Flower Follow-Up

IMG_2050The dame’s rocket that was just coming out a couple of weeks ago has become exuberant. I’ve always loved exuberance in a flower and this rampant, luxurious petalmania is no exception. But I have also come to appreciate a certain kind of restraint.

Last week I posted a photo of some iris standing preternaturally straight and tall, but neglected to comment on them. They are Siberian iris, and their habit is to stand like that, though all around them – outside the photo – the bearded iris are losing it. The bearded iris are gorgeous, but they get top-heavy, fall over, and have to be propped up; and as blossoms fade they turn sort of slimy while clinging to their perches, impinging on the grandeur of the newer blooms. Spent flowers of Siberian iris shrink discretely back into their spathes, withered but polite, getting out of the face of new blooms. No need to deadhead them; I just cut the whole flower stalk down at my leisure, when the plant is done with it.


Siberian iris, top-down view

I found Siberian iris while looking through the White Flower Farm catalog for something dark blue and deer resistant for my Michigan yard. The color was called “Caesar’s Brother” so they must have seen it as royal purple, but it looked blue enough to me. The deer-proof claim turned out to be true, it did very well where I wanted it, and then I discovered this tidy habit it has. So I expect I will plant a little more every year.

I don’t have to plant dame’s rocket. As long as I yank the garlic mustard and pull the buckthorn sprouts, the dame’s rocket will flourish. I discovered this by trial and error, the key to gardening: the garden shows you what it wants, you just have to pay attention to see it. As they say in “The Trouble With Poets,” ain’t that just like life.

Sort of like life, if not just like it, is my Shady Lady. She sits in a right-sized chair nextgreen lady to my garden bench on the north side of the garage, and I’m still working out plants for her. Her lamium shoes have established themselves nicely, but it’s hard to keep her hands and knees watered, with the pots on their sides like that. These are all supposed to be perennials. Last year, her first on the scene, I tried Jacob’s Ladder for her hair, but though it’s doing very well on the ground there next to her, it didn’t like being in a pot. So this year she gets coleus, perennial in Pasadena but annual here. I won’t feel so bad when it dies. If it does well up to frost, she’ll get a new treatment in a different color every year, just like the hair of lots of other ladies.

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