Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bloom Day 03.09

Yellow bulbine, Asian ground orchids, and a Pat Austin rose are three of the shows currently appearing in my garden.

But, what I'm really excited to tell you about are these irises...

My husband and I rescued these last year after I noticed a familiar crown shape off to the side of the road. I joked then that being moved from blazing sun and neglect in a former pasture to a place of honor in well amended soil and constant attention in my garden would probably kill them. Instead, they've quadrupled in size and rewarded us with the most interesting blooms. Many of them have petals that are exactly one half purple and one half white. I've started calling it Night and Day, both for the change in their growing conditions and for their unique coloring.

Another interesting iris blooming right now is one that develops absolutely NO stem. It's hard to capture in a picture, but here's my best effort. The blooms are silvery white with a small amount of purple deep inside. I've looked everywhere to find if it's symptomatic of a disease, but everything just says that some dwarf varieties don't form a stem.

This peachy one is a pass-along plant, so I don't have the actual name. It has enough brown in it that I call it Peach Tea. The beautiful peach iris I got from Annie in Austin (of the Transplantable Rose blog) hasn't bloomed yet, but it's planted nearby looking promising.

These white irises were in a group of unmarked plants being sold for next to nothing because no one knew what variety or color they were. The antique roses and salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue" behind them haven't really come to life yet, and the spots of white on tall stems really brighten up that bed. Just in front of these white irises are the purple verbena canadensis "Homestead Purple" that are usually one of the first things to bloom in the garden. This year they were beaten to the punch by several irises and the Old Blush rose.

Here's Old Blush - my nominee for hardest working rose in the garden. It has so many blooms, its stems just faint under the weight.

I once overheard other members of the Austin Iris Society talking about silly people who try to grow irises and roses in the same bed. They must not have been talking about Earthkind or antique roses, because my irises seem very happy growing among them. They're all in raised beds, receive full to part sun, and require very little water or fussing. This one is called "Royal Knight", and it's done surprisingly well with morning sun only.

Scattered among the white irises are poppies and the larkspur seedlings that are coming up all over my garden thanks to the seeds MSS of Zanthan Garden gave me. The poppies weren't quite ready for bloom day, but I decided to give you a preview.

The Martha Gonzales rose in that bed is blooming fairly well, but the Marie Pavie, Old Gay Hill, Lindee, and Franziska Krueger have just produced single bloom previews of what is to come.

Martha Gonzales (right) and Franziska Krueger (below)

Marie Pavie (right) is the most fragrant rose in my garden, making up for its demure blooms. When in full bloom, it scents the entire back yard.

Also on that side of the garden is the Tulipa Clusiana "Cynthia" that I discussed in my previous post. Here's another picture. They began to bloom March 8th, and are still at it.

Of the approximately 15 varieties of salvia in my garden, the salvia Greggii was probably my least favorite until I started trying to kill it by cutting it to the ground every year. It got bushier and prettier, and now blooms heavily in a lovely fuschia color. It also seems to have absolutely no pests.

Moving to another area, the Loropetalum chinense "fringe flower" is still blooming, but I didn't take another picture to leave room for the new additions. Demonstrating favoritism, however, Marilyn's Choice abutilon blooms all year, and I still couldn't resist giving you another look.

Keeping the Marilyn's Choice abutilon company are Gregg's Mistflower (Eupatorium greggii), pink Texas rock roses (Pavonia lasiopetala), yellow cestrum (Cestrum elegans), and two colors of shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana). The abutilon and chartreuse/pink shrimp are the only two in bloom right now.

This rose is called "Colleen's Climber". It's a found rose named after my friend, Colleen Belk. Those of you in Austin may know her from her many years at Barton Springs Nursery, one of the best in our area in part due to her hard work.

Orange Bulbine isn't producing flowers right now as well as the yellow variety, but both are blooming. Yellow is pictured at the beginning of this post, and here's the orange.

A new type of lavender I'm trying this year is called "Blueberry Ruffles", a lavandula cultivar. It's supposed to have early and repeat flowering, with very fragrant large flower spikes. This teeny bloom may not look like much, but none of my other lavenders has produced any flowers at all this spring.

Moving toward the other side of the house, Old Blush, Lady Banks and Cecille Brunner roses are all in bloom.

Lady Banks (left)

Cecille Bruner (right) started from a 4" cutting two years ago.

The snow peas are still producing flowers and peas.

