Monday, March 26, 2012

Hard Freeze

After 2 glorious weeks spring, a hard freeze is occurring right now.  Overnight it is scheduled to get reach 23 degrees.
Bed C-3 includes Daffodils and Tulip Fosteriana "Pirand"
Many Daffodils are in full bloom as well as Tulip "Pirand."  Many other tulips are budding.

Attempts to cover Bed B-1 as a hard freeze approaches
I have tried to cover some irises and bulbs with burlap, and put some iris packing material over two areas where peonies are on their way up.

It is just wait and see now.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What a ... Spring?

It's March in Rochester.  March 22.  And it's more than spring.  It's summer. My iris reticulata have already bloomed and gone...

iris reticulata (March 13, 2012)
...and the daffodils are in full swing

The question now is, can I plant my dahlias without fear of frost?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bed A-3 Mapped

7 March 2012 Gardening Log

What a perfect early spring day. Temps in the mid sixties, light winds.  I'm back in stride out there!

Yesterday it was a bit nippier but I got some work in, so beds A-2, A-3, C-2  and C-3 are completely cleared of weeds and dead foliage.  Bed F is almost clear.  Bone meal has been spread and worked in around everything in Beds A-2, A-3, B-3 and C-3.

Last year's bloom was disappointing and when I discovered that iris borers had infested almost every one of my hundreds of plants.  Every rhizome was dug up, cut back and soaked in a 10% bleach solution.  Each was then replanted.  There is every indication that all but a few cultivars will survive.  The question remains how this bloom season will be.

I was able to plant some rhizomes in clumps that should mimic natural increase.

I have two areas where Eagle Control (Sutton '88) is planted in clumps like this.  This one in Bed A-3 show how advanced the daffodils are.

Only two rhizomes of Hot Spice (Aitken, '89) survived.  One I sent to David because he expressed an interest. The other, shown here, may not bloom lie it did last year, but it survived!
I used the "Borer Wars" as an excuse to purchase lots of new cultivars as well.  Here is how some of them are doing.   These were ordered form Schreiners:

Beverly Sills (Hager '78) is a Dykes Medal Winner (1985).  I may have this already but it's an early acquisition and I want to make sure I have one that is accurately labeled.  Here is the growth from a single rhizome planted last August.

Another Dykes Medal Winner (2007) is Queen's Circle (Kerr, 2000) is doing beautiful.   

Sea Power (Keppel '98),  Dykes Medal  Winner (2008) is also from Schreiners.  This rhizome is a little less promising.

This clump of Kevin's Theme (Kerr '93) is from Borglum's and doing very nicely!

Monday, March 5, 2012

An Unknown for a Cold Day

B-r-r-r-r. Twenty-four degees. I might clean up a few leaves today, but I won't be out for long.  Tomorrow 42 and and Wednesday 60... that should get me outside!

Today then will be a time to post a mystery cultivar.  I hope a reader can help with the ID.

My friend David and another member of Bluegrass Iris Society in Lexington has already given some great input on this one. I had it labeled "Too Sweet" is my garden.  It seemed seemed a great name.  While it is spectacular it also looks like a cloying confection. It is a fuscia-pink self with bright tangerine beards.

What's in my garden, bloom from 2011

Too Sweet from Pleasant Valley
This Tall Bearded Iris has standards and falls that are light salmon pink.
 This iris blooms mid-seaso""n and is 36" tall. Hybridizer: Ernst '94

Too make sure that I actually have Too Sweet (Ernst '94), I ordered it from Pleasant Valley last year.

Here is David's best guess and I think it a great one!

 Prom Night

Raspberry Ripple - historical

Rose (Gaultier) older variety

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mapping My Gardens

Seventeen degrees out.  Time to chat about planning...

Becoming a bit obsessed with a map to keep track of what's planted where, I took to my trusty Mac to find software to help.

First let me recommend a vector draw program is much easier to work with that a paint program.  A paint program allows the user to sketch using the mouse or trackpad.  If you have a very steady hand and lots of patience I supposed you could make it work, but the draw program is much more forgiving.  There is a learning curve, but a few hours of fiddling and you'll have what you need.  Rectangles and ovals are snap. irregular shapes require laying down a series of points around the edge.

I captured a picture using the Google map satellite shot of my property (using Snapz Pro). In a draw program you create layers.  This became my base layer.  I then created a layer for outlining beds.  I zoomed in and combined this with measured sketches to draw the basic shapes,  Then by clicking on the points I dragged out handles (called bezier tools) that allow fine tuning of curves.

If you have a few hundred to give to the folks at Adobe, Illustrator is the gold standard. But after trying a couple of options I settled on iDraw.  It has everything I need (and more) and for $25-$30 it is a bargain. For another $8-$10 there is an iPad version.

