The Iris is a staple in many gardens. There are many different kinds requiring a number of different conditions. In the wild they grow from the dry mountains of Turkey to the wetlands of Louisiana. They are divided into two basic groups, bulbous and rhizomatous. The rhizomatous is then divided into bearded, beardless and crested. There are many other divisions and classifications but these are the basic divisions for what we grow.
In the climate of the maritime northwest some are better suited than others. The beardless and crested preform best for us. I like to grow the Japanese and the Pacific Coast Hybrid types. They seem to do very well in the garden setting. Gary, however, prefers the bearded types. He grew up with them and his mother had a large collection and so does he. He probably has 60 different bearded iris, most not in the garden. Because Bearded Iris tend to not like competition and like it really dry in the summer we have given them their own bed. It is an 8 X 30 ft bed in the field by the greenhouse. Right now it is spectacular because many are in bloom. Once done blooming they are less than spectacular. Because of our rains the foliage tends to look bad. Since they are in their own bed they don’t detract from the garden and we can keep them really dry so they look better. The plants are happy and so am i if I don’t have to see them. It’s one of my guilty pleasures, I really enjoy the range of colors and the intricacy of the big blooms. The bearded Iris also want full hot sun, which is why they grow so well in Virginia, where Gary is from.
Many of the Japanese and Pacific Coast Iris that are in the garden are tolerant of a little more shade. Since much of our garden is at least part shade these are a perfect fit. The Pacific Coast are blooming now whereas the Japanese types will be coming on later which helps to extend the season. The foliage stays in good shape on these plants too so that gives an added textural quality in the garden when they aren’t in bloom.
Regardless of what type is in the garden, when they are in bloom there isn’t anyone that just walks by them. They are truly beautiful and eye catching.