People who keep up on these things will notice it’s been a while since my last post. Don’t be concerned. Springtime is when a gardener should be out in the garden and not on the computer, and although not all that much is getting done a few things do. “Lazy” might be the word of the day most days, but it still beats looking out a window at snow so I hope all is good. This Monday we are into the Memorial Day weekend, and to many this holiday kickstarts the summer season. Spring always goes so fast but I’ll give it a little longer before I announce summer. To me summer starts with the first rose bloom, not the first stretch of heat, humidity, gnats and baseball, so please humor me and join in on a gloomy ‘late spring’ walkabout.
Out front at the mailbox, columbine and iris are putting on a colorful show.
After a few years off there appears to be a relapse in someone’s iris addiction. I blame the internet of course, but I guess I’m also somewhat responsible since I did plant the little boxes and bags which arrived at my door.
The rest of the front border. You may notice the moth-eaten look of the ‘Gold Cone’ juniper. I fear it’s juniper blight and there’s a strong possibility I’ll lose this little treasure.
Some readers may already know this, but I much prefer the older iris over the newest and latest. They’re all beautiful but the older varieties (often referred to as historics) seem a little hardier, a little less disease prone, and a lot more fragrant than the modern color bombs that grace the covers of most iris catalogs.
The variegated leaves of Iris pallida ‘variegata’ are awesome even when the plant is not in bloom. There’s also a heavy grape fragrance to the flowers on this one.
Many of these iris come via the Historic Iris Preservation Society (HIPS), an organization dedicated to saving iris who’s introduction dates back further than 30 years. It’s a noble cause, but watching varieties which I remember as being the latest and greatest slip into the ‘historic’ category does not help at all when it comes to clinging to my youth.
Iris ‘Lighthouse’ (1936 introduction)
I’ll spare you from too many photos this year. More may come, but for now it’s just the few which looked decent in this morning’s rain.
Iris ‘Kashmir White’ (1912). Not bad for a 106 year old iris.
Due to drainage reasons, the tall bearded iris grow best in the front yard, and out back it’s a little more hit or miss with rot and disease. Surely better spacing, site and soil prep could help, but that sounds like a lot of work to me and an occasional miss is made up for by a few hits 😉
The potager, looking far more flowery than vegetably. Holiday birch branches have made their way into the arbor and a few snowball bush cuttings (Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’?) have exploded into full sized shrubs.
The newer iris usually end up in the vegetable garden, since that’s the only ground which is typically not packed with plants during the midsummer iris planting season. I think the gardening books call it ‘succession planting’ when a spring crop of potatoes is followed by a summer planting of new iris rhizomes.
A new one for me. Iris ‘Port Wine’ (1950) will surely find a spot out front next year.
Here are a few more from out back.
Iris mme. Chobaut (1916). You can’t tell so much from this photo, but the modern iris behind has flowers about twice as big… but also a bunch of foliage and rot issues…
I’ve grown Iris ‘Color Carnival’ (1949) for at least 30 years so in my defense there are a few sentiment issues going on with my attachment to it. Color-wise it has a lot going on, and the variegated grass sure doesn’t help.
There’s plenty more going on but with the rain and weeds and general messiness here, and I’m a little hesitant to expose it all, but how about a primula? Primula sieboldii seedlings are doing well enough but I have to ask if anyone knows the secret to growing them well. Mine are carefree in general, but seem a little shy when it comes to flowering and I’m wondering if it’s a sun thing, overcrowded thing, or fertilizer thing?
A few Primula sieboldii seedlings from American Primula Society seed. I could easily fill a garden with these 🙂
Another issue I should touch upon is the budget thing. You may remember I’m trying to keep a track of gardening expenses this year, and even if it’s only a half hearted attempt I think May is still too early in the year to give up completely. Let me wrap this post up by getting a few things off my chest. $7 for plants I picked up on a random nursery stop. $8 for plants I picked up when shopping for someone else.
The deck containers were planted up this weekend. I’m struggling to stick with purples and yellow this year… although having a color theme is not something I’ve ever succeeded with before…
I’m trying to cut down on plastic this summer, so new planting containers have been a problem. Terra cotta is nice (but heavy), so to keep things a little new I’ve been keeping my eyes open for anything else which might fill in. Metal might be an option. At $18 a metal laundry tub has been put to use as a water garden with a dwarf papyrus to start. We’ll see how it works out, and before anyone starts critiquing my budget-math I want to point out this is not a gardening expense since I may start doing laundry in there at any time.
Perfectly hardy painted ferns have been put to work in the annual deck containers. I couldn’t resist the colors and patterns, and with a connection to the drip irrigation lines they should do even better here than in the often too-dry open garden.
I admit the ferns were an impulse buy. They made up nearly half the $48 I spent on super special plants for the deck. I guess add another $46 for other necessary annuals. Oh and $7 for feed store annuals, but ignore the $7 I spent on poultry grit. The grit will likely be used for topping seed pots and and amending bulb soil, but you never know. A friend has chickens now and it’s not the worst idea to be prepared for any possible chicken-sitting or chicken-daycare which could possible happen.
Add $6 for a clearance dieffenbachia which although slightly browned should recover nicely.
Did you notice the (perhaps too many) new metal buckets gracing the back porch? At $3.50 a piece I thought they were reasonably priced, and even better when they rang up at the register for $1.50. When I commented on the price I got a “well that’s what they’re coming up as”, so of course I went back to the Mart the next day and got more. Another eight was probably more than I needed, but they might make decent planters someday… but not today of course. Today they are decorating accents and perhaps beverage containers, and in no way a garden budget item.
In response to a ‘you should put some pots out front’ request I pulled a few things out of the garage and set them around the porch. $14 for the one new plant in the red pot, an expense which should fall under ‘gift’ or ‘home accent’, but in a wave of generosity I’ll add it to the garden budget.
So that’s where we’re at. There’s still tons of stuff to plant due to someone having seeds and being bored in February. There are still dozens of homeless succulent cuttings, unplanted coleus cuttings, tubs of tubers and summer bulbs, and even more started seedlings in the garage under the grow lights… but that can wait. Right now it’s still damp and dark outside. Maybe dark and damp make it a good morning to grab a second coffee and put the porch furniture to use and just think about what needs to be done. I use that excuse often and rarely run into regret.
Have a great week!
$129 in nursery indiscretions
$705 total so far for the 2018 gardening year.