Garden log, 5.12.16

Went out in the backyard with the dog this morning intending to pull weeds for 10 minutes. Camellia ‘Midnight Lover’ had a terrible case of leaf hall, so I pruned those out. While I was at it, I struck 12 cuttings of Camellia ‘Nuccio’s Cameo.’ I haven’t had much luck in the past growing camellias from cuttings, but I keep trying.

Louisiana iris ‘Black Gamecock’ is in bloom in the rain garden and looking rather spectacular.

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Garden log, 1.4.15

Despite 70F (21C) temperatures today, it’s winter and I must govern myself accordingly in the garden. I went through the seed packets and found a handful of treasures to winter sow:

I’ll keep an eye on the anemones and spinach. For now, I’m growing the spinach in the cold frame, though I may transplant some of it into a larger bed as the month progresses. The anemones will need a second cold, moist period, so in late spring they’ll migrate to the refrigerator for a month or two. I hope to be able to transplant them to the garden this fall.

January here can be terribly unpredictable: This week, we’ll swing from a high of 70 to a high of 29F (-1.6C). I’m sure we had winter temperature swings when I was growing up, but I don’t remember anything like this. And we always had at least a few snows; that’s not a guarantee now. The more time I spend in the garden, the more I worry about climate change.

My snowdrops are blooming and the foliage of daffodils and crocus stands just above the mulch. I’m closer to my goal of having something in bloom all year round.

This year’s bumper crop of acorns has meant that the deer have stayed away up to now, but two days ago I saw seven (seven!) adult deer at once in the neighbor’s backyard. I hope my garden looks more trouble than it might be worth to them. Thinking more and more about the necessity of a fence, especially with Henry‘s addition to the household. Perhaps he’ll frighten off the squirrels and voles, who are making one heck of a mess in the soft, wet ground.

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.