Although it was a struggle to break away from the garden during this (I should be) busy season, a friend convinced me to take a day and ride out to The Presby Memorial Iris Garden in Montclair NJ to finally follow through on a promise to visit. Word was that the hot weather and rain had been tough on this year’s show, but that was all lost on me the minute we pulled up to the entrance and saw the beds full of color. I was way too excited to be there, and just in case there was any doubt left, I’m absolutely a plant nerd.
An all volunteer Committee runs and maintains the gardens, and their work is amazing. There were several people out and about tending the beds, either deadheading or staking, and I’m sure that’s quite a job considering how many plants are being grown here and the maintenance needed to keep them at their peak.
Personally I tend to prefer the older and simpler forms of historic iris (older than 30 years) but I’m only human and the fluffy, ruffly, overblown flowers of the modern tall bearded iris are very tempting.
This might have been my first time around so many iris. They put on quite a show and I can see how the garden drew in hundreds of visitors the day before when the weather was nicer (but much hotter). In spite of the fact I had actually brought an umbrella along, a light drizzle started shortly after we arrived and normally I’d complain about my luck, but actually the fine mist only added to the relaxing effect of the pearly light, glowing colors, and nearly empty gardens.
My friend and I slowly took in the plantings. We went back and forth between admiring each bloom to admiring the overall setting and figuring out which varieties we had and which we absolutely needed now that we’ve seen them in person.
Although I was mostly interested in seeing all the older iris this garden is known for, here’s just one more that’s “too much”.
Before making the visit I saw an online comment calling the gardens “small”. I guess I can believe that. Some people could probably walk the gardens and take a selfie in just over 20 minutes and then hit lunch, but just for reference we iris lovers strolled about in the rain for about two hours before feeling we’d gotten a fair dose of iris.
I did enjoy spending too much time admiring some older iris I’d never seen before. They have a grace and elegance which some of the newest varieties lack and to be honest I might have added a few more to my wanted list. Now would probably be a good time to mention the annual grab bag sale the gardens host as they replant beds each summer, and also next month’s annual Historical Iris Preservation Society (HIPs) rhizome sale. Both are excellent means by which a historic iris addict can add some of the seldom offered older varieties.
I’ll leave you with just a few favorites as we enjoyed the older iris plantings.
…and there were peonies as well. The entrance to the building next door had a nice smattering of peonies filling its beds.
Thanks to Trish for meeting me there, and thanks to the volunteers who make this show happen each year. It was great seeing such a nice garden and it has me wondering how difficult it would be to start something similar in my neck of the woods 🙂
Have a great week!