photo by suzanne * spring 1999
When I bought this house, there was such a large back yard, with absolutely nothing around, save some trees. I had to take a few of them out, because they were dead. Well, some of my friends would donate bulbs and cuttings to my cause. I couldn't afford professional landscaping, and, even if I didn't always know what I was getting, I took it gladly! But, as time goes on, and flowers flourish, one needs to expand to keep things alive. Thus, the 'Swan' garden. It's primary digs are white and yellow iris, Shasta daisies, a few viola plants, and some monkey grass.
The daisies were given to me by a friend from work. She just brought me a couple of clumps...I'm like, 'what the'...? They looked liked nothing! Well, I got them home, found an off-the-wall spot, and just stirred up the dirt enough to 'plunk' the clumps in it. It was a slightly shady spot, but the clumps didn't care. They started getting greener in a few days, the leaves perked up, and then, within a couple of weeks, I could see some actual growth, and runners coming from underneath! "Man!" These dudes are gonna make it! And they did! I couldn't believe it, but here came more-it was getting cold, and I wondered how they would fare throughout the winter. I covered them lightly with our 'Texas fallen leaves', and sat back. They did survive and I was able to transplant them. The one thing I found tho, is not to drown them with water, or they will wilt and die. The following photo shows how they began to flourish in the first year.
photo by suzanne
They grew tall and plentiful. This spot is shady most of the day...there is a large tree nearby. So, I think 'shasta daisies' are pretty hardy almost anywhere. I did, later purchase some other types of daisies, 'margerita daisies', and 'dahlberg daisies', but didn't have the same results.
photo by suzanne * spring 2000
This photo gives a better view of the border. We dug the bed into a semi-circle shape, and bordered it with sprigs of 'monkey grass', which did grow in nicely, and it did make mowing easy. In the lower left is a clump of 'violas' donated by my next door neighbor Lee. She had them everywhere, and they were easy to start. Now they LOVE all the water you're willing to part with. They can be lying flat down from the heat, and perk up within just a few minutes. In early spring, and again in the fall, they will bloom with small deep violet flowers. I have given clumps of this to other friends myself. Violas are so easy and make good bordering plants.
I was very picky about coordinating depth of color and foliage...after all, I was accumulating so much, I could draw out plans and I used old, gardening books to help with arrangement of plants. You can see how large the 'iris' plants are...does this REALLY mean "everything grows big in Texas"? I think not! A little old man in the neighborhood had a cardboard sign out front of his house "Iris for Sale-$1.00 a Clump". So, I stopped by...this was in 1994. He had rows and rows of all kinds of iris of many colors! But, he said I couldn't have any of the snow white iris...they had been cared for by his late wife, and he wasn't giving any up...he said he didn't have enough. Well, I hounded him and begged, and he finally gave in and gave me a few roots, or a 'clump' as he described it. There are white iris in this bed-they grew so tall, you couldn't cut them to bring in. I did find a tall bottle that I could put some in to enjoy indoors. You can see how tall the iris foliage is. These were large plants and the blooms were also very large...mmmm, smelled like grapes! Some of the white ones get very tall, they lean over, so I try to cut them and bring them in to keep them off the ground.
Well, I needed an anchor, or focal point for this garden-it makes me think of a pond, with it's tall foliage and the daisies swaying in the front. So much green, glistening with sparks of yellow and white. Now, I was never a fan of swan planters...but, for some reason, it seemed as tho nothing else would fit! And, probably, I found a good price on this molded plastic planter...you know, $2.00 or $3.00, and decided to take a chance. We turned a black pot upside down to prop the swan up above the ground because he couldn't be seen admist the plants. And the foliage covered up the pot nicely. I planted white periwinkle in the swan, but, you know, I had a lot of trouble keeping anything alive in that planter, so I gave up. Even so, it all came together pretty nicely, and later, I planted some umbrella plants at the back of this bed.
And the Swan continues to patrol and watch over!
Some tips for 'Iris' from MY diary
* Iris love a lot of sun. If planting in a cluster, they should be placed where each plant draws the attention of the same amount of sun in order to bloom concurrently.
* And it's true! You can just drop a root or two here and there, and they will take. But I would rather place them to be standing up when they start rooting. And I point the roots in certain directions so they will not grow up 'willy nilly'. I want all of the foliage facing in the same direction.
* When it's time to transplant, you MUST have this done by early fall-September at best. This will insure more successful blooming in the spring. I thought you could just move them on a whim and get instant blooms...not on your life! You will have to wait almost a year for them. Once the blooming season is over, you can go ahead and transplant for the following spring-it's okay. Just don't go beyond the deadline. I have a few purple iris that bloom in February-don't know why, but I run out and get them to enjoy inside, and they really smell like grapes!
* As the summer progresses, and starts burning green stuff, I go along with a pair of scissors and trim the foliage of my iris. Each plant gets cut into a fan shape to about 6 inches high...hehe! I know-it's crazy, and I wish I had a photo to show you. But some of the leaves will die or fall over and you have to go along and pick them up. Cutting them back makes the plant look cleaner, and they withstand the heat better.
* And, it's okay to leave the top part of the root exposed, in fact, I've read that you should do that, even tho it sounds unhealthy for the plant. Plus, sometimes they will fall over, so I try to pack soil around to the back to help them stand up.
That's all I have today friends! Thank you so much for visiting. I hope you enjoyed and learned. I couldn't find a Swan poem or quote that I wanted to share...they were all too sad. So, I did find a quote from the internet (I'm embarrassed I can't remember which site) that I particularly liked.
"To pick a flower is so much more satisfying than just observing it, or photographing it ...
So in later years, I have grown in my garden as many flowers as possible for children to pick."
- Anne Scott-James
Happy Birthday MOM!!!
I Love You!