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Re: this cold weather

A lot depends on where you are, Doreen.  In upstate NY or New England, or
the upper midwest, this could definitely be the beginning of autumn.  But
south of the Mason-Dixon line, the cooling trend (upper 50s in Farmville VA
this morning at 5:30) means there will be less stress on plants attempting
to establish themselves.  Cool weather favors root growth rather than top
growth, which is what you want right now.

Iris are tough.  Not to worry. Your newly set plants will be well
established and anchored by the time real cold weather comes.  If indeed
you are in the North, some winter protection by means of very light and
airy mulch, such as pine boughs, would be insurance the first year (though
when I was growing irises in the arctic outpost of the northern
Pennsylvania mountains I never mulched).  Be sure not to use a material
that will compact and don't put it on until the ground freezes.  Remove it
promptly in spring or rot will result.

For our part, we need rain desperately.  Yesterday the passing front gave
us all of 0.14 of an inch in a 10-minute shower.  Didn't even lay the dust
in the dog-yard.  No meaningful, serious rain here since early June, and
now with the autumn fronts starting early, there seems little chance til
November.  Watering is out for now because our well is low and the pump
labors mightily to keep up with household needs.

Ain't horticulture fun?

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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