Posts tagged iris

Mini garden walk

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

What a great idea, visiting other people’s gardens! Amazing!  Awesome!  (and, with planning) Affordable!    If you were gadding around and missed the Master Gardeners’ Garden Walk or if you didn’t take the plunge for the Pond Society tour, do make a concerted effort to mark your 2010 calendar to attend both! One of the stops incorporated all manner of garden art, mostly primitive farm equipment and several unusual birdhouses.  The other end of the spectrum was a beautiful English garden.  Ponds fed by babbling brooks created mesmerizing atmospheres. 

                My neighbors have even planned a mini-garden walk involving just a few families.  It’s an opportunity to get better acquainted with your neighbors and visit about something besides the weather.  It’s too late for a vegetable garden this summer, but there’s still time to start a flower garden involving the whole family.  My favorite daughter’s second garden is a family affair reaping benefits far out weighing the harvest of peas and pumpkins.   Charlie has beans on his beanstalk (Two year old Charlie planted a good share of an envelope of beans in one hill.)  Catie is planning on several jack-o-lanterns.    Daddy grills home grown potatoes, tomatoes and onions.  

The long range forecast for July is cooler and wetter weather so get in sync with Mother Nature and go for it.  New beds do need to be religiously watered this time of the year to establish root systems.  It’s okay to fertilize from now through the end of August.  Your new garden needn’t be huge.  It can be containers on the porch.  If the kids are still bugging about a pet, put in a pond and get some goldfish.  The fish we saw at the walks were huge and survived there through the winter.  Your water feature could be a whiskey barrel size container adjacent to the deck. 

Now is a good time, too, to do some rearranging.  We didn’t get the new strawberry bed organized quite soon enough this summer so I’m going to remove the weeds that have sprouted and cover the bed with mulch.  I’ll soon be transplanting several Iris and a few Hosta over to the seeder wagon area. Some of the Tiger Lilies are moving from the ditch there to surround the mailbox in the newest zeroscape area.  A horse ate the top off the sapling in that bed.   I’ll need to install a taller barrier than the garden gate that I thought was such a nifty idea.  Oh, well, the garden gate can become home to a climber in another location.  That’s the great thing about plants and gardens.  Nearly everything is portable and/or potable.

Leave a comment »

Long-lasting flowers

    The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith: Early in the spring we took Mom lilacs.  The wonderful scent wafted all the way down the hall in her apartment building.   The next week apple blossoms popped out to mix with more lilacs.  A bouquet of iris followed a couple of weeks later.  Iris don’t exhibit a pungent aroma, but the double blossoms are stunning.  Last week we took peonies.  There’s no escaping that fragrance! Mom loves having admiring visitors just follow their noses to her living room.  

      Have you ever picked a bouquet of flowers only to have them wilt within hours?   Cut the stem at an angle with a sharp knife or garden scissors. Choose fresh blooms as they’ll last longest.  Try a preservative. There are some non-commercial preservatives you can use to maintain healthy and happy blossoms.  Flowers need sugar for survival and growth as well as disinfectants to inhibit fungi and bacteria growth.  One tablespoon of sugar with ¼ tsp. of bleach mixed in a vase full of water is a good home remedy.    ¼ tsp. of citric acid (available in drug stores) per one gallon of water is another option.  Keep the vase filled with fresh water. Avoid using chemically softened water or extremely hot or cold water.  Shun direct sunlight and direct heat, i.e.  keep the vase off the top of the refrigerator and T.V.  A challenge at my house is keeping vases away from the cats who view fresh greenery as a delicacy, to be gobbled up and then regurgitated.  An upside down plastic berry basket in your bowl or vase will aid in holding the flower arrangement in place if you don’t have a flower frog handy. 

         Two year old Charlie feels he’s Great Grandma’s designated flower delivery man.  Our quest there is keeping the vase upright so we don’t leave a trail of water all the way down the hall.  But, no matter how flowers get to their destinations, fresh cut, home grown bouquets are almost as good as a tomato plucked fresh from the vine or a box of chocolate covered cherries.

