Sunday, February 17, 2013

White Siberian Iris

This is a white Siberian Iris. cast iron, like all of the varieties of Siberian Iris.  Not a large flower, it makes up for its diminutive size by being prolific.  When a clump gets established you can have dozens of blooms on a clump.  It will grow almost anywhere, but loves nice soil.  Alberta Burrill gave me a clump from her house at 60 High Street in Houlton, Maine.  Alberta was my brother-in-law's mother.

Harrison's Yellow

Sometimes I have a very hard time reading descriptions and figuring out what I have in the garden.  This rose took me forever to figure out.  I knew it was one of two roses from the first day I looked for it, but I could not decide which it was.  Was it a Father Hugo or a Harrison's Yellow?  It took a trip to Old Sturbridge Village to find out for sure which it was.  This rose is a real pain in the ass to grow, because it is extremely thorny(Probably related to Scotch Briars or Spinosissimas...the name says it is nearly impossible to get close to.) and it grows in a nasty tangle of vicious branches that are nearly impossible to prune or thin. 
The people of Old Sturbridge solved the problem by training it on an arbor, and not allowing anything else to come up from the ground.  They had probably suffered too many hospital bills in the past. 
This is one of my great treasures.  In good soils, this bush will completely cover itself in roses in a delightful shade of yellow.  It is unfortunate that my soil, no matter what I do, just doesn't measure up.  I built raised beds and back filled with several feet of nice soil, mixed in peat moss, manure...everything I could think of, and still this bush just sneers at me.  In Maine, I had a garden that produced hollyhocks 22 feet high, and this rose was a dream.   Well, I will just have to keep working at it.  Here is another case of waiting too long to get a photo.  One half hidden bloom and two or three buds...I promise to do better sometime.  Of course this may have been all the blooms it had that year.
Thia was bred in 1824 and introduced to the american market at that time.


This thing is huge, regularly getting at least four feet tall.  Sorry, but I do not know the name, it was one of those plants from Gilbert H. Wild and son.  Good catalogue.  I bought a couple of 100 plant selections, and they sent at least 112 in each order.   Faintly blue in color. It is doing well despite being in a rather inhospitable spot.  Poor dry soil.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Homely Day Lilies

Homely does not necessarily mean unattractive.  I refer to the fact that they are home-like, ubiquitous or ordinary.  There is something to be said for planting, old fashioned varieties of plants.  Remember when these bloomed around your grandmother's house when you were a child?   Back when I was a child the plant hardiness zones were considerably colder and the choices of plants that would survive the particularly difficult winters there in Northern Maine was much more limited.  You could count on broad swathes of these cheerful orange flowers along foundations and rock walls.  Here is the common Day Lily.  To the right is Vinca Minor carpeting the bed.  Behind is a rather gangly yew.  To the right...I think if I am seeing these correctly, are a few old fashioned columbines from Grammie.  I hate that fence, but I inherited it.  I am planting climbing Hydrangias all along the fences so that they will eventually be all green.  Meanwhile they are an effective screen.


Mock Orange.  This is a plain, old fashioned one from my grandmother's garden.  There are newer varieties.  In fact there are Mock orange bushes growing wild all over the property.  I can hardly control them but they have no scent.  This is a pitiful display but it is my first crop of blooms since I got them.  They have a very heady scent, nearly overpowering really, so plant then at some distance from your hay fever victims.  Some varieties are available with a stripe of red in the throat, but this is my favorite.  I don't ever see this in nurseries.  It is a shame because once it is established, there is nothing to do but enjoy it.  After all, who would want to control something this wonderful.  However, standard pruning practices will improve an older plant.  Remove 1/3 of older branches at the ground each year.


Someone will have to help me with the real name here.  They are just a Lily from bulbs purchased at a home center.  They are about 18 inches tall, and nothing seems to slow them down. Certainly they are very much like Tiger Lilies without the markings, and must be an Asiatic variety, but the name is unknown to me.

Rosa Mundi

I have this terrible habit of getting out there to take a picture when the last flower is about to drop its petals.  In this case there was one more bud, but I missed that one completely.  Really, it is just good to see the striped petals.  The tradition is that this is a cross of the Red Rose of Lancaster(Apothecary), and the White Rose of York(Rosa Alba).  The resulting rose was said to represent the two warring factions joined in marriage, as was the royal house that resulted from the Wars of the Roses.  Henry Tudor(a Lancaster relative) and Elizabeth of York, became Henry the VII and his queen.
Pretty legend, and likely the cross breeding may be true, but the name Rosa Mundi, is also said to be for Rosamund, the mistress of Henry II, which predates the Wars of the Roses by many generations.

German Iris

One of my grandmother's Irises from Medford.  See propagation under the post on White Iris.
This grows in great drifts in my garden, and I just melt when I see them in full bloom.  From the 1910s

Lemon Lilies

The yellow flowers in the middle are Lemon Lilies.  They have a wonderful citrus odor, and fairly strong at that.  They are just as hearty a plant as a Day Lily, but they have a thinner and smoother stem, and the flower is a little more delicate.  Also, the leaves are greener and more grass like.
To the right is a Sedum.  To the left is Geranium, the common variety.  Behind are Siberian Irises.  In front is a tiny Iris I found in an herb garden in Maine.  Crested Iris. 


Another Iris from my grandmother, one of the few colors that have survived the years.  There are the plain purple ones already shown, and some small ones in a dull yellow with brown on the falls.  Same propagation notes as the white Iris in these posts.

Grootendoorst Rose

This is a pink Grootendoorst Rose right out of a garden center.  I had a red version, but roses do not really like it here in my yard.  The soil is talcum powder dry.   
We have tons of rodents and deer, and I just cannot seem to find a place in the yard that they like.  So, I spend lots of time with horse manure, black spot sprays and bug sprays.  With all this pampering, I still get just a fitful display of blooms on any of the roses.
That does not diminish the fact that I love them and I keep trying.  I will come up with a good formula eventually.

Rosa Rugosa

Here is another of Grammie's plants from Medford.  Root cuttings from this plant have gone all over the country, literally coast to coast.  My Mother took one to northern Maine with her and grew it on the vast windy field margins of the potato producing farms there.  My sister has one in the far north as well, in a wild spot miles from the nearest road.  They provide food for the birds in the wild wood there.  Rugosas are pretty hard to kill....I do my best in this awful land I bought.  There are plenty of big orange-red rose hips if you are into teas and jellies.  They also repeat bloom, so you get plenty of flowers.   This gets to be a huge bush, going perhaps 8 feet if you let it.  It will do well if you remove old cames from the ground on occasion. 

Japanese Iris.

These irises crave dampness. 
I try to provide it for them, but it is a chore.  Lovely along a stream bank or pond.  I do not know what to say about this plant that the photo cannot top.  It is actually much more beautiful in person, if that is possible.  Much like Siberian irises in appearance of the plant, but slightly larger and sturdier leaves.  The color variations are legion.  I just love this velvety royal blue/purple.  The white edges look like frost.