Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Plants I Know and Love No. 9: Bearded Iris

Good morning. Gold Country Sis Tina here. Today I am going to show you one of the showiest plants in our garden, the Bearded Iris. Iris germanica.
I am starting with a stained glass panel I purchased at a garage sale. It is of a lovely blue iris.
These lavender beauties grow on the west side of our home. Once there was a large "digger" pine tree shading them. They like a lot of sun, so when it was cut down they took advantage of the extra light and have bloomed well ever since.
Our "Gold Country" Dad loved iris. I think it was the ease in growing, and the mostly deer proof leaves that he liked the most, but I also think he just loved them because they were beautiful and colorful.
Daddy planted them all down the driveway, on the east side. One particular golden iris was a cutting from the garden of a lady who lived on Sacramento Hill in Placerville in an old home. He had delivered some furniture to her, and it wasn't easy, the house was only reached by many steep steps. He was proud of that iris, I remember him telling me it was worth $20 when she first bought the flower.
This is another patch on the west side of our house. Iris like to have well drained soil, so with our clay soil, it helps to have rock outcroppings around to break it up and help the water drain away.
Oh, the colors are so striking. May is a lot more fun with iris around.
The stripes on the bottom three petals, which are called falls, stand out like a zebra's coat. The three rising or upright petals are called standards.
This patch of iris is on the east side of the house. On either side of a large patch of deer brush, we have planted iris. This is the north side patch.
Here you can see the beard which is yellow. The beard goes down the middle of each fall.
The white iris is such a pure form of white it seems to glow in the dark.
This is the patch on the south side of the deer brush. It was a lot better looking about a week ago before we had a large wind and hail storm. I knew I should have taken my pictures earlier!
The blue iris is a most fascinating shade.
Iris grow from thick underground stems called rhizomes. They are planted just under the soil with some parts above the soil. You should separate them every three to five years. They will bloom better that way. The rhizomes do not like to be close to manure, so if you fertilize, make sure it is not touching them.
After heavy winds, the stalks sometimes fall to the ground. It is interesting to see how the flowers still try to keep their heads up in the direction of the sky. We usually only pick the fallen flower stalks, but that is still enough to have enormous bouquets.
The bearded iris have very sturdy sword shaped semi-evergreen leaves. Deer do not seem to care for them. They might take a taste when they are fresh and new, but that is it.
There are many flowers on each stalk, so after they are picked, they keep blooming for quite a while in the bouquets. They have an interesting scent, which I personally don't care for, but it isn't offensive, just not a favorite.
This last picture shows one of my favorite colors, a lovely brown, which is growing near my garage door.
If you don't want to spend a lot of time fussing over a flower, the bearded iris might be for you. Many iris farms start selling their rhizomes in July, but May is a good time to go visit and pick out the varieties you like while they are in bloom. Enjoy!


Heidi Ann said...

They truly are a beautiful flower - almost regal, don't you think? I did a little post about the iris quite a while ago - but yours, with your knowledge and gardener's perspective, is much more interesting! And your photos are gorgeous! I LOVED seeing all of your different colored blooms!
Love, Heidi

Lorlore said...

Love this post!! Loved Daddy's flowers and garden!!

yosemite faith said...

when i worked in stockton at the PO 'plant' - one of the supervisors named keith was also into creating new hybreds of iris - he shipped them all over the world. a couple of us went over after finishing the night shift and saw his back yard - AMAZING! that is when i learned to respect and love the iris. yours are beautiful as well. i have no green thumb AT ALL- so i appreciate your knowledge and info....john's mom was very good with plants and flowers and your post reminded me of her. my dad loved what he would call 'god's creations' of amazing beauty and you bring him to mind as well.

Twyla and Lindsey said...

Hi Tina! Iris is my very favorite flower and I love it every year when the iris bloom out. I used to have iris in the yard and every time we'd move I would have my husband dig up the bulbs and move them with us until he finally got tired of it. I sure miss my iris. Have a nice weekend! Twyla

Heidi said...

Great photos. I miss iris so much! I grew up with them filling our yard, and now that I have spent my adult life in the desert southwest, I sure miss them and feel a little jealous each spring when I see pictures posted.