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8 Dark Beauties For the Garden

8 Dark Beauties For the Garden


Posted on Oct 7, 2016 | 0 comments

Life isn’t always about pastels and primary colors. They say the darker the berry the sweeter the juice, but does that hold true for the rest of the botanical world as well? Take a walk on the dark side and see how amazing these unique plants can truly be!

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Killer Plants: Ghastly Beauties

Killer Plants: Ghastly Beauties


Posted on Nov 11, 2015 | 0 comments

Ghouls and Goblins won’t kill you. But these killer plants could.

Many of the garden plants we grow for ornamental reasons got their vibrant, exotic colors as nature’s way of saying “Warning—Poison!” While most of these are innocuous enough sitting in pots or in the garden, if ingested they could cause illness of varying severity, and sometimes even death.

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One of the numerous negative ecological effects of urban development is a higher rate of soil erosion. Forests naturally hold on to soil with their roots. Trees slow the fall of raindrops to keep them from disrupting the soil. The natural bumps and hillocks in the landscape break up the flow of water, giving it more opportunity to be absorbed by plant roots and filtered through the soil before it winds its way into creeks, streams, and rivers.

These natural soil-defense mechanisms do not exist in developed land, where rain falls on rooftops, asphalt, and flat lawns covered in relatively sparse, shallow-rooted plants.

All this means that on developed land, wind and rain carries off much more top soil, dumping it into storm drains and into the water table. This not only degrades the soil quality, but also dumps soil into the local water supply, along with oils and often-toxic pollutants.

For the sustained health of your garden and your community, you should try and minimize erosion and runoff as much as possible with careful garden design. Where downspouts empty onto your yard or where storm waters flow through it, you should take every effort to absorb and filter this water. A well-designed garden will capture water effectively, keeping plant roots moist much longer while also holding on to the soil’s nutrients and keeping pollution out of the local water table.

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Dividing Irises and Daylilies


Posted on Aug 30, 2012 | 1 comment

The Labor Day holiday comes at the perfect time for busy gardeners! Bearded Irises should be divided every 2 to 3 years, and Daylilies need division every 3 to 5 years. Late summer is the best time to do this, so make a morning of it and do both at once!

WG Dividing IrisBearded Iris is very easy to dig up, because the rhizome sits at soil level. Carefully dig it up, keeping as many roots as possible, and wash it off. Then check the rhizome carefully for soft areas and small holes. Remove all of these undesirable areas with a sharp knife. Divide the remaining rhizome at its natural joints (shown at right with a red arrow). Trim the foliage back to about 6 inches, and re-plant the new rhizomes.

Like everything else about Daylilies, division is very simple! Just dig up the plant, taking care to keep as many of the roots intact as possible. Then plunge two garden forks back-to-back through the center of the plant and gently pull them apart, dividing the plant in two. Repeat until you have smaller clumps. Trim the foliage back to about 12 inches and re-plant the new clumps, hilling up the soil and fanning at the roots.

Now that you have many more new Bearded Iris and Daylily plants, you might consider creating an accent planting of just these two perennials. They both appreciate sunshine and good drainage, and bloom successively, with the Daylilies often encoring to keep the Irises company! This way you can dig up and divide the entire planting every 3 years, and keep your garden growing in beauty.

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A Bog Garden Story

A Bog Garden Story


Posted on Feb 2, 2007 | 0 comments

While probing for ideas that might add a little intrigue to the pitifully uninspiring flora of my backyard, I was told by a friend to check out bog gardens. My first thought was of a marsh or swamp, something more appropriate for a wildlife preserve or ghost story than my simple little yard. However, trusting my source, I dove, head-first into that murky swamp of information, the all-knowing internet.

Apparently, if you have a low spot in your yard that never completely dries and you plant some elephant ears there, you have not created a bog garden as some of the sources I found would lead you to believe. It is a clever way to turn a problem into an asset, but not a bog garden. A bog is actually a type of wetland formed from a deposit of dead plant matter, most commonly some type of moss or lichen. Its moisture comes almost completely from precipitation and tends to be slightly acidic. An exotic environment for exotic plants- It’s exactly what I was looking for.

I also found that recreating this environment on the small scale is not very difficult; some people even create indoor bog gardens in terrariums, which would be a perfect way to display those bog-loving carnivorous plants and make an excellent conversation piece. I just needed a place that will hold moisture and that I could fill with peat. I had the perfect place, that gross little pond insert that I installed two seasons ago, or as I like to call it, my “mosquito nursery”. I just cleaned that out and poked a few holes in the bottom for drainage- lined the bottom with coarse sand and filled it with moistened peat. The moss maintains the acidity and I use a soaker hose to keep my bog damp. I planted an Iris, this very interesting Juncus Effusus Unicorn, and two Pine Hibiscuses. Situated in the center of my garden, accented with two lawn gnomes and a pink flamingo, my bog has definitely added spice to my back yard.

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The Scoop on Pardancanda

The Scoop on Pardancanda


Posted on Nov 3, 2006 |

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A similar lily, Red Twin Asiatic

That’s x Pardancanda, if you please — it’s an intergeneric cross of Belamcanda chinensis x Pardanthopsis dichotoma. The name is taken from part of each genus name: Pardan + canda. I have wondered if they knew they were going to call it “Candy Lily” when they came up with the new genus, because the “canda” bit does fit in nicely. (And if you’ve never heard of Pardanthopsis, it used to be called Iris dichotoma. It’s one of the beardless Irises, and has the lovely common name of Vesper Iris — presumably because the blooms opened at the hour for Vespers?)

Anyway,  x Pardancanda was introduced by our own Doc Alston in the early ’70’s, but Doc will tell you that all the breeding was done by Sam Norris, who purchased the original plants from Park Seed. The species is named for him, but Mr. Norris never released any varieties onto the market, so Doc redid the crosses and came up with the mix that Park Seed has been selling so successfully for 40 years. Doc claims he played around with selecting individual colors but was never satisfied with the results, which does sound just like him — too modest by half! At any rate, there have been other selections, but I believe ‘Sangria’ is the first individual color. The flowers are larger and the season of interest even longer. Candy Lilies have those big, shiny, blackberry-like seedpods that people are keen to use in indoor arrangements, so after the blooms pass in late summer or early fall, the performance continues with a new look.

 

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