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Monday, April 30, 2012

Appreciating the Everyday

AppriciatingTheEveryday
This past weekend in Portland was glorious...cool and partially cloudy, but without rain...which made for great conditions to work outside. It's nice to both not get overheated OR soaked while working outside. We made great headway on our big project for this year (the front parking strip), but more on that in another post.

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While going back and forth through the gardens, moving plants, getting materials, etc, I kept walking past the north border and parking strip (planted last year).

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I kept getting passing whiffs of sweetly-scented flowers...these purple Bearded Iris, to be exact.

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These are some of the flowers that we inherited when we bought this house. There were several huge, congested patches along the foundations of the house. There were layers upon layers of rhizomes...I couldn't believe they were blooming as well as they were...and some in full shade! There were far too many to replant after I had pulled them all up and divided them. Many went to friends and neighbors, many into the compost, unfortunately.

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I felt bad not keep a few, however, if not for love of the plants themselves, as a little way of honoring the past of the house and garden. I kept thinking someone at some point loved them and probably looked forward to them every year (especially since there were pretty much the only flowers on the property). I also felt bad completely getting rid of them...they had managed to endure years (probably decades) of neglect to keep blooming cheerfully. I've whittle down the pile of rhizomes over the past few years (yes, they are still alive...amazingly), and have planted them randomly around the borders.

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And here they are, blooming for us, their new owners, perfuming the air throughout the garden. I'm so glad I managed to save a few of them, I forget just how elegant they are in bloom. I wonder sometimes, if they weren't so easy to grow, would people covet them more. It seems in the realm of gardening, people so often are obsessed with the new, the rare and the difficult...sometimes we forget to appreciate the amazing beauty of the simple, classic and...common.

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Do you have any plants, either inherited or purchased, that are common as dirt, but you still love...even in the never-ending flood of new and improved varieties?

45 comments:

  1. I inherited irises with this house and I tossed them all out. I also have a white lilac issue. There is a huge tree shaped lilac that came with the house, but I also have another in a planter. But since it's from a cutting, of a cutting, of a cutting, of my great-great grandmother's lilac, I guess I have to keep both... I just don't feel like ripping out the giant one in the ground because it is kind of pretty to replace it with another white lilac. Oh! The problems we gardeners face!

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    1. Hahahaha..indeed! Lilacs are one of my faves, and I'm sad I don't have one (love the scent). However, I would probably be annoyed if I had one in my yard...they take up so much space and are kind boring the other 50 weeks of the year ;-) That being said, if I ever have a larger yard (fingers crossed), it would be one of the first plants I put in :-)

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  2. Like Ann for me it's a Lilac. I love the smell and it's a way of remembering where I come from, Spokane is the Lilac City...and my grandparents had a couple of huge beautiful ones in their yard. Of course Iris and the smell also takes me back to their house, they were one of the few plants my Grandma could successfully grow.

    Your garden is looking gorgeous!

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    1. I agree...it's pretty much my favorite flower scent...and is immensely nostalgic for me for the same reasons...someday maybe I'll have a bigger yard and can indulge in planting some :-)

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  3. For me it's sedum Autumn Joy. Everyone has some anf they are super easy to grow, but I love them. I love that you kept some of the irises there. I hope the former owner drives or walks by someday and smiles to see them (and the rest of your amazing garden).

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    1. Oh yes...I love those! They really are one of the first plants I put into any garden I have...so easy, long-lived and handsome. I rely heavily on them for winter interest :-)

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  4. I love that you kept something of the garden's past around. Just think if the previous owner (or better yet, one of their descendants) drives past to see "the old place" or "grandma's house" and they see the irises that they remembered. I've seen my grandparents' old house and pretty much everything about it I loved is gone now.

    Keep the history alive!

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    1. Exactly...there has to be room in our lives for a little bit of sentiment...honoring the past and such. I think it's important for us all to step back and just assess the situation from time to time...another reason to wait to change too much at a new house until you've been through a season and seen what's really there.

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  5. I have a few vintage Iris as well and to this day I still think the most gorgeous Daylily is Kwanzo. Of course to buy that particular one is not cheap but it is old. Your current strip looks lovely and I'm sure your new one will as well.
    Cher

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    1. Sometimes the oldies really are the goodies, right?!?

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  6. My sister and her husband live in an old in West Seattle and they ripped up all the irises. I took a lot of them and have shared some too. They remind me of the first house my husband and I rented in Seattle that had tons of irises. I really like a lot of old fashioned flowers and shrubs.

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    1. I love the old-fashioned varieties...there is something to be said for a plant that has proven itself, and they usually have some history to them, don't they!

