Now is the month of Maying…

Some of the plants growing on the veranda...
Some of the plants growing on the veranda… (click to embiggen)
Our weather continues to be a little weird. We’ve been in this cycle for some months now where we’ll have a week or two of weather this is markedly colder and/or wetter than usual, followed by a week or so of weather that is markedly warmer and drier than usual, with the occasional string of days that is almost exactly average for this time of year. It’s like spring and winter have gone on a bit of a bender together, spring is stumbling around a bit disoriented, while winter his hanging around at the door, meaning to leave, but it keeps thinking of one more thing it wants to say.

But despite this stuttering stop-and-start spring, trees are pollinating, flowers are blooming, other plants are coming up.

On my veranda I have a pots with lavender, pansies, violas, and a few fuchsias mostly going strong. My four larger planters that have a bunch of the irises I dug up on the last day we were cleaning the old place in Ballard have some shoots coming out. Two of the planters are still recovering from me leaving them out in the heavy rain too many days in a row. Fortunately irises are flood tolerant.

The picture above is one of the planters that did not get flooded. It’s also the one I transplanted the contents of one of the smaller flower pots into. That’s the pot I’ve mentioned before that a squirrel in the old neighborhood planted a filbert. I let the little tree grow in the pot last year, then moved it (and the two pansies it had shared the pot with) to the larger planter. Both of the pansies have perked up and blooded along with the tree which is getting very leafy. There are five of the irises coming up in this planter, which is really good.

I should mention that these are the irises I refer to as “Grandma’s irises.” Many’s years ago my grandmother dug up the irises in her yard to thin them out, and handed off about a dozen or so rhizomes to anyone who would take some off her hand. I planted my twelve in one flower bed at the old place. A few years later, I dug them up to thin out and gave away about half the the 70-some plants that I had by then, and replanted the half I kept. I did it again a few more times over the years. Anyway, just before we finished moving out at the old place, I dug all of them up, trimmed off the leaves, and transported the rhizomes to the new place. I gave bunches of them away to several friends (and mailed two batches off to sisters-in-law), and wound up with a bunch in a box here.

Ideally, you’re supposed to dig them up in the fall, when they’re going dormant, then replant them sometime before the next spring gets too warm. For a variety of reasons (one being that I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money buying really large planters while we were still in our initial probationary lease period at the new place) I decided not to try reburying the ones I was keeping last summer, but rather hoped they would go dormant and make it to this year.

Given how quickly irises multiply, I really only need a few of them to come up in order to, a few years from now, have a large mass of beautiful purple flowers again. The fact that as of last night’s count, between the four planters, I have 13 healthy-looking new sprouts coming up makes me quite happy that I’ll have Grandma’s irises for years to come.

At least two of the lavenders from last year are not looking terribly healthy this year. One of them is in a flowerpot without a drain, and I think the plant has just been drowned. It’s still showing just a bit of life, but I’m not at all confident I’m going to be able to save it. The other one I’m less sure why it isn’t coming back as strong as the others. I may try re-potting both and see if that helps.

We’re still getting a steady stream of chickadees, juncos, and sparrows at the bird feeder. Lately they’ve been getting into scuffles with each other around the feeder more than usual. I’m assuming that that’s hormones because it’s nesting/breeding season. Not that I need bird song and such to remind me of that. The high pollen counts are keeping my hay fever it high gear.

Isn’t nature grand?

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3 thoughts on “Now is the month of Maying…

  1. My mom was a self-described inconsistent gardener (and would sometimes admit she really meant lazy), and never ever dug up the iris rhizomes the way you’re supposed to. She just let them winter under ground, having trimmed them super close the minute they quite flowering. Living in NE Texas, this meant they might have a few really hard freezes, but nothing overly long (maybe a couple weeks, or a month at the outside), and they always came back.

    Some years, they weren’t as prolific. Some years, they were ridiculous and clumped hard together, and she did have to dig them up to separate them out and spread them out in the bed better. But I hardly ever remember anyone digging them up, except to parcel out a good chunk because they had too many.

    I really need to get some, now that we have a house.

    1. I definitely didn’t dig them up and thin them out every year. I had so very many last spring because it had been at least three years since I’d last done it.

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