February birthdays are represented by violets or irises, flowers that suggest loyalty and faithfulness. The three upright petals of an iris bloom can indicate courage, faith and wisdom, or friendship, hope and compliments. ‘Clarence’ is a tall, beareded iris with pale blue standards and violet-blue falls.
A favorite reason gardeners cherish some plants is that they remind us of good people in our lives. This Louisiana iris was given by an old horticulture professor, who simply dug up a plant from his own garden and cut its thick rhizomes into short bits, each with a swollen leaf bud. Iris rhizomes can be stored for awhile, but to avoid rot and slug damage, plant so the top of each rhizome slightly above ground, and avoid heavy mulches.
A true water-loving plant, Louisiana iris grows in up to 4 inches of water. ‘Black Gamecock’ is a variety that opens 4- to 6-inch blooms with deep purple petals marked with a brilliant gold stripe. It’s an award winning variety that’s ultra-easy to grow. Plants multiply rapidly in ideal growing conditions. Despite the name, Louisiana iris is hardy as far north as Maine. Look for varieties with flowers in many hues, including purple and blue shades, red, white, yellow and brown. Plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall by 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-10.
A classic bloomer for early summer bouquets, bearded iris offers a rainbow of flower hues, from purple-black, to sunny yellow, to old-fashioned lavender. Bearded iris are undemanding in the garden. Tuck them into a spot with full sun to part shade, and call it done. Look for dwarf, knee-high or tall varieties. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 38 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10. Good vase companions for bearded iris: baptisia, peony, lady’s mantle, gas plant and lavender.
Violet blue flowers with white and yellow accents make Anytime® Pansiola 'Iris' a bright choice for winter gardens. These Viola x wittrockiana plants often bloom into the winter in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 10. They have a mounding/trailing growth habit.
Vibrant purple flowers 5 inches across open on Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) in early summer. Siberian iris is carefree, growing in full sun to part shade. Leaves add a medium texture to the garden and look good all through the growing season. Siberian iris opens flowers in many shades, including blue, purple, gold, burgundy, pink and white. This iris needs moist soil to thrive, especially when planted in full sun. It’s known as the go-to iris for Southern gardens. Plants grow 34 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Fall-planted Dutch iris are easy to grow and make lovely cut flowers. Get the bulbs into the ground before the first hard freeze and give them a site with full sun to partial shade. They should be planted about 4-6” deep and 3” apart. Let the leaves remain on the plants until they die back naturally, and the bulbs, which are hardy in zones 5-9, should flower again the following year.
You can easily spend a small fortune on specialized stakes for perennials. Hoop stakes are especially helpful for bushy plants, like Siberian iris, peony and balloonflower.
Easy Solution: Make your own hoop stakes by cutting circular tomato cages into hoops with a pair of bolt cutters. Place cuts so your hoop sits atop a set of legs to slip into soil.
The footboard of this bed opens to reveal a television, perfect for late night (or nap time) viewing. The bed's platform is made from repurposed benches that also provide extra storage for books and pillows.
A long desk, sculptural leather desk chair and incredible Empire State Building view make for an inspiring home office. Brown velvet curtains can also close off the space elegantly when more privacy is desired.