iris.jpg“Bloom events” is a term used by biologists, phenologists, and other plant scientists when they discuss when plants bloom. And this year, they must be noticing several weird bloom events occurring in our area!

As most of you know, we’ve just gone through a very very dry winter. Yes, drier even than normal for here. As (seemingly) the rest of the country had record snow accumulations, we had one of our driest winters on record. Add to that the fairly warm winter temperatures along with plenty of spring wind and you’ve got gardeners scratching their heads as some of their hardiest plants have disappeared while wimpier (or so they thought) plants have come through unscathed. (more…)

Iris missouriensis

Appearance: Wild Iris is a bluish-purple native flower characteristic in appearance to cultivated irises.  It grows to about 2 feet in height and blooms from May to July.

Habitat: It is found in foothills to subalpine life zones, mostly in moist open areas, wet meadows, and stream sides at 4,500 to 9,500 feet elevation.  Growing in full sun, it drenches meadows in its vivid blue color, and is prevalent in areas that have been grazed heavily. (more…)

Iris pallida ‘Variegata’

While most people grow bearded irises for their rainbow of spectacular blooms, Variegated Sweet Iris is prized for its striking variegated leaves. The plants bloom in late spring with lovely violet-blue flowers, and your nose will appreciate their delightfully heady fragrance. But that’s just the beginning. Long after the flowers fade, the stiff, sword-like leaves will remain, with their vertical stripes of blue-green, white and cream creating an exclamation point in the landscape. Plants grow from two to three feet tall, and clumps spread over time.


Q: I’ve heard other gardeners talk about ‘deadheading flowers’ — exactly what is that. How do I do it?

A: Deadheading is the removal of fading flowers to encourage new blooms and keep a plant tidy. Flowering is how plants make their seeds. In order to extend the life of our flowering plants, we need to deadhead spent blooms. By deadheading, you make the plant redirect its energy into growing flowers.

Basically deadheading serves two purposes: it keeps plants looking attractive, and it stops seed production. With most flowers, it’s fairly easy to tell when to deadhead — the flower begins to fade and petals are shrivelling and drying out. If the bloom has begun to lose its color, the plant will benefit from deadheading. The longer you leave fading flowers, the longer the plant will waste energy on dying blooms.

Deadheading is done in one of two ways: by cutting off fading blooms, or by pinching them off. For flowers that will rebloom, like Coreopsis grandiflora, cut off blooms with either your fingers or a set of snips, snapping off the stem above the next set of leaves. Use shears to cut smaller, more delicate flowers.
deadheading.jpg (more…)