Just a few more iris

Iris season is in full force here and although I’d rather report back that projects are getting done and plants are getting planted, they’re not.  I spend a considerable amount of time relaxing in a shady spot just enjoying spring.  I like to think we deserve it after last winter, but things would probably be the same had it been warm and rainy all February.

siberian iris

Siberian iris. Hard to believe patches of these grow wild somewhere, to me it might be one of the most beautiful flowers. I’d grow more but they are over so quickly and the letdown might be too much 🙂

While I continue my hard labour in the vegetable patch, digging and prepping planting beds, I worry that bearded iris might make a play towards taking over more broccoli acreage.  They grow so well there and the open spots would look so much nicer blooming blue instead of pushing out another potato.

iris snowbrook

Bearded iris “snowbrook” putting on a beautiful show… but lacking something….. maybe it’s just a little too short and congested to have all the grace I expect from my iris plantings.

One iris which will stay on the edges of the vegetable beds for a few more years yet is the bearded iris “ominous stranger”.  It’s not the heaviest bloomer, it doesn’t show up well amongst the brighter colors, but it does have a graceful subtlety which calls for closer inspection.

iris ominous stranger

I need to stay away from the ruffly, overblown, modern bearded iris. I could loose the entire vegetable patch if I start dabbling in these. This is iris “ominous stranger”.

I did try to start a dedicated iris bed when deck building displaced some of the old patch, but it’s at an end of the garden where a mulching mistake resulted in too many seedlings of little bluestem prairie grass.  Grass seedlings and an iris bed don’t mix well, and then throw in a little giving-up and you’ve just added another project on to the to-do list.  Still it’s impressive to see which iris continue to thrive amongst the neglect.

iris honorabile

Iris “honorabile” carrying on in spite of the uninvited grass and blue columbines which have moved in next door. A clump of the late blooming daffodil “baby boomer” also needs an escape plan from this bed.

My favorite this week in the weed bed is this sport of iris “honorabile” called “darius”.  Just one little genetic oops happens and the tint of the falls changes from maroon to more of a violet purple? (please forgive my lack of any color accuracy beyond red and blue).

historic iris darius

Historic iris “darius”, a sport of honorabile with a nice blend of yellow-lemon-purple(?) on small graceful plants.

Here’s another impossible-for-me-to-describe color.  An unknown modern iris is doing quite well in the weed bed, throwing up a healthy stalk of some ruffled murky unknown blend of pink.

unknwn iris

Any guesses on the ID of this one? It was a surprise slipped into a trade box from a great gardener in upstate NY. (note healthy weeds in background)

Idleness and plant neglect seems to be a theme this week, so I might as well stick with it.  This unknown historic was traded to me and to date hadn’t bloomed.  Last summer while debating a spot to replant it in I set it down between some tomatoes and succeeded in ignoring it for the entire growing season.  Maybe it got scared, maybe it enjoyed the company of tomatoes, either way it finally sent up a stalk of these nicely patterned blooms.

unknown historic iris

Guilt is sometimes a good enough reason to keep a plant. This unknown iris will stay just because of the abuse it’s endured…. that and I like the veined falls… it just can’t stand next to one of the fancy modern iris or it will be completely ignored.

There’s plenty to enjoy in the garden as it turns the page into summer and June.  The first rose opened today and the sun is shining bright, but I spend way to much time overseeing things from a seated position.  The queen of the prairie and I sit in the shade of weedy sumacs and contemplate things.

garden seating

Every garden needs a good vantage point from which to keep an eye on things, and although this might be more trailer park than Downtown Abbey, it suits me just fine 🙂

I would claim big plans for today, but it’s Sunday, and the day of rest must be observed.  Spring goes by way too fast to begin with so in my book there’s nothing wrong with trying to enjoy every minute of every beautiful day.

21 comments on “Just a few more iris

  1. Pauline says:

    I so agree, let’s leave Sunday for just enjoying our gardens! I think the family of Iris is a fantastic family, an iris for every situation, in the shade, in a bog, in the sun and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours! Which other plant does all that?
    I think of all your iris I like the Siberian Iris in your first photo and the Iris Snowbrook, I think the petals are so beautiful edged with blue, subtle and classy!

    • bittster says:

      You’re absolutely right, they’re such a varied group from all over the northern hemisphere (I think?) and the colors really do run through almost the entire rainbow. Maybe I will add a few new ones this year… People offer and I try to be responsible and decline 🙂
      Snowbrook is very nice. Maybe I just need to divide it to open up the clump a little.

  2. Chloris says:

    You do have some gorgeous Irises. There are so many hundreds of amazing irises that it is a hopeless ambition to try and acquire all of them – just as well really. They have finished here so I have gone on to fretting that I can’ t fit in any more roses. And there are so many hundreds more that I really need.

