Six on Saturday – Irises

 

As ever I’m late to the party but yesterday was such a nice day I decided to delay sitting at the laptop until this morning and I’m pleased I did as the sky is grey and the garden is being buffeted by a sporadic wind.

I like to try to theme my Six on Saturday posts (when I remember to do them) and this week it had to be Irises.  I have a real weakness for Irises of all sorts and am a member of the Iris Society.  I suspect I should call myself a disgraced member of the Iris Society as I am incapable of remembering plant names and plant labels never stay in place very long. However, I would argue in my defence that an inability to remember a plant name or where you got the plant from in the first place doesn’t mean you can’t be passionate about a genus and love them very much.

So here are my six for this weekend, all flowering yesterday in the garden.  I’m starting with Siberian Irises.  The top photo is of a plant given to me by a work colleague who had herself had it for many years, the name long lost.  It is so delicate and smaller in flower than the variety below.  Also unnamed and again I have had this plant for probably 15 years or more.  It doesn’t seem to flower as prolifically as it used to and I’m wondering if it needs dividing, or more moisture.

Pacific Coast Iris

Now I do know that this is a Pacific Coast Iris and I grew it from seed from the Iris Society about 4 years ago.  Last year it flowered for the first time and I seem to remember it had just 2 flowers, this year it has doubled up to 4 flowers. I get the impression that Pacific Coast Irises don’t have named varieties, maybe they cross pollinate too much to be reliable.  What I find fascinating about Pacific Coast Irises is that they seem to thrive in the most inhospitable conditions.  I have seen them growing in garden alongside dense conifers and in my own garden this plant is thriving next to a large and hungry Rosemary bush.  I do wonder why they aren’t recommended more often for those difficult locations, possibly because it seems the only way to acquire them is via seed from the Iris Society or a plant from a friend.

Iris Langport Wren

I love this Bearded Iris.  I love the deepness of the almost black petals, they are so sumptuous.  I have bought many Bearded irises over the years but only seem to have three varieties growing in my garden now.  I’m assuming that these are the doers, the ones that stand up to anything thrown at them – persistent rain, dislocation by a poor gardener, all sorts.  ‘Langport Wren’ is spread all around the garden, a clump here and a clump there.  This plant is on the edge of the new vegetable bed, guarding the lettuces.

Also on the edge of the vegetable bed are some Dutch Iris, or Florists Irises (above and below).  I buy bulbs of these most years, apart from last Autumn, and about 50% appear in the Spring and if I am lucky some of them reappear in later years.  I just love them.  The petals are like silk and they appear on long stems (obviously why florists like them) above the surrounding plants looking impossibly glamorous.  They are usually named but the names never stick in my head and I don’t think they matter to be honest.

 

I hope you enjoyed my Six on Saturday (well Sunday) and thank you to The Propagator for hosting this meme every Saturday, its not always easy to keep up with hosting a meme as I well know so well done.

Six on Saturday – 15th June 2019

I’m late this week as I have been at my Embrodierers Guild meeting so photos had to wait until I got home, and then I had to wait for another heavy rain shower to pass.  All of which meant that the plants were a little weather beaten and I was a little soggy by the time I had my six photos.

I’m starting with this peony, which I think is Bowl of Beauty.  I was so excited when I spotted the flowers opening this afternoon.  Its been in bud for weeks and just sat there and I convinced myself it was another red peony as the buds were quite dark.  I have a number of the big red peonies but a few years back I invested in a couple of none-red ones as I do like a peony.  However, I suspect I planted them too deeply as there were no flowers.  This peony was relocated last year I think and I was careful not to bury it too far down and I am sure this is why I have been rewarded with flowers.

Just to show you how over grown the garden has got here is the central Big Border from the bottom path.  Yet more dead-heading to do and if you look closely to the left of path you can see the Papaver ‘Patty’s Plum’ fading poorly, but it seems to work with the roses so I think I will leave it.  The red splash towards the back is an oriental poppy and I am going to move that once it has finished flowering to the front garden where its big leaves will be less dominating.  I expect, knowing oriental poppies, that some root will stay behind and in a year or so it will be back in the Big Border.

