Our Garden in Late Spring 2018

What an amazing Spring it has been! Even though a trifle late to start due to the recent drought, we had rain just at the right time and even though we can always do with more, it has certainly had a rejuvenating effect on the garden!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9388In my post on early Spring at the beginning of October, we were in the throes of Spring blossoms, Dutch crocus, primroses, tulips and other Spring bulbs.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3903 They were soon followed by ranunculus; Crested, Bearded and Dutch iris; tree and intersectional peonies; and now, our glorious roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8508The garden is full of colour and scent and the birds, bees and I are in seventh heaven! Here are some of our locals: a magpie, a baby galah and of course, Oliver, the quiet and sociable King Parrot!

It is probably easiest to visit each section of the garden in turn! Following my steps in my daily garden inspection- well, let’s be honest, I probably do this three or four times a day (!), starting from the house, along the side path to the treasure garden and terrace, then descending the steps to the Soho Bed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8990

We are then bowled over by the cutting garden with all its profligate abundance and riotous colour, then past the productive vegie and perennial bed to the bottom of the garden. On the way back, we visit the Moon Bed before swooning at the Main Pergola, then a walk up the hill past the new white hybrid musk hedge to the rainforest area, before following the steps down to Tea Garden and the shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8857House

The entrance arch from the lane is now looking very established and I love the appearance of these dainty little pink blooms of Cécile Brünner just as the camellias are bowing out.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9219We transplanted the Rugosa rose hedge from down by the brutish cottonwood poplar last Winter to the driveway and even though the soil is tough, these roses are also and can probably handle it! They will provide beautiful scent for passerbys and mask any odours from the garbage bins, as well as a beautiful sight from our bedroom window! Mme Georges Bruant (white) and Frau Dagmar Hastrup (light pink) are already up and blooming, but Roseraie de l’Haie has yet to find her feet, having been the closest to and worst affected by root competition from the giant poplar!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7776BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9060When we come out our back door, we are greeted by the sight of our magnificent Banksia rose, which has now fully recovered to its former glory, as well as the sweetly scented white and gold honeysuckle.

Its red and gold companion blooms further down the fence line, as does this glorious broom and this sweetly scented lilac.

Mme Herbert Stevens was one of the first roses to flower this year and has been so generous with her blooms. I love the soft tinge of pink on her creamy buds and her soft globular blooms.

The bright mixed massing freesias of early Spring were replaced by Cottage Gladioli Blushing Bride Gladiolus nanus and now, colour is provided by purple and pink lavenders.

Mrs Herbert Stevens was soon joined by the lemony white Noisette rose Lamarque, who is now quite established, and their combined scents waft up to the verandah every day.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8652Treasure Garden

The first garden bed I peruse on my daily walk, containing all my tiny or fragile treasures.BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8505 It never fails to surprise me. I discovered that the Rhodohypoxis baurii survived after all and this year, had my first Lily-of-the-Valley flower!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8029

The blue and gold colour scheme of early Spring bulbs and primroses has now been replaced by pink, white and plum dianthus and the spicy scent as absolutely divine.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3995 In order: Coconut Ice; Doris; Valda Wyatt; Sugar Plum and oldfashioned favourite, Mrs Sinkins with the strongest fragrance of the lot!

Terrace

We were thrilled by our first Bearded Iris blooms on the terrace, presiding over their older cousins in the Soho Bed (soft gold) and the Moon Bed (mauve).BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7777 A dear friend gave us a number of corms to plant at the top of our future lavender bank and they produced a range of colours from the dark purple of early Spring to a bronze, gold, royal blue, pale blue, pale mauve and white.

I now have a new passion- bearded iris!!!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7588 We were also mystified by another different iris from my sister’s garden, eventually identifying it by its white crest as Iris tectorum, the iris found in the thatched rooves of Japanese and Chinese houses.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7408Soho Bed

The Soho Bed has been an absolute picture from the soft gold bearded iris, purple Italian Lavender, mauve catmint, light blue forget-me-not, pink and white valerian and mixed pink, white and purple aquilegiaBlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7161BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3904BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7794… to the blowsy chaos of late Spring, as can be seen in the photos below.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8458BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9170BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8281The rose have been glorious: Mr. Lincoln and The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9510

Lolita; BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4161The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8567Just Joey;BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8713 and Fair Bianca.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8883Cutting Garden

Our decision to redesign the configuration of the cutting garden from 4 long skinny beds to 4 square quarters has certainly been vindicated by the best ever Spring display!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8255BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8969 - CopyIn the shady bed, the pansies persisted into late Spring, with magical foxgloves and aquilegia replacing the earlier Dutch Crocus.

