Welcome to Barbee's Blog!
A Window On My World

This is not a daily blog.
Posts will be published on occasion and irregularly as I am able.
Some of these posts are from my web site The Garden At Crocker Croft.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cataloging the Irises

The irises and peonies are blooming.

The irises are about to die out; we need badly to take them up, rework their beds, thin them, and replant. Also, the hundreds of spring bulbs under and around them need to be thinned. I decided in order to do that; the irises will have to be moved to a new location. (Click on photos to enlarge)divider
Then we can dig the bulbs, and rework the large island bed then plant them back in, selecting the largest and best bulbs. That will take many days.
Therefore, today, I spent time making a rough sketch of the back yard marking locations of irises, then keyed the locations to a long list of descriptions of the blooms. divider
Hopefully, I will know which - is - which when they are dug, out of bloom. There are some very nice ones that I must not let die. No telling what they are worth if bought new these days. Previous owner, Mary, planted them. I brought with me to this house only one iris, a standard dwarf bearded (SDB).
If irises are moved right after they bloom, they will probably bloom the next year. Otherwise, they most likely will not. The problem with that is: the weather here turns very, very warm about that time. It will be a very difficult undertaking and I dread it, especially since it has to be done during hot weather when I tend to nearly pass out - so far avoided - but this may do me in.

I will need a lot of help and work early mornings. That is a laugh! Students don't do mornings.... and neither do I.



Esther Montgomery said...

The artist at work!

And the photo you have at the bottom of your post is another kind of artistry.


Barbee' said...

Bless your heart, Esther, I barely got this post up and there you have already popped in.

Thank you very much for the positive feedback. Wish I could take credit for the photos, but my husband took these. I do wish he would warn me so I could at least take off my old hat and black sweat band.

Esther Montgomery said...

Well - no.

I'm glad he didn't - so you couldn't!

Just think how hard the Impressionists must have worked on 'THE LOOK'. And you have achieved it - apparently just as it comes!


Sheila said...

I too have to divide my Iris this year. It will be the main task in July and then they will be content for a few more years! Best of luck on your project!

tina said...

It worked. And I love the pics of you in the garden. Your husband did a super job.

Barbee' said...

Shelia: do you have problems like brown spot and iris borers with yours? I hope not. If so, what do you do for those? I am going to have to start doing something.

Tina & Esther: I am passing your compliments on to Husband/Best Friend/Chief Photographer.

Esther: Thank you.

How is the music going?

I am not a great opera fan, but there are some pieces that I especially enjoy that are from operas. Sunday afternoon I had the radio on Public Broadcasting Station and heard 'Meditation' (an instrumental piece) from the opera Thaïs by Massenet. Wish I had a recording of it so I could play it over and over as you do you favorite note :) No telling what would stand tall and grow around here if I could. It's almost a jungle already.

Do you ever wonder what birds think when they hear our music?

Anonymous said...

I love the photos - it is nice to see a picture of some-one doing something in the garden - to often we bloggers are the ones behind the camera

Babs said...

All of your beds look so wonderful. If mine looked anything like that I would be afraid to dig them up. You are truly a dedicated and knowledgeable gardner with your note taking and maps and knowing the habits of all of your plants well enough to disturb them once they've established themselves.

Zoë said...

It does look beautiful, I particularly like the photo of the Paeonies and the Iris together.

One thing that helps me remember whats planted where when I come to divide it etc, is to stick canes on the ground with their names on. I always loose lists, full notebooks of them! I think we have a black hole for them, akin to the one that devours socks.

Don't overdo the work though!

Ross Nevette said...

Esther is right - your flower beds are pure artistry...

patientgardener said...

I have succumbed and responded to a tag left on my blog by the lovely Karen at Artists Garden. However I have had to now pass the tag on to six bloggers and I have included you. http://patientgardener.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/tagged-by-artists-garden/
Hope you feel like playing along

Northern Shade said...

Your iris and peonies are looking beautiful. There's always a sense of accomplishment after a big divide and rearrangement. I have to remind myself of that right before I start a new gardening project.

Barbee' said...