Usually the wisteria threatens to take over its side of the yard, but this time of year it seems fairly tame. Its clusters are just beginning to open and the branches are still bare.

In the front yard, the only things blooming right now are the white spirea, a Mutabilis rose, and a yellow columbine called "Hinckley's" (Aquilegia hinckleyana).

When looking for the botanical name for the spirea, I found lots of websites saying it should be blooming in June and that it has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions. Mine defies such thinking, blooming like crazy as soon as the weather warms consistently above freezing (usually late February to mid-March) and flourishing without supplemental watering.

I realized I also have purple spiderwort, asparagus, and a succulent named "Ghost" in bloom but didn't get their pictures. In the greenhouse, a miniature yellow rose and several of the scented geraniums are blooming. There may have to be an addendum in a couple of days for all the things that were overlooked. It's great to have so much going on out there!

Hinckley's columbine (left) and Mutabilis rose (below). The Mutabilis is covered with blooms of pale pink, coral, peach, and fuschia fluttering like its namesake butterflies.

I also have another yellow columbine, locally called "Hot Mama" that has larger blooms but contrary to her name isn't showing her goods yet.

Once again, I thank Carol of May Dreams Gardens for inspiring me to look more closely at the beauty in my own back yard. I hope you enjoyed the visit.


sweet bay said...

You have so much blooming now! I'd say you're a month ahead of us in NC.

Those two-toned purple iris are wonderful. I love the Peach Tea iris too. Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful, I'm amazed at how much you have in bloom right now. Our zones are very different.

Pam/Digging said...

You do have a lot going on--so much more than I do in my new-baby garden. I didn't know that Colleen had a rose named after her. How neat that you're growing it.

Karen said...

Good lord! I'd be happy to have that amount of variety in summer here in Seattle! Astonishing. Your garden sure is home to many happy blooms. That rescued iris is really amazing - wonder how it got into the pasture in the first place? Good for you for giving it a happy home.

vbdb said...

Sweet Bay - I see from your photo that you're an iris lover, too. Thanks for stopping by.

vbdb said...

Pam - I'd be happy to start a couple of cuttings of Colleen's Climber for you. Just let me know.

vbdb said...

Karen - my best guess on how they got there is in my 2008 post about the "rescue" called Plants with a Past. The town used to be centered around what was a major railway - now just a street called "Railroad". Someone's home was probably torn down in the name of progress and the irises left to fend for themselves. Tough plants! I'm so happy they live with me now.

. said...

Good morning vbdb,

This isn't a March post......this is full-blown summer!

Your part of the world looks like paradise to me, with so many roses and irises out.
I - {make that we :-)} have to be content with some primroses and the odd pulmonaria at present.
Glad to make your acquaintance thanks to Carol's hosting.

Carol said...

So much bloom! Irises, roses, orchids, salvias, and poppies, too. And that Hinkley's columbine that I especially covet. It's a great bloom day showing in your garden. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

HappyMouffetard said...

How gorgeous! We are still a few months away from having roses bloom here. Lovely to see all of your blooms.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

What a luxurious assortment of beauties growing in your garden. I don't have the sun for roses so I especially enjoyed getting to share yours — thanks!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Spring appears to be in full swing in Austin. I just love your Irises. That roadside plant was quite a find.

Helen Yoest @ Gardening With said...

Wow, you have a lot going on. It looks wonderful and makes me anticipate April -it looks like you about a month ahead of us in Raleigh. I'm a rain harvester too; I'm going check out the post your reference above.

vbdb said...

Jo - just wait until we really enter our summer. We just hang on and try to survive the heat, all the time being envious of gardeners in places like the UK. We just "roll in it" during the two or three bearable months we have. Check out the other Austin bloggers I link to in the sidebar and you'll see us all refer to fall as our favorite time, although this spring has been wonderful so far.

vbdb said...

Helen in Raleigh - Will be attending a statewide conference on rainwater harvesting next week and hope to post on that. Check back. I'm also looking forward to seeing your city when the Garden Writers Assn. meets there in September. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

vbdb said...

Carol - what a wonderful thing you've done in giving us this forum to share our blooms and meet others! I'm showing signs of addiction. My husband may not thank you, but I do...

Lancashire rose said...

Incredible blooms. I think I need to add some iris to my garden next year.I can't imagine why you lost your cross vine.

vbdb said...