Here's the overview I created.  I am using the same program to create detailed maps of each bed.  

3 March 2012 Gardening Log

I squeezed two hours in the garden before the snow began yesterday.  Today the ground is covered.

Bed F-1 was my focus.  Lots of crocus, daffodils and tulips are pushing up.  A couple of yellow and white crocuses are blooming.

In order to check the accuracy of my maps and document am using the video feature on my digital camera.  The audio is less than perfect an wind makes it inaudible.  Now instead of talking to myself as I wander the yard, I have to yell at myself.

Here's the latest on Bed C-2

Friday, March 2, 2012

2 March 2012 Gardening Log

Today was the 2nd day this year I worked in the garden.  Several weeks ago there was a beautiful day and I started the cleanup in Bed A-1, but today I spent about 3 hours.  The 49 degree finished off any remaining snow.

I was surprised to find one bright yellow crocus blooming and lots of crocus, daffodils and tulips already pushing through the dirt.  Some of the tulips had already been nibbled by bunnies. Out can the liquid fence.  I sprayed every bed with bulbs.  The mixture is a bit of a slurry and I had to clean out the sprayer several times.

Bed B-1 and C-2 got the full treatment. I removed dead leaves, weeded and resettled some rhizomes that had suffered frost heave.  While much of the garden looks good, I am a bit worried.  This winter was a roller coaster of snow and thaw and the soil has been wet more than frozen. As a result some of the rhizomes were a mushy mess.  One that I do through clearly had some small borers.  Two rhizomes in a lower bed actually were moldy.

Now that liquid fence is applied, the next application will be insecticide with Merit.

I looked for a low nitrogen fertilizer with little luck and settled on bone meal.  That will be applied soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blue is blue

Blue is blue, right?  Of course not.  There are thousands and thousands of hues. This makes identifying an  unknown cultivar... well, impossible. So if an iris gardener is to keep track of a cultivar's correct name, it means labeling and tracking.  The reproductive habits of iris make this fairly easy.

The various bearded irises are not bulbs. They are rhizomes. like ginger.  That's right, ginger root is technically a rhizome, with which most people are familiar.  The reproduction of an iris is most commonly  by what is called "increase."  A rhizome produces one and only one bloom.  This then becomes a parent to other rhizomes that grow off of it.  The rhizomes can be divided, really must be divided, once every 3 to 5 years to assure that they remain healthy and have room to bloom.  Increase produces new irises identical to the parent. Therefor, labeling the rhizomes as they are divided produces a correctly named cultivar.

While iris can be produced by seed it requires some care.  After the flower withers the fertilized fruit must remain intact until is dries and drops its seeds.  These then must take root... since I remove stalks when all blooms are gone, it's just not going to happen.

Currently I am careful to label and track what I have and order from reliable sources..  However there was a time when I purchased from some large retailers and what I received was not always true to name.  I also have a number of irises from Borglum's that are the result of natural cross-breeding.  Dana tells me to name them myself. And so I have. But even then some may actually be named cultivars that just found their way to the mixed beds.

So here is my tale of blue.

Years ago I bought Ocean Pacific and Monet's Blue.  One of the blues that has grown very well here is clearly Honky Tonk Blues though I don'r remember having purchased it..  I went to the AIS Wiki.  I also visited Dave's Garden, but my iris savvy friends assure me that AIS (American Iris Society), of which I am a proud member, is far more reliable.  We shall see.

There is another problem about online ID.  The camera, settings and lighting added to the trueness of the computer display presents a broad range of photos purporting to be the same cultivar.  Unless I find ten images with 3 or 4 that seem to be the same, I don't trust what I have found.

This is my picture of what I am quite confident is Honky Tonk Blues:

Here are two photos from the AIS Wiki:
The heavily ruffled look is true to description and the base of the leaves has a purple cast, which Dana tells me is true to the cultivar.
Note that the first photos has the distribution of gray more to the edges of the fall as does mine.  

So now on to what I thought I had bought, Ocean Pacific.
The first is from from the AIS Wiki.  The white/yellow beard is clearly not the blue characteristic of Honky Tonk

The next two of OP are from Dave's Garden... clearly some contradictions.

Now on to the other culprits.
Here is what I had labeled as Ocean Pacific, but now believe is Moner's Blue, but there are problems with that. Neither picture has the hyacinth cast or the white plicate on the haft of the fall,

Monet's Blue is described as being a light blue and not medium blue as is OP and Honky Tonk.
Here are two pictures from the AIS Wiki label Monet's Blue:

This one has a white beard...

This one a white beard and clearly the shades of blue do not seem to match well at all.  That could be the result of the growing season, soil nutrients, or simply camera exposure.

So what's my point?  It's fun to collect named cutovers and see how they perform in my garden.  It's also fun to enjoy what blooms and live with some mysteries.