Monday, October 28, 2013

Snow expected!

Tonight expected rain will turn to snow leaving a dusting which will melt by late afternoon. Wednesday more snow will arrive, I am not ready to concede fall and hope many days of fifty degree temps will follow this wintry interruption.

In denial I opened my picture library and focused on a single spring day. I will share with my readers a glimpse of June 3rd, the opposite end of the growing season.

Iris cristata was in full bloom

The lipstick red flowers of Fringe-leaved Peony prepared to open.
Anemone canadensis bloomed in front of looming martagon lilies.
The tall thalictrum hybrid "Elin" lifted to the sky.
Spring shall come again!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Francis Lee Jaques

The sound of wings on the wind

As a student at the University of Minnesota I read and studied at the Bell Museum of Natural History, on the floor, surrounded by dioramas, many painted by Francis Lee Jaques. The museum was my contact with the natural world, surrounded by a noisy urban environment; when not invaded by riotous school children, an oasis of quietude. I was drawn here foremost by the painted backgrounds of the dioramas, by the work of F. L. Jaques, a self-taught wildlife painter who lived in Minnesota. As a child I would hunt down examples of his art in the library and try to copy his work.

At the Bell I saw a vision of past environments now deeply changed. I have often climbed Mississippi river bluffs and never sited a Swallow-tail Kite (Always a rare visitor). I have travelled to many wild places in Minnesota and never seen a Whooping Crane and until recently never more than a pair of Sandhill Cranes. Behind the static mounted birds and animals, preserved in dioramas, exists a natural beauty I morn as nearly lost. Multitudes of birds once common are now rarely found in any number, elk nearly vanished from our area, wolves hunted to near extinction, and now preserved to be hunted again!
F. L. Jaques was a prolific artist, the 60 plus dioramas are constantly on view but much of his other work appears sequestered behind ivory towers or locked in out-of-print books. Unless you own a copy of the books authored by his wife Florence Page Jaques and illustrated by F. L Jaques you cannot marvel at his black and white work which conveys the sound of the wind rustling through pines or reeds.  

From The Geese Fly High page 57, by Florence Page Jaques, illustrated Francis Lee Jaques
 Another type of work found at the Bell Museum is unique, a painting fronted by a painted foreground on glass.     

The Minnesota legislature originally funded the museum in 1872. In 2009 the Legislature voted to support a new facility, what has happened? We have funding for a new billion dollar stadium for the Minnesota Vikings instead!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Siberian Iris

Would you buy this plant? Help a breeder with some market research!

Please review the plants below and leave comments if these plants appeal to you.
What is the top dollar amount you are willing to spend to add one to your garden?

Listed below are various plants lined out for present and future introduction.

Plant A
 Summerchase Advent - dwarf Siberian Iris 8-10 inches tall, large white flowers.

Plant B - possible introduction. Another 8 - 10" Siberian Iris dwarf , violet, vigorous, hardy.

Plant C - Yellow dwarf Siberian Iris - for future introduction. Plant  10"-12", large flowers tall stems.

Plant D - Dwarf Siberian Iris 8" -10" with huge flowers.

Plant E Dwarf Siberian Iris 8"-10" light blue flowers.

Plant F - Tall tricolored Siberian Iris with open flowers.

Plant G- Lavender pink Siberian Iris with red black spathes.

Plant H - Dwarf Siberian Iris with reddish pink flowers and blue accents.

I need your feedback as my future efforts are in jeopardy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris revisited

I love the ever growing clumps of SDBs about my yard.
In the front of the perennial border
Rhizomes at soil surface

Growing on a mound backed by rocks
In the rock garden
In the rock garden- blue on blue.

Time to transplant this fall

For more information:
Visit the American Iris Society or Median Iris Society website.
Check out your local iris groups plant sale! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Siberian Iris Season 2013

 The jet stream did not move north this early spring and stalled over our land. Our continental climate was cool and wet. The 50 to 70 degree temperatures ideal to Siberian Iris were almost absent throughout the bloom season.  The season ended prematurely with hot temps and thunderous storms. High winds and torrential rains, often monsoons, dropping one to three inches at a time paraded through day after day. Siberian Iris can tolerate heavy weather conditions. The late season bloomers were still a bit overwhelmed by conditions. High winds of 50 to 70 mph destroyed the burgeoning peony season.

This season proved that fine diversity now exists among the growing number of distinct cultivars, now over a thousand, with many variations in form, color complements and contrasts. Season interest can span weeks to provide remarkable perennial display.

The four Siberian Irises to bloom first this season were Caitlin’s Smile an Iris typhifolia selection (for more information on Iris typhifolia see the earlier blog), Shakers Prayer, Barbara Schmieder, and So Van Gogh; all have traditional pendant form. This form has vertical standards and pendant falls, they flutter like butterflies in a breeze.
Barbara Schmieder
Barbara Schmieder has smaller pale yellow flowers which fade as they age. This delicate plant is very floriferous it can be overshadowed by other Siberians in a landscape.
So Van Gogh
I have found So Van Gogh works as a single accent amidst dark blue-violet Siberians of similar form. A ratio of three blue flowered plants to one So Van Gogh works well.

