Monday, March 27, 2017


My third dwarf bearded iris opened, and the closest to what I ordered is 'Riveting'. I think it might be mislabeled since it doesn't look like the catalog photo.
This is what it is supposed to look like:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

hope and promises

The best things about spring are hopes and promises. Those plans made and begun a year ago, or last fall, are starting to show some signs of life. Some of the hopes will prove to be fruitless, and some of the promises will fall through, but spring is full of optimism.

I was hopeful that the hellebores would have a better show this year, as compared to last year.
 'Conny' wasn't particularly prolific last year, but this year she seems happier. The one on the left didn't produce anything last year.

After seeming to languish throughout the last year with just a few leaves, the NoID hellebore has been almost a little too much this year, if that is possible.
It has so many flowers, that it has lost its previous grace to become a dense, blooming fool. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Really, I'm not.

The tree peony wasn't looking its best throughout last year either, since the redbuds have grown and are producing a bit more shade than the peony is happy about. This spring is still full of hope. Here's the promise from yesterday.
Today, I don't know if it has exactly fulfilled it's promise, but it's still an impressive feat to me.

I started getting into bearded irises last year, since they are some of the tough perennials that survive in this climate. I'm most excited about the dwarf bearded irises. My memory of these from 25 years ago was that these were predominantly yellow, and rather boring muddy colors early in the season, but I decided to tray a few. Last year the remontant 'Autumn Jester' produced a single flower in the autumn, which made me smile. I watched in anticipation this year as the tiny tuft of leaves slowly grew. I was checking on them daily, looking for signs of bloom. Suddenly one day there were flower stems when they weren't there the day before.

From yesterday morning. Such anticipation. 

Isn't that just the coolest? At a diminutive 7-1/2 inches tall, it is a far cry from the tall bearded irises, and much earlier.

'Alpine Lake' actually opened its first flowers a couple of days ago, so was the first.
It is even smaller, at 4" tall. Although the reticulata irises are earlier to bloom by about a month, these dwarf bearded irises are easier to place in the garden. Whereas the reticulatas produce tall 18-24" grassy leaves after the blooms are done, the dwarf bearded irises stay small. Choosing varieties means more than picking a pretty flower I have discovered, since dwarf bearded irises can be 4-12" tall, the tallest being 3 times as big as the smallest.

I can't remember the name of this one. It should open tomorrow, and then I should be able to identify it. Until then, there is the promise of glory to come:
 Again, keep in mind that it is only 8" tall.

In contrast, tall bearded iris 'Best Bet' is showing stems quite early. None of the other tall bearded irises are showing any signs of blooming yet. I moved some of my tall bearded irises this spring to work with design. NEVER, EVER do this. They will survive, but they won't bloom this year. Wait until fall. Come to think of it, I'm going to move my spurias this fall if I can remember to do it.

Roses are always an exercise in hope. I bought some bare root roses from David Austin this year (more from other companies on the way), and a couple came looking pretty sad, with brown spindly canes. This one had a couple of green buds, but my hope diminished as the day after I planted them, one of the buds turned brown and dried.

 Today, I'm noticing some signs of life on the one remaining bud. With all those roots, I hope it will make a glorious comeback. There is hope yet.

 'Bishop's Castle' is forming buds:

I think I like the leaves of 'Falstaff' even more than the flowers. I'm not sure why. They just seem so optimistic. The promise of blooms to come is not always well fulfilled with 'Falstaff' however.

'Munstead Wood' is full of promise, with a bud already showing color. 

 'Savannah' is trying to make a comeback after all of her new growth was frozen by a late freeze.

Last year, I let the "octopus canes" that developed on 'Winchester Cathedral' stay, to see what would happen. So far it looks like it might have been a good gamble, since as you can see, every node has produced a growth and clusters of buds. Such hope I have in seeing how this will turn out.

'Old Blush' has many promises, and usually keeps them. 
Not afraid of growing in the least.

The fruit trees blossoms are a promise for fruit later this summer. I don't know if I can successfully keep the bugs from them this year.

 'Ashmead's Kernal' and 'Tydeman's Late Orange' starting to bloom against a typical New Mexico spring sky.

 'Polly Peach' doesn't have the flamboyant floral display that many peaches have, but the fruit quality is much better than those with the big spring show. It's a trade off, and perhaps I haven't discovered the perfect tree with both qualities yet. My 'Redhaven' also has a poor spring show. But I'd rather have better tasting fruit.

The fruiting apples are similar in that they bloom over a longer period and don't have the "wow" factor that the flowering crabapples have. I guess I'm a bit disappointed in that, because I was hoping to have it all. Here, 'Goldrush' makes an effort.

More hopes and promises in the garden.
 Campanula sarmentica looked like it died in the fall, turning suddenly and totally brown. I was tempted to pull it out. Good thing I didn't.

 Cercocarpus' nondescript flowers bring with them the promise of glistening feathery seeds to come.

 I had a lot of hope for some dryland Clematis, or "Sugarbowls" as they are called. They don't seem to be very happy, and had no flowers last year, but I still have hope.

 I have hope also for a much larger type of clematis, here 'Betty Corning' in her third year has produced 5 growths. Last year there was only one. If the wind doesn't destroy the new growth, like it did last year, it should be fabulous. Similarly for the 'Jackmanii' to the right which seems much happier without the honeysuckle competing with it. Both of these clematis die to the ground every year, but it is said that Betty can reach 10-15 feet.

I love dryland phloxes, and it was with high hopes that I planted this Phlox kelseyi 'Lemhi Midnight' last year, which is supposed to be darker than the 'Lemhi purple'. So far in a better location, this one is doing better than the 'Lemhi purple' plants that I have had for a few years.

The lilac is showing some promise.

 When the blooming stem of Salvia transsylvanica 'Blue Spire' froze last fall, I was disappointed. The strong spring growth gives me hope, however, since the flowers last year were very nice.

 I have mixed feelings about Aster 'Purple Dome'. It has done very well with very little water, but the color of purple is a little too strident for me. Still, that new flush of growth and its stalwart nature give me hope for a glorious early fall display.

The 'Scheherezade' lily was disappointing last year, since in the shade of the redbud trees, the stems flopped horribly. I've moved the pot to a sunnier location and have hopes for a happier plant. Or it may kill it in the heat. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

hellebore progress

 Nell Lewis 2 makes a late appearance. Nell Lewis 1 is long done.

 NoID gets better.
 Just the right amount of nodding and spotting.
Connie again.