Tuesday View: The Front Border 5.23.17

So Tuesday is here again and although I just posted the view last week it would be a shame to ignore the irises which have come along since then.

street border

The Tuesday view showing the beginning of iris season.  Still lots of green but the iris are peaking!

Bearded iris are a favorite, and the older “historic” types just beg to be planted en masse in this full sun, often dry, and always exposed, location.  There’s little I have to do for them other than give them a little attention in June when I remove the spent flower stalks and pull up any borer infested plants I find.

iris ambassadeur

The view from the other end.  For now iris ‘ambassadeur’ is center stage, but will soon be swamped by the variegated arundo donax grass which is only just beginning to sprout.   

Besides the color these older iris also are also very generous with their lemony and grape fragrances.  My favorite is this bitoned iris which was growing in my parent’s garden when they bought their first (and current) house back in the 70’s.  After years of wondering, this spring I am officially naming it ‘Folkwang’, a German iris introduced in 1925 by the nursery of Goos & Koenemann.

iris folkwang

My newly named iris ‘Folkwang’ plus a lonely little lupine and a few alliums.

To search for a name for years may be a little obsessive, but it’s not like I was at it 24/7.  A little looking here, a little looking there until finally I found one which really looked close.  To seal the deal I searched high and low for a source, ordered myself a rhizome, planted it out last fall (and a few others of course), and finally this spring got to compare the named one to my own.

iris folkwang

I think it’s a match.  Iris ‘Folkwang’ on the right and a flower of my unknown to the left.

So maybe naming an unknown iris does border on the obsessive, but in the grand scheme of things it’s nothing when compared to how much time I spent this week planting dahlias and cannas and getting a garden ready for the whole half dozen people who might notice… yet again I digress.  It’s iris season, it must be enjoyed.

iris rhages

Iris ‘rhages’ looking a little pale this year.  Usually the flowers show much more spotting, but it’s still a beauty.

There are a decent amount of iris around the garden but to be honest I think I could use a few more.  In past years I spread iris ‘Rhages’ to the other side of the driveway, and they’re now the more impressive clumps compared to the little batch I have growing next to the mailbox.

iris rhages

Iris ‘rhages’ plus more iris next door in my BIL’s garden.  I wonder how he’d feel if I added a few other colors…

I am trying and trying so hard not to give in to the temptations of the newer, bigger, flouncier bearded iris.  They’re so much more of everything, but I just don’t find them as carefree and reliable as the older sorts, and in my garden once the pool and lawn chair start calling I need a certain amount of carefree.

bearded iris

An unknown modern iris which a friend forced onto me.  I couldn’t just let it die so in an out of the way corner of the garden it flowers and offends only me. 

I’m trying to decide which other iris I should add to the front street border.  Should I stick with the blue tones or just throw everything out there?

iris picador

I go back and forth between love and boredom on the mustardy reds of iris ‘Picador’.  I’m just not sure if this color will work out front so in the meantime it stays out back near the meadow.

I might have to make an exception for a cousin of my newly named ‘Folkwang’.  Iris ‘Vingolf’ is also a product of the breeding program of Goos & Koenemann and was introduced a year earlier in 1924.  I’m sure I could fit a clump of these out front.


iris vingolf

Iris ‘Vingolf’.  A shorter stouter iris, perfect for along the edge of the bed where the foliage will pick up once the flowers fade.

In this dry and sunny bed the foliage of these historic iris usually holds up well and looks decent throughout most of the summer.  It reminds me that with all this focus on grass trimming, canna planting, and Tuesday views, I’ve missed another monthly focus on foliage with Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides so I’ll try and sneak that mention in as well.  Here’s a bed across the lawn from the street border, it’s highlight are a few lusty verbascum ‘Governor Aiken’ seedlings which appeared last year and were just too healthy to pull.

verbascum governor aiken

Verbascum and a whole bunch of other things looking Maytime fresh.  The ‘Tiger Eye’ sumac suckers look so innocent right now and of course there are more iris, variegated this time.

So there it is, the Tuesday view and a few other things all still posted on the appropriate day… assuming you are visiting from the Atlantic time zone… I suggest you take a look at Words and Herbs and see what others around the world are seeing this week.  Maybe it’s iris season there as well and I can’t help but say that’s a good thing.

24 comments on “Tuesday View: The Front Border 5.23.17

  1. pobept says:

    Beautiful selection, great examples of a often over looked garden delight, Iris.

  2. March Picker says:

    Truly beautiful! Oh how I would love to pick your brain even more about irises — I feel a fascination coming on and have so much to learn. Your pursued identification of the Folkwang is completely understandable by gardeners all over the globe. 😉

    • bittster says:

      You are practically in the motherland of iris growing and breeding… or at least I think you are, the PNW is a big and varied region… but I’m sure they would be an excellent fascination to pursue.
      If you need any encouragement whatsoever feel free to ask. I’m always fascinated with the historic bearded iris, but just last night was nosing around Mt Pleasant Iris Farm http://mtpleasantiris.com/
      It was for the Japanese iris and I suddenly feel the need to try a few even though I originally ended up there to pick out a few inter-species types. Some of the inter species types have yellow spring foliage and amazingly marked flowers. I need that in my life!

  3. pbmgarden says:

    Enjoyed seeing your wonderful irises. Glad you were able to get an id for that special one. Bothers me when I don’t know names of flowers in my garden. Still working on mine.

    • bittster says:

      Good luck on your iris IDs. They are so hard to narrow down when there are so many similar ones.
      I have a potted gardenia which I’m waiting and waiting to see bloom. fyi it was inspired by you 🙂

  4. johnvic8 says:

    Your iris are spectacular. Wow!

  5. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Your iris are impressive! I so enjoy seeing bearded iris in other gardens but have very little sunny space left in my garden and iris rhizomes don’t seem to like to be crowded by other plants so they usually don’t last long for me. Your post about older varieties has me thinking that maybe I should try again.

    • bittster says:

      Yeah, iris really thrive when they have full sun.
      You have so many other goodies, I wouldn’t worry about it and just enjoy them elsewhere… unless there’s a sunny spot out front lol

  6. How great that you i.d’d your Iris. I gave up on modern hybrids. The stems just don’t seem able to support those big flowers. I like the old ones much more. I think Old House Gardens sells old varieties.

    • bittster says:

      There’s a Historical Iris Preservation Society which has an annual rhizome sale. It’s horribly easy to add dozens of historics for just a few dollars each. You may notice a few new ones in the coming years 😉
      I also don’t have much interest in the newer ones. I love them in the gardens of others, but here they don’t get deadheaded or staked so the display tends towards sad rather than fabulous.

  7. Cathy says:

    Wow, so many irises! What a lovely assortment. I really like Folkwang, and Vingolf is quite nice too, but I think I prefer the paler lemony ones or simply the classic blue and purple shades. Thanks for sharing them with us Frank!

  8. Impressive array of irises, Frank. I have mostly the common purple ones and don’t know any names. I need to expand my reportoire. What I love about irises — the deer wont touch them. That’s a definite plus in the Poconos. P. x

    • bittster says:

      You’re right, I never realized they were deer resistant and come to think of it they’re something the deer won’t touch. I’ll need to keep that in mind as the local deer population becomes braver and braver.

  9. I was in your neighborhood last Friday, but my idea of driving by your house just for a peek was vetoed by my passengers (son and his girlfriend). I should have done a drive-by to see those irises! Stunning! And I would say Folkwang is a match–good detective work there! I am with you, though, in finding that orange and pink confection offensive! Leave it in the back corner–it’s one of those things, I think, that looks nicer from a distance! I prefer the blues, violets, and yellows, personally. By the way, do you know about the Presby Memorial Iris Garden in Montclair, NJ? According to their FB page, this is peak week there! Surely you can fit a quick trip to New Jersey into your weekend plans, right?

    • bittster says:

      I was sooooo close to making the drive out to NJ to see the iris but then just couldn’t convince myself to do it when there’s always such a list here. I should have just bit the bullet, and I know one of these days I will!
      I’m almost obligated to add a few new ones this year. I joined the historical iris preservation society and it would be un-memberly of me if I didn’t partake at least a little bit in their rhizome exchange 🙂
      Next time insist on a drive by, I’m so conveniently located to several major highways and shopping centers!

  10. rusty duck says:

    To see irises growing en masse as you have is a dream for me. All I have to do is think of planting one and every slug in a five mile radius is on the move. I have resorted to slug pellets this year. Yes I know. But I can’t keep seeing my investment disappear in front of my eyes.

    • bittster says:

      Ugh, slugs.
      I’m 95% sure our tiny sluglings are nothing in comparison to your UK monsters but this spring all the rain is bringing them along. I’m dipping in to the slug pellet supply as well and that’s something I haven’t had to do in years!

  11. Congrats on identifying Folkwang. I went through a similar process to identify one of my old narcissus. Bearded irises and daylilies both were tougher in the good ol’ days and can take greater amounts of benign neglect than their younger, flouncier kindred.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, I love how I can neglect and abuse these iris all year and still have an amazing show in May. I’d wish for more plants like that but it seems like most of the time I’m attracted to the troublemakers.

  12. […] irises have sent up flower stalks and buds this year.  I’ll have to ask our friend Frank at sorta like suburbia for some tips–his iris patches are soooo luscious!(I think, actually, that part of the […]

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