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Re: CULT: borers

>I have found that I get quicker growth in the spring if I cover my Iris.

Ah, but quick growth under artificial cover is not something I'm looking 
for here in early spring.  While I do need irises that grow vigorously 
once temps warm up, irises that do so before weather dictates are 
particularly vulnerable to freeze damage and rot.  I have tried mulching 
before with evergreen boughs and straw, and rot was rampant under the 

Where exactly are you located within Region 8, Char?

>One more thing I do is cut the leaves after the first frost down to an inch.
>Less to clean up in spring and the plants seems to do well.

In the fall of '01 when the deer were particularly problematic in my iris 
beds, pulling up a number of that summer's new transplants and trampling 
others, I cut all the fans off all the new transplants so the deer 
wouldn't have anything left to grab.  99% of those new irises were dead 
the next spring.  I don't know exactly what combination of factors served 
to kill them, but it was enough to convince me not to clip back fans in 
the fall.  I have now gone back to doing my big clean-up in spring once 
active growth has started. Survival of new TBs isn't great this year, 
either, but it's certainly substantially improved over last year.  Again, 
it's difficult to pinpoint the exact cause(s) of this year's increased 

As I have already mentioned, this spring is progressing in a much more 
amenable fashion than last year.  The deer haven't significantly bothered 
my irises at all so far this spring, and I doubt they will.  Grass is 
actively growing out in the hayfields, and native brush is already 
leafing out.  I am seeing deer in the hayfields every night now, but they 
seem uncharacteristically disinclined to wander into the yard.  My two 
new canine kids could have a little something to do with their 
reluctance.  These active youngsters don't ignore Bambi the way our 
geriatric canines do.  ;-)

I no longer allow myself more than a moment of disappointment when I come 
across a lost iris in my beds.  I now just look at the empty spot and 
eagerly anticipate who its next occupant will be.  I think perhaps I get 
as big a thrill out of seeing a first year iris send up a fan after its 
first winter here as many of you get out of seeing a first year iris 
bloom.  Bloom to me is the inevitable ... if not eventual ... reward for 
keeping an iris alive.  The primary goal here is survival. All else will 
come in time.  Iris gardening is enjoyable for me on a level of personal 
challenge rather than guaranteed success.

Or maybe all of that is just so much hot air and I'm just really excited 
with all the little fans I'm uncovering during my bed clean-up.  ;-)

Happy irising, everyone!


USDA zone 3b, AHS zone 4 - northern MN
acidic clay soil

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