This is the the Big Border from the middle path.  The Geraniums have gone mad over the last week and I finally have that overflowing look I was hoping for.  I added a few lilies last week to add a bit of glamour.

Back to the plants here is my largest Allium, possibly Purple Sensation.  I love the metallic look of the flowers, they remind me of some sort of lighting installation.

The Allium also gives a useful size context to the Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ which is swamping the area behind the bench.  I left the bench in the photo for size reference and to shame myself into painting it. I think the Hosta is finally the right plant for this spot as I have been looking for something which would have enough presence to fill the space and be seen behind the bench but not a tall plant which would over shadow the bench.

Finally, a not particularly briliant photo of my white Ensata Iris, which is slowly increasing year on year and makes me very happy.

For more Six on Saturday posts from around the horticultural world check out The Propagator’s Blog

Beardless Iris Study Day

On Saturday  I had the pleasure of attending The Beardless Iris Society study day in the depths of Herefordshire.  I haven’t been to a plant study day for a few years now as I think I was just overwhelmed with plant information but the break has reinvigorated me and the programme appealed to my inner plant geek,

It was only fairly recently that I discovered that there was a Beardless Iris Society, a sub group of the British Iris Society.  In broad sweeping terms, which would probably be frown upon by stalwarts of the society, beardless irises are generally the Siberian irises and Japanese (Ensata) irises along with a few others which don’t have beards. Whilst some in attendance fained a dislike of Bearded Irises I think most, like me, just loved iris in whatever form they took.

The study day started with 3 talks.  A quick round up of Siberian Irises from Alun and Gill Whitehead, our hosts; a talk about European Beardless Iris by Tim Loe; and a talk about the Iridaceae family by Dr Julian Sutton of Desirable Plants.  Julian’s talks are always so informative and engaging and I learnt loads from all the talks; although there seemed to be a difference of opinion about the importance of the number of chromosomes in the hybridising of Iris sibrica  with Iris sanguinea and the significance of I. typhifolia. Most of it passed me by but I do find the discussion about these things fascinating even if I only understand a bit of it.

After a lovely lunch provided by our hosts we went for a visit to their garden, Aulden Farm, which hosts a national collection of Siberian Irises. As ever in the depths of Herefordshire the journey to the garden involved single track roads, encounters with tractors and lots of reversing – all good fun especially when you are in a convoy of 5 cars.

I haven’t been to Aulden Farm for years although I regularly chat with Gill at various plant events.  I seem to remember some years back when there was a drought and everything looked a little dry.  Not so this year, all very lush and bountiful.  Aulden Farm is the type of garden that really appeals to me.  It is a very natural garden without being a wilderness.  The grass fades into the full borders which overflow with all manner of interesting plants.  This isn’t a garden which relies on design and structure nor for that matter is it a garden which relies on unusual plants; it is a garden which seems to capture both extremes in a space which envelopes you in plants and wildlife with paths that encourage you to explore further.

The Whiteheads are plantsmen (or should I say plants people).  They are consummate growers and sell all manner of plants at various groups and events.  They also have an informal nursery at their garden for open gardens days under the NGS and other visitors.  Needless to say being a group of plant fanatics the nursery was the first stop for many.  As ever in these circumstances I take advantage of the distraction to get into the garden and take some photos before it fills with people.

One of the key feature of the main garden is a dry river bed which meanders across the site being more full of water one end than the other – I didn’t really get a handle on the logistics of it.  But the moisture creates the perfect environment for Siberian Irises -as you can see from the photos on this blog post.  They look so good in large clumps and they were so full of flowers unlike mine which have been very mean with their flowers this year.