Artistsgarden: Thank you. I have sneaky camera wielding family members around quite often. Several times over the years, even the college students who occasionally help me have asked if they could bring their camera. As if they had to ask! :)

Babs: Thank you. I have found that the more we disturb the dirt in there, the more of the freely seeded plants we will have as their seeds are brought nearer the surface and the competition of weeds and too crowded plants are removed. Those that I call freely seeded are: columbine, larkspur, annual poppies, Stepford pinks, rocket, & evening primroses (not really roses).

Zoe: Thank you. The peony and iris combination gets frequent comments. We have one of those black holes, too. :) Have you read my post My Candle? It addresses that.

I have tried different marking systems, but so far nothing has been successful here for many reasons. Maybe bamboo canes would hold better. I used wooden paint stirring paddles one year and by the next spring they were rotted off at the surface of the soil, the "permanent" marking ink was faded, plus wind and critters had scattered them. Plastic markers have not been any better. They break down in the u.v. sun rays, and I think chipmunks collect them. I have purchased some metal markers in hopes they will be the solution - if I ever get them out there. I do have a 3 color flag system, but that is for other uses, and I am getting tired of those flags. Will post about that another time.

Will try to not over do working. I just now walked down the hill to give instruction to a young lady working here today, and I look as if someone dumped a bucket of water over me, because the humidity is so very high. That is normal for this area. But, hard on gardeners and other workers out of doors.

Ross: Thank you. You are generous.

Patientgardener: Oh, me! I have never gotten tags or awards. I will check this out. Thank you very much.

Barbee' said...

Northern Shade: LOL! Thank you. Now I suspect I will think of you every time I start a big project that I dread.

Ewa said...

Hello Barbee,
I moved some of my irises in October, because they had to be moved, and they bloomed surprisingly good, so do not worry that rain stops you from working.
I am looking for some rain. I have to water garden every day :(

Anonymous said...

Just a lovely display!

Nancy J. Bond said...

Everything looks so perfectly beautiful, it seems a shame to have to move a single thing. :) And yes, that bottom photo should be framed -- it looks like a lovely watercolor.

Barbee' said...

Ewa: I hope you get a good gentle rain soon! Watering takes so much time, when we could be doing other things that need attention. I appreciate your information about moving them in October. That is encouraging, thank you.

Roberto: Hi! I thought I saw you out there in the garden. Thank you.

Patientgardener: I did it - my list of six random things about me. Find it HERE, folks.

Barbee' said...

Oh, no! I think Esther has flipped out! Everyone rush over there and check on her. RUSH HERE

Mother Nature said...

Thanks for the welcome, Barbee. When perusing your blog and seeing this photo:
it reminded me of Celia Thaxter. Love her.

Barbee' said...

Mother Nature: Did you see the post I did about her Tuesday? It is the 3rd post back. If interested, here is the link.

patientgardener said...

Your borders look amazing. I should follow your example and make a note of what Iris is what while they are in flower as I want to divide some of mine. I understand that you need to cut the leaves back by about half when you move them so they dont rock in any wind.

Barbee' said...

Patientgardener: I cut mine back like that while I am moving them. I think it would help also because they loose some root in the process, and it does keep them from being top-heavy. My memory is so bad. As soon as an iris or daylily quits blooming, I have no idea what color most of them are.

Philip Bewley said...

Barbee, your garden is spectacular!
You have combined the plantings with such a painterly approach. The borders are so effective with that beautiful emerald swath of grass. I love the picture of you doing the sketch. You have inpired me to be more careful with my bulbs. I really do need a plan as I am always digging up the odd bulb here and there. I love the hat! a good garden hat should be well worn. I have a couple and everyone says they are quite a mess, but I do not care. I think the birds like the music, especially classical. We used to play mozart at a plant nursery I worked at. They said the plants liked it! anyway, Your garden is a treat to look at.

Barbee' said...

Philip: What profuse accolades, thank you very much. I am just glad to be able to share it with everyone. What's the use of doing all that work if it can't be shared with others.

