Planting surprise: Iris domestica?

On Monday, I thought the yarrow looked rangy and disheartened, so I cut it back. Amongst its tall, woody stems, I found this:

iris domestica, blackberry lily

This has never bloomed in my garden before. Not having considered it closely before now, I assumed that it was more bearded iris foliage. It’s clearly not.

I think it is Iris domestica, formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis, or blackberry lily.

My neighbor grows this plant and I acquired some from her many years ago, but it hasn’t ever bloomed before. Perhaps it hasn’t had adequate water up until now (we are making up for lost opportunity, aren’t we?). The Missouri Botanical Garden website says that the plant creeps slowly by rhizomes and may also self-seed. I know that I sowed some of these seeds in my winter sowing escapade, but nothing materialized.

blackberry lily (iris domestica or belamcanda chinensis) and red hot poker, kniphofia

I can’t wait to see it in bloom! What  a nice surprise.

Backyard Blooms: Plants in flower this week.

I am taking a little break this week, but here’s what’s blooming in the garden right now:

Unidentified purple iris from my sister

This interesting iris is a pass-along from my sister, who isn’t much into gardening so we don’t know its particulars. This is the first time it has bloomed for me. If anyone has any thoughts on its identify, please do let me know!

jq's iris 2

Garden log, 5.28.13


Today was a day for long-postponed garden chores: cutting back stalks of bearded and Dutch iris, deadheading roses and peonies, pruning back boxwoods. I am halfway through the boxwood hedge, reducing each plant by a third and thinning them to provide better air circulation. Removed some twiggy branches off a hickory and a droopy elm branch that had started to interfere with foot traffic through the garden. Pinched back Viburnum tinus and the camellias in the white garden.

Over the weekend, a neighbor was rumored to have found a copperhead in her garden. This reminded me that they often nest in piles of leaves, of which I have more than one or two lying around. Pulled on the long pants and rubber boots; got to work shredding the pile closest to the kids’ play area; hope to get to them all before the weekend. Sunny, 83 degrees.

Hello, gorgeous.

Iris x louisiana ‘Black Gamecock’ has sat about in the garden for at least two years now, doing little but sending up the occasional leaf. But the absurd amounts of rain we’ve had lately have coaxed it to show off:

iris louisiana black gamecock 2

If it’s going to look like this, I am willing to forgive quite a lot of laziness.

That’s my laziness, to be honest. Although catalogues will tell you that Louisiana iris will grow in “ordinary garden soil” (we all know about that), they really want boglike conditions. Wet roadside ditches apparently offer the optimal environment. Typically, my garden’s moisture level is not comparable to a roadside ditch (its appearance is another matter entirely). This spring has provided more rain than sun–I have the mosquitoes to prove it–and now this bloom is giving me the motivation I need to give the plant the conditions it wants. Now that I have a better habitat for the plant, I will move it after it finishes blooming.

To my friends in the US, have a magnificent holiday weekend!

Iris obsession puts me in good company

Henry Mitchell loved irises. Me, too.

Iris time is peaking here in my garden. All  the rain of the past two weeks has left me with  soggy-tissue lumps to deadhead. But I have been delighted to see many of the pass-along plants I’ve received in the past two years blooming for the first time.

I thought my collection of miscellaneous iris might be redundant, but I am nothing compared to Henry. In his garden in Memphis, he apparently grew more than 500.  Schreiner’s Iris Gardens continued to honor Mitchell posthumously for many years with gifts of rhizomes to his widow.

In a post last year, I wrote about inheriting this property in which iris seedlings grew like grass. Most of them couldn’t be salvaged, but a year or two after the surgery I do have a healthy stand of several different cultivars. Now, I am increasingly fascinated with identifying which ones I have.

If you have any tips on sources that can definitively identify iris, bearded ones in particular, I’d love to hear them. I did find the World Iris visual gallery, and their “QuickFix index” which is helping me slowly. “Quick” is relative when there are so many iris cultivars out there, and plant identification apps seem to be low on the programmer-type’s priority list.

I’ve got (that I’ve counted) a total of 13 varieties of bearded iris, Iris germanica:

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Then, there are the ones I don’t know:

Iris germanica ‘Carolina Darkness’ has never bloomed for me before, but it looks as though it will in the next few weeks. I cannot find a picture of it online. And there is the muddy yellow one of which, inexplicably, I do not have a picture.

Then, there are the other species:

This spring, my neighbor Martha gave me Iris cristata, dwarf crested iris. I understand it is white. Other not-yet-bloomed characters include the purple Japanese iris that I received from my sister’s garden some years ago, and Iris x louisiana ‘Black Gamecock.’

I understand it is possible, in a not-unreasonable amount of time, to actually watch an iris unfurl. If it ever stops raining, I shall treat myself to a sabbatical long enough to do just that.