, go to and go to "Click here to donate" on the right side of the screen.

To make a $10 donation to the Minot Salvation Army, text “MINOT” to 80888 and reply “yes” to the confirmation text. A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill.

Breached levee at Minot Country Club
Traffic backed up on the Highway 83
bypass as residents flee the city of Minot
Submerged car in Minot

Aerial photo of devastated Mouse
River Park north of Minot


Update Monday, June 27: The Souris has crested at Minot but it will be several weeks before the water starts to go down. FEMA has decided they will give assistance to individual flood victims of Ward County (Minot and Burlington), Burleigh County (Bismarck) and Morton County (Mandan).

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Craig Fugate, Administer of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, last week rejected North Dakota's application for assistance to individual homeowners.  In a letter to ND Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Fugate stated that “the damage to the residences from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant the implementation of Individual Assistance…”

Well, Fugate, tell THAT to the owner of this home in Burleigh County outside of Bismarck. Yesterday afternoon the Hogue Island residence was attacked by the Missouri River - photo above, and then devoured - photo below. (This is the first home in our area claimed by bank erosion.)

These photos, and also the video footage from a Black Hawk helicopter that happened to be flying overhead, were shocking to all of us here in North Dakota and across the country.

And needless to say, Dalrymple was shocked by FEMA's response. He found it "hard to believe that FEMA does not see the destructive effects of flooding on citizens in North Dakota."  (He is appealing the decision.) The governor was being way more polite than I would have been. I would have prefaced his statement with, "You morons, ....."

Until I saw these pictures, my attention yesterday was turned away from the Missouri River, where the flood fight inside the cities of Bismarck-Mandan is stabilized and the dikes are holding, to Minot, ND, where, unfortunately, the situation is reversed and the news is very, very dire.

This video from last night's NBC Nightly News tells it all:

National Guard making sure everyone is
evacuated from their Minot homes

On Tuesday, about 11,000 residents (1/4 of the city's population) were told they had to be out of their homes by 6 p.m. Wednesday. But at 12:57 p.m. yesterday, the river - called the Souris in Canada where it originates, and the Mouse in the US - roared. The roar took the form of eerie sirens wailing across the entire city, as people were told they had to GET OUT NOW. Levees had been breached and water was going over some dikes.

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman could not bring himself to admit  that the valiant battle to save the city was lost. However, he did say that "There's nothing more we can do."

The flood is predicted to be worse than the devastating 1969 flood, with the water expected to rise 8 to 9 feet higher than it was back then!

Little boy and his Mom in Minot:

Boy: "Where is the grass?"
Mom: "It's gone."
Boy: "Who took it?"
Mom: "The River took it."

Yes, The River, the Mouse That Roared took it. Minot may not be as big as Tuscaloosa, AL, or Joplin, MO, but this is a major disaster. Yesterday actor Josh Duhamel was urging people to pray for the people of his hometown and to lend assistance through the American Red Cross. Said Duhamel, "My sister’s gonna lose her house… My junior high, my favorite pizza place, the university I went to are all gonna be underwater.”

I echo Duhamel's wishes and prayers for Minot residents (and for the wildlife - see below).

Click on this photo to enlarge. That's DEER on the porch
 trying to escape flood waters in Apple Valley near Minot.


Added at 1:30 pm Thursday: Catastrophic breaking news from Minot: A crest much earlier than expected, and much higher - four more feet of water than previously forecast.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


by Sophie Anderson

As I begin to write this post, at noon on Tuesday, June 21, the summer solstice is set to occur in this time zone in 16 minutes. Supposedly, that will be the start of our summer. However, it is just a continuation of a long, cold and wet spring. Bismarck is soaked, sodden, and partly submerged in places.

by Charles Edward Wilson

"Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." No, it isn't sea water, but I am sure it is contaminated. Water is coming from the river, it's coming up from the ground and yesterday it was pouring down from the skies. This morning it was drizzling, and we have a forecast of rain for this afternoon and tomorrow. All in all, it makes for one soggy summer solstice.