For some reason I hadn’t really registered that there was a national collection to see in the garden, although I have been told this before but my brain is full of work stuff and was obviously have a sabbatical on Saturday.  Anyway, I was rather surprised to come across a gate leading to a large field like area of garden full of raised beds full of irises. As with any good national collection the beds have a clear planting plan displayed for visitors so you can mostly work out the name of the variety you are admiring. I liked most of them, my tastes are so catholic, but I was interested in the varieties with larger petals (or perianths as I think we were told to call them by Dr Sutton – must check my notes).  I am used to the more simple, natural siberian irises but the hybrids have three larger chunkier perianths which really appealed to me; but then I do love Ensata iris and these have a similar type of flower head.

Having admired the garden I found the nursery empty of visitors so time for me to browse the remains left and do a little plant buying.  On returning home and sorting out my acquisitions from the garden and plant sale in the morning I seem to have acquired 5 new irises which is rather troubling as I have no idea where I am going to shoehorn them into.

I had a lovely day, learnt lots, met interesting people, had good food, visited a lovely garden and bought plants – what more can you ask for.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Feb 2019

My selection of blooms for February include a lot of flowers that were flowering last month.  It seems to me that spring flowers last longer than those in the summer.  I wonder if it is something to do with the temperatures or whether they flower longer to give them more chance of being pollinated by the pollinators which are scarcer than in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of clamps of Eranthis which are slowly clumping up.  I did have Eranthis schwefelglanz which is a pale Eranthis but I haven’t spotted it so far which is disappointing.

Narcissus ‘February Gold’

My first daffodils or narcissus are flowering – Narcissus ‘February Gold’. I planted these bulbs back in the Autumn in a new area where the compost bins were previously.  The flowers are more delicate than I anticipated and I am really pleased with how they look, I will definitely be adding more next year.

Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

Probably the last bloom on the Iris ungicularis looking a little chewed but still providing a welcome splash of colour at this time of year.

One of the many clumps of snowdrops around the garden.  I am really pleased with how big the clumps are now; I will probably do a little splitting of clumps in a month or so once the flowers have finished.

Galanthus ‘Wendys Gold’

One of my more specialist snowdrops – Galanthus ‘Wendys Gold’ – different because of the gold ovaries and markings on the inner petals.

And a selection of my favourite hellebores

A hellebore seedling

Hellebore Anna’s Red 

So these are the floral highlights from my garden.

For more garden bloggers blooms check out May Dream Gardens, where Carol kindly hosts this meme.

 

 

Musings from the sofa

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Yes from the sofa as I have been incapacitated since Tuesday and spent every day stuck on the sofa wary of any movement which might cause me excruciating pain.  It all goes back to an injury I incurred when planting a new Sorbus in the front garden just after Christmas coupled with a long term problem with tension knots in my neck.  I have been for treatment at the osteopath and things were improving however for some reason it got worse over the weekend resulting me feeling physically sick with the pain on Tuesday morning and a trip to the doctors.  Anyway, several packets of powerful pain killers and anti inflammatories later things are slowly easing and hopefully I will go back to work on Monday albeit probably reduced hours and with a lift rather than driving.

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I don’t think I have ever experienced such pain and for 24 hours it seemed impossible to find a position sitting, lying or standing which didn’t lead to me whimpering.  Whilst I have called this post Musing from the Sofa I don’t think I did a lot of musing until yesterday. I slept a lot or stared at whatever was on Netflixs – fading in and out partly from exhaustion and partly due to the strength of the tablets. I haven’t been able to eat properly as I couldn’t sit up long enough to eat a proper meal so I have eaten lots of rubbish like chocolate and biscuits but there has to be a bonus somewhere in all this.

Iris Cantab (probably)
Iris Cantab (probably)

I knew I was in a bad way as I had no interest in the garden, reading or surfing the net but the other day when the sun decided to shine I noticed a small blue thing in one of the borders.  At first I thought it was some sort of rubbish maybe a sweet wrapper but yesterday the pain had eased sufficiently for me to shuffle round the garden.  I was thrilled to discover that the blue splodge seen from the sofa was an Iris.  It is probably Iris ‘Cantab’ as I have had a number over the years and last year I decided to plant out the contents of various pots of bulbs in the borders.  The trouble with iris reticulata is that they aren’t very reliable on producing a second year’s worth of flowers so I suspect I was fed up with a pot of iris leaves and unceremoniously tipped it up on the border.

