Friday, March 18, 2016

For the love of Irises

Springtime means irises and I'm lucky to have many varieties in my garden. Did you know that name iris comes from the Greek work for rainbow.  I have a pluthera of blue/purple, white, and yellow colored iris perennials. Most I've secured free off Craigslist or Freecycle. I have a few unique and native ones I purchased which I'm nurturing. 

It's not a native flower for U.S. gardeners - its originally from Syria. While used in perfumes, medicinals, and even to produce beer and wine, for me it's purely decorative.  I do have some challenges being in a cold climate garden. Not all iris varieties will do well with such a short growing period. 

Want to get inspired by iris? Check to see if there is a local flower show with this theme or try to visit one of the Historic Iris Display Gardens. My closed one in a state away and they have a wonderful end of season "garage sale" which I'm already planning on attending in July. Now that's planning! 

Iris - endless variety

Here are some tips for growing iris in a cold climate garden: 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ireland National Botanic Garden - Dublin (Review)

Entrance - Dublin National Botanic Garden
When on holiday I am compelled to visit local Botanic Gardens. You can see my prior reviews of the Huntington Garden in California, then Denver Botanic Garden, the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, the Bird Haven Conservatory outside Chicago... well you get the points. I love these places.  So I was delighted when I was able to drag my traveling companion to Ireland's National Botanic Garden located just outside Dublin. Easy to reach by bus!

I was attracted to the location based on the history. The first glass houses were built in the 1700's - then expanded as unusual plants from around the world started to make their way to Ireland. Between 1840 - 1860 the major glass display houses were created. This is the same time as conservatories were springing up in Chicago. It was so nice to see the similarities and differences. Oh the Victorian / Edwardian times when strolling in Greenhouses was the best day out, and when great strides were made in understanding the plant kingdom. 

Dublin National Botanic Garden

A very interesting role of this garden was the assessment of exotic trees to the Ireland environment. Strolling the grounds these old trees look simultaneously majestic and out of place. Many of these are planted in groves - so you can see several different species of Oak tree, Larch, Holly and others side by side.

Here's a quick review of garden overall - in addition I have some specific posts for the Rose Garden and an outdoor Dahlia display at the Dublin National Botanic Garden. 

All photos taken in the spring of 2015.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Veg Garden Envy and Creative Ideas

Raised Bed - Vegetable Garden
This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit a very avid home gardener in Austin, Texas. I have a serious case of garden envy going.  Even though I visited in the off season - it was easy to tell that there was a good deal of planning and learning that went into this garden design.

From the overview photo you can catch a glimpse of the numerous raised beds, use of arbors too. Off to the side are more raised beds in the shade, a field for native flowers, a spot where a cistern is going up this year, and fruit trees including an olive. The front yard also has a man-made creek running through it for wild-life. One of the features that helps make this a certified wildlife habitat.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Antiquing in Germany

Friedrichsplatz Square
Photo From:
I have a number of posts on antiquing and also on some of my travels. Generally I end up seeing lots of botanic gardens while on holiday. This week, as I am traveling in Germany, I happened to come across a street which was filled with antique shops while out for a long walk and a little exercise!

 These shops were in the area of Friedrichsplatz Square - this is from 1800's. Gorgeous arched walkways around the square. Centerpiece garden and fountain. I bet this is stunning in the summertime. Concerts on the square would be fun!

I was ever so pleased!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dahlias - Display Planting in Dublin

A few years ago I enjoyed and reviewed on this blog the Dahlia show at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I really enjoyed the diversity which was shown there. Dalia's were always a flower that my mother loved to grow - but my father didn't like the digging up and replanting which is required for these tuberous-rooted tender perennials when growing in cold climate gardens. 
National Botanic Garden - Dublin, Sept 2015

None-the-less, these bright and colorful flowers bloom from midsummer to first frost, long after many other plants are fading away. The range in color and size is so large - flower shows or clustered plantings of Dahlias can really highlight the spectrum from giant 10-inch blooms to smaller pompons. As many varieties grow 4 to 5 feet tall, these plants can take a commanding place, a statement piece, in many gardens. 

On a recent tour of the National Botanic Garden outside Dublin, I was so pleased to see a large section of their Annual Bed dedicated to Dahlias. The outer beds were all daisies, the middle beds were mums and dahlias respectively . It was so nice to be able to not only see the blooms but also understand the slight differences in height, leaves, and structure of the plants.

I've captured shots of my favorite dahlias. I hope you enjoy too!