05 June 2008

OMG, free orchids!

Despite the cool, wet weather, it's been another exuberantly glorious nonstop flower-show of a springtime in Portland. For whatever reason -- perhaps because they're such drama queens to begin with, but possibly because I'm finally learning to slow down and pay attention -- I've been noticing the irises in particular. Like everything else in the plant kingdom, they've grown taller and lusher than usual, eventually collapsing under their own load of blossoms. I've been going out once or twice a day with the pruning shears, snipping the toppled stalks and sticking them in a vase. For me this is the answer to a recurring dilemma: Do I bring all this gorgeosity inside, or leave it out there, au naturel, for the neighbors to enjoy as well? (This is not a problem with the roses, which are ridiculously prolific.)

Watching irises bloom might be a step or two up from watching grass grow. What an unlikely configuration for a flower. Does it really take all those ruffles and crenelations to attract a little pollinatin' action? After a couple of days the older, full-blown flowers curl in on themselves like little fists, and the tightly-furled buds further down the stem unfold, sometimes overnight. I've been doing iris micromanagement, clipping off the spent blossoms, assessing the stalks to see whether any buds are left, and rescuing new fallen stems when I notice them outside. I am an iris co-dependent.

Speaking of overachievers, there's a climbing yellow rose vining up the downspout on the back wall of the house. Last fall I had to lop off the rose hips because they drummed so furiously, when the wind blew, right below our bedroom window. This year, the topmost blossoms, brazen hussies, are peering right in. We have no secrets from the roses.

Meanwhile, on the east side of the house: orchids! I'd noticed these fuchsia-colored little beauties last year, but apparently I was looking elsewhere when they burst into full bloom. First they were buds and, next I saw, very elegant elongated oval seed pods that looked stunning in a dried arrangement. This year, though, I paid attention; it's so obviously an orchid, isn't it? According to my good ol' Sunset Western Gardening Book, it's Bletilla striata (B. hyacinthina), or Chinese ground orchid. I'm grateful to the former owner who, in planting them, paid joy forward who knows how many seasons. I'm also grateful that they're "Bletilla", with a B, which spared me from having to look through the whole damn alphabetical volume. They're definitely spreading, which makes me very happy.

No comments: