Here in the US it’s Memorial Day, a day of parades and ceremonies to remember the sacrifices of the fallen. Today we’ll be hitting the main events but we’ll also be grilling and getting ready for summer since the weather is finally agreeing with the calendar. Yesterday I finally got to spend a lot of time in my own garden and most of it was spent getting the front yard straightened out. It was a pleasure since the whole yard is perfumed right now with the lemony and grape scents of flowering bearded iris.
This old iris is one of my favorites. Although nameless, it has a strong fragrance and carefree habit. Butterfly bush will shade the entire patch come July, but these iris keep going regardless.
The front border along the street is dry full sun, and the iris enjoy the summertime baking. I think the dry, lean life helps ward off all the floppiness and fungal diseases that sometimes becomes a problem with bearded iris.
Iris “Indian Chief” is also an older nearly indestructible iris. I sometimes think of these as cemetery iris since they seem to go on indefinitely, lovingly planted by a gravestone and then neglected for the next 50 years.
The iris are a little sparse this year compared to years gone by. I pulled out wheelbarrows full last summer to try and thin things out, so it will be another year before some of the new clumps really fill in. Sometimes the garden needs some tough-love 🙂 They were the perfect plant for this location though, and really helped make a new border look full and settled in within the second year.
Iris “rhages”, another historic iris from the 1920’s. Approaching its 100 year mark and still a pleasure!
I did some moving and dividing but this bed will need some serious weeding once I can sort out what all the seedlings are. Drought last year kept all the biennials and perennials from sprouting last fall, so the real estate was open for tons of nicotina, verbena, and rudbeckia seedlings. Something about the winter was perfect for seed sprouting since I have things coming up that normally don’t- such as sedum seedlings- and few of the usual characters such as oxeye daisies and forget me nots.
Iris kochii, a bearded iris collected from the wilds of northern Italy around 1887, and my allium splurge coming on next to it. I finally broke down and shelled out the $7 for this bulb and now I’m looking forward to the softball sized blooms.
I think I’m going to collect up all the rudbeckia seedling and just spread them around throughout the border this year. between those and a few cannas this might be a low maintenance year for the front bed. (this said while considering all the cool seeds still sitting unsown in my seed box)
I think I need a few more iris here in the middle…. With all the spring bulbs gone things are too green, but imagine it with big swaths of orange and yellow rudbeckias! (plus a few red zinnias maybe?)
A firm hand (and a shovel) were used against all the little guys drifting down towards the street. The border may get a bit unruly but I used some leftover mulch to give it a clean edge. Although I’m not a fan of the brown dyed mulch (it was free from next door) it gives a nice neat edge and might be the easiest thing you can do to make an “overly exuberant” planting look controlled.
A foot or two of fresh mulch along the edge even makes the weeds look better. -yes, that’s a big chunk of coal… this part of Pennsylvania is coal country and we actually sit right above one of the mines.
The border along the house also got a little attention, but overall there’s not much to do here. Hostas have covered up and filled in around the early bulb foliage and the columbine seed I threw around last year has grown up and added some nice blue color. In another few weeks I’ll come along and get some annuals in, probably some of the coleus cuttings off the windowsill.
Blue aquilegia filling in until the annuals get planted. With warmer weather coming the pansy’s days are numbered.
I was a little firmer with the sunflower seedlings this year. Dozens came up (apparently all the seeds weren’t eaten by the goldfinches) but I moved all but a few to the tropical garden… which has now become a sunflower field. A few are left though, and the neighbors will just have to deal with rank eight foot annuals mixed in with the foundation plantings. Here’s another questionable front yard planting. Miss Willmott’s Ghost (eryngium giganteum) is a slightly weedy looking, thistle-like biennial that is just starting to put up its bloom stalks. This is my first year with it (the seedlings didn’t do much last summer) but I already love it. Just look at those flawless leaves with that nice veining!
The striped leaves of iris pallida “variegata” with blue fescue and Miss Wilmott’s Ghost. I’m all into the ghost right now, but the iris deserves some more respect too. I should really give it a spot of its own, and not just these stray bits that were missed when digging the bed over.
I hope to give the vegetable garden a little attention today. It’s overrun with weeds at a time of year when it should be brimming with harvestable lettuce. Oh well, we have to pick our battles at this time of year, so I’ll just focus on the front with its neatly edged lawn and freshly cut grass.
How do those stupid chairs keep showing up in every picture?!
Wish me luck with the back. Today is supposed to be warmer again and I hate breaking a sweat on a holiday. Plus the deck needs powerwashing and there’s grilling to do… and who knows what valid reason I’ll find to sit around with a cold beverage 🙂
Such are the problems of almost-summer!