A great many of the plants in my garden were not ones I chose. They came to be in my garden because I couldn’t stand the idea of them being discarded. Last summer some folks were working on a house on my street and I was stunned to see them use a mini-bulldozer looking machine to get rid of an iris bed that had been there for years! I felt sick to see it, and wondered why they hadn’t let people come dig bulbs instead. It just seems senseless to me to plow beauty under when it could just as easily be relocated.
Luckily, my friends generally share the sentiment — and often their plants! One friend knew of a house that was recently sold that had lots of flower beds the new owners didn’t want to maintain. She got us permission to go and dig as much as we wanted. This was in the fall so we were digging iris and lilies with no idea at all what they would look like.
Last summer, when we built my pond and tripled (!) the size of my garden, I planted most of the unknowns we rescued around the pond. The lilies bloomed last year and were yellow. Since I didn’t have any yellow lilies (just the regular, native orange day lilies) I was delighted. The iris didn’t bloom until this year.
At first, I didn’t think they were going to bloom. The fans were thick and lush and green, but most of my other irises bloomed out before I spotted a bud on the mystery plants. Then, I thought they were going to be purple. At that point, every single plant that had bloomed in my garden had a purple flower. Several varieties of iris. English wallflower. I’d been hoping for some yellow or white.
The day the first one opened I was stunned. They were a deep burgundy, and the blooms were huge:
It was exciting! They weren’t purple! They were big and beautiful. And, it turned out they were also prolific. Most stalks had 2-5 blooms each.
Even better, they bloomed for about a month! Most of my other varieties only bloomed for a couple of weeks. It was so exciting to watch for a bloom every day and then enjoy the flowers. I even cut a bouquet of them for a friend.
Do you rescue plants without having any idea what they will look like?
Size and of iris rhizomes and length/quantity roots has nothing to do with ability of the plant to bloom, it’s more a function of different varieties and time of year and overall growing conditions. East coast and mountain grown rhizomes are generally smaller overall then west coast rhizomes. Oh Lord. look at my dirty nails. I seem to sport gardeners manicure near every day that I am out in the garden!!! I hate wearing gloves.
This picture shows a rhizome of blooming size in early spring. Note, it’s only about the size of my thumb (I have smallish hands). How do you know it’s blooming size? There’s 2 ways to tell. One is to count the fan leaves, include leaf scars when counting. Most varieties will need 7-13 leaves for bloom. The other indicator of maturity is the presence of baby shoots or nubs near the top.
So to answer the question “Is bigger better” I have to offer a strong “no”.
The answer is…… it depends on where you live and whether you want to have flowers the first season after planting.
Generally, iris can be dug, divided and planted all year. Many people plant them in late summer and fall. At that time single rhizomes are the largest and the weather in most parts of the country is very suitable for the plants to settle in. Minimal intervention from gardeners is needed as fall brings plenty of rain and cooler temperatures.
In my garden, I divide and move them when I get around to it. The main disadvantage in planting too late in the spring is a delayed bloom time and first blooms may not look their best. Iris blooms not quite their best, however, still look awesome!
My space-age iris seedling in bloom
I had some ideas for a post yesterday, unfortunately, something went wrong with WordPress and I was unable to log in and write. So you’d think, I’ll just write it today.
I am learning that that isn’t quite the way it works as my ideas from yesterday have poofed into thin air while I slept. Maybe you can relate to this experience and maybe not. But I used to be able to remember EVERYTHING, yes SIREE! I do remember I was planning to write about the Winners in my garden in 2013. The plants that just stood out and gave my garden that special oomph and brought a smile to my face when I walked out with my morning coffee. I posted pictures of some of them on facebook over the last few days and I am proud to say that I figured out how to insert the pictures into this post!
Happy 2014 to you and yours – may health and happiness find you and may your garden be all that you hope for with few weeds that can easily be pulled!