Last year, I tried an experiment with Iris danfordiae; I planted it deeper. (If you want to read more about why I did that, look here.)
The idea was to see if this would make my Iris danfordiae more perennial. I’d love any flower that comes up in February. But the tininess, the scent, and the detailed markings (a landing strip for pollinators) make Iris danfordiae even more desirable to me. (I’ve elaborated on why I love it, and how I use it in the house and garden, here.)
While Iris danfordiae is one of the cheaper bulbs you can buy (if you buy in quantity especially), I have kind of a thing about getting bulbs to perennialize. Yes, it has something to do with plant-greed: I don’t think I’ll get away with pretending otherwise. I’d love to have scads and scads of different kinds of bulbs, and I can’t go buying them all every year.
But it also has to do with something else. If I can understand a bulb well enough to get it to come back every year, to come back and flower and make more bulbs, then I’m really starting to understand that bulb. (It’s the same with people: knowing what makes them come back, what makes them flourish, what makes them spread themselves – those are ways of really understanding someone.)
So, for reasons sacred and profane, I had dreams. Dreams of masses of returning Iris danfordiae spreading themselves out and becoming a permanent feature in my garden.
Are these dreams coming true?
Well, maybe. And then again, maybe not. I’m not sure.
The Iris danfordiae are coming out maybe a little later than they usually do, and there don’t seem to be too many of them. They seem to be coming up differently, too. They always have short stems, but it seems to me that the deep burial has made them sit on top of the soil like a decapitated flower floating on thick water.
On the other hand, we’ve had a lot of rain for the past few weeks, so the dim light could have shortened the stems. Rain could also have slowed everything down. Maybe what I’m seeing now are only the first brave volunteers. Maybe in a week or two, I’ll see scads of bright golden Iris danfordiae all over the place.
And maybe I’ll just see these few vanguard flowers, while the rest meditate, deep, deep in the soil.