Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cemetery Iris

Weather: Sun, wind, and none of the forecast rain; last rain 5/15.

What’s blooming in the area: Austrian copper, hybrid tea, pink and yellow roses, Dr. Huey rose rootstock, spirea, snowball, white (black) and purple flowered locust trees and purple locust shrub, silver lace vine, Dutch iris, broad leaf yucca, peony, oriental poppy, blue flax, Jupiter’s beard, snow-in-summer, Canadian columbine, purple salvia.

Beyond the walls and fences: Apache plume, Russian olive, tansy and tumble mustards, tufted white evening primrose, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, western stickseed, bindweed, fern leaf globe mallow, green amaranth, fleabane, goat’s beard, native and common dandelions, June, cheat, rice, needle and purple three awn grasses.

In my yard: Woodsii and rugosa roses, beauty bush, skunkbush, privet, chives, vinca, pinks, coral bells, golden spur columbine, Johnson’s Blue geranium, Rose Queen salvia, Shasta daisy.

Bedding plants: Nicotiana, pansies, wax begonias, moss roses, marigolds.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds, geckoes, butterflies, ants.

Ground squirrel dug a hole in the center of my drive.

Rabbits have multiplied. A young one was nibbling the flax plants I just planted to replace they ones the adults destroyed last year. With two days, they ate most of the nicotiana plants.

Hummingbirds built a nest in a tree I bought to keep on the porch when it was out of the wind by the house. At first they left when I was around. The trees back in the wind, and the mother just looks at me when I try to water it. I believe they’re the small ones I saw a week ago; the male had a red band on his neck.

Weekly update: Symbolism is nice, but the most important trait for a cemetery plant is its ability to live without water or human kindness. I mentioned in a post years ago that people here used iris. This week I visited the local cemeteries to see how they were used.

Our cemeteries weren’t laid out in the neat grids one sees in those influenced by the cemetery park movement of the early nineteenth century in Anglo America. Many graves have boundaries instead. Some are iron rails, some are concrete curbs, and some are iris.

Iris often are planted inside the boundaries, sometimes near the headstone.

If they get established, they can expand to fill the space.

Iris bloom for a few weeks, and many were already gone. That doesn’t matter, because they leaves stay green most of the year.

They’re used with every kind of grave marker, and in some cases have outlasted whatever originally was erected.

And very often, they don’t survive either. But even in the worst situations, they’re resilient.

Notes: Post on use of iris in cemeteries was 20 March 2011.

Photographs: Cemetery pictures taken 20 May 2016. Identifying features have been blurred. Hummingbird nest photographed 17 May 2016.

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