Winter Gifts

Last weekend, I visited a good friend who has a well-established garden with California natives, roses, and some rare plants. She had lured me with the promise of irises.

We admired her garden, had some tea and very excellent persimmon bread, and then she dug out generous helpings of three different kinds of irises for me to take home.

Two were Pacific Coast hybrid irises; one will bloom dark blue, the other a rosy lavender. The other is called Iris innominata, and reading the Wikipedia article, I see it's actually a rare Iris. Innominata is a smallish Iris and I planted it in pots where it will have good drainage and some water and I hope it will be happy.

For each plant, my friend had included a good amount of root. I'm hopeful those root will grow strong over the rest of the rainy season. I planted my Iris in part shade or bright shade. Native Iris are woodland plants and don't do well in full sun.

Now I'm just hoping a few of them will flower this spring. But if not, they'll be the gift for next winter.

The other wonderful gift this winter has been the many visits we've had from birds. They often start at the Liquidambar in the front garden, where they stop for a snack of seeds or just hang out. Our garden, with its berries and seeds and the different bird baths, is usually the one garden where all the birds congregate in winter. It's also the one garden where crickets are serenading passers by in summer. I feel so fortunate to have all those special visitors.

We have lots of finches, both gold finches and house finches. Also a western tanager, phoebes, chickadees, wrens, towhees, jays, and song sparrows. The birds often come to the bird baths I gave near the living room window. The finches love the handing bath, larger baths prefer the saucer with sand. They all are very camera shy and I so admire my fellow bloggers who manage good bird photos.

On Christmas Day, I saw a whole flock of birds I'd never seen before. "What are those?" I asked Mr. Mouse. "Maybe Cedar waxwings?" he replied. I looked it up in the book, and he was right. Cedar waxwings. What a great Christmas gift, the surprise of an unknown bird!

There's just one thing.... We'd better stop parking under the tree (this is a gift we can do without).


Christine said…
Is that planting next to your Ribes in that photo? How lovely if they bloomed at the same time!
Also, congrats on creating such a welcoming habitat garden- it must be better than television to watch them out there!
Anonymous said…
What wonderful gifts. Hopefully the birds keep coming back to your native habitat. Ca't wait to see those iris blooming.
What a lovely gift. I noticed last spring that we have a lot of wild iris up on the south facing slope above the orchard. It seems to be a white form of Iris douglasiana, though I'll know for certain when I pay more attention to them this year. I can't wait to see how your irises look in bloom...darn winter, makes me itchy for spring!
Anonymous said…
Hi Town Mouse, what a great gift, those iris, and also seeing the birds, especially the cedar waxwings. They are my favorites and come through here twice a year with hundreds if not more in the group. Keep the hood up on my coat or it will look like your windshield. I got a PCH iris from Chuck B a couple of years ago. Should it be in the shade, you say? It doesn't like our summer, hot and humid but perks up in cooler weather.
Country Mouse said…
Curbstone - I am trying to propagate those white douglas iris. We get them around my neck o the woods too. I have about 5 seedlings and can't wait to see if I get success! I wonder how widespread this white variant is?
Randy Emmitt said…
Those irises are really sweet! We have over 200 sq ft of Dwarf Crested Iris in our woods. See Cedar Waxwings on Christmas was a special gift! Next time maybe you'll see them pass food to one another.
Most of the iris in my area seem to live and bloom in the plant books, so it's a real treat to encounter them in person, even when they're not in flower. Hopefully you'll have some iris encounters with blooming specimens before too long. And we're a demanding bunch--We want pictures!
Anonymous said…
What a good idea a sand bath is. Thanks.