by Albert Fuller Graves

I have been able to get my container gardening (pots and baskets) finished, but I have nine kinds of plants I haven't been able to get in the ground. I had plans for a small garden bed right underneath my living room window. Here, I was going to put in delphiniums, Victoria blue salvia, yellow daisies, bachelor's buttons, hollyhocks, cleome, cosmos, stocks and a lovely (and new to me) blue-flowering plant called star flower or laurentia.

by J. W. Waterhouse

I purchased the plants a while back and now they are just sitting there, as I can't seem to beg, borrow or steal someone to turn over the bed for me (I can't do it myself this year - too much leg pain). I can't even buy someone to do it! I hired one guy and he did do some yard work earlier but is too busy now, and no one has answered my online ad.

ARRANGING FLOWERS)" by Gustave Courbet

It seems as if I will never, ever have the beautiful gardens I dream of. First of all, I live in the wrong country. My ultimate dream is to have the eclectic sprawl of perennials, roses, shrubs, and vines that is the essence of the English cottage garden, the kind shown in paintings by Helen Allingham. This garden is bursting at the seams, lush, charmingly sprawled out, unplanned and slightly wild.

by Rosemary Sumner

Trouble is, I've never had much luck with quite a few of the plants that are essential to the English cottage garden, such as Canterbury bells, lupines, lavender, phlox, foxglove, primroses and wallflowers. Those gorgeous David Austin roses, chosen for cottage gardens because of their old-fashioned look (multi-petaled form and rosette-shaped flowers), die off here after one season.

by Frederick Childe Hassam

Even worse, I than living in the wrong country, I live in the wrong area of the United States. Depending on which climate zone you look at, Bismarck is in either Zone 4a or 3b, or sits directly on the line between them. There are so many plants which appeal to me but are hardy only to Zone 5, for example, scabiosa, so-called "hardy" mums and the beautiful "Knockout" roses. Unfortunately, some garden centers around here, especially ones at the big box stores, sell these sure-to-disappoint plants.

by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Add to these woes the fact that my backyard is mostly shaded by a huge old elm. Don't get me wrong, I love this tree, but it is not conducive to growing sun-loving plants.

by Walter Duncan

Of course, there are still many perennials I can grow in the limited sunny patches available to me, including salvia, purple prairie coneflowers, liatris, coreposis, daylilies, Oriental lilies, rudbeckia, Shasta daisies, hollyhocks, heliopsis, campanulas and dianthus.

by Victor Gabriel Gilbert

This year, after several years of not gardening at all, I concentrated on my deck and my front yard. Next year - provided we have a summer - I hope to put in a perennial garden in the back yard featuring the above-mentioned plants.

by Myron G. Barlow

In the meantime, I'll leave you with pictures of beautiful women picking equally beautiful flowers in some wondrous place where it's always summer, the plants are always full and lush, there are no drought, insect or plant disease problems, and it's not raining!

Pierre Andre Brouillet

Friday, June 17, 2011


Victoria Rigby as The Lady of Shalott

"Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott."

J. W. Waterhouse's "The Lady of Shalott"

Anyone who comes to this blog can tell I love the paintings of  John William Waterhouse, and anyone who has read me for any length of time knows I also love Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shalott".

Thanks to the blog "Medieval Muse" (on my sidebar), I have just learned there is a short film dramatization of the beloved poem. Inspiration for the visual imagery came from the many Pre-Raphaelite paintings that the poem inspired, but most especially the paintings of Waterhouse. Filmed by WAG Screen in 2009 in celebration of the bicentenary of Tennyson's birth, the DVD also includes a reading of the poem by Tennyson (played by actor Ben Poole) to an after-dinner audience at Christmas 1856. 

From the three very short trailers and a few still shots I could find, I think I can concur that Victoria Rigby is the perfect actress chosen to play the role. And the filmmakers went to great lengths to re-create her dress, her boat, her loom and her tower room.

The DVD also includes a conversation between Poole and Grace Timmins from the Tennyson Research Centre, and a music video by Dante Ferrara called La Donna di Shalott.

Although I think $28.00 is spendy for such a short film, I have decided to purchase it because 50% of the proceeds right now will be going to the family of Stephanie Piña, who writes the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood blog (

Piña's husband was recently in a serious motorcycle accident. Most of the bones in his foot and ankle were crushed, requiring multiple surgeries, and he will lose some motion. All of this happened while their 13-year-old son was recovering from a procedure to have titanium plates in both his legs. The money will go toward their medical bills, as her husband is self-employed and they do not have insurance.

Here's the link to purchase the DVD:

(Be sure to click on the right country or the DVD you receive will not be playable!

"Out flew the web and floated wide -
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse has come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott."

For those of you who don't know the poem, here is a synopsis: The Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, but little is known about her by the local farmers. She has been cursed, and so she must constantly weave a magic web without looking directly out at the world. Instead, she looks into a mirror which reflects the busy road and the people of Camelot which pass by her island. One day, "bold Sir Lancelot" rides past, and is seen by the lady. She stops weaving and looks out her window toward Camelot, bringing about the curse. She leaves her tower, finds a boat upon which she writes her name, and floats down the river to Camelot. She dies before arriving at the palace. Among the knights and ladies who see her is Lancelot, who thinks she is lovely:

"But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."


PS - If you'd like to hear Loreena McKennitt's excellent performance of this poem, check out these two videos: (live performance by McKennitt at the Juno Awards, short version). (long version, still shots only).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


by Michael Rock

I can't believe it's already full moon time again. Tomorrow's full moon is called the Strawberry Moon. Since International Fairy Day is coming in just 10 days, I thought I'd show this painting of a fairy and a strawberry moon. If you want to check out Fairy Day 2011, go here:

It seems this post today is all about "F" words - mostly of the good kind: fairies, full moon, flowers, feathered friends and fun. The flood is not so fun, but not as bad as had been expected. So far, the river continues to scour itself out and is way, way deeper than normal. This means it can carry far more water than it did previously.

The Missouri has risen to about 18 feet locally, or two feet above flood stage, but nowhere near the 20.6 feet predicted level. The cities of Bismarck-Mandan are in a watch and wait  mode, having sandbagged and built dikes until there is no more to do. The main worry in the cities right now is water seeping up through the ground.

People living outside the cities' limits have not been nearly as lucky, as the flood waters have reached their homes and covered their farmlands. Many of the much-counted-on 2011 crops are lost. And this is not the typical spring-type flood, where the floods come, stay about a week and then recede. This is a flood created by waters released from dams upstream, and could last well into the summer as the snow pack in the mountains continue to melt.

But meanwhile, the residents of our twin cities are determined that the flood will not  ruin our summer. Although recreational boating and fishing on the river is out, Bismarck still plans to hold Ribfest, Mandan will still host its Buggies and Blues Festival and both cities will celebrate the Fourth of July with the traditional fireworks, rodeo, parade and arts and crafts fair. The Bismarck Zoo may even be bringing back its animals and re-opening.

Local psychologists and psychiatrists are encouraging these plans. They're urging people weary of flood fighting to get out and just have fun for a few hours to relieve the terrible stress they've been enduring. The fight-or-flight phase may be on hold, but just waiting can also be terribly stressful.

For myself, I have been having fun with flowers. I had not planted flowers for the past few years, blaming it on sore knees and sore hands, but in actuality I didn't have the money to indulge in my favorite hobby. As I once again plunge my hands into the dirt, I vow never to let my yard get into such a bad state again. I didn't realize how long it had been until I discovered that there is a whole new crop of neighbors to comment on my front yard as they walk by.

