Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Regal Iris

It's that time of the year when irises bloom. I can't think of a more regal flower, the natural inspiration for the emblem of the French kings, the fleur-de-lis. So many artists have painted it: Van Gogh's irises come first to mind, but so many other artists also.

The ones I bought at the Blandy Farm Arboretum and planted in my garden during my first fall here keep getting more beautiful each year. The first year only the white ones bloomed; the following year yellow and deep purple manifested themselves--the yellow ones are the only ones that seem to have scent, a lemony fragrance in this case.

This year a bi-color purple and cream have shown up. Soon it will be time to divide the clump, to give it more room the expand. And I couldn't resist buying a new iris on sale--white with a lovely purple-veined splash. So, I must dig a new iris bed soon.

In the back bed, the old-fashioned very fragrant irises from my mom's garden that sister Bea gave me cuttings of are starting to spread, though they only produced a few flowering spikes this year. In my old garden in Columbia, my clump of this variety would have had 50 flowers or more. Oh well, next year they'll do better.

And then there's the Dutch iris--I planted a color mix two falls ago. Last year they bloomed together, but this year, the pale lilac with yellow falls bloomed earlier, the traditional blue with yellow spots about a week later. A gardener should always be ready for surprises!

Pale lilac Dutch iris with white salvia

Dark blue Dutch iris with red-flowered yarrow.