8 Dark Beauties For the Garden

8 Dark Beauties For the Garden

Posted on Oct 7, 2016 | 0 comments

Life isn’t always about pastels and primary colors. They say the darker the berry the sweeter the juice, but does that hold true for the rest of the botanical world as well? Take a walk on the dark side and see how amazing these unique plants can truly be!

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Ghastly Beauties

Ghastly Beauties

Posted on Nov 11, 2015 | 0 comments

Ghouls and Goblins won’t kill you. But these plants could.

Many of the garden plants we grow for ornamental reasons got their vibrant, exotic colors as nature’s way of saying “Warning—Poison!” While most of these are innocuous enough sitting in pots or in the garden, if ingested they could cause illness of varying severity, and sometimes even death.

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One of the numerous negative ecological effects of urban development is a higher rate of soil erosion. Forests naturally hold on to soil with their roots. Trees slow the fall of raindrops to keep them from disrupting the soil. The natural bumps and hillocks in the landscape break up the flow of water, giving it more opportunity to be absorbed by plant roots and filtered through the soil before it winds its way into creeks, streams, and rivers. These natural soil-defense mechanisms do not exist in developed land, where rain falls on rooftops, asphalt, and flat lawns covered in relatively sparse, shallow-rooted plants. All this means that on developed land, wind and rain carries off much more top soil, dumping it into storm drains and into the water table. This not only degrades the soil quality, but also dumps soil into the local water supply, along with oils and often-toxic pollutants.

For the sustained health of your garden and your community, you should try and minimize erosion and runoff as much as possible with careful garden design. Where downspouts empty onto your yard or where storm waters flow through it, you should take every effort to absorb and filter this water. A well-designed garden will capture water effectively, keeping plant roots moist much longer while also holding on to the soil’s nutrients and keeping pollution out of the local water table.

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Dividing Irises and Daylilies

Posted on Aug 30, 2012 | 1 comment

The Labor Day holiday comes at the perfect time for busy gardeners! Bearded Irises should be divided every 2 to 3 years, and Daylilies need division every 3 to 5 years. Late summer is the best time to do this, so make a morning of it and do both at once!

Bearded Iris is very easy to dig up, because the rhizome sits at soil level. Carefully dig it up, keeping as many roots as possible, and wash it off. Then check the rhizome carefully for soft areas and small holes. Remove all of these undesirable areas with a sharp knife, then divide the remaining rhizome at its natural joints (shown at right with a red arrow). Trim the foliage back to about 6 inches, and re-plant the new rhizomes.

Like everything else about Daylilies, division is very simple! Just dig up the plant, taking care to keep as many of the roots intact as possible. Then plunge two garden forks back-to-back through the center of the plant and gently pull them apart, dividing the plant in two. Repeat until you have smaller clumps. Trim the foliage back to about 12 inches and re-plant the new clumps, hilling up the soil and fanning at the roots.

Now that you have many more new Bearded Iris and Daylily plants, you might consider creating an accent planting of just these two perennials. They both appreciate sunshine and good drainage, and bloom successively, with the Daylilies often encoring to keep the Irises company! This way you can dig up and divide the entire planting every 3 years, and keep your garden growing in beauty.

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Louisian Iris Black Gamecock

Black Gamecock is probably the most popular Louisiana Iris available, a
beautiful, dark, and interesting full-sun perennial for your summer
garden. The dark purple to black flowers will bloom in June and July
for an impressive mid-summer show. Combine with other Louisiana Irises
and moisture-loving plants for a fuller effect.

This is one of those plants that solves a problem in your garden – it
will grow in that low wet area that drowns your other plants. Louisiana
Irises are perfect for bog gardens and the edges of ponds. They need
constant moisture to thrive – do not let them dry out between waterings.

Black Gamecock spreads pretty fast, creeping through your garden,
creating a wonderfully natural wild-flower look that really compliments
water features and dense green garden designs.

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Irises to Fill Tough Wet Areas

Posted on Aug 21, 2008 | 0 comments

Iris louisiana Bold Pretender
Many gardens have them: wet, boggy areas that just don’t drain well enough.  Grass won’t grow, plants won’t grow, and the dog keeps coming in the house with wet feet.  OK, maybe just the plants are a problem for you.  Either way, you could, of course, set up a rain garden in that area (it’s beautiful and great for the local environment), but that can be much more effort than many gardeners are willing to put in.  You could give up and have a boggy, mulch-covered area in your garden, but I know that you, my readers, won’t give up that easily.  The best option is to try to find plants that thrive in those difficult conditions, and many of the best plants for that purpose are wonderful Irises.

Iris Black Gamecock
Give Iris louisiana a try.    The do beautifully in damp soils, producing some of the most stunning blooms you can find.  They’re the perfect solution not only for those areas that refuse to drain, but also for embankments of water features or other water sources (they look amazing on the banks of a pond).  Best of all, they’re easy plants to keep, tolerating not only heat and humidity (as you can probably guess from the name), but also cold winters, some even hardy to zone 3.  Iris ‘Bold Pretender’ makes an impressively bright, cheery statement in red and yellow, and it looks great next to the Iris ‘Black Gamecock’s intensely rich velvety purple flowers.

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