    • bittster says:

      Iris are so easy to fit in here and there, roses seem to require so much more thought and responsibility! I saw some of the goodies you have there and don’t blame you for wanting to add a couple dozen more!
      I’m not as desperate an iris collector anymore compared to other plants. With iris I’m fine passing them on and moving on to new varieties…. Like you said there are so many and I only have so much space.

  3. I too have many iris , but I always combine them rather than dedicate a bed. Their leaves are fine, but not when they go brown. They are partnered with Asiatic/Oriental lilies which bloom right after them and the iris leaves help support the lilies. The make a nice pair. I don’t think I would like the grass in that bed either. Sunday for enjoying??? Never happens here. All day in the garden today – only because all week I am the gardens of others.

    • bittster says:

      I’m setting up the back porch, it always turns into an all day project especially when I decide to refinish table tops and clean cushions!
      I’ve seen your iris plantings, however you grow them they really seem to like it!
      Hmmmm. I wonder how many lilies I could fit between the iris clumps?

  4. Your unknown iris in the tomatoes looks familiar. It’s not in my garden, however. Can’t say if I saw it in a catalog or in a friend’s garden. You might ask the kind folks at Old House Gardens for i.d. help.

    • bittster says:

      That’s a good idea, I’ve seen photos of this iris (or something very similar) on the historical iris preservation society’s website. The comments usually are it’s common, it’s nice, and no one seems to know its name!
      I can deal with an anonymous iris, it’s the daffs which I get snobby about 😉

  5. Cathy says:

    I think you should wear a crown when you sit in that chair and oversee your empire of irises! 😉 I usually prefer the old-fashioned blue ones, but I do rather like that unnamed pinkish one. It has such a full shape and the colour is lovely. Enjoy the rest of spring. Oh, and the weed beds are looking really healthy too, I think I should follow your example. (Seriously!) You could start a very popular trend there! 😉

    • bittster says:

      I really don’t think the weeds look all that bad, I’d prefer more aquilegia and less lambs quarter and burdock, but you get what you get! (I do like the airy grass, it’s like a loose veil through the bed)
      I wouldn’t mind adding a few more iris, but I might have to draw the line at wearing a crown….. Unless I get one with a sun visor….. Hmmmm 🙂

  6. I rescued a tiny clump of irises from a Bad Spot in the yard a couple of years ago, and am currently being rewarded for the effort with that classic old-iris scent and lovely blooms…makes me want MORE!
    Thanks for sharing yours 🙂

    • bittster says:

      You should get one or two more… it’s so easy 😉
      but not all of the newer ones have that classic scent, the fragrant ones are still the best!

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Your irises are great. Really like the Siberian iris–such nice color. I think sitting in the garden contemplating is important.

    • bittster says:

      I do contemplate plenty, but I just like relaxing and watching the comings and goings of wildlife. I think I would be fine without all the fancy flowers if I could still have the trees and the wind and the birds….

  8. Christina says:

    Lovely, lovely irises. I too could become totally hooked but then again, they are already finished here so the garden would be emptly. I have just bought some more though, couldn’t resist. I think you should just sit and enjoy, that’s what a garden should be for. I think your first unknown iris might just be ‘Rustic Jewel’, look back at my posts about irises I featured it several times.

    • bittster says:

      What a coincidence! The two are very similar, I wonder if I have the same? Mine might be a little heavier on the ruffling and the beards might not be as orange, but they really look close. I’ll have to keep that name in mind, thanks!

  9. Annette says:

    Hi Frank, I seem to have missed this one too! Good on you for relaxing in the shade and just enjoying your beautiful garden and irises. I should try that more often…your irises are beautiful. I think they really work best on their own but this means dedicating a whole border to them which is pretty boring for most of the year, but then if you have a large garden it doesn’t matter that much. Years ago I saw a massed planting of Siberian Iris in the garden of Bryan’s Ground Garden (owned by the publishers of the quarterly magazine Hortus) and still dream about it, so I may do a similar thing on a smaller scale in my orchard. They’re just adorable! Mind you, my Iris foetidissima just flowered for the first time after being moved about so many times and I’m looking forward to the seeds.

    • bittster says:

      I’m considering a bed devoted to iris. I have a few which haven’t been happy enough to bloom for a few years and I think it’s about time they got the care they deserve!
      Previously they were in an iris bed, but my yard is always being rethought before plantings have enough time to come in to their own, so I really only saw one year of massed bloom. Who knows what the summer will bring, it’s almost iris transplanting season and the pull of the pool and vacations is very strong, so we’ll see who wins!

  10. You’re a wise man to devote time to sitting and enjoying the garden, instead of fretting and fussing over it. I concur with your admiration of ‘Darius’. Irises are not a big enthusiasm of mine, but I can appreciate those in others’ gardens. If you do an iris bed I’s sure it would be quite beautiful.

    • bittster says:

      thanks. Iris need a little bit of attention, and they come and go depending on my attention span. I think ‘m going to try and focus long enough to get a bed going again.

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