The easy iris

I believe that irises have a reputation for being finicky, and I think that this is mostly with bearded irises that must be divided and watched for iris borers. I’ve concluded after years of trial and error (mostly error) that Japanese irises are the easiest and most beautiful of the the irises. I haven’t tried very…

Can’t get around much anymore

Occasionally, I’ll return home in the evening to see the trash can filled to the brim with pruned clippings from nandinas, mahonias, or ferns, and I know that my wife has been out and about with her pruners. The stone paths that meander through the garden are partially obstructed by overhanging branches again, and she’s…

It’s not New Orleans

My wife was in New Orleans over the weekend to visit an old friend. I was invited, but of course she and her buddy were just being polite, and didn’t really want me intruding on their time to visit. New Orleans isn’t my kind of town, but it has some great gardens in public spaces…

Yellow flag

In May frogs bellow at each other beneath the yellow blooms and eighteen inch tall foliage of Yellow Flag iris (Iris pseudoacorus, below). Hungry koi and goldfish lazily swim through the shallow water searching for a meal, and many thousands of tadpoles feed on bits of algae that cling to stones at the pond’s edge. …

Japanese maples on a budget

Several of the garden’s Japanese maples started as runts or rejects. When the gardener is continually unable to resist adding more plants it’s important to get a bargain here and there, particularly when the wife screeches whenever a new plant is brought home. It helps to soothe her (though only slightly) when the plant has been…

Mystery hosta

An abundance of hosta seedlings annually pop up in the garden, and while many must be removed because they grow immediately at the edge of a path, others are left in place and encouraged. In two years the clumps grow fat and full, and the leaves large so that my faulty memory presumes they’ve been…

Clematis

Two clematis wind their way through the nandina (Nandina dometica) so that in May the tall heavenly bamboo is shrouded in white from ‘Henryi’ and later by the purple ‘Jackmanii’. When the flowers fade the only evidence of the two vines is the clematis’ sparse foliage, and the nandina suffers no injury at all. I’ve…

Big and beautiful

I’ve promised my wife for several years that I’ll prune the Chinese snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum, below) that towers over the windows of our small library, but …. I can’t offer any excuses, I just haven’t done it (along with many other things I haven’t followed through on). The proper time to prune it is immediately…

Columbines and other goodies

Soon after the gardener is seduced by dazzling blooms to plant columbines (Aquilegia canadensis, below) a few dozen seedlings arrive, followed next year by several dozen. The seedlings are not bothersome, and if there are too many (or they are unwanted in a more orderly garden), the tiny seedlings are easily brushed away. If too…

A minor malfunction is no bother

I’m readily smitten by trees and shrubs, and though there’s barely enough room to walk through the garden, I find a way to plant more. Perennials and tropicals are an entirely different matter. There’s always room to jam another little plant into the garden so long as I’m willing to ignore the fact that they’re…