Taking Root: A Garden Blog

Irises are the cornerstone of my May garden. Because of their diverse forms, color range and bloom times, Irises can be used multiple times in one garden without creating stagnate duplication. Their strong stems need no staking. And except for occasional dividing and deadheading their care is minimal.   That is a pretty good track record for a plant so provocatively beautiful.

Eastern Redbud trees, Cercis canadensis, have been one of my favorite trees since 1981. That was the year I rented a cabin on an idyllic homestead in Tylersport. I traveled each day from my little cabin, crossed a trout stream, and then drove to Warminster. There I worked as horticulturist for W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company, in a windowless building with cinderblock walls. My boss greeted me every morning with a “hello darling!” while she blew a big puff of smoke into my face and critiqued the typing errors I made with a sticky-keyed typewriter answering customers’ letters.

Virginia Bluebell, Mertensia virginica, is my favorite spring ephemeral. It covers low lying woodlands with a blue haze of color in April. It cheers on spring in our perennial gardens, and makes a perfect companion for my pink Narcissus. And then, like all good ephemerals, Mertensia goes dormant with little a trace by summer.

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