Leave a comment »

Garden experimentation

   The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith: My daughter’s garden is going to amount to a hill of beans.  Her first family garden last year was so much fun that they planted another.  Michelle dug a hole for a tomato and as she picked up the  plant, two year old Charlie dumped a half package of green beans in the hole and then proceeded to cover the seeds with his yellow plastic rake, “Back and forth, Gramma, back and forth”.  No problem, we’ll just use a trellis and enjoy Charlie and his beanstalk.  Catie was a big help, too.  She labeled a stake for both ends of the rows so we’ll be sure to know what we planted.  FYI, the rows are all of ten feet long.  Watering the seeds daily until they germinate hasn’t been a problem as long as no one minds that Charlie can turn on the spigot and water himself, Catie, and the neighbor’s dog.  We’re waiting to mulch the plants until they sprout in an effort to keep Charlie off the rows. With limited garden space, they’re experimenting with a hanging container cherry tomato plant. The container will probably require watering daily, allowing the water to run through the container. 

   Charlie helped us plant Hosta in their back yard this week.  The family is renovating the yard so some landscaping is in order. Their home is nestled on a hill surrounded by mature trees.  We planted several Hostas between a retaining wall and a tree where they will enjoy speckled sunlight.  Hosta prefers a rich organic soil, but they will grow in about anything.  We have access to aged horse manure to augment the soil and topped that, of course, with hardwood mulch. 

   Michelle plans to alternate Day Lilies and Iris in a sunny spot in front of the house.  Both are perennials preferring full sun and fertile, well drained soil, but once established will tolerate drought.  The latter makes them a good choice for a busy working Mom with two equally busy youngsters.

   Annuals will supplement other spaces.  Petunias, Snapdragons and Salvia are sun lovers.  Impatiens are shade/part shade lovers.  All are easy keepers.

    Eventually there will be shrubs and other flowering perennials.  Michelle and her family are having such a good time experimenting with what works and what doesn’t with both their vegetable and flower gardens.  And that’s what gardening should be about:  family and fun!

Leave a comment »

Iris open house

Iris grow beneath a statue in Wanda Lunn's gardens in 2008/ Cindy Hadish photo

Iris grow beneath a statue in Wanda Lunn's gardens in 2008/ Cindy Hadish photo

    I had the opportunity last year to visit the beautiful iris gardens of Wanda Lunn in Cedar Rapids. Wanda had 400 visitors in two days last spring and let me know that her gardens will again be open for viewing. If you get the chance, visit her home at 526 Bezdek Dr. NW from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 9, 2009, to see dwarf bearded iris, blooming shade perennials, blooming bushes and spring bulbs in bloom.

    The gardens will also be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday,  May 30, and Sunday, May 31, when 300 tall bearded iris should be in bloom. Wanda noted that instructions on planting, care and identification will be available each day.

Leave a comment »

Much to do in May

Following are gardening/environmental events scheduled in Eastern Iowa for May 2009. If you know of others, send an email to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

Friday, May 1, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Ton of Fun Earth Day celebration and re-opening of SWAP shop, Cedar Rapids/Linn County landfill, 1954 County Home Road, Marion, includes “dumpster dive” for customers dropping off items that shows what people would have thrown away without environmental intervention. See: http://www.solidwasteagency.org/

Friday, May 1, 7 p.m., Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, Farm Sanctuary President and co-founder Gene Baur, discusses his work and national best-selling book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food. He will provide firsthand accounts of conditions on today’s farms, outline efforts to combat the current system, and put forward a vision for a healthier and more sustainable food system. For more information, visit www.genebaur.org or call Prairiewoods at (319) 395.6700.  Fee: $10. His book will be available at Prairiewoods prior to and on the day of the event. See: www.prairiewoods.org

Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Solar Energy Worshop, Prairiewoods. Dennis Pottratz, Iowa’s first nationally certified photovoltaic installer, will lead hands-on workshop. Fee: $250, includes lunch each day. NOTE: This has been postponed. See: www.prairiewoods.org

Saturday, May 2, 9 a.m. to noon, Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids, Guild’s annual spring plant sale with wildflowers, prairie grasses, perennials, garden art and more. See: http://indiancreeknaturecenter.org/

Sunday, May 3, 2 p.m., Celebrating Land and People, Indian Creek Nature Center dedication of 28-acre woodland at NW corner of 44th Street and Otis Rd SE. Call (319) 362-0664 to register for this free event.

