Of all the plants we grow in the garden, the tall bearded Iris must be amongst the most dramatic. Long, upright, branched stems emerge from a dense clump of attractive grey-green, sword-like leaves. One of the most commonly grown forms of the tall bearded Iris species is Iris Germanica, which can be seen throughout these isles.
Over the last 100 years or so, many thousands of new cultivars have been raised and introduced by Iris enthusiasts in the UK, France and the USA.
Many enthusiasts see the early 1960’s as the watershed years when the older, simpler forms started to be replaced by newer cultivars with their unusually large, strongly coloured and very ruffled flowers. That said one of the most popular varieties is still I. ‘Jane Phillips’ AGM, which was first introduced in 1949. ‘Jane’ has large pale blue flowers, scented, that blend well into ‘cottage style’ gardens. The blooms are so large that they tend to bunch together on the stem as they open. Quite spectacular – but “quietly so” too.
In the 1970’s flowers with frilled and ruffled petals became popular with Iris breeders. The ruffles help the blooms to withstand poor weather, particularly useful in our climate!
Colour and scent – although the scent can sometimes be very faint – are two of the Irises most outstanding characteristics and blooms can range from white to almost black, blue through purple to pink and yellow through orange to brown – and all combinations in between.
Iris ‘Black Tie Affair’ is one of the blackest Irises although its flowers are smaller than others, and Iris ‘Dusky Challenger’ is still one of the most popular varieties with large, silky, very dark blue flowers that are chocolate scented.
Flowering in June, Iris germanica should be grown in a well-drained, sunny position, where the soil is not too acid. The rhizome needs to be exposed to the heat of the sun, if they are to regularly flower year on year. Plants that have grown large and whose leaves block the sun getting to the rhizome should be divided between August and October. September is ideal as the soil is still damp and warm. Plant the rhizome at soil level and cut the leaves back to hand length to prevent root rock. It is advisable to cut the leaves at an angle – sloping away from the rhizome.
As published in the RHSI Journal magazine in May 2018. Copyright: Susan Miriam Harford, Camolin Potting Shed.
Three Gates Nursery owned by Christoper White has become the first Irish Nursery to be awarded a medal by the UK's National Dahlia Society for the best performing cultivar in their 2018 Trials. The dahlia was named in honour of Christopher's mother Aggie.
Three Gates Nursery owned by Christoper White has become the first Irish Nursery to be awarded a Gold Certificate of Exhibition Merit by the UK's National Dahlia Society. The dahlia was named in honour of Christopher's mother Aggie.
Irish Specialist Nursery Assocaiation