Irises, Mostly

Irises starting to bloom is spring welcoming us to her beauty.  On recent cloudy days, blustering spring winds bite and made us doubt that spring has arrived.  But there probably won’t be any more true cold weather coming.

iris6Many years ago in a field next to the yard around the house I planted old fashioned, pass along iris bulbs from different friends and family members.

iris2During the first few years, I was diligent about fertilizing them on or near Valentine’s Day and Halloween, which are the recommended times.  Now they’re lucky to be fertilized anytime.

iris4Over the years, the neglect has taken a toll on them.  They need to be divided.  So far, I haven’t taken care of that.  The weeds and cactus have been pulled or hoed at different times, but that is a daunting, never ending chore.

iris7They keep plugging along, but each year the stems are a little less tall and the flowers a little smaller.  Poor dears.

irisdIn that same field there are many tiny flowers that carpet the area.

irisbPretty sure these yellow flowers are Texas Groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus).

iris9I haven’t had much success trying to research the many yellow wildflowers of Texas, as well as the many small flowers.  As I thumb through the wildflower pictures, the similarities are too close for definitive identification.

iris8Patches of Sweet William or Prairie Verbena are starting to dot the landscape.

iris3These are the first flowers to appear in the field where we prepared the soil and planted wildflower seeds.  We scattered several packages of mixed seeds as well as specific ones, so I don’t know what these red flowers are.

irisIn the yard, these re-blooming Irises were planted about seven years ago.  I have divided them and planted some in different beds around the yard.  While the native irises don’t need much water, these do well in the yard because they do need regular watering.

iris1First color to bloom.

springyard9Behind the irises is a Crape Myrtle and a Bridal Spirea.  Coming up in the bed are Coneflowers and other perennials.  Although I have weeded the area, there are probably more weeds showing their persistent little heads.

“Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”  Unknown

Blooming Irises and Bridal Wreath Spirea

Over the years I’ve received iris bulbs from family and friends.  These have been the heirloom or old-fashioned kind – great pass along plants.

irisbThey were planted in a field across from our driveway because heirloom irises cannot endure regular watering.  That’s the reason they can be found near old abandoned homesteads and in cemeteries.

iris4So they perform poorly some years depending on the amount and timing of rainfall.

irisdThis year they have bloomed abundantly and have provided many bouquets for the house.  There are probably a 100 bulbs although I haven’t counted them.  Many should be divided, but I can’t seem to muster the energy to do that at the proper time of hot August and September.

iriseThere hasn’t been oodles of rain – just enough at the right times.  A few drops on these petals are from just a misting of rain.

iriscThey hold their own among the weeds and wild grass.  In the past I have attempted to pull weeds from around them, but they come back so quickly that I’ve given up.  I do mow paths around the rows just to make it easier to see them and to cut the flowers.

irisfA few years ago I ordered some reblooming irises to plant in the yard.  These actually need regular water.

In the background of this picture, you can see beyond our actual yard.

iris7Last year I divided those and put some in other flower beds around the house, so now some are visible from windows in every direction.  Makes for a lovely spring view.

iris9If the weather cooperates, they all should rebloom in the fall.

irisaAlthough purple ones are my favorite, the muted shades offer a soft touch.

iris8iris6

iris3It’s amazing that the wind doesn’t beat them to death each year.  Even though the individual blooms don’t last but a few days, there are enough new blooms each day that the show lasts for weeks.

irisThird year was the charm for this Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia).  For the first two years, the small smattering of flowers made me doubt the wisdom of buying this plant.

iris2This year every branch was crammed full of gorgeous blossoms.

iris1Spring has been a great surprise this year with fields full of wildflowers and a yard full of flowers.

“What we all knew to be true: what makes you cool in middle school makes you a failure in life.”   Unknown

Iris Time

Twelve years ago I planted heirloom irises in the field.  These hardy souls can be found at old abandoned homesteads.  Even if they do not get enough water to bloom, the bulbs lay dormant to return another year when there is rain.

iris2Most of mine came from family or friends.  I hate to admit it, but they’ve been sadly neglected.

iris3They need to be divided.  I’ve avoided trying to dig them out of the hard clay.  Just weeding around them is a chore.   Also, they should be fertilized twice a year – near Valentine’s Day and near Halloween.  It’s easy to remember, but not easy to hook up three hoses and drag them out to the field.

iris4Heirloom iris have deep colors.

iris1Three years ago I ordered some reblooming iris bulbs.  Their colors are lighter than heirlooms.  These should be divided, also.

lavenderirisTheir flower size tends to be larger than most heirlooms.  The reblooming ones are also reliable.  They bloom several times in the spring and once in the fall, if the weather gets cool enough.  They do need regular watering, so they do well in a flowerbed with a drip system.

Because the wind is so strong here, I usually cut the iris blooms and put them in vases inside.  Since they don’t smell so good, it’s better not to bring in too many at once or at least, not all in in one room.

“The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.”  Benjamin Franklin

Purple in the Yard

Although our autumns are iffy and interspersed with many summer days, the somewhat cooler days give plants a chance to recover and bloom.

These are two small Texas Asters (Aster oblongifolius)  that I bought in the spring at Barton Springs Nursery in Austin.  Now they’re two big ones.  This is my first experience with asters.  The fact that they have spread so fast and are blooming so profusely makes me a great fan.

I also love their color and feathery petals.

The Blue Mist has continued strong all through the summer.  It’s an amazing plant not only because it’s a butterfly magnet, but because it blooms so long.  It’s like the turtle in the Tortoise and the Hare.  It just keeps on going.

The light is giving the flowers on this Butterfly Bush a burgundy color, but it actually is purple.  It has also bloomed all summer in spite of the fact that an armadillo dug a deep hole down into its roots.  We filled in the dirt numerous times.  Finally, we sprinkled Ortho Fire Ant Killer on the filler dirt and put more big rocks at the top.  The fire ant killer stinks, so we thought it might discourage pests.  So far, so good.

This is ornamental garlic.  Last year it didn’t do much but is finally filling out and blooming well.

This is that same garlic plant.  The low setting sun is giving the petals a pinkish cast.

Rosemary has pale purple or lavender flowers.  This plant has spread like wildfire.  It’s about 4 feet in diameter and 3-4 feet tall.  I trimmed it quite a bit a couple of months ago.  I need to get back at it.

Another faithful bloomer – Mexican Petunia.  It’s about four feet tall.  One small cutting was planted five years ago and has now spread to cover a five foot by eight foot area of a flowerbed.

This Plumbago has struggled all summer.  It’s in a pot, but I’m not sure where to plant it.  Duranta is a heat lover, so it has performed well all summer.  Purple jewels just drip off its branches.

A Reblooming Iris has an early bloom.  It needs to be a little cooler for them to rebloom.  These were ordered from one of those mailings that gardeners get.  It’s really not a good idea for those of us who live in an extreme southwestern climate to order from companies in the north.  But those catalogs are so tempting.  However, this one turned out to be a good purchase.  These irises bloom in the spring and again in the fall.

They need a little more water than the old farmhouse natives in this area.  My native irises are not even in the yard but in a field close to the house.  So they don’t get watered at all.  Of course, they haven’t fared too well the last couple of years, but should be okay in a year with more rain.

There are a few more purple plants still looking good.  These are some I really like.

Purple, red, and yellow are my favorite flower colors.  It’s dangerous for me to say favorite when I talk about plants because it seems many are favorites at different times.  That kinda negates the proper use of the word.

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”   Jenny Joseph