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Cult: iris as useful plants

  • Subject: Cult: iris as useful plants
  • From: "Donald Eaves" <donald@eastland.net>
  • Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:12:55 -0500

Useful as opposed to merely decorative, I suppose. The views of this
planting are an example. These old grandmother iris consisting of a blousy
bi-tone purple, the old white flag and one I've since identified as INDIAN
CHIEF have been growing in place since well before 1981 (not sure how much
longer - planted them but it was before I moved back to the homeplace in
'81). The planting is about 3 1/2' x 20' altogether and were planted in the
location to stop erosion on my ever-sloping location. Some years the leaf
debris, ragweed and other assorted weeds have been pulled, but as often as
not they aren't bothered. There are several iris plantings of this type
consisting mainly of grandmother iris, but a few others as well. They are
not typical of most iris beds here, though, which are kept reasonably clean
for the most part.

They bloom - sometimes quite well, sometimes not very much. As a planting,
they mystify me and irritate me as well as tickle my fancy. Occasionally
some fans have been ripped out and tossed or given away, but not too often.
exist under these conditons. They never develope rot. The top photo shows
leaf spot about as bad as ever gets. In an incredible wet, humid year,
that's it. No trimming or cleaning at all this season. If you dig one, you
find the roots are only in the top two inches of soil because the clay and
rock base is too hard for them to go deeper. But they have worked. The
middle photo show the end of the planting and the eroded area where the iris
don't grow. The last photo, though flattened via the photograph, would show
a buildup of 5-6 inches of humus and topsoil where the debris and washed in
soil have accumulated over the time of the planting. That bit of grass is
lower than the base of the iris and is itself also growing in accumulated
topsoil. The last photo was once the center - and worst - of the incipient
gully being formed. Now excess runoff is directed around the ends of the
planting, not through the middle.

If I ever get done with my latest bed-building, this planting will be
history. My use of treated posts to control runoff is never ending, but at
some point there should be one stretching below this planting and across the
dip in the slope that gathers the runoff. When completed, these iris will
no longer be useful. But they've sure had a long run.

Donald Eaves
Texas Zone 7b, USA

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