Hepatica nobilis

Another thrill came from spotting flowers on the Hepatica nobilis which are starting to bulk up having been planted a couple of years ago.

Hepatica nobilis
Hepatica nobilis

I have since grown some from seed which are planted out in another border and I am waiting to see if they will flower for the first time this year.

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Another delight today on my second excursion into the garden, this time with camera in hand, were the first daffodils.  I suspect these are February Gold but that is just a guess as they were already growing in the garden when we took it on.  However, they are always the first to flower every year. Whilst I’m not that keen on the big trumpeted daffodils at this time of year it is great to see any sign of Spring.

Eranthis 'Grunling'
Eranthis ‘Grunling’

Whilst the snowdrops are looking fabulous, there are so many in the garden now that my new neighbour even commented on them,  I get more of a thrill from spying the Eranthis coming into flower.  Eranthis ‘Grunling’ is bulking up well – you can tell it is ‘Grunling’ as it has a green stripe on the petals.  However Eranthis ‘Schwefelglanz’ which I have had as long is being a little slower to bulk up.  It is in a shadier position than ‘Grunling’ so maybe that the reason or maybe ‘Grunling’ is generally a stronger plant.

Eranthis Schwefelglanz
Eranthis Schwefelglanz

I am hoping that by next weekend I will be able to garden properly and sew again. But for now I will have to content myself with musing from the sofa.

This week’s obsessions

Iris hollandica 'Autumn Princess'
Iris hollandica ‘Autumn Princess’

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Note to self: plant more of these for next year amongst the grasses.

I really discovered Dutch Irises a few years ago but last year the penny dropped that you really need to plant them amongst grasses or grassy looking plants which will support the flowers but also hide the long stems. Whilst the whites, yellows and blues are nice I just adore the colours and tones on this variety, they light up the border in a most elegant way.

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I have re-introduced Lupins in the garden this year having not grown them for years mainly because of the tatty state of the leaves as the flowers fade.  I had forgotten how beautiful the young fresh leaves can be and what an interesting addition they make to the border.  I am also really pleased with the colour of the flowers as they were an impulse buy at the local garden centre back in the Spring when I was looking for some strong colours for the borders.

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Last year I became quite obsessed when visiting a nearby garden with the large block of poppies that were about to open.  I just love the hairs on the buds especially when they are back-lit.

Rainy Day Flowers

 

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I have treated myself to a new camera  – a Canon EOS 100D.  It was bought on a whim which is unlike me as I normally labour over such investments but I am in that sort of mood at the moment and I had the funds so why not.  It is my very first DSLR and I am determined not to rely on the automatic settings but learn to use the functions properly.  The biggest stumbling block is that as soon as someone starts talking about aperture, shutter speed and exposure my mind goes blank, just like when I was learning fractions at school.  There is nothing there, just the sound of the wind whistling around the void!!  It is this reaction which has stopped me buying a DSLR for some years but I have decided to overcome this and get a grip.

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None of the photographs in this post have been taken on automatic, some are on manual and some are using macro and I am rather pleased so far.  I have done some research on line and I have found some information written in a non-techy way which is slowly beginning to make sense.  One of the bits of advice I read was that you can always improve a photo using photoshop or some other form of software.  The camera comes with software which I have uploaded on my laptop but the editing in these images was done using the simple photo editing software that comes on my laptop and I am rather pleased.

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My youngest, the design whiz, has been showing me how to tweak the colour intensity etc and applied some cropping to the photos.  He did the allium and I did the other two.

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Then we really messed around and turned the cat into a tiger.  She thinks she is a tiger so we made her more orange.  She is roaring as she doesn’t like the sound of my new camera especially as it has been pointed at her so much!!

Wordless Wednesday 1/4/15 – Iris tuberosa (Hermodactylus tuberosa)

 Iris tuberosa (Hermodactylus tuberosa)
Iris tuberosa (Hermodactylus tuberosa)