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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of June 19, 2017

“If I am lukewarm about the dahlia, I am red hot about the bearded iris. I like it without qualification, and would not be without it in the garden.”
—Katherine S. White, “Irises,” in My Favorite Plant by Jamaica Kincaid, 1998

Although dahlias are certainly a favorite flower of mine, irises would rank very high on the list (if I were to compile a list of favorites).

At this moment, admiring your gardens, it is my hope that you see an iris or two. If not, it is time to add one. Your favorite nursery and garden center would have some very beautiful choices to choose from. The colors, the fragrance and the varieties are so much fun to explore. For an early bloomer look for iris pumila (attica). It is a miniature dwarf Eupogon iris and is available in a variety of colors and most are very fragrant. Choose iris cristata, iris gracilipes, iris pallida, or iris pseudacorus for flowers from late May to July. Iris sibirica blooms from early June to July and is one of my absolute favorites. Its slender flower stalks dance in the breeze and they make beautiful cut flowers to bring in. Diseases and pests are very few and there are so many colors to choose from. For a later-blooming iris, look for iris ensata (kaempferi). You will enjoy irises blooming in your garden into August with this winner! Enjoy adding to or beginning your iris collection and become “red hot about the bearded iris.” If Katherine S. White “would not be without it in the garden,” why would you?

  • As you continue to harvest rhubarb stalks, toss any extra into the freezer. Simply cut into 1” pieces and place into a freezer bag. Blanching is not necessary.
  • If planting an apple tree is on your list of landscape additions this year, remember that two or more different cultivars are recommended for pollination.
  • Removing the flower stalks from basil will encourage more leafy growth.
  • Keep your mower blades set on a high setting and mow often leaving the clippings on the lawn. Tall grass has deep roots. Combining the two makes lawns better able to tolerate drought and crowd out weeds.
  • If you are admiring alliums in your neighbor’s garden, make a note and plan to order them in the fall with other spring bulbs.
  • Adding height and a sense of vertical space in your landscape is easy with annuals. Simply place a container on a pedestal within your landscape. Placing a hanging basket on a Shepard’s hook will also do the trick.

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