Saturday, April 5, 2014

Oh, Bother!

"If memory serves"....but memory often seems to fail to serve the old gardener, doesn't it?  I'm always exasperated when I find that I failed to write the name of a plant down or failed to note when I moved it.  I like to call things by name and know where they are.  It is partially a surgeon thing; it's comforting to be able to name the warm and glistening organ beneath your fingertips, and also to know where it should or shouldn't be in a body.  As a gardener, it is especially taxing to me if the plants in question are beautiful and even more if they're a rare and special shade of blue that isn't often seen here.   As Winnie The Pooh often said, "Oh, bother".

These few beautiful iris pop up every year in my "viburnum" bed, protected and shaded during summer beneath a number of roses and viburnums, but they rise early in spring in the dappled shade of the bare stems of the neighboring shrubs.  They are likely Dutch irises (Iris xiphium or Iris hollandica).  Except that I have no memory of planting any Dutch iris here.  I do remember planting some Siberian irises (Iris siberica) in this bed.  And the cultivar names 'Harmony' and 'Sapphire Beauty' ring a distinct bell in the back of my mind.  Except that the latter cultivars are Dutch irises, not Siberian irises.  Oh, bother.  

My planting notes say absolutely nothing about planting anything but tall bearded irises in this border.  In fact, my planting notes say nothing about planting any Siberian irises anywhere in the garden (and I'm sure that I have).  My notes do say that I planted 30 bulbs of the Dutch iris 'Sapphire Beauty' in the "peony" bed in 2006.  That's nice, but there are no iris of any kind in my peony bed.  What happened to all those Dutch iris bulbs in the peony bed?  Internet sources say that they often fade out and disappear, but all of them lost in a few years?  Did a squirrel root them all up and move them to another bed?  That would be a fine theory but there aren't any squirrels (or large trees) within 300 yards of my garden.  Did I write down the wrong name when I noted the planting bed and these are the few survivors of those 30 bulbs? That might make sense, but I seem to recall these iris blooming in this bed long before 2006.  Oh, bother.

I shouldn't care.  They're there and they return and they are beautiful, a sight for sore eyes after a long winter and their quiet tones are much more restful than cheery yellow daffodils or bright forsythia.  I'm darned well going to plant some more around.  Just as soon as I remember what they were.  Oh, bother.

I need to stop saying "oh, bother" too.  I already vaguely resemble Winnie The Pooh as I putter around the garden, tottering slowly from plant to plant.  I avoid bright red t-shirts in the garden for that very reason. Adding "oh, bother" to the mix might further dampen my manly appeal to Mrs. ProfessorRoush.


  1. I believe it is Iris cristata. Mine are blooming now in southern Mass. So many irises....

    1. well, that's a nice thought, Kate, but no Iris cristata cultivar I can find is anywhere near that pure bright blue. And I've never planted an Iris cristata according to my notes; for whatever that's worth which is mostly nothing!

  2. How about Iris reticulate? At least that is what I call mine that look like that, but who knows if I remember it correctly! Oh . . . .

  3. Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! They look right and I do have a note about planting some in the front and "spread out". I'll compare these with the ones in the front! Thanks, Penny.

  4. There's an Iris reticulate 'Harmony' too.....


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