Happy - delighted to see two UK bloggers drop by. On your blog The Inelegant Gardener, you express doubt that anyone else has an interest in what's going on in your garden. It's a feeling I've often shared when writing my own posts. We appear to be wrong. Thank you for stopping by.

Michelle said...

Beautiful irises and roses!! I love the shrimp plant... I forgot to take a pic of mine! Oh well, next Bloom Day :-)

Michelle @ Getting Dirty in Texas

Katie Elzer-Peters said...

WOW WOW WOW! Beautiful pictures. Even though I'm in coastal NC, I am VERY jealous!

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

You and I grow many of the same roses, and I scoff at the idea of not growing roses with iris. How odd? Glad to see you're defying conventional wisdom too. My roses won't bloom for another month at least, so I enjoyed seeing yours. What a beautiful Bloom Day.~~Dee

Annie in Austin said...

Although the warmer climate makes them bloom earlier, VBDB - the reason your garden looks so wonderful is that you are a wonderful gardener! Those plants must trust that you'll take care of them the right way.

I've got two kinds of Bridal wreath-type spiraea in my yard - one looks similar to what we grew in Illinois with a rounder leaf. It bloomed in May up there but usually end of March here. The other one blooms earlier and has longer leaves and slightly larger flower clusters. Thinking maybe Spiraea cantoniensis?

Your garden is awe-inspiring!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

You have a lot in bloom! Our columbines are just barely out of the ground and all the roses are beautiful!

Tessa at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots said...

What beauty! I can't pick a favorite! I do like the Iris, and now that I've seen yours, I look forward to mine soon! I really like that Tulipa clusiana- it would look beautiful in my yard! Happy almost spring!

Bonnie said...

Holy cow, girl, are you running a nursery up there I didn't know about?

OK, poppies. I need help. I'm nervous I may be pulling them up thinking they are weeds. Send me some pictures of the foliage, so I can get poppy-smart. In a non-opium way, of course.

vbdb said...

Dee - thanks for scoffing at the iris snobs with me!

Annie - it's about time for another visit. Maybe you can come tell me what kind of spirea I have while it's in bloom.

Katie - I'm delighted you stopped by and enjoyed the pictures. Rachel at InBloom and Pam at Digging are my muses.

Bonnie - you just have to come look at them. Different kinds of poppies have different foliage (and I only grow one kind - an heirloom purple).

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Holy Cow! I think those are more blooms that I have in my entire front, back and side yards put together, over the course of the entire summer! They are just gorgeous!

vbdb said...

Jan - We do things in extremes in Texas ... when it's bloom time, we have BLOOMS! Of course, when we have summer heat, we have so little else except air conditioned gardener dormancy. Glad to share.

Dreamybee said...

Wow, I'd love to see a wide shot of your garden-so many beautiful things blooming right now! I love your roses; I have a hard time with them in HI. The ones that I've kept in pots have done considerably better than the ones that I have put in the ground. So, of course, I just put a new one in a pot!

vbdb said...

Dreamybee - next camera lens purchase will be a wide angle lens. However, I'm absolutely certain the close-up shots make the garden look much bigger and better than it is, so I resist the wide shots to maintain the illusion. (We all seem to have some anxiety about how ours measure up, don't we?) About roses, all but two of mine are "antique" or "own-root" roses that are very, VERY easy. Are they grown much there in Heaven, I mean Hawai'i?

Lori said...

Wow, I've never seen anything quite like those Day & Night irises you found-- what a discovery!

vbdb said...

Lori - I went back this weekend and got more iris from that same place. Not sure if they'll all have the same bloom as "Night and Day" but you're welcome to a piece of it. By the way, "your" butterfly bush is filling in and looking happy. Good to hear from you.

Austin School Garden Network said...


We'd like to notify you that the Austin School Garden Network website has launched and we've included your blog on our blog roll.
The Austin School Garden Network is a collaboration of groups, agencies and individuals dedicated to reconnecting children and nature. The purpose is connecting Central Texas community resources to promote the social, nutritional, environmental, and academic benefits of school and youth gardening programs. We have included a local gardening blog section to help new gardeners learn more about gardening in our area.

For more information visit our About Us page.

Your blog is linked to from our Gardening Blog page.

If you would like us to remove the link to your blog from our website please contact, Lisa Anhaiser at laanhaiser[at]

Get growing and keep going!

Austin School Garden Network

abby jenkins said...

What a delightful virtual stroll through your garden!
A very welcome experience on such a damp, gray New England day. Thanks!

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