Gardener's Grapevine 2012.05.02

Written by David Green.

What a beautiful Sunday—the sun’s shining and the temperature is nice. The frost has had me a little worried this past week; it got pretty cold many nights, but my plants seem to have come through without any issues. I have irises blooming and it is so weird, as they normally bloom in May around Memorial Day. My great-grandmother called them flags and I do, too, just because it reminds me of her and she was a neat lady.

Irises are very easy to grow and very drought tolerant. Their underground roots are called rhizomes. Irises grow in circular or fan shapes, and once established they require little care. They are divided into classes and these classes are determined by plant height. An iris can be anywhere from eight inches to 27 inches tall, and they come in many different colors and some are even bicolored.

Irises prefer to be planted in light loamy soil that is well drained, and grow best in full to partial sun. They should be planted so that the top third of the rhizome is above ground. They do not require fertilizer, but if you must fertilize do not apply fertilizer directly to the exposed rhizomes as this can cause them to be burned by the harsh chemicals.

After the flowers bloom, cut the flower stems back to an inch or two above the rhizomes. In the fall, trim the leaves to six inches above the rhizomes and destroy the cut off part. This will keep any disease that may have invaded the leaves out of your garden.

If dividing irises is desired, the ideal time is four to six weeks after flowering. To divide the plant, cut the leaves back four to six inches above the rhizome, spade down through the rhizomes and take out a clump. Rinse the roots well. Each new plant should be  a short fan of leaves, a rhizome, and healthy looking white roots to plant in the ground. 

Irises are a deer resistant plant. Never mulch the iris, it does not like its rhizomes covered with anything. Irises are beautiful plants and are very easy maintenance. If you are just starting a garden it is a great choice.

I was so glad to see the rain end, but not quite as happy as the cats in my husband’s workshop. They like to go outside to play. Most of the week they put their heads out the door and looked at me as if to say, “If you think it’s such a great idea to go out in that, you can do it.”

Crankshaft is the orange tabby cat and he doesn’t have a plan when he asks to go out, he just likes to lay on the sidewalk and soak up the sun. His largest daily expenditure of energy is in getting to the food dish. He’s a sweet cat, but I think he got the memo that momma doesn’t like gifts of dead mice and birds as he stopped bringing them to me. Having a cat outside in town is not a good idea, but Crankshaft doesn’t prescribe to good ideas. His  opinion is, I am a cat, I do as I please, deal with it. I’ve met people with that attitude, too.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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