Iris, You Were Here
by Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes

As spring begins to blend into summer, there are plenty of flowering plants to enjoy in the garden. I love to carry my camera so I can capture the blooms when they are at their best. If plants are labeled, I often take a photo of that as well so I know what the name of the plant is when I file my photos later. While photographing irises on the knoll yesterday, I noticed that a yellow iris was labeled Raspberry Rapture. I knew it was actually Carolina Gold, so I found the real Raspberry Rapture and noticed that label said Hot Gypsy. After looking around for a few minutes, I realized that someone had shuffled the deck, so to speak, and moved all the iris labels around (grrr…)

Tall bearded iris (Iris x germanica ‘Raspberry Rapture’)

I realized I had two options for dealing with this problem. I could simply pull all the labels and be done with it. After all, we are not a botanical garden and we do not label all our plants. But I do like that fact that we have a nice collection of different irises (many of which are in full bloom right now so you should come see them) so having labels is a nice educational touch. Besides, as I said, I find the labels helpful as a photographer. I had to put the labels back. But how to do that?

Tall bearded iris (Iris x germanica ‘Gypsy Woman’)

Tall bearded iris (Iris x germanica ‘Spreckles’)

Now, I am a garden generalist. I know about a lot of different plants but I am not so singly focused on a particular type of plant that I would consider myself an expert on it. I am no rosarian. I am no daylily nut. I am no iris whisperer. So how do I get all the iris labels back in order? Well I had a handy dandy tool in my pocket. It is called a smart phone. With it, I could look at the online iris encyclopedia put out by the American Iris Society. Here is the link. Part of being a good generalist is knowing where the resources are. This encyclopedia has all the irises listed by names with descriptions and more importantly, photos. I had labels, so looking up names is easy. Within an hour, on a nice sunny day, I had the labels back in order. What started as an annoyance was a nice way to enjoy the irises at their peak.

Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus)

Fringe benefits

There are lots of other great plants in bloom right now, but I want to call your attention to some trees that are quite nice this time of year. There are kousa dogwoods scattered around the garden. There is a nice yellowwood in the picnic area that is in bloom. My personal favorites are the fringe trees. The Chinese fringe tree is blooming in the Water Garden while the native fringe tree is blooming in the Spring Garden. Enjoy them all when you visit.

I’ll be offering a free guided Garden Walkabout at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 3. See you in the garden.

Previous Posts:

5/9/15 Watering the Soul

4/23/15 How Does Your Garden Grow?

4/8/15 Cherry Pickin’

3/26/15 Getting Ready for the Party

3/13/15 Looking for the Spring Garden

2/26/15   Winter Interest

2/12/15   Roses in February

1/29/15   What Gardeners Do in January

Click here for all The Dirt

Photos by Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes.