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!


I am always a bit sad when iris season passes. They’re some of my favorite flowers, and as they decline I think, “What is it that I look forward to next?” I become so obsessed with the iris that I simply forget.

Fortunately, all the rain this year combined with relatively mild temperatures has given plenty to remind me:

generous gardener 2


gertrude jekyll

spider and peony

phlomis daylily bud tiger lily bud

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.

Grow Write Guild #3: A change that does me good

The Grow Write Guild’s third assignment is to describe the garden at present; stop, observe, and enjoy.

My garden is presently divided into rooms. Some are fairly well-kept, some are being refurbished, and alas, there are some on which the door had better be kept shut.

But everywhere I look, the scene is lush with fresh shades of green: lime, olive, emerald, forest, apple, bronze, blue. In a single week the garden has transformed. A week ago, I could stand at my back door and see perfectly clearly the Carrot Lady‘s house. Continue reading