But let me tell you the story of the irises.
I planted the irises in the rain in one of the beds that flanks the path to the "front door". I have two types of plants I think: one type is tall and slender, and the other is shorter and maybe wider at the base.
I thought I'd plant each type in a group, for more impact. Here's a blossom of possibly a parent of one of the baby irises, from just up the dirt road.
I built up the mound a bit more with the garden soil we bought and plopped them in, after loosening up their roots. They were not potbound, but the roots were beginning to coil round the bottom of the gallon pots, so I think they were ready.
Denise, who guides the CNPS propagation group for our chapter, keeps plants in smaller containers for quite a long time. She doesn't pot them on till their roots are really filling the pot. She says it seems to be true that you can't skip a stage, that is, go straight from seedling to gallon pot. I wonder why it should be so, that plants that are upsized but not by a lot seem to do well compared to babies planted in large containers and left to grow into them. The propagator from Yerba Buena nursery said the same thing.
The irises have been living on my deck in gallon pots for quite a while, getting regular water. I propagated them from local seed. I was surprised when they came up.
"I wonder how they'll adapt to their new environment," I wondered, happy and proud.
Oh, No! All the short type totally munched. Down to one inch of the ground.
Why didn't I protect them? I know better! Any baby plant is vulnerable.
Five little stumps. But here's how the other ones did:
And here's how they looked ten minutes after the moment of discovery:
Of course it may not be enough. Deer could reach right in even if rabbits don't squirm under.
I kept backup plant of each type:
Maybe someone can tell me what the short squat one on the left is.
I'm pretty sure of the tall ones. At first, I thought they were all Iris douglasiana, but Ellen the botanist thought they might be Iris fernaldii, and I think she's right. The blossoms are long and slender. And the habitat where I collected the seed certainly fits the description for Fernald's iris:
"Wine country iris" would be equally appropriate, since its distribution coincides with the best wine producing regions in the coastal ranges of central California. [And] a clear habitat preference for rich humus soil in shady forests are typical fernaldii traits..The parent plants of the ones I planted today were growing in fairly high or dappled shade, near a dirt road, and near a winery. Both kinds of iris have creamy variants, and the parent flowers were all creamy. Here's another of our local wild blooms:
Douglas iris is very coastal -- I didn't know that. It grows in exposed coastal habitats. Not woodland habitats at all. Douglas iris is actually considered to be an agricultural weed. Its blossom is usually an intense deep bluish violet color with sometimes striking yellow markings. I love them and have a bed of them right across from the new guys. Here's how they looked this spring (they were late this year - April I think).
Douglas iris is a main part of the mix that goes by the name Pacific Coast Hybrids. The hybrids are larger and more colorful, and they sell well at the native plant sales. I think they are hybrids of native coastal iris species, so they are natives, but nursery bred ones. I think these are hybrids but am not sure. The native douglas iris can occur in lavender and creamy colors too I believe:
And here is a beautiful garden arrangement from the Fleming garden in Berkeley, open once a year during the native plant tour up there. Town mouse and I went this spring.
It inspires me to think about what else to plant with the irises in my front bed.
Native pure or garden nurtured, they have an organization: Society for the Pacific Coast Native Iris.
Hm. This page says that Fernald's iris can interbreed with Douglas iris. Now I am in a dilemma: I have well established Douglas iris in the bed next door! So what should I do - if I dig them up and transplant them farther off would it make any difference? How far does a bee fly?
But I really want to grow more of these local iris and be able to offer them to others.
Hmmm indeed. Douglas iris, anyone? It's a wonderful time of the year to divide and plant them.
At any rate, when the 'Dark Star' ceanothus is covered with intense blue blossoms in early spring, I hope there will also be creamy yellow iris blossoms to offer a pleasant contrast.