Sunday, May 3, 2-4 p.m., Iowa City Environmental Film Festival, Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn St., Food Not Lawns will host a screening of The Future of Food The film offers an in-depth investigation into the genetically engineered foods that are quietly filling U.S. grocery store shelves. David Cavagnaro, photographer and board member of Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, will present additional insights into this trend toward the globalization of our food system. Backyard Abundance is hosting a community seed swap after the screening at 4 pm.  Bring seeds, if you have some to spare. Vegetable, herb and prairie seeds will all be available. See: http://www.backyardabundance.org/eventCurr.aspx?id=25

Monday, May 4, 3:30 p.m., Squaw Creek Park near Marion. Volunteers will help Trees Forever and the Linn County Conservation Board plant 100 oak trees as part of National County Government Week.  Another 100 trees will be potted up by volunteers for use in replanting flood-stricken areas of Cedar Rapids and Linn County. Supervisors Lu Barron and Brent Oleson will speak at the event, along with Shannon Ramsay, Founding President of Trees Forever, who will address the importance of trees, wetlands and prairies. The oak trees were donated to Trees Forever by IA-WIS-IL Nursery from Cascade.  Members of the Cedar Rapids Green Iowa AmeriCorps team helped dig the trees and will be at the event. For more information: call 1-800-369-1269, or see: www.TreesForever.org

 Tuesday, May 5, 7 p.m., Secrets of the Bearded Iris, Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville. The Linn County Conservation Department is hosting a program led by  Wanda Lunn, who grows over 300 bearded iris in her Cedar Rapids garden. Her garden is one of only 40 registered Historic Iris Preservation Gardens in the United States. Wanda will share the varied types and colors of bearded iris as well as secrets to growing them well in Iowa.  Cost is $2.50/adult, $1/child or $5/family.  Call (319) 892-6450 or (319) 892-6485.

Saturday, May 9

–          8 a.m. – 1 p.m., Cedar Rapids Garden Club, Plant & Garden Sale, CornerHouse Gallery & Frame, 2753 First Ave. SE, annuals and perennials specially grown for you by Piersons Florist, Occasions Florist and Fairfax Nursery, as well as Garden Club members, designer patio-ready pots, herbs, heirloom tomatoes, new and gently used garden items, recipes, and exciting presentations. Proceeds will go to support community beautification projects.

–          9 a.m., Cedar Valley Iris & Daylily Society annual spring sale, Penn Meadows Park Gazebo, North Liberty. Named cultivars available, mostly $4-$10. Proceeds used to purchase plants for future sales. See: http://www.cvids.org/May2009Sale.html

–          9 a.m. to noon,  Brucemore Plant Sale,  2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids, features a wide array of perennials and annual plants from Brucemore’s greenhouse. Back by popular demand, the Brucemore gardeners have prepared a variety of topiaries and hanging baskets. Plant sale prices range from $3 to $15, with all proceeds benefiting garden and landscape restoration projects at Brucemore.  The garden staff will be on hand to provide their expert advice on the selection, placement and care of plants.  Also, step inside the Brucemore Museum Store where a variety of garden books and merchandise will be available for purchase.  Call (319) 362-7375 or visit www.brucemore.org

–          9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Project GREEN garden fair, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City. Sale of assortment of trees, shrubs, vines, and sunny and shade perennials, plus local experts will be available to answer garden questions including Mark Vitosh, DNR forester; Terry Robinson, Iowa City forester; Tim Thompson, DNR wildlife biologist; Jim Scheib, member of Eastern Iowa Bird Watch; Master Gardeners of Johnson County; a garlic mustard specialist; and Jennifer Jordan, the IC recycling coordinator, who will be available for information and questions relating to the IC Community Compost program. See: http://www.projectgreen.org/gardenfair.htm

Sunday, May 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Noelridge Park Greenhouse open house, Cedar Rapids, will include sale of hanging flower baskets for $20/$30 and $40 as a fundraiser, plus gardening book sale. Also information from Neighbor to Neighbor Sharing Plants, bee keepers, Eastern Iowa Bonsai Society, Butterfliz of Iowa, bookmark making and the Indian Creek Nature Center.

