Monday, May 30, 2016

Tall Bearded Irises

This spring seems to have been a good one for irises in the Edwards garden. We were concerned that our tall bearded irises (aka German irises) might not do well this year because of the very wet spring potentially causing the rhizomes to rot, but they bloomed well and were beautiful. 

Here's my very favorite iris, one given to me by my daughter-in-law from her mother's garden. This picture shows the beautiful form of this iris, but it is not a good representation of the color. I must have taken 20 pictures of this iris at different times of day in an attempt to capture the deep color, but I was not successful. 

So below is another picture of the same iris, taken while it was still in bud, that shows the actual color better. Unlike the two-toned irises, whose color can look completely different in bud, this iris is the same color everywhere. Even the beard on this iris is the same deep blue (almost black) color.  This picture was taken in early spring by a better photographer, my grandson Sam.

Putting in the work required to grow beautiful irises is worthwhile, but all our irises are not this beautiful. Irises reproduce from the rhizome and need to be divided every few years (how often depends on how much space you leave between them when you plant). Jack and I decided we would severely reduce the number of irises we grow so that we could give the care to the few varieties we really love. This spring, as the irises bloomed, I used a Sharpie pen to write the flower color on the blades of the fans we wanted to keep. 

Last year we gathered together most of our tall bearded irises into a single bed, with the idea that after spring bloom this year, we would group them by color. Soon (weather and soil conditions permitting), we will dig the rhizomes, replant a small grouping of each of the varieties we love, and give away the rest. Often we think of fall as the best time for transplanting perennials, but with irises it is best done in summer after the bloom.  The West Tennessee Iris Society recommends planting in July, August, or September to ensure that the roots have ample time to get established before winter.

Here are some of the other candidates to remain in our garden. I really like this blue and white one.

And this lilac and white one.

Everybody needs a white iris. This one is not entirely white but the closest we have.

And then there are the yellows, which I love.

And finally, peach.

Once we get the tall bearded irises organized, we will tackle the beardless irises. But that is a subject for a different post.

For more information on growing and dividing tall bearded irises, click here.

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