I have never come across such tall heartsease, which skirt the purple divinely-scented sweet pea.

The late tulips (Carnevale) were replaced with the ever-faithful hoary stock, Jacobean lilies, blue cornflowers, yellow statice …

and poppies galore from wild species to orange, gold and white Iceland poppies and wonderful mottled mutations of Ladybird poppies.

The Dutch Iris were later than the bearded iris this year, possibly because we moved their bulbs in the reconfiguration of the cutting garden, but their display was superb,

especially in combination with the jewel-like colours of the Picasso ranunculus!

They have since been replaced with a wild riot of ladybird poppies, self-seeded from last year and mutating with a wide range of colours from the traditional scarlet to a pure red, mushroom pink and a delicate clear pink!

They looked fabulous with gold Dutch Iris and ranunculus and now, the blue nigella and cornflowers, which for once are standing upright with the support of the mass of poppies!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8977BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8253BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8660 And now, the dahlias are starting their season, both in the cutting garden and underneath the Albertine rose frame on the shed wall.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9501BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9786

The final bed is filled with feverfew, just about to flower, interspersed with Love-in-the-mist, Nigella hispanica, both beautiful fillers for vases! I love the variations in the latter’s colour and form.

The cutting garden has provided us with some beautiful bouquets, as well as edible flowers for our salads and omelettes.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9273BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7114Vegetable Garden

This Spring, we have been enjoying fresh shallots, lettuces, cabbages and broccoli, the latter well protected from the marauding bower birds.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9469We have also been feasting on fresh strawberries for breakfast with yoghurt, on their own with cream for dessert and also in homemade strawberry ice cream and rhubarb and strawberry icecream!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8194 At the back of this bed are new hollyhocks and peony poppies from last season.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9591 The perennial bed has established well with rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries coming into fruit, angelica producing seed and Russian and standard comfrey in flower.

The mulberries are also turning black and we think the removal of the shading cottonwood poplar branch above it last Winter has really helped with the full sun sweetening up the berries.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9457 Peaches, plums, elderflowers, crabs and apples are also developing. BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7641BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4166BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9572BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7264At the bottom corner of the garden, buttery Albéric Barbier is in full bloom,

but its thorny stems were not enough to deter a lost wombat, who tried to barge his way unsuccessful through the fence one night!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9438 We return to the main garden through the future chook arch,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4114smothered in pink Hybrid Musk, Cornelia,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8768 BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8259 and Climbing Tea Rose, Sombreuil,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9120BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8578 with a new vigorous Clematis texensis ‘Princess Diana’ rapidly clambering its way up the latter’s stems and flowering for the very first time- a real thrill!!!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4509Moon Bed

Another visual treat, it looked particularly good, backed by the snowball tree in full bloom.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4495 Starting with the mauve bearded iris and honesty,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7599BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7710 it was followed by six beautiful intersectional peony blooms, their colour reminiscent of moonshine….BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7797 very similar in fact to the beautiful blooms of Troilus:BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8708and finally the stunning David Austin roses: cream and gold roses: Golden Celebration, Jude the Obscure, Windermere and Troilus;

and soft pink William Morris, Lucetta and Heritage.

How could I not be inspired to make beautiful bouquets of these sumptuous globular roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8729BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9287BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9288Main Pergola

We are so happy with the main pergola, which is starting to look very established now!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8801BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7771 The roses are clambering over the top now with their heads bowing down and are just so exquisitely beautiful!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8933 - Copy On the lower side, creamy Devoniensis,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8572

perfect soft pink Souvenir de la MalmaisonBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7633 and now New Dawn,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9589 all backed by choisya, allspice and the snowball tree in full bloom. The photo below demonstrates the reason snowball trees got their name!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9190BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8573BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3916 The upper side sports Adam,BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8430 Souvenir de St AnneBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9520 and my favourite Mme Alfred Carrière!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8945 - CopyBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8805 Next to Adam, our tree peony bloomed for the first time this year- such a spectacle!BlogLateSpringGarden40%IMG_7115 And now, Philadelphus virginalis is treating us with her beautiful fragrance.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9588 On the other end of the pergola, the Michelia ‘White Caviar‘ gave a us a totally different olfactory feast in mid-Spring,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7167 followed by the everchanging hues of Weigela.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4067 The transplanting of the white hybrid musk hedge of roses last Winter was also a great success and all roses have experienced a great improvement in their health!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8943 - Copy

They included Hybrid Musk roses: Autumn Delight, Penelope, Kathleen and Stanwell Perpetual, a Scots rose with a delightful scent and long flowering period.

