Avant Gardener – 100713

Since fall is a good time to be planting irises, especially those like Dutch iris and snow irises that can be grown from bulbs, hosts Derek and Carolyn interview Robert Pries of the American Iris Society. Derek questions him about different varieties, such as bearded irises that like good drainage, and Japanese water iris that like their feet wet, even covered with shallow water. Also debated are the merits of Siberian iris, Japanese roof iris, European flag iris and the native America Louisiana iris and blue flag iris.The interview also covers a history of the Society and its award system and whether orchids evolved from the iris family. Derek quizzes Carolyn about topics that have been covered in previous radio programs or featured in their monthly on-line newsletter, the Avant Gardener (avantgardener.info). Carolyn correctly answers the easiest way to avoid a poison ivy reaction after accidentally touching it, and identifies the world’s hardiest lavender. She also knows the best landscaping improvement a person can make to their property if they wish to increase its value. She stumbles on a definition of Leibig’s Law in relation to plant growth and yields (Leibig was a German scientist who discovered the secrets of plant nutrition and founded the modern fertilizer industry). Among emails answered, Derek provides advice about growing amaryllis and how the price for the exotic butterfly amaryllis can vary from $15.00 per bulb to more than $60.00, depending on supplier. He also gives advice on pruning fruit trees, how to take root cuttings from certain perennials and what to do if the Asian longhorn beetle (which kills trees) is reported in your area.