Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hurray for the Red,White and Blue! Iris, Peony and Daylily Edition

Today, June 14, in honor of Flag Day I'm featuring red, white, and blue flowers that can found here at Pittsgrove Farms.

Red at Night

Gull's Wings

Speeding Again

Earlier in the season red could be viewed in the bearded iris beds in the form of Red at Night and Classic Bordeaux, followed by Siberian Iris Eric the Red, and peonies, Big Ben, Karl Rosenfield, and the most red peony, Many Happy Returns. As their blooms have faded, Red Rum and Pardon Me are making themselves known in the day lily beds.

Red Rum

Shirley Temple

White Immortality not only bloomed in the spring, but as a tall-bearded re-bloomer will greet us again in late summer or early fall. Gull's Wings, Bridal Jig and Snow Queen Siberians stand tall in the garden showing off their snowy brilliance. Not to be outdone, Shirley Temple, Bowl of Cream, My Love, and the old standby Festiva Maxima peonies showed off their various shades of white.

Lastly, dark blue Davey Jones and light blue Fathom prove to be prolific, reliable Intermediate Bearded, while Last Hurrah and Speeding Again stand tall in spring to return again in the fall. Siberians are well represented by Steve (who thinks of these names?) and later bloomers are Louisiana Gulf Shores and Center of Interest Japanese irises.

While honoring our flag today, I would like to call attention to a site, I was made aware of my dear friend Liz who blogs at This Full House, and all the details can be found on her site.

Thousands of servicemen and women serve our country proudly displaying the flag on their uniforms. is an attempt by a military wife to connect Americans with them, especially folks who may not be receiving much support from family back home. No matter what your political views, please go to this site and show our men and women that we appreciate the sacrifices they make daily throughout the world. While your at it, pass the site along to others in your address books or fellow bloggers. And, by the way remember to display Old Glory!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Schreiner's 2008 Iris Introductions

As I discussed yesterday, this past weekend I had the enjoyable experience of visiting Schreiner's Iris Gardens in Salem Oregon. Being a large grower, one would not be surprised that Schreiner's is also very active in hybridizing iris.

In their cut flower display they had a table dedicated to the twelve iris introductions for 2008 that have come from their hybridizing efforts. The term introduction indicates the iris has been registered with the American Iris Society and that it is being offered for commercial sale, you can read more about the registration and introduction process at the AIS.

Schreiner's 2008 Introductions

Along with the 2008 introductions the display gardens were home to iris that were not yet named other than by seedling number. Perhaps we will be graced with their presence in future introductions.

Schreiner's Seedlings

Schreiner's Seedlings

Alright you have been tormented by my mediocre prose long enough, without further ado here is a sampling of Schreiner's 2008 Iris Introductions, enjoy.

Schreiner's 2008 Introduction: Orang King

Schreiner's 2008 Introduction: Cheyenne Sky

Schreiner's 2008 Introduction: Raven Girl

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Visiting Schreiner's Iris Gardens

Schreiner's Display Gardens

To borrow from the Rose Bowl, Schreiner's Iris Gardens is the "Grandaddy of them all" when it comes to iris gardens. Alright they might not be the oldest but they sure are big, with a couple of hundred acres of production and ten acres of display gardens a trip to Schreiner's located outside of Salem, Oregon is a real treat to any iris lover.
Schreiner's Display Gardens

Being the black sheep of the Gulish family and living in Washington allowed me the distinct advantage of being within driving distance to visit Schreiner's during the last weekend they are open to the public. Like much of the rest of the country the Northwest had a cooler than normal spring which worked to my advantage as Schreiner's gardens were at there peak bloom this late in the season.

Schreiner's Display Gardens

There was a dizzying rainbow collage as the iris blooms were intermixed with peonies, delphinium, lupine and too many other flowers to list. This stunning visual spectacular combined with the intermingling fragrances of the garden delighted the senses. Seeing Schreiner's display gardens is certainly inspirational and makes us want to improve our display gardens at Pittsgrove Farms. We hope that on a smaller scale our display gardens inspire you.

Schreiner's Display Gardens

One area that was very interesting was a set of beds dedicated to winner's of the Dykes Memorial Medal , the highest award of the American Iris Society. They had displays of each Dykes medal winner since it's inception in 1927, some of which were for sale. Schreiner's has been the recipient of the Dykes Medal ten times, most recently in 2003.

