On May 23, a dozen Master Gardeners embarked on the grand adventure of finding the Delane Langton home to tour incredible iris beds he’s cultivated. Last year we were about a week too late…and this year porbably a week too early, but there were still plenty of blooms to enjoy even though, it was a beautiful evening for a tour.

Delane has quite the location. His home is perched on a hill, with gardens cascading over the top and shoulders of the hill. Then he points out another acre over the side that more iris are nestled into. Delane (now retired), is expanding his hilltop garden even more. He explains that the different slope orientations provide for an extended blooming period, the south side blooming first and then the north side blooming later.

The colors and variations were quite impressive, complete with some heirloom varieties. He also has a Moss Mansion iris bed, cultivated when an iris bed at the Moss was removed because the tree’s shade was too intense for iris growing. He took the pathetic looking rhizomes, planted them, gave them some TLC and now has iris plants he proudly claims are Moss Mansion originals.

Also, we learned that when he divides his iris, he doesn’t dig up the whole clump. He usually digs up the mother (or the one that bloomed last year), with the daughters that are on one side, leaving the other daughters in place. He’s had the unfortunate experience of digging all, dividing, and losing all.

I know I’m planning to divide my iris differently than before…and am going to plant the extras on our dry, rocky hillside surrounding our property. I’ve always  marveled at the iris growing on the rims going up to the airport. I now understand and appreciate even more how hardy and tough these beauties really are.

Iris Tour 2 2017

Photos and submission by Amy Grandpre

Checklist for Successful Gardening

  • As you harvest, keep track of what varieties are doing well for you. This is especially true if you are growing more than one variety of a certain vegetable. Write results down on index cards and store by year in a recipe box. Now you will know exactly what varieties to try new next year, against the best performers you’ve discovered so far.
  • If you are having problems with tomatoes, squash or other plants not setting on fruits, you can give them a hand. You can use a water paint brush, pick up pollen from male flowers, and then spread it to female flowers. With squash you can pick the male flower, take off the petals to expose the pollen, and then rub noses with female flowers. Female squash flowers always have miniature fruits right behind the bloom. Male flowers just have a straight straw-like base attaching them to the squash plant.
  • For late summer or fall harvests plant lettuce in shady areas of the yard, like the north side of the house, or in the garden in the shade of the corn patch.
  • Remember to water trees and shrubs separately from lawn watering. They have a much deeper and larger roots system and need more water than what lawn irrigation provides.
  • Continue removing spent blooms on flowers in the garden and pots to encourage more blossoms.
  • If you have some bearded iris that are not flowering as well as they did a few years ago, chances are they need divided and July through August are the best time to do this.

For a more complete list of summer gardening activities –go to Grapevine on Yellowstone County Master Gardener’s web site at