Tag Archive | Aggressively Forward

April 4-17, 2022: Weeks 14-15 Garden in Review


We had a frost that got to 30 overnight after I had placed a few annuals outside, but they were easily covered and now after about a week the damage has been pinched out and I’m back in business. Unfortunately I am finding that the previous deep freeze to 22 Fahrenheit took out quite a few Dutch iris this year that had already budded.


April in zone 8 is magic! The spring is short and astounding, and there are a lot of developments to share. Let’s start with the Trial Garden Sale. We live a few miles from a major university trial garden and annually in spring they have one heck of a sale. This year it was very cold overnight and I am not sure if the plants had been left out overnight or just put out when it was too cold, but after bringing home the plants, they began to show damage the next day. A bit of a disappointment, but they seem to be recovering. I picked up the following great plants:

Persian shield , red and yellow abutilons, purple salvia, 2coleus, and a pink sinningia
Better shot of the abutilons.

New Plantings

For the entirety of week 14 I was on break, but because of the cold forecast at the beginning of week 15 that damaged the trial garden plants, I could not plant as scheduled. In week 15, I have been slowly planting my seedlings each morning and now have about half left to plant. I am excited about my seed dahlias this year. I planted 24 Figaro dwarf dahlia in my rear right fence corner. I’ve been building that corner out for years. In 2018 I found a crape myrtle sapling in my front shrubs that I transplanted to that back corner. It’s quite large now and fronted with a red drift rose . The dahlias are in front of this. In the photo, they are still small and in the straw border. In addition to the Figaro, I planted dwarf cactus dahlia in the rear of my stop sign bed behind the miscanthus. This area is what I can see from the house and I though we deserved a bit of color too! I planted 20 Pom Pom seed dahlias behind the raised beds in my cutting garden… because my cutting garden is full already. Hoping they take back there.

Stop sign area. Dahlias added behind the large grass clump.

I filled a lot of my planters and will cover these as they begin to bloom. Currently they are full of green seedlings.

What’s Blooming?

During this period the irises, linaria, sweet William, verbascum, columbine, snapdragons and CA poppies started blooming. Poppies are up but not open yet.


The Iris Saga

When I moved from zone 4 NY to Zone 8a GA I of course moved with my family, my pets, my belongings AND my plants. What kind of person would I be to leave 13 years of my plantings behind? I could never live with myself so of course I dug up rhizomes of each of my irises in NY and roots of my daylilies and gave them to my mother to keep until I was settled. This was risky as my move 1000 miles south was in July. I wrapped each plant in paper lunch bags and labeled them with a sharpie. My mother kept them in her shaded porch.

They were angry plants as they had been dug during growing season. My mother shipped them to me in August and I planted them in August…. in Georgia….when it was 96 degrees .The irises began on a hillside because, upon move in, this hill was the only area on the property that was already free of a full covering of dreaded Bermuda grass. My loamy soil is great, but does have a clay layer that is rock hard during summer heat and low rainfall. I could not dig out that grass! While the hill had no grass, it WAS covered in thistle and weeds so commercial grade black landscape fabric was stapled into place in July and the weeds were quickly killed by the overwhelming GA heat.

Hillside before weed fabric and plantings

Luck was on my side. I did not lose any of my irises or lily plants, but just for good measure the irises all refused to bloom until spring 2018! Since my move in 2016 I have been adding to my iris and lily collection. This post will cover the population explosion of German Bearded Irises in the garden, however I also have Siberian irises, flag irises and many Dutch irises from bulbs that I’m sure I will cover eventually.

I moved here with some very old heirloom varieties that had been my grandmother’s. In the photo of the hillside below, the yellow, dark purple and mauve in particular were in my family for decades. They have now been to 5 different states through various family moves and are always dug up and moved the next time leaving a bit behind for the next owner to enjoy. I started with about 10 clumps of iris from NY in 2016 but by fall of 2018, these had become overgrown and I split them. I ding dong ditched bags of rhizomes to anyone I knew that remotely showed an interest as there were so many to go around. It seems the long growing season causes irises here to spread at least 3-4 times faster than I saw up north. I currently have over 60 clumps and split some of the most overgrown clumps again fall of 2021 which led to 34 pots of splits outside in my driveway as I have run out of places to plant 34 more irises! (Of course, new irises are a different story- I’ll find room for the perfect specimen of course).

Since the original and miraculous hillside summer planting, iris clumps now dot both fence line borders of the back yard, the corner bed at the front yard stop sign bed, the mailbox bed and the garage bed. The property image before can been seen below- the inside of the fence-lines in the back yard have since been landscapes and the cutting garden is in the middle. Adrone captured some of the back yard in 2020. The right side fence cannot be seen, but has a 3 ft wide border packed with perennials.

Property before
Property as of 2020 with borders and gardens

I mentioned that in 2018 I gave splits away to many people- which led to several friends giving me irises from their family plots in 2021 and this spring (2022) I should begin to see what these look like! Plant sharing brings me such satisfaction!

Each year I add to the original and mostly unnamed heirloom collection of varieties from NY. Notably my favorites are Lenora Pearl (pink), Storm Track (blue with white) and Lady Friend (maroon) all shown in the gallery at the top of this post. Close seconds in new favorites are Aggressively Forward and Lacy Snowflake (below left to right). This spring 8 more new additions may (or may not) show me their colors. That will be different post!