Hats: I know what you mean about good garden hats. I have run through several. One was soooo bad! It had a history. When it was newish and presentable in public, the wind blew it into the Gulf of Mexico. One of our sons fished it out for me. It was a sorry, collapsed, flat, dripping, funny looking sight. The woven straw had absorbed water and puffed up. It finally dried out, but was ruined for good wear. I wore that thing in the garden for decades. The outside pieces of straw around the edges began to unravel - became unwoven. So then there were all these long strands of straw flopping about, which was great for scaring off flies, gnats, and mosquitoes from my face and neck. Finally, it became so small it didn't shade me enough. I planted it in the compost pile, and it lives on in the garden soil.

Interesting about the Mozart playing at a plant nursery. Sounds like something I would do; I'm glad to learn that others do such things. I think I would work better to all of Strauss' waltzes.

Garden Dirt said...

Hi Barbee!
You stopped by my blog a couple weeks ago and left me a few comments. I wanted to say thank you. Also, I finally have gotten to spend a couple of hours perusing your blog and website and loved them! I really enjoyed my visit and plant to visit often. You write beautifully and your gardens are lovely. Kudos from one "neighborhood crazy lady to another"! And regarding this particular post, what a monumentous task you are undertaking with these Iris'. You should supervise. Let the students do the work. Have fun!

Barbee' said...

Garden Dirt: Thank you for such sweet feedback. Your garden is gorgeous and so is your blog. I have never seen so many four o'clocks in one place before. I am glad you enjoyed your visit and I am impressed that you took time to go to the web site, too. It is a bit complex and extensive. Most people just hit the blog, its current post, then move on. I don't mind. No one has time any more to read much, and it isn't the right form for curling up with in bed to read, as a book would be. So, I am quite impressed. Thank you!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

I have come back and viewed the pictures about three times. They are just so pretty.

Barbee' said...

Debbi, thank you! If you come back again, I may hand you some clippers and get you to help me with the dead-heading of irises and peonies. :)

Philip Bewley said...

Barbee, I loved your story about the hat! May I share a hat story with you? I think if is funny and heartwarming.If it is a bit long, I do hope you enjoy it.
Anyway, years and years ago we lived in a small agricultural town. When I was nine we moved to the beach. But before that, we lived on a pretty street, with nice gardens. Naturally as as a boy I could care less about that at the time. I took my bike to just beyond where the gourd fields were. There was a place where people would take "stuff" and burn it in a bonfire. Lots of treasure there! One day I found a floppy straw hat and immediatly brought it home as a gift to my mother. I would frequently bring her gifts like frogs and I spent my first allowance money on a jelly roll cake for her( she was a good sport and invited the neighborhood kids to eat it as an impromptu party) the frogs I remember her making a fuss over and we then would put them back in the vacant lot together. She did love the hat,however. She decorated it with paper flowers found at nearby San Juan Bautista. She made a "jumper" outfit as she called it( yes, people made clothes in those days from patterns) and she wore the hat when we all went bikeriding. Actually it was the hat and my telling her the story of my bike riding adventures that my Mom and Dad also got bikes. I had a red Schwin which I loved. Mom bought a vintage green bicycle, with guards over the tires. It rattled. I asked her why she chose that one? She responded that that she felt sorry for it, and besides it had personality! I never forgot that.One day when we were all riding bikes literally all over town, towards the Purina depot and beyond, a friend of hers stopped and said how much they admired her hat. Mom said, "yes, my son found it for me at the dump!" everyone laughed, and at the time I did not understand why. Now of course I do. I have a photograph with my twin brother and I and Mom in the hat, holding our pet rabbit, with the sunflowers we grew behind her.
Thanks for letting me share this story, and for you sharing yours.

Barbee' said...

Philip: What a fun family! And, an adorable story. I am so glad you remembered it and shared it with us. I throughly enjoyed it and have already read it twice. I had two little boys (and two little girls), one of whom makes many of the photographs for this blog. He was the one who fished my hat out of the water. There is nothing like precious little boys, especially the nine and ten year olds.

Barbee' said...

Philip, I keep thinking about your story. I can just see your mom in that jumper, hat decorated with 'flowers', on that green bike with fenders rattling, smiling and having the time of her life with her little boy.

Would you believe, I have a jumper and a straw hat that I wear with it. I no longer ride bikes, but I save back the jumper outfit for events where costume wearing is expected. If I ever need a costume, I am ready!

Kim said...