Bells and Whistles
Bells and Whistles made a dramatic entrance in the garden. The large flowers are ruffled; the falls are blue with violet rim which matches the flaring violet standards with blue veins. The style arms are violet with light blue centers.

At The Crossroads
At The Crossroads has a light blue background with a plum colored spot surrounding a small gold signal. The style arms have yellow highlights. The flowers are large, stems and foliage erect, a significant accent to any garden.

Pretty Polly
 Pretty Polly is a pale pink with blue style arms. A floriferous and vigorous grower, this is a delightful pink.

Painted Woman
Painted Woman has a red veined rim painted around a gold signal. A pleasant countenance with pink falls and standards with creamy light blue style arms, more dramatic than Pretty Polly.

Uncorked a two toned blue with large gold signal and yellow rim adds more variety to the range of cool blue plantings.

Ginger Twist clump
Ginger Twist was magnificent, covered in flowers just above the erect foliage. Lavender standards rise above ginger falls. It has slight fragrance.

Somebody Loves Me is a tetraploid Siberian Iris, rounded form, light blue color with large white signals covering half the falls. It has heavy texture and waves about rather than flutters in winds. This tetraploid form is very popular I personally prefer diploids.

Somebody Loves Me

High Standards, another tetraploid, is a tall plant with dark blue flowers. It works well in mass as a background or surrounded with contrasting yellows or complementary colored Siberians.

High Standards
This picture does not do justice to Sultan’s Ruby it is more crimson in color.  An older award winner Sultan’s Ruby has recurved falls, luxuriant foliage and always considered an excellent accent plant.

Sultans Ruby
 This was my most popular seedling this spring. It remains unnamed and will be lined out for introduction in a few years. Mauve, dark blue with a gold signal the vibrant colors shine in sun or overcast skies.

Colorful seedling
I mentioned the multi-petalled Imperial Opal last year. We need more plants like this singular cultivar. Today I use it as an accent plant. I would love to see a garden of similar formed Siberians in a variety of colors. 

Imperial Opal
 Blooming late in the season Jerry Murphy has become one of my favorite flowers. Reddish veins overlaying yellow give the falls a brownish appearance from a distance.  The standards are crème colored with yellow trim.

Jerry Murphy
Many white Siberians bloom late or very late in the season. Jerry Murphy could be an excellent accent among a mass of white.

I hope this article inspires you to visit specialty iris growers and plant gardens featuring Siberian Iris. In the near future I plan to publish an e-zine on the topic of landscaping with Siberian Iris.

Feel free to leave comments or question!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hawthorn in spring dress

A photo gallery

For more about Thornless  Cockspur Hawthorn see my October 2012 blog The Uncommon Ornamental Hawthorn.
Bloom time pix taken 6/11/2013.
End of bloom

In a row adding beauty to an office complex
Decorating the yard of a firehouse

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Iris versicolor

Dr. Edgar Anderson

Origin of species via hybridization

In the 1920s and 30s Dr. Edgar Anderson of the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MOBOT) and Associate Professor of Botany, Washington University of St. Louis made extensive field trips to examine the variation of form and structure in Iris versicolor, common blue flag. He diagrammed the great amount of genetic variation in natural populations. He found two species rather than one and began to examine how one evolved from the other. His conclusions found more variation within populations of one species than differences between the two species; another species had been involved in the evolution of Iris versicolor. The answer was through hybridization followed by chromosome doubling to produce a fertile, stable, true-breeding amphidiploid. (Melding of the complete chromosome set from each parent.)  His data included chromosome counts and concluded that Iris versicolor (2n = 108), was the amphidiploid progeny of Iris virginica (2n = 70) from the Mississippi valley and Iris setosa var. interior (2n = 38) of the Yukon. Today I. versicolor occurs almost entirely in territory that was covered by ice during Pleistocene glaciation; while I. virginica occurs in untouched areas south. I. setosa var. interior currently growing northwest of the glaciated area, was pushed south by glacial formation into the range of I. virginica. For more information regarding Dr. Anderson visit:
Dr. Edgar Anderson
Every year of the past decade I have yearned to follow the footsteps of Dr. Anderson following the bloom season up the Mississippi valley. I have wanted to examine the implications of 90 years and 200 million more humans affecting the environment colonized by Iris versicolor. It could also prove useful to collect variation where it still exists to aid hybridization efforts.

Iris versicolor and I. virginica have always been appreciated for their beauty and medicinal qualities. On the practical side these irises are now included in rainwater gardens and vegetative filter strips. Scientific analysis identified these plants as hyperaccumulators, removing pesticides from soils and able to reduce levels of commonly and widely used insecticides and fungicides.
A principle example of the origin of species, of growing practical and aesthetic value, this iris deserves our foremost consideration.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Philadelphia Vireo

Yesterday, prior to a spring thunderstorm a few migrating Philadelphia Vireo visited our flowering plum. The flowers attracted pollinating insects which attracted the vireos.

Philadelphia Vireos are very acrobatic, they hovered before the flowers,
and hung upside down to feed.
These vireos will move into Canada.
A couple severe thunderstorms have destroyed the blossoms today, the vireos were our visual climax!