Iris thoughts for November
Going into November. Not a lot to do with bearded iris beds here. Random thoughts to help get through the winter.
Foliage has pretty much died off. Most of the rhizomes look plump and firm. For a few varieties, I've had many years, I don't know what to do with the extras. Some I plant in the fence row. Too small for the fence row, the diminutive Cherry Garden, which I rescued from my own garden beds, and now have several clusters. I like it too much to give it away.
Weeds are pulled. Most of the dying leaves are removed. I added a layer of tree leaf compost to the soil surface, taking care not to cover rhizomes. On top of the compost, organic slug pellets. Slugs like to eat bearded iris leaves here.
I did add Spring bulbs among the bearded irises, so there is something to focus on while waiting for the main attractions. Daffodils, Muscari, Hyacinths. Rabbits may eat the Muscari.
I have some orders in for Spring planting at Old House Gardens. That is still a few months away.
So that leaves random thoughts. And browsing catalogs, even though I don't intend to buy any, right now.
There are so many varieties, and not a lot more room or energy. So if I add any, they need to really stand out or have a special trait.
The special traits I look for:
Fragrance. I'll take a fragrant one over a nonfragrant one, all other things being equal. Last summer I added Owyhee Desert, Gingersnap (historic and fragrant). Also Alcazar - even more historic, and reported as fragrant. I hope it blooms next Spring.
Historic variety. However some of these look too much alike. I like them for their history. Some are sturdy which is good in my garden. A couple of my orders might look too much like each other. LIke, Dauntless, Indian Chief, and Rosy Wings. I may have to choose which of those I like better, once they grow and bloom.
Vigor. It's encouraging to see great growth and increase. In my garden, Edith Wolford, Accent, Spiced Custard, American Classic, are among the more vigorous. Helen Collingwood looks like it will be very vigorous too. Shannopin made a lot of growth this year. Flavescens and Sans Souci, not so much but I like the flowers.
Not too floppy. Some big frilly flowered varieties fall over and become gloppy in the rainy Spring here. When it rains, Immortality looks like wet tissue paper on sticks.
Things I wish breeders would focus on, and sellers would emphasize in their offerings -
Resistant to disease. Especially leaf spot. I've also had a few rot out after planting. Not many.
Stem strength. Quite a few of mine flop over - some unnamed. Modern ones seem more likely to, likely due to the big flowers.
Just random thoughts to pass time while waiting for Spring growth and promises of flowers in May.