You look just like a Beatrix Potter or a lady gardener from an EM Forster book. Hard work, certainly, but I am gently envious of iris tenders, especially of the gardeners who are fotunate to enjoy the old, lovely irises that have bloomed in gardens for so long.

(O dear, I just now received your comment on zinnias--something odd with my spam filter--I will reply right away!)

Pomona Belvedere said...

Loved the hat story. I am a longtime connoisseur of big straw hats and this one sounds fine.

Peonies and iris are beautiful together, especially in the combinations you have.

A marking tip: I buy those aluminum markers at hardware stores/nurseries. Cole, I think the brand name is (not near them so not sure). They're a bit soft, so when you write on them with a ballpoint or pencil, they are embossed with the name as long as the aluminum lasts, which is a long time.

Unfortunately this does not keep them from being buried or lost, but if you can find them, you can read them. I make maps of what I plant (some of the time), use these markers, and, as a backup, keep receipts from nursery/seed orders--but I still have mystery plants!

Barbee' said...

Kim: What a lovely comment, thank you. Forster's Howard's End is probably my favorite movie (by Merchant Ivory Productions). I have it on tape and have watched it many times. Beatrix Potter is one of the women I greatly admire. Those are familiar names to me. I suspect your little Bea was named for Potter. (perhaps?)

Pomona: So glad you came by and left your delightful comment. Besides straw hats, I have a weakness for the old fashioned sun bonnets that were popular in my grandmothers' day. Made of cotton, they tied under the chin which kept them on snugly; they had a deep brim to keep the sun off the face and out of the eyes; and a very important part was the flap that covered the back of ladies' necks to keep off the sun. No red necks back then for these women who protected their skin from the damaging rays. We should be so wise!

I'm so happy you and others have enjoyed seeing the irises and peonies combinations.

Yes, I have seen the aluminum labels advertised. I will file this suggestion away and keep it in mind. Thank you. You have what sounds to be a good system. I hope chipmunks do not collect these, too :)

gintoino said...

Beautiful garden! I love the peonies and the iris in the last picture. Iris are really one of my favourite flowers.

Kerri said...

I'm glad you husband caught you in your work there in the garden. To see the gardener among the flowers is a treat! :)(Sweatband and hat just add to the genuine article) :)
What an ambitious project! Good luck with it. Irises are a work of art in themselves.
And peonies...well, what can I say...they're magnificent! We're enjoying ours now, and I'm enjoying their scent from the bouquet behind me.

Kerri said...

Me again. For iris borers soak the rhizomes in a bleach solution.
I meant to comment on the last photo with the peonies and irises..so very beautiful. Your husband is a wonderful photographer.

Barbee' said...

Gintoino: Thank you! I have gotten so many comments about that last photo. I have told Husband/Best Friend/Chief Photographer more than once how popular it is. He just grins and says, "I don't grow them, I just take the pictures." I think he does have a good eye for composition. Glad you enjoyed the photos. sigh...I wish irises weren't so much work.

I have a friend who stopped growing them. He said they were too much work for such a short bloom season. But, they are sooooo gorgeous!

Kerri: Ha, ha! I know everyone is getting a kick out of seeing the real me.

I haven't started the migration of irises, yet. My lead for some help didn't work out; he has a broken arm because a driver pulled out in front of him (She thought he had a flashing red light, too.) and he said he "T-boned" the other vehicle. Other driver had only some bruises, but his arm bone was shattered. After asking me if I were squimish (I said I don't know till I see it.), he unwrapped and showed me his arm with all the wires sticking out of it.) Bless his heart. And this is the busy time of year for his new little one-man landscaping business. He found a friend who would work for him, and his girlfriend pitched in and is helping. He is trying to teach them what and how to do things.

I once met a young man who could take two iris blossoms and by putting one inside of the other, or someway, could make a coursage that was as pretty as any orchid. I wish I knew how he made them.

I can just smell that heavenly fragrance of your peonies. It will be a year before I get to smell mine again. I could just bury my face in them.

Thank you for coming back for the second comment.
I have used that bleach solution on the rhizomes after I dug and trimmed them before replanting. I wonder.. do you use it on them after they are planted, too? Does anyone else have any comments about that?

And, thank you for the compliments. See my reply to Gintoino just above this one.