Monday, April 16, 2012

Anticipation! Spring In Zone 6

There is stability and calm in anticipation of the expected.  Fall planted bulbs unfurl their beauty to triumphantly announce “Spring is here!” The crocus blooms are gone, the daffodils have almost finished their bright and cheery parade, and the smaller classes of irises have unfurled their petals.  Garden cleanup and bed preparation have been in full swing on any dry day or bits and pieces of dry days!   Fertilize this, clean that, but don’t forget to enjoy it all! 

The key word for this time of the year is anticipation!  Mother Nature is such a busy little bee with her paint brusha dash of red here and there to focus the eye.  She’s thrown in lots of white and yellow to lend cheer and hope to the lush green background of life. 

There are so many exciting things happening.  The eye darts from place to place.  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  Look here, look there.  Enjoy it all before it’s gone. 

Well, that is the way it’s supposed to be in my Zone 6 garden.  My season is not going as expected!  Bloom season is three weeks early.  I’ve been catapulted straight into the “hybridize and enjoy” phase. 

Among the most anticipated events of spring, for me, is the germination of last year’s seed crop.  After 2010’s disappointing germination rate, I was happy to see the good crop that sprouted from the 2011 season.  Anticipation and potential are two of my favorite words.  That is what all of these sprouts mean to me.

Seedling germinated in 2012

For this hybridizer, rebloom season begins with the start of spring bloom.  Most rebloomers bloom early, often the first week.  Some feel this early bloom season is due to the plant’s need to get a head start on fall bloom.  It could be that rebloomers are simply strong robust plants that bloom at every opportunity.  I believe that hybridizer’s selection of breeding material may be a primary factor.  We can hear the tweezers clicking before the first bloom opens!  Either way, information is accumulated all year, but the breeding takes place in the spring. 

'Again and Again' (Innerst 1999)


'Lunar Whitewash' (Innerst 2003)
'Earl of Essex' (Zurbrigg 1980)
My breeding program has been in progress since 1986.  This year and 2007 are the only years I’ve seen bloom in late March.  Many of us remember the total destruction of 2007!   Among the first to bloom this year were ‘Again & Again,’ ‘Lunar Whitewash’ and ‘Earl of Essex.’  ‘Earl of Essex’ is in the linage of my own ‘Echo Location’and 'All Revved Up'.  It was introduced in 1980 by Lloyd Zurbrigg,


'Echo Location' (Wilkerson 2007)


'All Revved Up' (Wilkerson 2006)
Spring weather has been strange the last couple of years, so it’s hard to know what is normal in the iris beds.  Many irises have been blooming out of sequence.  Some of my older seedlings are blooming early.  Among the early ones is 1510-06red.  I love the colors and it will always have a spot in my garden.  It is a sibling to ‘All Revved Up” listed above, but it doesn’t rebloom.  

1510-06red
After nearly a month without a freeze and the same amount of time with highs in the upper 70’s and 80’s, bloom season is in full swing.  Now, we are having a couple of days in a row with near freezing lows.  The frosts are enough to do damage, but we shouldn’t have a total annihilation as in 2007.  Not quite what I’d anticipated!  It looks like a good time to check out the AIS website www.irises.org and the Reblooming Iris website www.rebloomingiris.com


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