Weather over he past two years has caused much grief for I shed many tears over the loss of many of my Iris plants. Last year, 2015, it rained like no other year. The cats awaited Noah. The year prior was terribly dry and hot. Iris do well in drought conditions but they do have their limits. I keep a journal of my many variety of Iris and a grid so I know what is what since I don’t have garden markers yet. They are so familiar to me though I can recognize most all of them at once. I won’t tell you what all I had for the past six years for there are not enough tissues to dry my eyes over the loss. For now I’ll share some photos of what I’ve purchased from a local farm and shared with my favorite mother in law who got me started with this beautiful hobby.
From left to right, top row: A Grape Fit, Istanbul, Explicit, Capatonic
bottom row: Tennessee Gentleman, Late Frost
These were photographed while shopping for them at Lavender Ridge Farms in Gainesville, TX. If you ever happen that way, be sure to stop in for a visit. Their farm is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They are known for their fields of lavender and their annual lavender festival. What a wonderful fragrance. They also have a lovely cafe.
In order so that I do not go into a total state of unresolved depression, I must reconstruct the garden and and soil. We have clay here and it’s just dreadful. I had used a combination of soil past few years, unfortunately with the drought, rain, floods, etc, this soil did not fair too well leaving the rhizomes to rot. I must get this done quickly for I want to have roots established well before Spring in order to have a someone decent return with blooms. They don’t always bloom the first year after planting but I’ll settle with just a healthy plant at this point.
Humus and gypsum are two ingredients necessary. That and some landscape timbers just to prevent run off. You can’t tell at first but there is a slight downhill slope in my back yard. With a bit of determination and muscle, I shall have this completed by the end of the week. There are 24 varieties to plant for now. There are another 20 something to be dug up and transplanted.
This year marks the first time I have planted any seeds after June. August is a scorcher in North TX so I started some seeds inside. However. the past week cooled dramatically when we got rain and a cold front and the temps have been a comfortable 80-something.
Moons and Stars is the watermelon planted this summer and we are quite thrilled with it. At first my husband suggested the plant had disease when he noticed the yellow spots on the leaves. A quick reference to the seed book convinced him that this why the plant is named Moons and Stars. The watermelon will be spotted with small yellow spots and one large yellow area, being the moon. We are pleased with the flavor.
As we picked our last watermelon I cleared all remaining plants from that bed. Fortunately the bed is free of weeds and unwanted debris. After planting the seeds, I placed newspaper on the dirt around the seedlings and covered with mulch. The sunflower stalks were cut down and the seed flowers lay in the shed drying. There are a few carefully placed on the bird feeder and as I write this I notice a pair of cardinals munching contently on the seeds.
The straw bales are cleared as well. Cucumber seeds (pickling) were planted Friday evening before the rain. The summer squash seeds were also planted however the two remaining plants have suddenly produced new blooms and leaves. I may keep them for a while. The tomato plants will remain for a while. I planted a month late egg plant. Who cares. I’ve never planted them before and have no idea how they will do in the straw bales. The pumpkin plants are huge.
There remains much space in the garden for more veggies as time passes. It is too early for peas. Setting up straw bales and raised beds has been such a benefit. Furthermore, I covered the entire garden area where we don’t plant, with cardboard and mulch. No weeds this year! What a pleasure it is to maintain now because I don’t slave over unwanted weeds.
For the Fall, the following will be planted:
Carrots, peas, green beans, squash, red bell peppers, egg plant, tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers.
May the weather be in our favor!
Earlier in the year, and you can find it in previous post(s), I started seeds and planted in straw bales. Over the past couple months, I’ve made some changes in the garden and watched the plants slowly grow. I say slowly. The conditioning of the bales is key. Some did better than others and not all of my plants survived. What did make it are producing moderately. I know what to do for the next planting. Furthermore, the bales will be loaded with nutrition and moisture.
Squash (upper left), Sunflowers (upper right), Cucumbers (mid right). The tomato plants are planted in the dirt. Fabulous plants. Nothing in the garden bought around here. Oh, did I mention that there are watermelons? My heart is happy.
Rain was supposed to fall yesterday after lunch so said the forecast. Fortunately it remained cloudy and windy only and this allowed us to complete a couple of projects in and out of the house. I knew that if it had not rained by evening last night, I would have to water the garden. Exhausted from the days activities I forgot!
Sometime during my slumber, the pitter-patter on the north window awakened me. So did Romee. Apparently her food dish was empty at about 4 am and cats don’t sleep without having kibble to eat in the night. I poured the last bit of food into her bowl and walked to the front door, opened it enough to lean out and was startled by the low rumble in the west sky. The rain fell softly. Silver trickles of water seeped into the ground. A stream of water rush along the curb shimmered by the glow of the bright, yellow street lamps. Chilled, I stepped back, closed and locked the door and crawled back under the covers.
The day remains overcast with a light rain. Random thunder is heard. The clouds have thinned for the moment is brighter. “Like Wow” opened this morning and is pretty even in the rain. The flower beds and bales are soaked and the grass will shoot up as the first hint of sun shimmers down. For now, I finish with laundry, organizing, and planning for the week.
Not Iris Apfel, silly! I am referring to what Wikipedia calls the genus of 260–300 species of flowering plants with showy flowers. They are in bloom everywhere right now.
Yesterday I had lunch with my mother in law at a cafe on a small farm close to where I live and to my surprise, there were rows of beautifully blooming iris. By the way, this farm is Lavender Ridge Farms in Gainesville. It is tucked away just east of the city near what is known as Oak Ridge, what I refer to as Speed Trap 82. It’s on the back road of the back roads.
