Friday, April 9, 2010

Off The Garden Path

One of the reasons I'm doing a blog, is to discuss not only the written word, but any unique and interesting thing I can find whether it's under a rock, on a rock or is, in fact, a rock.
I write a collum for the The Iris Fan, the Louisville Area Iris Club newsletter, which I greatly enjoy doing. They let me write not only about obscure members of the iris family, but also pretty much about any danged weird plant I want to. And let me tell ya, you would not believe the amount of weirdness growing out there, things you will think can't be real or living in places that look like the surface of Mars. I hope that by writing about the wonders of this planet, folks will want to go look for themselves, find joy in mystery, that there own uniqueness mirrors the things discovered by accident - just when they thought it was going to be a boring day.

I thought I would share one of the pieces I wrote from the Iris Fan. Hope you enjoy:

My, what pretty eyes you have! And look at you- a peacock strutting in the sun like Mick Jagger. A peacock morea, or morea villosa to be specific. Bet y'all never heard of that one, did you? Come over here for a closer look. Better keep your sunglasses on though, with the way the blue eyes on these divas irredesce in the sun. I do believe they out-flash Vegas. But that's another story. And it stays in Vegas.
If an indigo bunting were to fly by, it would swoon and court all over these blooms, thinking it was going to get whoopie-bang tonight, mistaking the color of the sheen that radiated irresistable flirtation. And who could blame it? I simply love these South African plants. And we are here, just at the right time, smack in the rainfall area of Cape Province. Now watch your step around this granite slope because I'm not hauling you all the way back up to the flats. Not after that big lunch you had. Oh wait, there are morea growing near the edge too. We won't have to scrabble down the side at all. Seems that as long as they get granite and clay, or a fast-draining soil to slip their feet into, they are quite happy.

I think we should take a few specimens back with us, since they are suitable to our climate. so long as they are kept in containers. Oops, I forgot that this species is near-threatened in the wild! Crap. And doubley so for being depleted like this. We won't be taking any with us, but I remeber seeing these for sale on a website - Telos Rare Bulbs. If you Google morea villosa, I bet you can find it in a few other places like The Pacific Bulb Society. Then, after they have established a nice colony, we can divide them out in late summer, share with friends 'cause you know they are going to want some too. And I hate finding folks digging in my yard in the middle of the night. My snakes are getting too fat to take care of "problems".
And what's even more wonderful, is that by cultivating this plant, we increase their numbers so that even with the loss of habitat, they survive.
If you like, let the seed pods dry and break open on their own, then sow indoors in the fall before last frost. Remember, South Africa is on the other side of the world where seasons are reversed.

If I take my shoes off...wait, wait come back here. Smarty. What I was going to say was, in my stocking feet, morea villosa is nearly up to my chin, 24-36" tall. And unlike our beloved tall beardeds iris, the foliage is evergreen. They will over-winter outdoors in zones 9-10 and like most irids, love the sun. But, these will be happy with part shade as well. Now there are contradictions as to when to cut back on water. Like most plants, they do better if we can replicate their environment. So do your homework folks. These plants are not hard to care for, we just need to know a few specifics which are easily obtained through a little digging, digging well-worth the small effort.

You know, with all the talk about the eyes on this irid, I forgot to mention how full and unique the petals are. Can you pick out which of these varieties of morea are villosa? This lilac one? Yep. The white ones a few feet over? Those too. How about the yellow ones by the puff-adder eyeballin' your big toe? Ha! Gotcha. That'll teach ya to infer that my feet are less than aromatic.
But yes, the yellow one is a villosa as well as that lone orange beauty. Ain't that cool! And lookie, there are yellow nectar guides on the outer tepals. Makes me want to follow it right in for a snack. And what a treat it has been, strolling through clouds of indigo eyes resting on pillows soft as sleep. What a wonderful place for a nap. 'Scuse me...


  1. Great post! How can I go about being on the mailing list for the Louisville Area Iris Club newsletter?

    And I'm going to be on the look out for peacock morea - Iris are one of my favorite flowers!

  2. Sounds lovely!! Would love to see pics!

  3. Bobbi, contact the editor at Tell her I sent you.
    And thanks for the follow, your kind words.

    Unbreakable Child, thanks for your follow as well. I would love to post a pic and will as soon as I learn all the bells and whistles on this gadget. A photo would really be a nice touch on this amazing iris. Telos Rare Bulbs has wonderful pics, but be prepared, you will want to buy everything you see. lol