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  7. I love that you saved some of the iris. What a nice tribute to the former owners. Unfortunately there was nothing when I moved into my home, so I did not have anything to save.

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    1. That happens too...maybe you can bring a little piece of your old place along, when that happens :-)

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  8. Scott, I do have some inherited plants and it is kind of spooky as new ones come up each year. I have a newer home that is built on a 100 plus year old garden so I have many of the previous owners plants coming up at random, violets, spring bulbs, lily of the valley old fashioned brunnera and woodland phlox. Some I leave alone, some I do not because they are invasive in my present garden.

    I think your parkway flowerbeds look wonderful and must be the pleasure of the nieghborhood.

    Eileen

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    1. HAHAHAHA...omg...I bet that's a trip...to have random plants coming up all over! I think that's a good point...there is a time and a place for some plants...but those that are thugs or invasive just have to go! I do think our neighbors enjoy the gardens (or, at least I hope they do)!

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  9. I inherited some purple irises at my previous home/garden that I dug and thinned and replanted for 25+ years. So far I only have 3 years in this house, and didn't really inherit anything with it, it's only about 10 years old. I sometimes wonder what the people in our old house have done with all the plants they inherited in my old garden. Your irises and tulips are so pretty and bright!

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    1. Oh yeah...it would drive me crazy imagining what was happening to plants I left behind! I actually drive by a house I used to rent to see whatever happened to the plants there. Most are gone to plant heaven, but the more vigorous ones are still there ;-)

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  10. I kept most of the plants the previous owners planted. They did such an amazing job of landscaping and planning, and I am such a wuss when it comes to digging up and throwing away plants! The most common ones on my lot, and plants that are often scorned, are the Hostas--I have 100s of them. I don't talk about them much because people poo-poo them. But secretly I like them because the suit the space. I love Irises, too, and I'm glad to hear you kept some of yours. Great, thought-provoking post!

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    1. OMG...I love Hostas! How can you not! If I had a large, shaded property, I'd go crazy planting tons of them...I remember seeing gardens in magazines a few years ago that were forested lots with hundreds of them...it was stunning!

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  11. I have irises that I inherited from my mother-in-law as well as Virginia Spiderwort that I dug from my daughter's backyard - both common and easy and I love them!
    We had the same sort of weather here this past weekend and I spent the entire day in the garden - it was wonderful.

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    1. Don't you love those pass-along plants! I actually got some Tiger Lilies from my dad last autumn...I wasn't sure for a split second what I would do with ORANGE lilies...but I quickly got over it and can wait to see them bloom in their special place of honor, right along our front path :-) Glad you had some good garden weather too...isn't it glorious!

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  12. I'm glad you decided to save some of the iris. They are so sweet in their simplicity. My friend recently rescued a bunch of iris from a property that is getting ready to be developed. The owner long ago planted tons of them. She is now long gone and my friend couldn't stand the thought of some of the plants not being rescued. Fortunately, she shared some with me. One variety is a rich, deep yellow. The other two, I have no idea! We shall see!

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    1. Exactly...there is so much to be appreciated in their simple, honest form! I love that you both rescued all those Iris...it would be such a waste to have them just be destroyed...and just think, you're keeping that ladies dream alive for a while longer :-)

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  13. I have common as dirt white and purple ajuga, inherited from the previous owner, probably planted in the late 1960s, and now spread across our "not lawn." Right now it's quite beautiful with the colored flower spikes amid the wild carex and grasses. We'll cut the "not lawn" mid-summer, selectively, to leave some of the prize wild plants untouched, then do a clean cut once in fall. I'd never have planted ajuga spread around like this intentionally, but what a great idea!

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    1. I remember seeing that on your blog a while ago and thinking what a great idea it was!!! I agree, I don't think I'd ever think to do it myself, but yeah, what a great idea...and so nice that you can reap the benefits!

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  14. I really like purple with yellow, and those colors are very bright and beautiful - there's nothing everyday about it!

    You're luckier than me - I inherited 200+ mimosa trees/shrubs and seedlings in addition to a dozen overcrowded trees, a weedy lawn, bamboo, and some purple heart. Besides what little weedy lawn remains and the on-going battle with the bamboo, the only things we kept are the purple heart and 2 trees.

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    1. I know...there's nothing with quite as much ZIP as complimentary colors! OMG...that's awful...I don't envy you one bit for those weeds!

