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E-Garden Almanac: July 2007

E-Garden Almanac

The E-Garden Almanac is the push-button, real human journal of Kelly D. Norris. All errors, grammatic grievances, and opinions are that of the author. Kelly is a freelance writer and Master Gardener from southwest Iowa. His passion and obsession with horticulture, plants, and gardening embodies nearly every function of his life. The E-Garden Almanac serves as the web extension of his columns, articles, and lectures.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

Here's what folks are saying:

Betty Jane Pothast from the Clay County Garden Club was kind enough to send the following:

"Everyone is commenting about your wonderful program and presentation. Your enthusiasm for iris gardening was so dynamic and interesting...You're slides were so colorful and outstanding....Thank you for coming to Northwest Iowa!"

Thank you Betty and Clay County Garden Club!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Plant to Thrive

Torrents of rain splash against the worn shingle roof of my Ames apartment. The pleasant, pearly droplets of a summer rainstorm are mild and refreshing. This summer has not afforded me or my garden with this simple pleasure nor has it offered either of us respite from the sweltering heat and humidity for which Iowa summers are known. Bee balms (Monarda didyma) looked great in late June only to be plagued with their arch nemesis: powdery mildew. Early asiatic lilies (Lilium cultivars) showed signs of a promising season ahead but their oriental cousins have been less than enthusiastic. Several strains of my hollyhock (Alcea) breeding program showed remarkable progress early on but have suffered, their thirst not at all quenched. However, in all of this I find that their is one group of plants that routinely live up to all that I come to expect from them.

Sedums are one of my garden's prizes. Truck loads for a summer couldn't haul in all of the species, cultivars, and unnamed variations that abound in this large, cosmopolitan genus. But I'd surely try! I won't even begin to tackle the present taxonomic state of sedums as it is mind-boggling and far from settled. I would surmise that no horticulturist will be racing to change tags anytime soon. Here are a few of my favorites and brief comments on this summer's performance:

'Black Jack'- The purported "king of black sedums" is not my favorite when it comes to colorful richness or intensity. The color is excellent but is reminiscent of gooey, hot fudge glazed with raspberries. It is not shimmering but rather soft and smooth.

'Bon Bon'- Deliciously named and delectably colored. Slicky, glossy foliage seems to magnify the red stems of this would be "black" sedum. But despite its deviance from categorical cognomens, it is still one of the best in terms of growth and performance. Frothy pink blossoms are just the right garnish and have started early this year!

S. cauticola 'Lidakense' (pictured)- Here's a dapper fellow that is fast becoming one of my favorites. A glaucous blue overlays a teal-gray leaf that is shaped like a coin. Irregular pink halos on the leaves abound this roving groundcover as it meanders its way into serrendipitous combinations throughout my rock garden. I've selected a stable version of the pink halo that literally glows in the right light. Watch for more details.

S. apoleipon- Supposedly called something else. I'm happy with it regardless of its name. Fine gray-green foliage of impeccable texture slowly forms a touchable mat in a few seasons. This tiny titan has settled into the crevices of a gravel walkway in my scree garden and delighted us this summer with pinhead-sized, yellow blossoms. Tangibly rewarding too! (Pet your plants.)

I could go on but the list would never be exhaustive and my next stop at my favorite sedum nursery's webpage would turn up half a dozen or so more that I honestly could not be without. Sedums are super easy and collectably enticing. But most importantly, I feel, in the absence of care and oft-perceived "ideal garden conditions" they continue to thrive. I'm thankful for the pitter patter on my roof and hope the storm will swing by my southwest Iowa garden a few hours away. But even if not, my sedums will still be there to greet me when I get home, carefree and wonderful.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thank you Clay County Federated Garden Club!

A world of thank yous to the Clay County Federated Garden Club for your enthusiasm, interest, attentiveness, and wonderful questions. You were a delightful group to present to and I can only imagine the quality and quantity of projects which you must take on in the community.

I promised additional information. Here are some links you might want to check out:
American Iris Society (Have you joined yet?)
Rainbow Iris Farm

A handout of last Wednesday evening's lecture will soon be posted at my personal website, found by clicking here.

Happy irising!