In May, I always think no month can be more beautiful, with its tulips and other bulbs and the gorgeous flowering trees. Then June comes along, with its bridal veil spirea, irises, peonies and roses, and I know that June is the best month of all, and I plan to enjoy it to the full. (My William Baffin climbing rose and my Morden shrub roses are in bud and ready to burst into bloom.)

Cedar Waxwings by Cathy Therrien

A couple of days ago I was amazed to see the hedge on the north side of our yard just covered with Cedar Waxwings. I rarely see these lovely birds. They usually only appear in the fall, when they feast on the red berries that ripen then. It dawned on me that these birds may have been pushed away from the river and into town. If so, they are most welcome, but I wonder what they thought when their favorite hedges are not offering any berries! I also wonder what other wildlife will encroach upon our town, and will they all be welcome?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Diana: "Athena, I seem to have wet feet!"
Athena: "More than my feet are wet, Diana!"
Diana: "I think we need to evacuate. Hestia, follow me!"
Athena: "Come, Aphrodite. We'll go the other way!"

Just me attempting to put a little levity into a very serious situation. This conversation among four Greek goddesses immediately came to mind when I saw the photo in the Sunday Bismarck Tribune. (All photos are by the Tribune or submitted to the Trib's website.)

These statues are in a private garden in the Fox Island area of South Bismarck. (I was amazed to see such classy statutes in Bismarck, definitely a non-posh town.) The photo was taken May 28. As of today, June 1, the flood has not officially arrived and the water hovers at just under the 16-foot flood stage.

That is good news, and is caused by the amazing fact and welcome fact that the river is "scouring" itself out. Because the water is moving at such a fast clip (7 to 8 times faster than it usually pours through Bismarck), the river is dredging its own bottom and is therefore capable of holding more water.

That's the good news. But the flood is still coming. It has merely been postponed. Bismarck-Mandan has just been granted a little extra time to prepare. The bad news is that there was more heavy rain in Montana in the past few days and the Corps of Engineers will up the cfs release level to 100,000 by the end of today and will be releasing 150,000 cfs by mid-June. Remember just a few days ago when I said that 105,000 cfs was an astronomical number? And, for the first time ever, the spillway gates will be opened at Garrison Dam. The Army Corps of Engineers hastened to say that this does not mean that they have lost control of the river; they still maintained that this is a planned, controlled release.

Individuals, city officials, the ND National Guard, the Corps, the governor, our senators, and other cities in ND and Minnesota are doing everything they can to fight this thing, with sandbags, basket dikes, concrete barriers, ring dikes, dirt and clay dikes. Sandbagging sites are being operated around the clock. The goal is for four million sandbags to be filled by Thursday.  People of all ages from little kids to 70-something women are pitching in to help.

City officials are confident that they can keep the water away, not only from homes but from the city water treatment plant, fire departments and other places essential to maintaining the infrastructure. But for states officials, the problem is being compounded by the fact that they have to lend a hand to another flooded ND city. Minot, 90 miles to our north, is being flooded by a different river, the Souris (or Mouse). About 10,000 people have already been ordered to evacuate. So far, evacuations in Bismarck are voluntary.

For city officials, the new mantra is "20.6 plus 1". The rate of 150,000 cfs translates to a flood stage of 20.6 feet. Planners are adding one foot to their fortifications as a cushion. As for anything beyond that, as you can see by the photo, some people are leaving the rest up to God.

This flood fight is not receiving national news. I think it's a sad thing that they are not covering these mammoth efforts to stave off a might river. However, I can understand, since the flood has not officially arrived yet, and having to cover the flooding along an even mightier river, the Mississippi, plus all the tornado damage down South. But if you are praying for them, please leave a little room in your prayers for the stalwart people living in or trying to help South Bismarck-Mandan.

Flooded bike tunnel under Bismarck Expressway.
The now-ironic sign reads "Caution. Trail may be
slippery. Walk Bikes."