Saturday, May 22, 2010

Holy Grail Number Three: Iris paradoxa

This, my friends, is the stunningly steppic habitat of perhaps the most influential plant in inspiring me to come here. The Oncocyclus-division species Iris paradoxa. Growing around the village of (Censored for the privacy of the plant), Armenia, it makes its inconspicuous self very conspicuous for a moment each spring. By a moment, I mean one plant. My friend tells me that the population's members flower at different times, making their general presence visible for a good month, like desirable pimples in the hill's teenage of the growing-season.

A couple species of Salvia, a nice grass (Insert Lack of Scientific Name), Nepeta, (Look gardeners, look, this is how nature works it in!) and the charming yet devious Astragalus microcephalus, with stacks of long amber needles up it's small sleeves.

Rocks and Plants. Love it. I'd like to think this is Androsace villosa. Don't ask what the gold thing is or I'll fedex you a slap on the head.

Probably: Nonea intermedia. Definitely: Nice when back-lit.

Rockery-builders, attention: natural rock garden. Note how painfully organised it is, in terms of placement of each rock. And how it just sits alone on this hill. This is either validating or offensive to certain designs aesthetics...

Pulsatilla albana comes in soft yellow and bicolours as well as this teddy-bear purple to make up for its small size. You'll see it in a picture from another hike.
How-to-spot-Onco-Iris 101: look for falcate leaves. Most clumps are not in bloom at any given time. One thing that must be pointed out is that this plants is growing wild in the marz (state) of Lori, which is rainy as hell isn't. In fact, it rained on our exit. Going against what we like to think of Iris culture, this plant may tolerate more moisture, even in summertime, than one might reckon. I know I've "overwatered" mine at home by placing it among the wrong pots, yet it's alive. In nature, the soil was stoney, but sometimes extremely humousy (but well-drained) under large plants. My host here grows it on a North (and thereby slightly wetter) slope in Vanadzor and notes how moist it stays; the plants thriving...

More Iris paradoxa pictutres, please.

Another ugly day in the Caucasus. Thanks for staying tuned.

No comments: