Lift and divide bearded irises once every three years, right after flowering. Over time the surface rhizomes spread outward, bearing the best flowers on the newer, outer shoots and leaving the plant's centre rather bald. Once flowering is finished, lift the rhizomes and remove the one in the centre, saving six-inch (15-cm) pieces of the outer growth for replanting. Add rich compost to the planting site and trim back spent flower stems and remaining foliage to about four inches (10 cm) so the top half of each rhizome is exposed to the sun.
Prune rhododendrons planted too close to the house or under a window where they may be blocking the light. (In other situations, rhododendrons shouldn't be pruned--cutting back to the old wood means up to two springs without flowers.) In early June, carefully prune every other flowering stem back to old, leafless wood to just below the level of the window. With this method, the branches left intact will bloom next year while the old wood produces shoots that will bloom in spring 2007. At that point, you'll need to repeat the procedure, cutting back the older branches.
Regularly deadhead roses that flourish in early summer. When a whole stem has finished blooming, cut it down by two-thirds to encourage repeat bloom in early September. For an almost continuously flowering rose, check out Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', a gorgeous single rose with petals that start out apricot in colour and age to a deep rose pink, almost magenta.
Even without pruning, it blooms well into November. A real winner.
Keep weeds at bay with regular hoeing early in the season, but by mid-June I recommend mulching with old dried-up grass clippings or straw to a depth of about two and a half inches (six cm). This not only keeps weeds down but also prevents moisture from evaporating, reducing the need to irrigate.
And don't forget ... to cut early pea crops in mid-July, cutting plants off at ground level rather than pulling them out root and all. Chop them up and put them in the compost, then lightly fork over the soil and plant a row of Russian kale, which thrives on the nitrogen left by the peas.
--David Tarrant, Vancouver (Zone 7)
what's on west
JUNE 4, CHILLIWACK, BC
There will be family activities, food and entertainment at the Gwynne-Vaughan Park Society's ninth annual fundraising Garden Craft and Plant Sale. Gwynne-Vaughan Park, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission. For more information, call Anne Knowlan at (604) 858-70891
JUNE 5 COWICHAN VALLEY, BC
Take a self-guided tour of six fascinating West Coast gardens at the 11th annual Cowichan Valley Garden Tour, in aid of the Cowichan Family Life Association. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets: $15. For more information call Sandra at (250) 748-8281 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
JUNE 9-12, VANCOUVER
"Art in the Garden: Gardens Inspired by Art & Artists" is the theme of this year's new Vancouver Garden Show, …