Friday, July 10, 2015

Early Summer Bloomers

Jewel Crown Siberian Iris
I guess I've been procrastinating again here. . . I've had some photos uploaded and ready to add to my blog post, but then I never finished writing my blog post. I started it last week, but now I have a change of thought and my writing is going in a different direction.

Anyway, unrelated to gardening, I don't like it when computer applications run fine and then the company decides to modify the program and change everything around so things that used to work fine are now left to your imagination to find out what they changed and how to use it to do what you want it to do (all without instructions or even a notice that the programs have been changed). That's what I found out using the Blogger Program (from Google) that I use to write this blog. I used to be able to upload photos to Google and then post them directly to this page, but now I have to upload the photos, then put them in an album first before I can add them to this page. Then I have to go back into Google and search for the album I created. I'm sure I'll forget all this for the next blog post I write so at least I'll have this page to refer back to for instructions. hahaha.

There was a lot of rain damage around the Syracuse area the last few weeks because of the intense amount of rain. Some areas had over 3 inches. Of course we can't complain because at least we're not in a drought like most areas in California, and we haven't had the damaging amount of rain like areas in the mid-west and Texas. And no tornadoes. Just rain. The golf courses look wonderful around here. I even played golf today! 9 holes! I didn't bother to keep score, but I did par the last hole (after taking a Mulligan). And, I actually got the ball over a pond on the first shot which has been me some problems in the past.

Tall Bearded Iris (unknown name)

Thought I would let everyone know that the golf course meadows were loaded with blooming milk weed. It smelled so great! I was hoping to see a lot of butterflies around, but I didn't notice a one the entire time I was there. I also heard a loon in one of the ponds, but my husband didn't hear it, and he thought I must have been hearing things. When I first heard it I thought it was I pileated woodpecker, but then I realized it was a loon and not a woodpecker.

It's been a great beginning to our summer. The rain is keeping everything green and the flowers are doing great. I'm not experiencing any problems because of the rain, but I'm sure a lot of people have had their fill of all the precipitation.

It also has been a toll on some vegetable gardens.  The seedlings and seeds have rotted and have been washed out. A lot of the corn fields around the countryside are doing poorly because of all the rain. It's washing away the nutrients in the soil, and it's stunting the corn. I think there will be a lot of farmers with monetary losses because of the weather.
Sweet William

Siberian Irises (Iris Sibirica). In the first photo on this page, is a picture of one of my Siberian Irises called Jewel Crown. Siberian Irises, in our area of Central/Northern New York, are late spring bloomers. They start to bloom when the tulips are finishing up. They will give you a few weeks of color, and they are easy plants to take care of.  They will spread out and form a dense clump. After a few years, they will need dividing when the center of the plant starts to die out. Then you can dig them up and divide the clump and transplant the new divisions.

Siberian Irises will grow in just about any soil. I've read conflicting information on this plant where one article recommends well-drained soil and another article recommends wet conditions as long as it's not in a pond. You can plant them in full sun or partially shady areas. They have upright, narrow leaves, and will stay green all season after the flowers have died. Fertilize in spring and after they bloom with a high nitrogen content fertilizer. They are rarely bothered by rot or borers like the bearded irises are. The Siberian Irises are available in several colors such as blue, violet, pink, yellow, and white. Depending on the variety they can grow from 2' to 4'.
They will grow in US Hardiness zones 3-9.

Here is a link to the hardiness zones: US Plant Hardiness Zones

Here is a little story for you that you might enjoy. A friend of mine has several irises varieties and other perennials. I was admiring her extremely tall Siberian Irises and she offered to dig one up for me. She asked me which one (color) I wanted because there were several varieties in this one section of her garden near the road which was in a ditch. She used that area because they would get a continuous supply of rain water and would make a nice welcoming for visitors. I picked out a tall one and she dug it up for me. They had already bloomed so I would have to wait a year or so before I could enjoy the blooms on this one. I went home and planted it, and watered it well. It came up the following year, but no blooms. I had to wait another year. The next year rolls around and still no blooms. Well, it did bloom the following year, but it wasn't a Siberian Iris. It was a cattail! I waited and nurtured that plant for three years or so only to find out it was a cattail. So that's your laugh for the day!

In the photo above, the foxgloves are filling in voids in this little perennial garden. After the seeds die on the stem (they will die back and dry up), I like to shake the seeds around in various areas of my garden. If you do that you will be amazed at the various places they will grow.

