Monday, June 05, 2017

Siberian irises, desparate remedies, and cultivating the art of renunciation

In order not to impact flowering, gardeners are typically advised to transplant Siberian irises in the fall. But what if your Siberian irises have very little impact anyway? What if that dense mat of knotted, fibrous plants is only yielding one or two blooms? Wait to see if more appear? Or plunge in with shovel and knife to carve out new divisions? That was the dilemma yesterday.

I opted for spring transplanting. The week ahead promises to be rainy and cool, so the weather is on my side. After shoveling up a mound, I pulled off groups of two or three outer, younger plants and briefly soaked their roots in water. I added a little composted cow manure and 10-10-10 fertilizer to the soil and poked these divisions back into the ground. Because it takes a year or two for transplanted divisions to flower, I limited myself to a single clump. Now that I see how desperately these irises need to be separated, I know that I have to continue to cycle through the garden clump by clump.

So, in foregoing a strong turn-out of Siberian irises this year and perhaps even next, I am reminded of Thomas Hardy's advice from his lesser novel, Desperate Remedies: “Cultivate the art of renunciation.”  And patience.