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|The Cheerful Iris, Issue #001 -- Iris in Your Garden
May 28, 2009
Have You Any Native Iris in Your Garden?
The Cheerful Gardener says...
It seems fitting, since this newsletter is called "The Cheerful Iris", that the first edition should uncover the beauty of the native Californian Iris. Read our article and learn how to use this beautiful plant in your garden. Tell your neighbors and friends about it. And even better, as your plant will grow larger every year, you can divide it and spread its beauty into other parts of your garden. And who knows, you might even be persuaded to part with one or two to a friend.
California is beautiful in the Spring, so get out there and go see some wildflowers and gardens. Soon it will be too hot in most parts of the state to do much outside except sit in the shade, drink lemonade, and plan a planting list for the Fall. If you'd like a tip on where to go and what to see, look in our list of gardens. And, we are compiling a list of wildflower walks, to appear soon on our website, watch for this exciting list!
As you enjoy the beauty that is all around you, don't forget to do your part to extend that beauty and bring a small piece of it to your garden. Start one plant at a time. When a non-native plant dies, think of a suitable native plant replacement. If you can't find one that fits, don't hesistate to contact us and we promise to find a suitable selection.
And, please, help us sustain this work and effort, tell your friends about this website, forward this magazine, and visit us again. And, as always, send us feedback, reply to this email, and we promise to listen.
Bring The Cheerful Iris to Your GardenIn Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of rainbow and considered to be a messenger of love. The Greeks therefore, planted Iris on the grave of a loved one. This beautiful plant family Iridaceae is amply represented in California. The Pacific Coast Iris, as they are collectively known, can be showy and spectacular in bloom. Depending on the location and variety, blooms appear from Spring to early Summer, with a flowering period that spans about 3 weeks.
An iris that is native to the San Francisco bay area is Iris longipetala (Long-Petaled Iris). It grows in moist grassy coastal areas in the Central and North-Western part of the state. It likes good drainage and moisture, but it can tolerate summer dryness along the coast, where it is cooler. In hotter inland locations it will require regular summer water. The flowers on this plant have dark purpled-veins on a lighter background.
A good drought-tolerant substitute for Iris longipetala is Iris macrosiphon (Ground Iris or Long-tubed Iris). This one grows in sunny meadows and grasslands and open woodland areas. It has narrow bluish leaves and a wide range of flower colors.
If you are looking for a yellow-colored flower, then look no further than Iris innominata (Del Norte County Iris). It also requires regular summer water, good drainage and part-shade. It is a smaller plant and can be used in rock gardens. It grows on serpentine soil a little more inland than the coastal iris.
Design Notes and Location:
Soil, Climate, and Growing Tips:
If you are thinking of planting a meadow garden and want to incorporate Iris, or, you are just in love with bulbs then a must-have book is "Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses--Gardening with California Monocots" edited by Nora Harlow and Kristin Jakob, and published by University of California Press.
Where To See Wildflowers in the Bay AreaIf you were always interested in wildflowers and enjoyed hiking in the many preserves and never knew the names of any of the flowers, then that is like me. I did that for years before I started to sign up for guided walks and started learning all the names. Along the way I bought an eye-glass (to count stamens, look closely at bugs, and such), and a few books. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, here are some places where you can still go to see some nice wildflowers.
A Wildflower Trip to the Central-Sierras
I went on a trip to the Central-Sierras on a trip led by Glenn Keator, a pre-eminent California botanist. It was fantastic and I took tons of photos. I will post a blog and a slide-show on this trip fairly soon, check back!
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The Cheerful Iris Issue#001: May 28th, 2009
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