Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Lilac Like No Other

Just beginning to bloom on the west side.
June is the season of tree lilacs.  Japanese lilac (Syringa reticulata) and Pekin lilac (Syringa pekinensis) are perfuming the air and delighting the eye with their large fluffy creamy white flowers. 

I chose China Snow Pekin lilac when I planted about nine years ago for its peeling bark.  I'm only allowed one peely bark tree since my husband grew up under a sycamore and is still scarred by the experience. After much deliberation, I chose lilac. The lilac is now right around 20 feet high and this year it's just spectacular.  Somehow the right mix of weather has allowed it to bloom along the branches in some places, almost three feet!

I positioned it to screen the neighbor's deck from view, and both of us really love this tree.  I think the fragrance permeates the whole block. Yes, it suckers. Yes, it seeds. Both problems are pretty minimal in the long run compared to the winter beauty of the bark and the incredible June flowering. It also grows like a weed, but most of my trees and shrubs outperform expectations. I credit the excellent soil I inherited. The new baby beech tree has already put on six inches - so much for slow growing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Iris Obsession

I will confess, my favorite flower is iris.  I'm not the type of iris collector that has plants in neat rows or clumps and labeled, but I will admit to being a collector.  I tuck them in around the garden including the bulb varieties. I'm not organized.  It's an impulse purchase because I like the flower, but most often they are plants from friends and coworkers that needed splitting. Of course, I can always find room for more! 

The big bearded ones usually don't capture my heart unless they are a spectacular color like these pink and purple ones. I have no idea what their proper names are and I'm rather fine with that.  I tend to like the Siberian with their grass-like foliage and elongated falls, but sometimes, you just get caught up in color. My friend Mary who gave me these mentioned just last week that she had another one in mind for me. I've got charming yellow ones to share come September for anyone who wants some.

This year I decided to make a section of the Sacrificial Strip (the bit between my driveway and my neighbors) the iris patch.  If I can't find room in the sunny beds, I'm sticking them there. The iris are doing a good job of duking it out with the existing mint.  The back corner of our property is rapidly becoming shadier thanks to the ever-expanding katsura, so I have some iris that needs to get moved, too. This fall I hope to plop in some more bulb iris in different colors, well, just because.