Sunday, May 22, 2016


I am going to let my garden blog go dormant. Too many more fun things to do and I just don't care enough.

This morning I took a couple of pictures of irises. When I first started perennial gardening 45 years ago (jeez) I grew irises like my mother grew - Tall Bearded Irises. They were tall monsters and had huge, frilly blossoms. The were too big for a vase and they tended to flop over in the garden. Pointless plants in my opinion. Hell, most perennial plants bloom for a week or two. I have gotten to the point that, with a very few exceptions, the foliage has to justify the plant, flowers are just a pleasant bonus. If you want color either buy a couple of trays of annuals or paint the sidewalk pink. Eventually I discovered the small species irises and found the Miniature Tall Bearded Irises and Intermediate Irises. They are not spectacular as individuals plants, but they work well as a group. I bought a sampler collection of few years ago with a lot of different colors - a few years? Likely 25. Over time I have composted or given away most of them. For maximum impact in the garden a lot of one or two varieties simply works better than a pallet full of color blotches scattered about. I think I'm down to three or four varieties, plus a couple of early species. 

The purple is nice if there isn't too much of it. It tends to form a vase of leaves filled with flowers. It lives in the lower garden because the entry garden is mostly green, the color doesn't work play well up there.

The yellow is part a curving row that snakes through the hostas of the entry garden. The yellow works in the green garden because let's face it, yellow and green are the same color - it is just a matter of degree - how much blue do you want to mixed in your yellows. 

A quick word about Siberian Irises. I have a number of them. They don't like me, they don't like my pH and they want to be fed and watered too much. Sally Chesterman took some from the compost heap a couple of days ago. I'm digging out more if anyone wants some. They are all modern hybrids, some white, some blues and even lavender - quite lovely if they are living in moist compost enhanced soil.

-  Gunnar


George A said...

I'm slowing ridding myself of my mother's German Irises. After she died I dug some up at the farm and moved them to our house. I have some pale blue ones and purple ones like yours. There may still be a bronze colored clump but those don't seem to thrive. The others grow like weeds and have to be divided every few years. I think the next time I dig them up to divide, I'll save a few of each of the two colors and keep them in pots so that they don't spread and take over a garden patch.

Gunnar Berg said...

Vigor can be an issue. That purple is nice because it is civilized - maybe a foot tall and doesn't take over the garden.