Sunday, July 10, 2011

Winning a reprieve

It's been four years since I started to make a raingarden out of a wet corner of the backyard.  The first plants stuck into that mucky mess were blue flag irises (Iris versicolor).  Winter, summer, spring, fall: there has always been plenty of green spiky iris foliage but never, ever, any flowers.  This spring, I was becoming so exasperated with the lack of bloom performance that I was wondering exactly how bad it would be if I replaced these blue flags with yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus).  Yes, my line of thinking/rationalization went, yellow iris is listed as an invasive by the USDA and prohibited as a noxious weed in Massachusetts, but they look so lovely blooming in May and June along the margin of our town pond.  So, if yellow irises are flourishing on town property, how bad could they really be?

Thankfully, I was saved from sliding down that slippery slope by a single blossom.  At last, the blue flag sent up a flower.  And it is beautiful.  So, no doubt, this iris wins a reprieve.

Okay, I was so surprised to see this blue flag that after I uttered, "What the what?!" and caught my breath, I had a little episode of photographic mania.  I just had to document the event . . . again . . . and over again . . .  Now, if I could only figure how to spur more blooms.  

Monday, July 04, 2011


Looks like the garden is celebrating this holiday weekend with a small scale fireworks display.  The red and coral blossoms of this trumpet honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens "Major Wheeler" shoot out like tiny versions of those sky-shattering explosions.

In the past, I've grown sweet peas on this trellis, but this year, I missed the early spring planting out season for seeds, and later I couldn't locate any nursery-grown plants. The past few years, too, I've had real difficulty keeping the sweet pea vines from going bleached and brittle by mid-summer.  Flower yields have been less than impressive.  Anyway, all these thoughts were rattling around in my head as I wandered down the aisles of my local garden center wondering what to do.  As soon as I picked up a potted vine with the name "Major Wheeler," I knew I had my answer. 

The twisting vines of my own family history are heavy with military Wheelers.  No Majors, but lots of other officers.  To mark this patriotic day, here are a few.

Captain Wheeler (1796/1798-1867) 
Colonel Wheeler (1826-1901)
Lieutenant Wheeler (1895-1918)
They definitely set off fireworks in their own days.  And so did we!