Rainforest Area

The big star of this area of the garden was the waratah ‘Shady Lady’ blooming for the first time!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7769

It was so exciting watching the bud, which had been dormant all Winter swelling and colouring up to produce its magnificent red bloom!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8325 We were also thrilled to see all the bluebells from my sister’s garden come up at the same time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7265 Down in the Tea Garden, all the mints have returned after their Winter dormancy and the Maigold holds court, being one of the first roses to flower this year and still flowering!

Entrance Arch and Albertine Frame

The gold of Maigold is continued at the corner of the shed on the entrance arch,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8431BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4015which is smothered with Rêve d’OrBlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4017and Alister Stella Gray.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4476 A blue Clematis macropetala ‘Pauline’ is climbing up through the latter rose, but has yet to flower for the first time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9046BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8900The Albertine trellis has been spectacular in its second year with an extended flowering season and many many salmon-pink scented blooms.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9027BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9538The dahlias are now starting to appear under its petticoat!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9534Shed Garden

On the other side of the shed, Albertine is matched by the exquisite Fritz Nobis, climbing beside the entrance door.

Fritz Nobis and Leander (below) are repeat-flowerers in a predominantly old-fashioned once-flowering rose contingent in the shed garden,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4047 though Mutabilis and Archiduc Joseph also bloom throughout the season.

Once-flowering roses (left to right and top to bottom) include: York and Lancaster; Mme Hardy; Mme Isaac Pereire and Fantin Latour.

In amongst them grow old cottage garden favourites like yarrow, sweet peas, Gaillardia Goblin, agastaches, campanulas and alstroemerias.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9530The garden really looked a picture for the opening day of our latest venture, appropriately titled ‘Candelo Blooms’, selling handmade creations from the old shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9417 It has been a real labour of love and a long time in the planning and implementation, but we finally made it! My daughter Jen designed and painted the flyer and signs,

while my other daughter Caroline sold her own Christmas card sets, art cards and prints.

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My products included children’s clothing, cushions, toys and crepe paper flowers, as well as fresh bouquets straight from the garden and plants and secondhand books.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4565BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8830 while Kirsten Rose sold her beautiful timeless ceramics.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4566This clever lady also designed another beautiful flyer for future promotions.IMG_9982We had a wonderful day- very well-attended by market visitors and many locals, who all really enjoyed the old shed, open garden and music provided by my beautiful daughters. We were even visited for the first time by a Tawny Frogmother Mum and baby, obviously very intrigued by all the festivities!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4580 It was such a fun day! Here is a photo of Ross and I outside the shed!GTOD9695

I hope that you have enjoyed a peek into our late Spring garden. Happy Gardening!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7286

Iris: October Feature Plant

My feature plant for October is the Iris and our first Dutch Iris bloom has just opened, right on time! They are such beautiful regal flowers and definite confirmation that Spring is here to stay and the long cold Winter is over!blogiris20reszd2016-09-29-11-19-29Irises, commonly known as ‘flags’, belong to the family Iridaceae and the genus Iris, which contains 260 to 300 species, many of which are natural hybrids. The number of different types be quite confusing, but  the first and major difference is whether they are rhizomatous or bulbous. Rhizomes are horizontal underground stems that strike new roots out of their nodes down into the soil, and that shoot new stems out of their nodes up to the surface. Most iris in this group are evergreen, but some go dormant, usually in late Summer/Autumn. Rhizomatous iris are either bearded or beardless. Bearded Iris have a tuft of short upright filaments down the centre of the blade, while beardless iris usually have a flash of colour, mostly yellow, at the top of the lower petals (known as falls), called a ‘signal’.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-15 16.29.20 Beardless iris include: Pacific Coast, Louisiana Iris, Siberian Iris and Japanese Iris. Bulbous iris have a small bulb like an onion and are dormant and lose their leaves for part of the year. They include Dutch, English and Spanish Iris, as well as Iris reticulata. The photo above is a Dutch Iris.  There is an excellent diagram on the Iris Society  of Australia (http://www.irises.org.au/TypesIris.htm), which  clarifies the situation in a simple form. I will discuss some of the major groups in more detail later in this post. The photo below shows my Dutch Iris in the cutting garden last year.BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.55Habitat: Temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere from Europe to Asia and across North America. They are found in a variety of habitats from dry semi-desert to colder, rocky, mountainous areas, grassy slopes and meadows and even bogs, swamps and riverbanks.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-14 13.59.47History:

Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, referring to its wide colour range. It is also the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow, who was the messenger of love, thus iris are symbols of communication and messages. In the language of flowers, iris generally means ‘eloquence’, after which its meaning depends on its colour : purple iris represent wisdom and compliments; blue iris symbolize faith and love; a yellow iris means passion and a white iris represents purity. The photo below is a bed of Bearded Iris of mixed colours.BlogPoppy50%ReszdImage (152) - CopyThe iris first appeared in artwork in the frescoes at King Minos’s palace on Crete and date from 2100 BC.  It became the symbol of King Clovis of France (466-511 AD) on his conversion to Christianity, the iris being known as one of the Virgin’s flower. The fleur-de-lis, a stylized representation of the iris, was the emblem of the House of Capet, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 911-1328 AD, and was also adopted as a symbol by King Louis VII in  12th century France. A red fleur-de-lis is found on the coat of arms of Florence, Italy, where it has been their symbol since 1251, as well as that of the Medici family, while yellow irises are depicted on the Quebec flag.blogiris25reszd2016-09-15-16-47-28 The iris is also one of the state flowers of Tennessee. It is even found on Japanese banknotes! The back of the 5000 yen banknote depicts “Kakitsubata-zu”, the most renowned painting of irises in Japan. It was painted by Ogata Kouri, one of the most famous Japanese painters . See : http://jpninfo.com/17450.  Another famous artwork ‘Irises’ was painted in 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh and was sold at auction in 1987 to Alan Bond for a record $53.9 Million. It was resold in 1990 to the Getty Museum for an undisclosed amount. Iris flowers have also been painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, Durer, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin and Monet, as well as my daughter Caroline, especially for this post!blogiris25reszd2016-09-19-12-45-38Garden cultivars were found in Europe by the 16th century. There was a big boom in breeding from 1830 on and by 1930, the American Iris Society listed 19 000 iris species and hybrids. There are now literally thousands of cultivars of Bearded Iris – over 30,000 Tall Bearded Iris alone! Compare the following photos to see the difference between the old (1st photo) and new (2nd photo) iris blooms.BlogPoppy50%ReszdImage (151) - Copy

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Modern cultivar of Bearded Iris       Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Unfortunately, like many other plant species, hybridization to produce increasingly large, dramatic frilled blooms of a huge colour range has been at the expense of fragrance, but there are conservation groups, for example : the Historic Iris Preservation Society ( http://www.historiciris.org/ ) in America, which specializes in the preservation of  heritage iris varieties, which are over 30 years old and are tougher plants with less frills, but more fragrance. New Zealand also has a Heritage Irises blog with links to Iris gardens and growers throughout the world. See :  http://historiciris.blogspot.com.au/. The Presby Memorial Garden (http://presbyirisgardens.org/wordpress/) in New Jersey is a living iris museum with over 10 000 iris plants, while the largest garden in Europe is the Giardino dell’ Iris in Florence, Italy, (http://www.intoflorence.com/giardino-dell-iris/), which has 1500 varieties in its two acre garden and hosts an annual international iris festival in late May.

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Highly Frilled Bearded Iris  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

In Australia, irises are best seen in October/ November at specialised iris nurseries like:

Yarrabee Water Garden and Iris Nursery, One Tree Hill, South Australia :  Tall Bearded Iris and Louisiana Iris : http://www.yarrabeegardenandiris.com

Sunshine Iris, Lockhart, west of Wagga Wagga, NSW in the Riverina : 300 varieties and specializes in older vintage Bearded Iris: http://www.sunshineiris.com.au/.

Riverina Iris Farm, Lake Albert, is another Iris nursery, just south of Wagga Wagga, which specializes in Tall Bearded Iris : http://www.riverinairisfarm.com/. It has open gardens on the weekends from the 8th of October 2016  to the 6th of November 2016 from 10 am to 5 pm. They are  also open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and other times by appointment.

Rainbow Ridge, Burnt Yards, west of Carcoar, NSW : Tall Bearded and Median Iris, Louisiana and Californian Iris: http://www.rainbowridgenursery.com.au/

Iris Splendor, Railton, Tasmania : Tall Bearded Iris: http://iris-splendor.com

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria : Specialist Iris nursery : http://www.tempotwo.com.au

Tesselaars, Monbulk, Victoria also sells Dutch , Bearded, Siberian and Japanese Iris: https://www.tesselaar.net.au/.

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Description:

Iris are handsome, herbaceous, evergreen perennial plants, which grow from creeping rhizomes (rhizomatous iris) or bulbs (bulbous iris).

