I love perennials, and when I was new to gardening I believed they would live forever, healthy and gorgeous, without much effort. Was I ever wrong!

I planted Japanese irises and for a few years I was delighted with their elegant blooms and architectural foliage. But all too soon, they grew wider and wider, developing a dead spot in the center. I was especially dismayed to learn that it was time to dig, divide and replant them because I had considered that garden “done.”

Here’s how I divide and conquer in my world of irises. First, I dig the new holes, to ensure that I have a plan for the newly dug irises. The holes should be a little deeper than the divisions and twice as wide. Next, I fill a bucket with water and a capful of transplant starting solution to soak the divisions on their way to their new homes. Using a sharp flat shovel, I make a circle a few inches outside of the irises. Once loosened, I work the shovel in under the roots and lift the clump, discarding the dead center and then I chop the remaining plant into sections. I cut the leaves down to two or three inches.

One of my favorite store-bought amendments is a potting soil that has moisture-control beads and fertilizer. I put a couple handfuls in the bottom of the hole, mixing with the soil from the hole. Then I place the new plant, with its roots gently spread out, so it sits at the same depth as before and add a couple more handfuls of potting soil around it, again mixed with soil from the hole. I water each plant with the remaining water in the bucket and repeated until the job is done.

The Naperville Garden Club is having its first plant sale from 10AM to 4PM on Thursday, May 10, and Friday, May 11, (as long as plants remain) at 9S131 Chandelle Drive in Aero Estates, north of 83rd St. between Book Rd. and Rt. 59.

Besides flowers and vegetables from a local grower, we will be offering divisions of our own plants (Come early for my irises!), garden tools, furniture and art. Our horticulture chairman and garden club members will be on hand to offer advice.

We look forward to seeing you!