Monday, May 11, noon to 1 p.m., Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha. Environmental luncheon on heirloom seeds. $10 for meal. See: www.prairiewoods.org

Thursday, May 14, 6-8 p.m., Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha. Exploring Wild Edibles, $6/person or $10/family. Bring a small container to collect plants. See: www.prairiewoods.org

Friday, May 15, 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, May 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Annual Friends of Hickory Hill Park plant sale, backyard at 1167 E. Jefferson St., Iowa City. Plant donations needed, as well as help before and during sale. Sale will include perennials including coneflowers, phlox, daylilies, asters, daisies, hostas, Lily of the Valley, wild ginger, celadine poppy,  herbs and groundcovers as well as native plants.  Some house plants may be included. For more information or to volunteer,  call Joan at 319-338-5331.

Saturday, May 16, 8 a.m. to noon, Linn County Extension parking lot, 3279 Seventh Ave., Marion, Linn County Master Gardeners plant sale, featuring many kinds of perennials (both for sun and or shade), and many varieties of hosta and daylilies, also wildflowers, groundcovers, ornamental grasses, annuals and more. Plants come from Master Gardeners’ gardens, where they were carefully dug and potted, and tenderly taken care of until the sale. Master Gardeners will help you choose the plants just right for you and Plant Doctors will answer your gardening questions. New this year will be a container potting / design service. Bring your own container and the experts will create a beautiful combination of plants for sun or shade. We will have plants available for containers, or bring any of your own you wish to incorporate in the arrangement.  See: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/linn/events/

Saturday, May 16, 8 a.m. to noon, Johnson County 4-H Fairgrounds, south side of Iowa City,  Johnson County Master Gardeners host a flea market and plant sale, featuring an assortment of annuals, perennials, houseplants, bulbs, tubers and seedlings.  There will also be a great assortment of new and previously used lawn, yard and garden tools and equipment.  Donated items can be dropped off at the food booth on the fairgrounds Thursday, May 14, or Friday, May 15.   

Saturday, May 16, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, May 17, 1-5 p.m., First Annual Grant Wood Scenic Byway Art & Culture Tour.  Combines love of art with a scenic drive through Jackson and Jones counties. Get to know the regional art and artists of the Grant Wood Scenic Byway with art galleries, wineries and artists in special locations. See: http://www.iowadot.gov/iowasbyways/index.aspx or contact Linda Muller, (563)652-5104.

Saturday, May 16- Sunday, May 17, Urban permaculture for land, yards and gardens, Prairiewoods. Learn how to begin applying permaculture techniques around your home and in your community. Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable environments. This workshop will include two days of classroom and hands-on experiences. Information and techniques will include ecological patterns, edge, energy flow, zones and sectors, soil, trees, wind breaks and shelter belts, composting, water and landscape, mulch beds and gardening. Instructors are Grover Stock and the staff from Big Green Summer. Fee: $120 for both days, includes a permaculture book and lunch both days. Scholarships are available; reduced rates for more than one person from a family or organization. See: www.prairiewoods.org

Tuesday, May 26 and Thursday, May 28, 6 p.m. or Saturday, May 30, 10:30 a.m., Brucemore’s Historic Landscape Tour, 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids.  Experience the passion influential historic landscape architect, O.C. Simonds, had for retaining the natural elements of the land, using native vegetation, and applying his knowledge of nature and artistic principles to achieve his picturesque style. Participants will learn the progression of the Brucemore landscape from 1886 to present, the importance of the estate’s architecture on the landscape, and hear the challenges facing the continuing preservation of the estate. Contact Brucemore at (319) 362-7375 or visit www.brucemore.org

May 31-June 14, Permaculture Design Certification, BGS Campus, Fairfield. Instructors are Doug Bullock, Lonnie Gamble, Grover Stock, and dozens of guest presenters. Cost is $1,200 if you register by May 1.  See: http://www.biggreensummer.org/page/Permaculture+Design+Certification+2009

Comments (1) »

Assessing the beds

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

Euoooooooo!  I sure don’t like little four legged critters running unexpectedly across my feet!   Now I ‘m not afraid of little four legged critters.   I just don’t like them not giving me any warning.

