Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Surprises in a Garden of Historics

Like probably most of you folks, I am busy in the garden this time of year enjoying the early summer. We're at peak bloom here in my Pacific Northwest garden and we're finally getting some warm temps in the 70's. Cooler weather these past few weeks have really extended the iris season quite a bit for us, and there's still more to come as the Japanese, Louisianas and foetidissimas are just about to start.This week I thought I would share some of the surprises that greeted me in the iris beds this year.

The season got started when this cute little dwarf amoena bloomed. It doesn't have a name but is very similar to a white Caparne iris named 'Bride', so I've always suspected it might one of his. It sure made a nice bouquet, even with just a single flower on each bloom stalk. And it sure looked nice with the pink of the Lewisia and the pink dwarf geum and the bright chartreuse of Sedum 'Angelina'. Never prolific with the blooms it surprised me with 22 stalks this year!

The always luscious and well named 'Death By Chocolate' (Bianco, 2001) never fails to delight with its dark, rich colors and velvet texture. Having just been transplanted last year to a new bed I was happy to see it blooming so soon.

Next up, Keith Keppel's 1994 IB introduction, 'Protocol', was lighting up the garden just as the TBs were getting started. A welcome splash of bright, clean yellow and white that echoed the daffodils scattered about. This was one of the first modern IBs I'd grown and has long been a favorite. It was a bit of a surprise to see it as it had languished in very bad conditions for years before being rescued last fall..

Here's a cute little brown TB from 1942 by E.O. Essig of Berkeley, CA - 'Brown Turban'. This was its maiden bloom in my garden and I happened to see it for the first time as it was decorated with little rain drop jewels. Love at first sight! I had not expected it to be much and was pleasantly surprised to find it so charming.

The wonderful old variety 'Elsinore' (C.H. Hall, 1925) delivered another stunning display on a fourth year clump. What color in the morning sunshine! This one was not a surprise - I knew it put on a good show.

On a more modern note, Brad Kasperek's fabulous creation 'Bewilderbeast' (1994) showed it's lovely self off. A wild and fantastic pattern of splashes and stripes in wine, yellow and cream. Not the most vigorous grower here but worth every bit of garden space it needs. Then again, I've not had it in the best conditions so perhaps its spotty performance is my doing. Regardless, it is always a joy to see it.

I've written of this one before. 'Bayberry Candle' is simply one of the very best irises for consistency of performance and beauty. Every year it surprises me that it is yet again putting on a stellar performance with no care and no signs of struggle - and its planted in part shade too! More varieties could use this ones vigor and robust habits. The color may not be for everyone, but you can't have it all.

I'll leave you with this last shot featuring 'Nomohr' (Gibson, 1954), 'Chinquapin' (Gibson, 1959), 'Flashing Gem' (Gibson, 1956) in front of a volunteer foxglove all looking amazing together with a bright sky for a backdrop. This may have been my favorite accidental combo for the year. Foxgloves often surprise me with their serendipitous placement.

I know it was a tough season for many folks in other areas. I hope you'll share with us some of the things that surprised you in your garden this year.What conditions did you face, and which irises did great regardless of the weird weather? Let us know. Post in the comments or add a photo to our Facebook page. And the next time you're in the PNW during bloom season stop by my garden and see the flowers.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. What a beautiful garden. Your Bayberry Candle looks so pretty, and so does Elsinore.

  3. This is an awesome motivating article.I am practically satisfied with your great work.You put truly extremely supportive data. Keep it up. Garden


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