Every year or so I order 5 to 8 different rhizomes from Schreiner’s in Salem, Oregon. Never have I been disappointed. I also ordered from a farm in Washington, Echo Gardens that was very generous with bonus iris. Unfortunately, while the farms want to make a profit, I am always looking for a good deal. To not have to pay shipping is my first deal. Secondly, these new introductions in many catalogs have a huge mark up. Consider “A Grape Fit”, a tall bearded plicata introduced just last year. It’s on sale right now at Schreiner’s for $45. I picked it up yesterday for $6. It won’t come home to my garden until July.
You will want one too! Stop by Lavender Ridge Farms if you are cruising around North Central TX around Sherman/Gainesville and have a look at their beautiful flowers. Lavender will be in season in another month.
What do I write about? This morning while driving to work a few thoughts crossed my mind but passed through about as fast as I was driving and I was unable to retrieve those ideas this evening. I supposed I could have used my phone recorder or whatever that app is called but there are cops all over the place just waiting to pull me over for not having both hands on the wheel and traveling one mile over 55. Seriously. Maybe I’ll write about them in the future.
When all else fails I write about and photograph the cat, the horse, the garden. About six years ago I planted some iris, about a hundred of them. I’ve lost some, gained some. Unfortunately last year we had so much rain and it was just dreadful getting out in the mud to sort through the mess out there and I lost about a third of my crop. Heartbroken I totally ignored the garden for the remainder of the year. Only this year, January, did I start pulling weeds, fertilizing, rearranging plants and am happy with the blooms. I’ll start collecting iris again in July for next year.
It was not what I expected. The weather, that is. The forecast called for some rain around noon but all I heard on my Droid was the beeping of the radar indicating various thunderstorm warnings within 50 miles or so. I think they make it up as they go but that doesn’t make any difference in the beauty of it all.
Rural health care offers wide open countrysides with an occasional cemetery to shoot a magnificent sky. On my smugmug account, there is a gallery for sky pictures that every once in a while I lose myself in with a slide show and Tangerine Dream.
Tangerine Dream, Bad Company, Seal, Chris Knight, Chris Isaac, Ry Cooder. Those are a few. It matters what you listen to when looking at pictures and when sitting under a dark, unpredictable sky with a gust of electric wind that makes tree branches sway. Do you see the connection weather has on mood?
That is how to today felt, as if it zoomed right past me. It’s what happens when you are busy and don’t pay attention to what is around you. Do you remember driving home from work today? Do you remember your lunch hour?
It doesn’t matter what all is on the calendar or what is lined up at home for the evening. The speed limit is still the same. The clock does not tick any faster. I’ve always had a rule and a camera in my lap. The rule is: Notice the sights when you drive. Forget everything for a moment except the road rules. Take in what is flying right by you along the 377; the fields of blue bonnets and Indian paint brush. Now don’t get too distracted by the cuteness of all the calves and foals grazing in the pastures. And if you carry a camera, stop and take a picture. Take in a deep breath. Smell the fragrance of the air even though it may be coming from your local cattle barn. Take a picture of the cloud formation or the old dilapidated barn.
Lunch. You probably inhaled it. I almost did then I realized that I don’t have to and that everything I am about to do will still be there. Lunch was wonderful. It consisted of my favorite Subway sandwich, the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki on flat bread with olives and spinach with Mozzarella cheese. This is the toasted version chased down with a bottle of ice cold Fiji water. I ate lunch with the dead at a cemetery. It was the only place I could safely pull off the road and eat in quiet with the windows down and a cool Spring breeze blowing a few strands of hair across my face while I took a bite of bread. It slowed the day down a bit. My thoughts drifted elsewhere away from the tight uneasy schedule.
There are many ways to snatch time. Turn off the phone, or at least get off the screen. Stop multitasking. Just concentrate on one task. That task should stimulate the mind. In a 2013 article written by Carolyn Gregoir, Senior Writer of the Huffington Post, she quotes David Eagleman, “The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. ‘This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,’ Eagleman said — why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”
Make the most of your moments. Time flies.
This is the best time of year. To begin with we celebrate the risen Savior on Easter. And then baseball season starts but not necessarily in that order. The days are warm and breezy. Okay, some days are just plain windy blowing dust and pollen. For most of you this is the worst time of year. But you can’t have pretty flowers and butterflies and honey bees without pollen and dust. Start a riot if you want to but you just cannot go wrong with a glass of lemonade, the smell of honey suckle and the sound when the baseball bat cracks the ball while the crowd cheers.
Meanwhile, the garden grows. The kite comes out of the closet. Spring cleaning begins. I’d say this involves washing windows but we all know that washing windows is like washing your car. The minute it’s clean, the rains begin followed by a dust storm. Forget clean windows in the summer unless you’ve invited the girls over for tea. At least sweep the front and back porch.
Have you noticed all the buttercups along the side of the road? And there seems endless blue bonnets and Indian paintbrush. Get out side, and soak up the warm sunshine. Stop for a while and smell the newly open roses. You won’t find this on your device. Get off your iPad, or whatever you are staring at. Just sit, think, make meaning of the moment.
And that is exactly what happened. I order seeds from a catalog and planted them not as early as I could have. When you have one child you, my friend, are the other child. That includes being mom, wife, employee, volunteer, dorm guard, cat parent, housekeeper, accountant, chauffeur, picture taker, coach, cook, writer of madness, and a wannabe responsible adult. There is a lot of responsibility in the world of parenthood. So I drag the kid out to the garden and give him a shovel.
I give him some seeds and a Jiffy Professional Greenhouse Kit. We both plant seeds and follow the instructions on the box and Youtube and perhaps your garden blog.
In a week there are sprouts. I put them on the freezer in the garage to keep the dirt temp warm and not too much light. Meanwhile, the bales are conditioning. And the daffodils are blooming.