A month of irises

Japanese irisSeveral clumps of Japanese iris (Iris ensata, above) surrounding the koi pond have been invaded by yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus, below). These are pried from the tangle of roots with great difficulty, and with only limited success.  Yellow flag works splendidly to populate the gravel bog filtration area of the pond, but if left alone the vigorous iris will overwhelm the slightly less robust Japanese iris.Yellow flag iris in mid May

Several seedlings of Japanese iris (below) have sprouted in shallow water between stones at the pond’s edge, but also an exuberant seedling grows several paces outside the pond in dry ground. I suspect that irises are easily crossed, and that many hybrids are discarded by breeders as nothing very special. Probably, several that grow in this garden would not pass muster, but these are plenty good enough by this gardener’s low standards.Japanese iris

Each clump of iris flowers for just over a week, but if several cultivars are chosen it is likely that flowering will extend for several weeks or a month from start to finish. I would fib to boast that varieties were chosen with intent to extend blooming, and I suspect that if three were chosen randomly the gardener would enjoy three weeks of flowers. If five (or fifty) are planted there will be flowers for a month, and no longer.Japanese iris growing in a pond

I have tried, and failed, planting Japanese irises in drier ground with the exception of the tall, purple flowered seedling. This has grown into a thick clump, and I rejoice that I did not pluck it out as just another weed. It’s sword-like foliage stands above a low mounding cypress, a better design accent than I’m able to imagine.Variegated Japanese iris in early June

In shallow water, planted in one inch gravel, there is no secret to growing Japanese iris. Larger stones constrain the irises from spreading further, and after a year or two the clump will fill a square foot area. In damp, but less soggy soil growth is a bit slower, but irises planted fifteen inches apart will fill the space in three years. At least, this has been planned for a damp area of the rear garden that has become progressively more waterlogged in recent years.Japanese iris in ear;ly June

While only one cultivar has been planted, I expect others to be added to extend flowers from mid May into June.

Iris Lion King

Lion KIng Japanese iris is the latest to flower, often blooming after others have faded.

My wife has gotten in on the act, taking photos of irises while I was traveling last week. It is a crime to be away while the irises are flowering, but I have to pay the rent.

My wife has gotten in on the act, taking photos of irises while I was traveling last week. It is a crime to be away while the irises are flowering, but I have to pay the rent.

The Japanese iris that grows in dry ground beside the cypress has similar flowers to the variegated iris, but the foliage is much taller.

The Japanese iris that grows in dry ground beside the cypress has similar flowers to the variegated iris, but the foliage is much taller.

The variegated iris grows in shallow water at the pond's edge. This clump has been invaded by yellow flag iris (the green foliage).

The variegated iris grows in shallow water at the pond’s edge. This clump has been invaded by yellow flag iris (the green foliage).

Japanese irises grow in clumps between stones surrounding much of the koi pond.

Japanese irises grow in clumps between stones surrounding much of the koi pond. A few irises are lagging and have not flowered yet, so blooms will continue for a few weeks into June.

 

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3 thoughts on “A month of irises

  1. Beautiful photo’s of the irises… they are one of my faves too.. Take care and happy gardening to ya, from Laura ~

    • I’ve added a few photos today that my wife has taken with her cell phone. I’m amazed that her pics are sharper than ones from my camera. Too many things I haven’t figured out in this digital world.

      • Dave, thank you so much for the heads up on more photos.

        I know what you mean about the pictures that are taken with the new fangled cell phones…

        My daughter has one of those and her pictures are also truly amazing… I’m still trying to get use to my new digital camera, so many setting to learn and so little time..

        hum…actually I have all the time in the world, that’s just my excuse for not completely understanding at the moment how my camera really works.

        But, I’ll learn the tricks of it all, one day I am certain.. Have a great day 🙂

        Take care and happy blogging to ya, from Laura

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