“Why Does It Always Rain On The Iris?” and Other Gardening Conundrums

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Our Iris are in full, glorious bloom, and its raining…

Ironic, that just as soon as these gorgeous blooms open, they are inundated.  Petals turn to mush; stems fall over under their waterlogged weight.

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Same with the roses, if you must know.  The first gorgeous buds began to open on Saturday morning.  The rains started on Saturday, too, with more on the way.

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Now, I am always grateful for rain, please don’t misunderstand.  It is much easier to garden in rain than drought.  But I can’t help but noticing these beautiful flowers, with such a short period of bloom, blooming in the rain.

How many of us gardeners plan with the ‘worst case’ scenario in mind?  Very few, I’d bet.

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Gardeners must be optimists.  Otherwise, we’d be living in rented flats in a tall building somewhere, enjoying the local parks instead of puttering in our own unruly gardens.  We tend to expect the best and overlook the rest.

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Our stump garden has finally taken off from bare mulch, four summers ago.

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But real life is full of quirks and challenge.  We must make long range plans and then hope that we get to enjoy them.  Like the Iris, which take nearly a full year, or more, from when you plant their rhizome until they bloom.  We just plant them with a sprinkling of faith that eventually we’ll enjoy a few days of their delicious flowers.

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I have a packet of ‘Ten Free Flowering Trees’ from Arbor Day which arrived in Friday’s mail.  They arrived late in the day, while I was finishing up other projects, with no energy left to plant them.

They are still lying there in the garage, waiting for me.  We may still get a break in the rain, at least enough to get some of them in the ground today, I hope.  We have room for only a few.  The rest I hope to give to friends.

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Our front garden, yesterday in the rain, filled with blooming Mountain Laurel.

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It takes faith to plant a rooted twig, only a foot high, and envision the tree which will eventually manifest.  If one stops to consider the many things which may happen along the way, one might never even consider planting a tree of one’s own.

Two Live Oaks I planted last spring ended up broken off by something over the winter.  A very hungry deer, maybe?  (I gathered up the broken tops, and thrust them into pots hoping they might root.)

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A new Live Oak ended the summer at around 15″ tall, but was broken over the winter. It has begun growing again this spring.

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But consider our wild Scarlet Buck-Eye, Aesculus pavia.  This lovely tree began life as a volunteer seedling, before it was crushed by fallen oak trees four summers ago.  It was broken to a 4″ stump, and we could only hope it would recover.

I think that its strong roots helped it come back so quickly.  What you see is four years of growth, and its best bloom yet.  A gift of nature, it draws every eye in our garden this week.

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Scarlet Buckeye, also called ‘Firecracker Tree’ grows wild in our garden.

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A gardener learns to suspend judgement after a while.  Calling a happening ‘good’ or ‘bad’ proves one short-sighted, all too often.  Better to keep an open mind, and find ways to work with events as they arise.

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But that still doesn’t explain why this rogue, self-planted ‘Firecracker Tree’ looks stupendous today, even in the pouring rain, while our expensive and carefully tended Iris are melting before our eyes.

Maybe all of those purists who urge us to plant more native plants have a point, when you look at things dispassionately.  Did I mention that hummingbirds love those gorgeous red flowers?  Should any find our garden, their buffet lies waiting for them…..

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A gardener’s life comes filled with conundrums.  So many choices, so little time…. And yet, we get a fresh go at it with each passing season.

I’ve come to look at life in our garden as some sort of ongoing science experiment.  We try this, we try that.  When something succeeds, that is very gratifying.  When something fails, we have learned something new.

I’ll try it differently next time.

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And does that mean I’m going to rip out the Iris and plant something else; something that will stand up to our rainy springs?  Not a chance.

I’ll just grab my jacket and a hat and enjoy our garden in the pouring rain, and perhaps even find spots to add a few more Iris ….

Virginia Historic Garden Week April 22-29

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“When you find your path, you must not be afraid.

You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.

Disappointment, defeat, and despair

are the tools God uses to show us the way.”

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Paulo Coelho

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

11 responses to ““Why Does It Always Rain On The Iris?” and Other Gardening Conundrums

  1. Oh – send your lovely rain over here! No – hang on a minute – rose Souvenir de la Malmaison is just about to start flowering (and so are the irises!) Lovely pictures – I hope you had a good walk round and told each iris how much you appreciated it.

    • The rose you mentioned is so lovely and fragrant, and very difficult to find here in the US . I grew it in my last garden , wanting it originally for its provenance . .. and loving it for its exuberance , fragrance , and exquisite beauty . But rain ruins it……so perhaps your rain can come before the buds open.

      It is still raining today . Flooding to our southeast , but not here . Just the lovely sound of rain and another cool day. It’s lovely 😊 Yes, we let them all know that we appreciate them as we visit them and touch them with our attention . I will pop over later today to see your garden and your vase this week 😊 Cheers !

      • It is raining! We are blessed! And the buds on SDLM are just and the stage when the rain is good for it! So maybe all will be well this year (last year was NOT good) We get only about one wet spring in 3/4 and when the rose is good it is perfection, so I won’t ever consider abandonning it! My husband even has a plan to protect it just as the buds are opening, if necessary.

        • Rain! I’m so happy for you! Yes, rain is a tremendous blessing, especially when it comes at the right time.

          Well, you’re climate is closer to SDLM’s home than is mine. Good for your husband for finding a way to protect it !! There were years when I stood there cutting off mummified half open blooms into a bucket, during a wet spring. We always had enough healthy, fragrant flowers open to make it worthwhile, though.
          In its second year, with its exceptionally long canes, I pegged it down to grow it as a ‘ground cover.’ Little did I anticipate that each peg would root and grow into its own shrub! I had a forest of them in a large bed in front of our home for years. I rather let them to, to see what they would do at times. A few canes grew up into a nearby tree. it was glorious! I truly loved that rose and let it anchor a collection of roses in our sunny front garden. I wish a new hybrid with more disease resistance would be made from it, keeping the scent, vigor and delicate form of the blossoms. If that’s been done, I’ve not yet heard of it. Oh, eternal appreciation to Josephine for her courageous efforts to preserve our heritage of roses! Warm wishes, Elizabeth

          • I coudn’t agree more about Josephine! The history of French roses is so fascinating, am trying to learn more. What a fascinating story about your previous SDLM and the layering it did when you pegged it down! I am going to try it. I’m also letting her go over the wall a bit into the chateau grounds (which are much wilder at that particular point). Still in check on our side – but then I’ll need to climb over the other side to see how she’s run wild! Could be very pretty in years to come. I am also really in love with this rose, like you. And have experienced that bucket moment too! Let’s hope this spring is kinder than last.

            • I’m happy to hear that you will let her run a little wild and escape your wall . How beautiful that will be ! Roses , and gardens in general , have fascinating stories . Knowing a little of their stories allows me to appreciate them even more . I do hope the weather is kind to you this spring so your garden gets off to a good start . 😊

  2. Your garden looks so lush and full. I feel your distress over the flopping iris. Do you cut them for vases inside? The scarlet buckeye is amazing!

    • Finally , it has begun to feel lush this year , Eliza . The perennials have begun to fill in and spread . I would love to bring cut Iris inside , but we are having a tough go of it this year with the pollen . I haven’t brought a flower indoors since the Amaryllis had to go in January . …Our red Medicine Prince red Iris have flopped the worst, they are so heavy with flowers! Each stem has its own support , and they are still just fabulous 😊 The Buckeye has been a happy surprise this spring . Wish I could see what your talented hands would do with the Irises☺

  3. Lovely blooms, I only have the yellow Iris in my backyard.

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