               A chipmunk apparently had plans to create a winter habitat in a pile of leaves under my peony bushes.  The little fellow and I had to come to an agreement that he and I are not sharing that space at the same time.   I’m raking the leaves out of the way to eliminate the unwanted habitat and potential damage to flowers and shrubs in the bed.  Removing diseased leaves and branches at the same time will help reduce diseases next season. 

My peonies are going to stay all together this year.   They seem to be doing fine.  I am going to move the Iris though.  They’re located in a rather out of the way bed and will be much too beautiful in the spring to not be enjoyed.  Iris can be dug and divided right now and do not need to be planted deeply in the soil but do need to be kept moist after transplanting. 

But then the decision must come, where do  I transplant them.  Now is a perfect time to pour a cup of coffee, wander through the gardens and assess the beds. Examine each bed from several angles.   Be critical. Keeping a seasonal pictorial journal using a digital camera is such a great idea.  Pictures don’t lie:  do you need more height, more color, more  diversity?  Several Master Gardeners routinely keep a garden log.  Now, you may not want to be as involved in your gardens as a Master Gardener, but even placing some markers next to your plants and keeping your purchasing receipts provides a record of what you bought when and from whom in case the plant(s) is performing fantastically or not so much and you want to add or eliminate that species. 

Trees and shrubs can be transplanted now, too.  If a “honey do” on your list involves moving a large tree or shrub, a word of advice is to telephone One Call and determine where your underground utility lines are located.  Safety first is always a great motto.
Did you know that weeds often set their seeds in the fall for the coming year?  Continue weeding until Jack Frost arrives and plan next spring to plant a ground cover where weeds now reside. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Leave a comment »

Lazy days of summer

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

LUV having the windows open!  LUV keeping the air conditioner off!  LUV sitting on the deck without bugs!  LUV having to mow the lawn only once a week!  It’s August.  Summer is winding down.  The cicadas are singing.  The robins are readying for their southern migration.  Soon we’ll experience the vibrant burst of burgundys and yellows and oranges.  School starts in a couple of weeks.  Are you ready for some football? 

            How are you going to tend your garden and yard for the rest of the lazy hazy days of August? 

Now is a great time to tour your yard looking for bare spaces or…….a good excuse to

  • create a new bed or add plants. How about peonies?  Choose a spot with sun and drainage.  Plant the “eye” (bud) about two inches deep.
  •  Or dig and divide your (or your neighbor’s—with their permission, of course) overgrown iris, poppies and other spring blooming perennials.  A good rule of thumb is to move spring blooming flowers in the fall and fall blooming flowers in the spring. 
  • Plant a tree!  Fall planting takes advantage of favorable soil temperatures and moisture conditions that promote the root growth needed to sustain plants through their critical first year in the landscape. 
  • It’s best not to prune now.  Pruning will stimulate unwanted late season growth.
  • Think fall flower arrangements.  Invest in a Burning Bush, a Bayberry Bush or a Red-twigged Dogwood.  All have colored stems that will stand out in dreary winter landscape. And those reddish branches create an outstanding compliment to fall groupings of gourds, pumpkins and dried flowers.
  • Mid-August through mid-September is the best time to repair, replace or start a new lawn.  Lawns with fifty percent or more weeds should be replaced.  Always purchase quality lawn seed.  All grass seed mixes should contain several varieties of bluegrass, fescue and rye grass.

So, get up off that couch.  Get out in the yard.  Enjoy this great time of the year.

 

Leave a comment »