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  15. These beds are beautiful Scott. I love all of the colors and the purple irises just look beautiful mixed in. I too inherited some old irises when we bought the house many, many years ago. They are a lighter lavender and I have moved them all over the yard over the years. It is nice to have those flowers of the past because like you said someone loved them in their garden. Most were likely pass along plants from others gardens around here. I am looking forward to your future posting on your hell strip.

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    1. Thanks...and you're so right, there's something very satisfying knowing that you're carrying on some part of a tradition, that you're keeping a bit of the past and history of your garden alive :-)

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  16. Your garden is looking wonderful. Lovely color combination. Iris are blooming here as well. It's been a great year for Iris, for some reason. I have one brought from Germany in a suitcase by a friend of my Mom and Dad. Quite ordinary Iris, species, I think, but I love the story of how it ended up here.

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    1. I love that story too...those are the plants you'll cherish forever...any time there is some sort of history behind them :-)

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  17. I like bearded iris, I have a number of different kinds and try to do a few hybrid crosses each year. I also like daylilies (not a big fan of Stella D'oro tho) and hostas. Actually, I can be convinced to like most plants if I see them used in a great setting. I can be picky about poor varieties tho. Not a big fan of 'Autumn Joy' Sedum for instance, it's too floppy. I'd much rather have (and do as a matter of fact!) 'Hot Stuff' or 'Mr. Goodbud'. I'm also very much anti-'Goldsturm' Rudbeckia. Can't stand it, and I think it's the worst choice for a Rudbeckia anyone can make due to its susceptibility to disease.

    The gardens look great as always Scott. Ready for a care package of plants? :)

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    1. OMG...I've never tried those Sedums...will have to look them up (luckily, have had no problems with 'Autumn Joy'...knock on wood)! I agree about there being some sub-standard varieties (and sometimes of questionable taste). A plant care package...bring it on!

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    2. I'll try to get one sent out this coming Wednesday. Still planning a green roof on that shed?

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    3. Yay! Yes...we are planning to do the Green Roof...hopefully we can figure out what's causing it to leak soon :-)

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  18. Starts given to me by family are the ones I can't part with.

    If the Iris are blooming there I hope you get down to the Iris Festival in Keiser. It's been more than a decade since I've been to it but the colors and combos are spectacular and that garden combined with your photography skills would be a thing to behold!

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    1. Oh yeah...I have a hard time parting with anything that has sentimental value...and there's always the risk they'll ask "So, hows the (insert plant name) doing?"...and I'm a HORRIBLE liar! It's so funny you mention it, because I'm totally planning on going to the Iris Festival this year...I want to check out the fields of Iris! Oh yeah...and I want to shop :-)

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  19. Hi Scott! I think those bearded iris, though they are rather common, are probably one of the best cultivars! I love easy plants indeed, and sometimes I value a common or rather simple plant just because it is easy. I always need fillers in the garden.
    As you I inherited a clump of yellow and white bearded iris and a couple of clumps of iris pallida along with the house. I divided the pallida last september in 4 clumps, they are now preparing to flower but just a little this year, I may have divided them too much! The bicoloured are now in full bloom, perfuming the air. I have to admit I am not fond of bicoloured flowers, especially irises but I kept them for the same reason you kept yours and I'm proud of them.

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    1. I totally agree, Alberto...those tried and true heirloom varieties are so great, aren't they! I agree...sometimes there's that little bit of connection to a plant that makes it more than just a plant...even if it's one you wouldn't normally even consider planting yourself. I hope you post some pics of your Iris...and of course, I'm so jealous of all your space!

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    2. I like to go walk around the nice iris display gardens at Aitken's Salmon Creek Gardens when they are blooming.

      http://www.flowerfantasy.net/shop/category.php?id_category=31

      They also sell orchids in a greenhouse. I particularly collect the bicolor irises, they are so elegant.

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  20. Love the use of yellow and purple together in the garden. The bearded iris are wonderful. thanks for this post. Your always full of good ideas!

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    1. Oh yeah...purple and yellow is one of those classic combos that always seems to resonate, doesn't it?

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  21. Scott, I enjoyed this post and have to tell you a little story about irises. I gardener once gave me some rhizomes which I planted at my previous house. They were a kind of odd coloured iris, gold and purple up close, but when viewed from a distance (which they mainly were) they looked like kind of a brown colour, that wasn't all that pleasing (at least to my eye). I didn't have enough room at my old place to have plants that I didn't really love, so I (and I felt really guilty doing this) dug them up and threw them into the empty lot beside us.

    You guessed it - they started blooming over there the following spring! (I didn't even plant them, just threw them over there).

    Needless to say, I went and got them and re-planted them. I thought that if they wanted to survive that much, the least I could do was put them in my garden.

    Diane

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