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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • 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.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.

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