I have had several people ask me why their foxgloves have disappeared. If the foxglove you planted last year didn't come up this year it's because they are a biennial and probably died off unless you let it go to seed and either saved the seed or let the seeds fall to the ground. A biennial means the flower comes up the first year and doesn't flower. The second year it comes up, flowers, produces seeds and dies off (most of the time the entire plant will completely die). If you purchased a flowering foxglove, it's in its second year and will most likely die after it flowers. At this point, if you want to have foxgloves in your gardens the following years, you can't cut the stalks off after the flower dies. The flowers need to die on the stem and the stems and seeds need to dry on the stalk to be effective seed bearers. So DON'T CUT YOUR  FOXGLOVES BACK IF YOU WANT FLOWERS IN FUTURE YEARS. But you also must remember, that when your seeds come up that following year, they will not produce flowers until the second year. It's probably a good idea to mark where your foxgloves are planted because when they come up in the spring they look like weeds. Actually several perennials look like weeds when they come up. Now to confuse you even further, there are new hybrid foxgloves on the market that are sterile (will not produce seeds), but it will perform like a regular perennial and you will be able to divide it up by divisions. I've been following some articles on these hybrids to see how they do in following years. One of the hybrids is called "Illumination Pink" and a very striking tropical color of pink and yellow.


Feathered Friends
Goldfinch on sock thistle feeder

The birds pictured here are some of our current visitors.

House Wren 
Anerican Goldfinches can hang upside down to find food. You can purchase upside-down feeders for them. I've used them in the past and they work out great as long as you can keep raccoons away from knocking down the feeders and breaking them. Side note: now we take our feeders down in the evening and store them in our shed overnight.

Goldfinches like sunflower seeds and nyger seeds. (The sunflower seeds won't work in the sock feeder.)

Immature female cardinal
The cardinals have been bringing their babies to our birdfeeders. I love hearing the little chirping sounds of the babies when they are around the feeders. You can identify an immature cardinal by their dusky/dark beak. Adult cardinals (male or female) have bright orange beaks.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Oriole Feeder

"I must have flowers, always, and always."
~Claude Monet

Thanks for stopping by~
Feel free to leave a comment and/or ask a question. If you don't have a Google account you can use the "Anonymous" selection in the drop-down box to write a comment. 


  1. I sympathize with you Sue. WP did the same with the new, improved, simpler "posting experience". It is a mess of an app and I refused to switch. On the iPad, you don't get a choice unless going through Safari, which I do instead. As for foxglove, I leave them no matter how bad they look in the garden after flower. I have some pretty varieties which I don't want to lose.

    1. I'm with you, Donna, and I refuse to switch, too. But I can't complain too much because Blogger is a free application. You just need a Google account to use it.
      A few years ago, I thinned out my foxgloves, and I guess I thinned them out too much. I only had about 3 flowers the following year so now I try to make sure there are plenty of seeds in my gardens before I toss those stalks out. I feel that I can always dig them up and transplant them if they come up too thick in one spot.

  2. I use Live Writer for blogging.I know some have had problems with it(Microsoft is discontinuing it.Why?! #$%),but so far,I haven't.I miss the Goldfinches,but they'll be back this Fall.They eat out of the regular feeders,here.Wild Birds Unlimited has some great squirrel proof feeder.$$$ but they work.They also have some great baffles for squirrels and raccoons,which also work.

    1. I was wondering what program you use for your blogpost. I guess they all have their pros and cons.
      The Goldfinches are pretty fussy here and mostly only eat the nyger seeds and sunflower seeds. They really don't care what feeder it's in, but they are picky about their seeds. That's the only seeds they usually eat. Some will spend the winter here as long as they can find food, but the majority of the goldfinches will fly south.
      We have been trying different things for the squirrels, and so far what works the best for us is oiling the post that we have the feeders on. I'm just hoping that the raccoons will get discouraged from lack of birdseed and move on. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I love the goatsbeard! Re: foxgloves....yes definitely let them go to seed and leave them alone and you'll have them all over the garden - which I loved. PLUS, they come up different colors....some revert back to their original colors! This is not for the person who likes a "formal" garden! The experienced gardener learns what seedlings of various plants look like, but this takes time....

    I also love the photo of the young cardinal, Sue...

    1. Thank you, Ann. I really love the Goatsbeard, too. It took a few years for mine to fill in because it's in quite a bit of shade. I hope to split it up again maybe next year and transplant some more of it around the yard.
      And you are right, the foxgloves are not for the formal garden unless you want to buy new plants each year. The drying stalks are kind of scraggly looking.

  4. Lots of beautiful blooms to see in your garden Sue....I am glad I have raised beds for a veg garden as they have done well even with all the we have been dry for over a week...what a change...hoping to see more butterflies soon.

    1. Thank you, Donna. I think that was a great idea to install raised beds for your vegetable garden. I can think of a few areas in my yard that would benefit from a raised garden. We've seen quite a few butterflies around here. And there have been several Giant Swallowtails in the area. So glad to see them here.