Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Douglas Iris finally blooms and a mountain meadow planter

The Douglas Iris which I planted more than 3 years ago has finally bloomed. I had all but given up on this one, thinking that maybe it was going to be foliage forever due to its somewhat shaded location under a rather large butterfly bush. The flowers are subtle and unassuming, but still lovely. I tried to grow another native California Iris, commonly known as the Western Blue Flag (Iris missouriensis) a couple years ago, but they never took. They grow in abundance in high elevation montane/alpine meadows, and that's probably why they don't do well here in our drier, warmer chaparral habitat. We've seen these blooming in many parts of the Eastern Sierra, but they are especially abundant around Bridgeport en route to Twin Lakes.

6/2/10 Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana). Common in grassy, coastal areas of California. The herbage is apparently quite bitter, so the bunnies don't like to imbibe. 

7/10/05 Western Blue Flag (Iris missouriensis). Virginia Lakes, Toiyabe National Forest, Eastern Sierras, Mono County, CA.

7/6/05 Cow pastures in Bridgeport Valley in the Eastern Sierra. Western Blue Flag (Iris missouriensis) typically blooms here in great abundance in early summer. 

Speaking of montane meadows, last fall I converted a flower bed full of 'Purple Heart' Tradescantia (Tradescantia pallida purpurea) along the north exposure of the house to a bed of native mountain meadow plantings. We've spent many summer vacations up in the Eastern Sierras, and out of pure nostalgia, I was hoping to be able to grow some of the more memorable natives we've seen on our excursions. As mentioned before, the Western Blue Flag went kaput, as did a couple Western Monkshoods (Aconitum columbianum). But, there are some plants that are thriving, along with a few other varieties that are not montane species per se, but can take the extra water. However, it remains to be seen whether or not they'll survive our summer heat. 

5/27/10 Mountain meadow planter.
Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), Bigleaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus), Parish's Stream Lupine (Lupinus latifolius parishii), Slender Cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis), Meadow Penstemon (Penstemon rydbergii), Sierra Penstemon (Penstemon heterodoxus), Yellow-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum), Mountain Pennyroyal (Monardella odoratissima), Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum), Mountain Spirea (Spirea densiflora), Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), and Hooker's Evening Primrose (Oenothera hookeri).

5/27/10 Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) and Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii) in mountain meadow planter.

5/17/10 Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla).

5/22/10 Yellow-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum).

5/8/10 Bigleaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus). 


  1. As I tried growing proteas, fine up on the mountain. But summer by summer I lose them to the heat down here.

  2. You have more patience with your irises than I would have lol.

  3. We don't have the Douglas iris here, although it is native to this area. We do have Iris fernaldii though, but ours long since finished blooming, and have set a lot of seed pods this year. I'm hoping for many more next year! I hope now your Douglas iris is settled, it will bloom more regularly for you now.

    I have to admit, I love Collinsia. Yours looks about like ours does at the moment, just a profusion of beautiful blossoms!

  4. Elephant's Eye, sure sounds familiar!

    Kyna, you know I sorta just gave up on this iris after the 2nd year. So, boy was I surprised to see the two blooms when I was messing around with the drip line in the area.

    Clare, I'm very hopeful now that the iris will bloom more consistently from this point on. I'm totally with you on the Collinsia: they are sooo beautiful, and once in a blue moon we'll even get a couple with pure white blossoms. Just doesn't get any better than that!

  5. Our doug iris finished long ago - can't believe yours is blooming in June and you are in the south, right? Curbstone Valley Farm is located near us and we compare notes - interesting she mentioned Iris fernaldii in her comment -- I just recently learned from an expert that the local iris I'm propagating might be that species and not I. douglasiana. Ah the blogosphere, gotta love how it lets us talk together.