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Re: back on-topic, learning from mistakes

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: back on-topic, learning from mistakes
  • From: storey@aristotle.net (J. Michael, Celia or Ben Storey)
  • Date: Mon, 10 Feb 1997 11:34:52 -0700 (MST)

<<My signature said, Little Rock, Arkansas ... where sooner or later we
learn from our
Of which Graham asked
>Who does this refer to? Little Rock's most famous export?

Come, Graham, let us build us a rock-garden bridge back to the serene land
of Iris-L, where the leafmould steams in the morning chill and nary a
discouraging word is heard about politics or other even loess enchanting
schist. We must, like helpful fungi defending iris roots from marauding
nematodes, loop our good will around this wayward thread of yours and draw
it back to our beloved topic, or else cut off its head in the attempt.

As you well know, clever fellow, the mistakes I mentioned learning from
were gardening mistakes. The tangled hard-pack clay bed rampant with vines
into which I abandoned little STEPPING OUT was one such.

All on this list are hard-working gardeners, and so I will not attempt to
impress anyone with a blow-by-blow description of the labor I put into
transforming SO's hellish bed to my iris and daylily showcase. Suffice it
to say that last spring I hand-built a 15x4-foot cinderblock retaining wall
(foundation drilled into stone) to box off that eroded slope and build a
real garden.

The new bed consists of an 18x6-foot ridge neatly lined by semicircled TBs
and the 8-foot, 35-degree slope to the wall. Here I sank soaker hoses and
planted 30 daylilies. It's all straight lines, nothing creative, but my
neighbors think I've made a miracle, because of the contrast before and

I transplanted the TBs in August, after the temps eased down from the 90s.
They're growing. Although all their foliage looks pretty sad since our ice
storm, I notice that my purple-based foliage plants (a vigorous, unnamed
inheritance from my mother-in-law) are twice the size of the other plants,
which include such popular cultivars as BEVERLY SILLS, BREAKERS, MAUMELLE,

The topsoil I carted from my neighbor's yard tested very acid and very
poor. So I added lime, of course (more in the daylilies' section than on
the TB ridge). I also experimented by mixing in composted manure, peat and
a potting mix called SuperFiber, which I've used successfully in my tomato
beds. Our local gurus discourage us from setting TBs in nitrogen-rich
soils, because of the potential for soft rot here. For some of the TBs I
spread sand over the topsoil, on the theory that the roots will find the
richer soil beneath while the sand will drain quickly, protecting the

So the hell from which SO escaped is now a hopeful place. I look out at
what once was a neighborhood eyesore and I see order, and - if we don't get
a late freeze and my older transplants have taken hold - come spring there
will be beauty there.

storey@aristotle.net  USDA Zone 7b
Little Rock, Arkansas ... where it's still winter.

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