May 30, 2013

Gravel Garden Versus Hardwood Mulch for Japanese Iris

A. Japanese iris. May 2013
B. Japanese iris. May 2013
Compare the two photos. Both clumps of iris are healthy and happy. But if you look at the companion plants, you'll guess which one is mulched with gravel and which is mulched with ground hardwood.

Iris "A" is planted between a hedge of rosemary and butterfly bushes in the sunny gravel garden. The gravel garden was installed in 2011 and I've not had to add additional gravel mulch around the iris. A little raking or leaf blowing is all that is required to keep the gravel garden looking tidy.

This spring has been cool, but even in the hot 2012 spring, the blooms were just as lovely. A month ago, I cut the clump in half to share with my son as it has grown so well in this location. The iris is planted in the dip that makes a dry stream, so in heavy rains, the runoff water is channeled here.

Iris "B" is planted with astilbe, flowering tobacco and bee balm in a part shade garden where I use ground hardwood mulch, replenished in the spring and fall each year. More work, not to mention purchasing the mulch. However, I'll never use gravel here because I think the hardwood looks better in this particular bed. A design choice.

The surprise is that I have never watered the iris (or any other plant after being established) in the gravel garden, but I have to water the hardwood mulched garden for each week without significant rain from spring through fall.

Iris "A" different view in gravel garden. May 2013

Bright morning sun on gravel garden iris. May 2013

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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