Saturday, June 15, 2013

What’s blooming now? Siberian iris!

'God's plan' is often a front for men's plans and a cover for inadequacy, ignorance, and evil. – Mary Daly 

Pretty. It's amazing what a little attention will do.

Have you ever had a plan that somehow got shoved to the back burner? I did, but it wasn’t evil. It did involve a fair bit of inadequacy on my part, though. And it involved Siberian irises. (I’m just ignorant as part of my personality.)

This is just a few divided plants after 2-3 years.
Many years ago, in what seems like an entirely different life, I purchased 4-5 small pots of blue Siberian irises and planted them in a temporary spot under an oak tree in the back yard. 

It was supposed to be a nursery where they could propagate. From there I could dig, divide and have a beautiful swath of them, almost like a river of blue.

It’s funny how turfing a domestic partner (or two) can take the wind out of your sails. That’s what happened to me. I didn’t feel a lot like gardening for quite some time. It seems like you just catch your breath when the wind gets knocked out of you again. True, right?

Someone once said if you want to make God laugh, talk about your plans. Someone was laughing, but it wasn’t me. But now I’m back on track, married to a kind, gentle soul, and the irises are in my sights once again.

Luckily, the Siberian irises didn’t mind waiting – and I mean waiting – for me. It was about 15 years. In that time they did increase, but if I had been paying attention I would have had many, many more.

In the last two years alone, by division, I have doubled what was there. They are now in three spots in our yard.

Siberian irises are attractive through spring, summer and fall. Come to think of it they are even nice in winter. The flowers set decorative pods and the stems dry out making them almost impervious to snowfall. The pods and stems are nice decorations for inside arrangements. I have kept some for years and years.

Siberian iris are pretty forgiving, if mine are any indication. They don’t like to dry out much, though. A bonus is that they’re not fussy to plant like bearded irises. Unlike bearded, that need sun to “bake” the rhizome above ground, Siberians like sitting in soil, not too deep, but in the ground.

They’re pretty tough too. Over the past week we have had cold temperatures, rain and wind. They bloomed right through it. A couple stems are now cocked over a bit, but the vast majority (like 95%) are still standing straight and blooming like crazy.

Originally from Eurasia, growing wild in meadows or by streams, most plants available now are hybrids of that wild iris sibirica. Due to this cross breeding you can buy different colours, as well as ones with larger flowers. Our plants are close to the original species I believe, with smaller sky-blue flowers, but still beautiful.

The centre has died and a "ring" has grown around it.
Siberian iris are well behaved garden plants. They grow in neat clumps, with lovely strap-like leaves. From among the leaves, tall (about 30”) stalks emerge with upwards of 5 flower buds that bloom in succession.

In Nova Scotia ours bloom in late spring just as the last of the rhododendrons are passing and the Oriental poppies are firing up. The colour combo of blue and orange is fantastic. After the flowers are passed the clumps of green leaves remain, making a good background for later perennials or summer annuals.

Siberian irises are quite easy to divide, and they even tell you when to do it. As clumps mature, the centre dies out and new growth forms around the original, almost like a ring. It’s very easy to see when this happens.

Opinion varies, but most agree it is best not to disturb clumps when they are starting to grow in the spring, or late in the fall. Mid summer, while the roots are still active, is the best time. That way the transplants have time to settle in to their new location before growth stops for winter.

This summer the last of the irises will be lifted from their backyard nursery. I’m not exactly sure where they will go, but I’m sure we will find a place of pride where we can enjoy them.

And I’ll make them a promise to tend them with the care they deserve. They’ll reward me with more and more as the years pass. Not a bad deal.


You know, I really like comments... I really do.

Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer quickly and as best as I can. If you like this post feel free to share it. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site.

No comments:

Post a Comment