Schreiner's Cut Flower Display

There was a wonderful cut flower display with at least a couple hundred varieties of iris. It provided the opportunity to view an array of different iris and see the similarities and nuanced differences in coloring, style and fragrance. It was also much less walking than in the display gardens. Tomorrow I will expand on the trip to Schreiner's and show some of their 2008 introductions.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Water Iris - Iris Versicolor Blue Flag

Irises seem to pop up a lot more when you look for them. I guess I have had irises on the mind a lot lately.

Yesterday Christina and I took a long walk around Burnham Park - behind our house in Morristown. Along the way, gingerly walking to avoid goose droppings, we saw some very cute baby ducks (they were camera shy) and also saw these very pretty iris growing wild at the bank of the pond.

The bearless iris was a prolific bloomer despite having only the attention of the occasional wayward fisherman's footstep. The light purple blooms had darker purple veins with white and yellow closer to the center. They appear to be Iris Versicolor, Blue Flag Iris. As I am not the resident iris expert, I will check with my father, John, for confirmation - he after all is the one with roughly 40 years of gardening experience.

After a rough day, it was nice to come across something pleasantly unexpected. Speaking of which, another happy surprise was finding a very nice write up about our site on the Backyard Fancy blog. The blog focuses on backyard ideas and garden decor - thanks for thinking of us.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How to grow Siberian iris? - plant them near a drain

To continue on yesterday's Pittsgrove Farms - Home Edition theme as well as the theme of plants growing in tough places, I thought it appropriate to talk about a winner in my garden that grows in a typically challenging spot. With the rather cool spring we have experienced, New Jersey Siberian iris are just starting to come into full bloom. Of all the iris that are planted at our house, none has done better than the Snow Queen Siberian iris.

The flower is a vibrant pure white. White standards with wide flaring falls are highlighted at the center with bright sunflower yellow. When planting Siberian iris it is vitally important that the roots do not dry out when they are first getting established in the garden. Though they don't like to be planted in standing water, they will flourish around the edge of ponds or at the edge of a stream. Once iris establish themselves they can grow well in a dry area. Greg at The Midnight Garden shows some beautiful examples of Snow Queen Siberian iris (we think) flourishing in a dryer area.

Considering their thirst for water, it is no wonder why, the Siberian iris planted near my gutter drain have done so well. The gutter and iris have a symbiotic relationship - the white gutter drain pipe waters the iris, the iris grows beautifully and hides the unsightly drain pipe. Who said it isn't good to have your mind in the gutter?

Unlike bearded varieties where the rhizome should be exposed, the crown of the Siberian iris should be planted about an inch deep. They should be mulched especially when first planted to maintain moisture; in winter they should recieve a slightly heavier layer in an effort to protect newer plants. More tips on planting Siberian iris and other types are available here.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blooming iris, ground covers and crack fillers

As we are always sharing pictures from the farm, I thought it was about time to show how the plants from the farm grow elsewhere - specifically at my house.

I have had the privilege to steal at no cost the plants from my parents' garden. A lot of the perennials at our house in Morristown such as the Iris Pallida Variegata, Snow Queen siberian iris, lily of the valley and others were first rooted at the Hunterdon County nursery. This is especially true of our groundcovers.

Two years ago my father and a friend helped put in a natural, blue stone patio. My wife, who is an engineer is more partial to order and symmetry - bricks, pavers or any type of concrete tessellation are much more to her liking. For me, the PR "creative" guy, I liked the piece-it-together look (plus it was the cheap option).

This led to a patio that inevitably would be slightly uneven and with its share of cracks between the slabs of rock. The fact that the stone fit together, is a lot less amazing than the fact that some plants despite being tromped by footsteps, planted in a terrible combination of stonedust and dirt can actually survive and flourish.

Walkway onto the patio.

The Wholly Thyme has spread, well, like a weed. Though it has no more than 4 inches wide of soil, it has spread a couple feet across. As they were planted in the fall following the construction, it has only been rooted for a year and a half. Hopefully, the new quart-sized Wholly Thyme and Irish Moss will flourish as well as the veterans.

Just takes a little "thyme" for it to take off.

A more upright variety of creeping thyme has done extremely well despite my wife's aversion to it. It grows roughly 6 inches or higher in the summer, which is too high in her opinion. I am starting to come around to agreeing after watching friends walk on the patio like it was a mind field. It has filled in the cracks of the patio and has started spreading seedlings through out many other areas - just our luck...

Only a matter of Thyme before it takes over.

More to both of our tastes, Creeping Jenny has done well in the patio and offers great color. Hopefully it will take off like a yellow carpet that will be able to handle the footsteps to and from the park and pond behind our house. We don't have much of a yard but at least we have one heck of a view.

Creeping into the park it doesn't take long for Creeping Jenny to take off.

Walkways leads to view of Burnham Park