Fort Gardens - It has been a little over one year
ago when Billie Gray was asked to head up a committee
to do a plan to rejuvenate our public gardens. And much has been
accomplished. But there is still more to do. Last year we asked for
and received a bid from Caras Nursery to remove the plants, replace top
soil and redo the edging, etc. The bid came to $7,603! Our club could
not afford that. So we had to do it ourselves.
Needless to say, what our club has accomplished on it's own is very
valuable. But there is still more to be done, so try to get out for a
couple of hours to help where needed. The biggest job now is probably
replanting and replacing edging and sod.. Give Billie a call to see how
you can help.
Next year is our 25th Anniversary for the Fort Gardens. We're
looking for ideas on ways to celebrate our accomplishments for the past
25 years, and to create more public awareness as it deserves, so give
Billie or myself a call if you have any promotion ideas. Or volunteer
for the committee to plan the 25th celebrations.
A note on iris culture. To the beginner, iris are one of the
easiest perennials to grow. They survive with less care and reward you
with fine bloom with a minimum of attention. These few suggestions are
all simple, and proper care is very easy.
Soil Preparation. Work soil well to a depth of 10 to 12 inches.
If soil is heavy, incorporate sand or compost so moisture percolates out
quickly. The soil should not be acid. If it is, apply lime; otherwise
no lime is recommended. Well processed compost is ideal. The compost
furnishes humus and valuable soil organisms.
Fertilization. Iris will thrive without feeding, but some is
good. A nice garden soil will grow fine iris. Use care not to get
nitrogenous material on or near the roots, as rot may start. An
application of a well balanced (12-12-12) fertilizer applied as a top
dressing, dusted around and in between the plants in early spring is
desirable. Steamed bone meal and super-phosphate are fine top dressing
Cultivating. Do it shallowly. Iris roots are very near the
surface and you don't want to nick them. Keep your iris free of weeds
and do not allow neighboring plants to encroach upon them. Remember,
they should have sunlight right down to the rhizome. Remove the outer
leaves as they begin to brown. At all times, keep litter, old iris
leaves, grasses, etc. away from the rhizomes. Clean cultivation is the
finest precaution against iris troubles.
When to Plant. For best results, plant during July through
September. Early planting establishes the new iris plants before
winter. This is the time to reset clumps of iris that are crowded,
generally clumps 3 to 4 years old. In the extreme heat, it is more
advisable to plant after the extreme heat up through September.
When re-planting, trim the foliage about 2/3 down. Trim the roots below
a fist-full. The more foliage left on the rhizome, the more likely it
is to bloom the next year. But don't worry if it doesn't bloom the
first year; it's stocking up energy for a fine bloom the next year.
Where to Plant. The ideal location for your iris is a sunny,
well drained location. A minimum of a half day of sun is recommended.
Iris will not do well in the shade. No water should stand in the beds,
either. Raise the beds slightly above the level of your garden paths if
Depth to plant. Place the rhizomes just below the surface of the
ground with the roots well spread out underneath so the rhizome is
within reach of the warmth of the sun's rays while the roots beneath are
in moist (not soggy) soil. Be sure to firm the soil tightly around each
rhizome when planting.
Watering. Newly set
plants need moisture daily for a few days until they are established so
they can grow a new root system. They appreciate this attention. Water
at fairly long intervals in dry weather. Established plants do not
require a lot of watering except in very arid areas. Once a week in the
summer should be fine. A common mistake is to give the iris too much
General Garden Care. Cultivate shallowly after each rain when
the ground has dried sufficiently. As the iris grow, the outside
foliage becomes limp. Remove these outside leaves every so
often-particularly about two weeks after blooming time. But don't pull
them if they resist; it's safer to cut them off so as not to damage the
plant. No need to trim the iris foliage down on established plants,
except to cut off some leaf spot should that show up. Bloom stems are
cut level with the ground after blooming on a dry day so the cut heals
Should Old Clumps Be Thinned. Yes, after they become crowded,
about every four years. Dig up clumps, remove and discard the old
center divisions that have blossomed and replant the fresh, larger
foliage fans after the soil has been renovated. If you have the room,
the old center rhizomes and the smaller fans may be grown in a separate
bed for a year and cut into single or double units.
Winter Protection. I
don't give my iris any special winter protection. But newly set plants
might appreciate a light covering of marsh hay, straw or a similar
weed-free litter to prevent heaving from freezing and thawing. Remove
covering when spring growth begins. Late planted iris can have a brick
placed on top of rhizomes after the first hard freeze to prevent
Leaf Spot. Easily recognized from characteristic brown spots on
foliage. Treatment is to remove the diseased portions, spray or dust
with Bordeaux at strength recommended for roses, or a spray of 2
teaspoons of Clorox per quart of water is effective. The annoying
fungus is caused by overhead watering and planting too close together.
Root Rot. If you find rot on your rhizome when dividing, trim
off the damaged part and rinse with a mild Clorox rinse. Check the
conditions to see if the soil still has good drainage, as that could be