When people first think of an iris they envision blooms and the many colors of the rainbow they come in. In fact Iris is known as the Greek goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. Here I would like to be your messenger to open your mind and eye to look beyond the bloom.
If you site your bearded iris right with good air circulation they give a bold almost agave look to the garden.
Using Iris pallida variegata in the garden will brighten up an area. If you can, site it so the sun shines through for you to enjoy the stain glass effect. Who needs a bloom with this look?
Siberian iris for most are easy to grow and should be a go to iris for majority of gardeners. The graceful foliage whether upright or fountain, comes in all sorts of shades of green, from blue-green to lime-green. However you need to get out to the farms before and after bloom to inspect the plants. Then you can chose which color and texture is needed for your garden.
If sited correctly the Spuria family are very tough plants. They are one of the few iris that will thrive for a long time in the same place without division. Many different species are smaller and make for great shorter grass like mounds as fillers for the garden. The newer hybrids come in a range of size from a few feet tall to five feet and greater. With their stiff upright foliage they make a bold statement in the garden.
Japanese, Iris ensata are more temperamental to grow with a very narrow cultural window. However if you have the right conditions, these late blooming iris will give a grace and charm to your garden. Plants can be two feet tall to six feet with majority of them three to four feet tall.
Specie crosses are made to get vigorous plants that are tolerant of varied conditions in the garden. Many growers will list these as Spec-X.
A newer Spec-X is called “Pseudata”, these plants are the cross of a Spec-x ‘Gubijin’ x Iris ensata.
I am very enthused with these new hybrids as they can bring a unsurpassed brightness to the early spring garden. These plants will green up later in the season with stronger light of the sun.
This chameleon effect may not be as strong in other parts of the country for the lack of cloudy Spring days as compared to our days here in the Pacific Northwest.
Many of these iris that I have been speaking of can be grown in containers.
Grouped together on the patio or deck can make for a dramatic scene, mixing all of the different textures available.
Here I have barely touched on the 250 plus species of iris that may be grown and what they can bring to the garden beyond the bloom. There is an iris for water, desert, sun, shade, and everything in between. Meet with your local farm, iris club, or at the National level of The American Iris Society to learn what can be successfully grown in your own area.