They have long, erect flowering stems, which are simple or branched, solid or hollow and flattened or with a circular cross-section, depending on the species. The photo below of my gold Bearded Iris shows the basic structure of the plant.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-15 16.26.22

Rhizomatous iris have 3-10 basal sword-shaped leaves, which form dense clumps, while bulbous iris have cylindrical basal leaves.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.21.07Iris have 6 symmetrical lobed flowers, which grow on a pedicel or peduncle. The 3 sepals drooping downwards are called ‘falls’ and have a narrow base (haft), which widens into a blade, which may be covered in dots, lines or veins.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-15 16.29.20 In Bearded Iris, the centre of the blade has a tuft of short upright filaments to guide the pollinating insects down to the ovary. The blades of the iris act as a landing stage for flying pollinators. There are also 3 upright petals called ‘standards’, which stand behind the base of the falls. All petals and sepals are united at the base into a floral tube above the inferior ovary and the style divide towards the apex into petaloid branches. The Bearded Iris in the photo below is much frillier and larger than my gold Bearded Iris, shown above.

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Gold Frilled Bearded Iris  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Flowering occurs from late Winter through to late Summer, depending on the species. There is a good diagram on: http://gardendesignforliving.com/a-guide-to-growing-iris-blooms-all-season/  , giving a guide to flowering times for the Northern Hemisphere. Basically, Iris reticulata starts the iris flowering season in late March to mid April, followed by Iris pumila for 2 weeks in early May; then Crested Iris for 1 week in mid to late May. Tall Bearded Iris also bloom in mid to late May for 2-3 weeks, overlapping with Siberian Iris, which are slightly later and have a shorter blooming period. Japanese Iris bloom in late June to mid July, then the iris season closes with reblooming Bearded Iris in August and September. In Australia, Dutch Iris flower in early Spring (September) and Bearded Iris bloom in October/ November.BlogPoppy50%ReszdImage (156) - Copy

The fruit is a capsule, which opens into 3 parts, revealing many seeds. In the desert dwelling Aril Iris, the seed bears an aril.

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Seed case of Iris pseudocorus   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Species Notes:

Iris are divided into 6 subgenera, which are then divided into a number of sections, but I will mainly focus on the more common garden iris, including the varieties I grow in our garden. All of the subgenera are from the Old World, except for Limniris, which has a holarctic distribution. The largest subgenera are marked with an asterisk *.  Here are the names of the 6 subgenera:

*1. Bearded Rhizomatous Iris:

Iris series

eg Table or Stool  Iris:  Iris aphylla

eg Bearded Iris : Iris germanica

Oncocyclus series:

eg Sweet Iris: Iris pallida

eg Hungarian Iris: Iris variegata

*2. Limniris: Beardless Iris:

 Californicae series

eg Pacific Coast Iris

Hexagonae series

eg Louisiana Iris

Sibericae series

eg Siberian Iris: Iris sibirica

Laevigatae series:

eg Japanese Iris: Iris ensata

eg Large Blue Flag: Iris versicolour

eg Yellow Flag: Iris pseudacorus

Spuriae series:

eg Blue Iris: Iris spuria

eg Yellow-banded iris: Iris orientalis

eg Crested Iris: Iris cristata

3.Xiphium: Smooth Bulbed Bulbous: formerly Xiphion

eg Spanish and Dutch Iris:  Iris xiphium, though Dutch iris also known as Iris x hollandica

eg English Iris: Iris latifolia

4.Nepalensis: Bulbous Iris: formerly Junopsis

5.Scorpiris: Smooth Bulbed Bulbous: formerly Juno

eg Iris persica

6.Hermodactyloides: Reticulate Bulbed Bulbous: formerly Iridodictyum:

eg Iris reticulata: white, blue and violet: see photo below from the Portland Botanic Garden.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4174Bearded Iris

The most common iris in the garden, which is a result of a cross between an early German  hybrid, Iris  5 germanica and other naturally occurring European hybrids of Iris pallida and  Iris variegata, as well as wild species like Iris aphylla.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-17 09.30.44 There are so many hybrid cultivars, but they are divided into groups based on size:

Tall Bearded Iris  Over 71cm: Largest iris and the last to bloom.

Border Bearded Iris  38-71 cm tall: Similar size flowers to Tall Bearded Iris, but shorter stems.

Miniature Tall Bearded Iris  38-71 cm tall; Smaller flowers to Border Bearded Iris; Also  called Table Iris, because they are very dainty and suitable for small arrangements. Similar growing conditions to other Bearded Iris.

Intermediate Bearded Iris  38-71 cm tall. Very prolific. Cross between Dwarf and Tall Bearded Iris and require a bit more cooling and a bit more watering than the latter.

Standard Dwarf Bearded  20-38 cm tall and the shortest Bearded Iris; Suitable for borders. Dwarf Bearded Iris are easy to grow, but do require full sun and frosty Winters and loose, well-drained soil. Do not allow to dry out totally over Summer.

Miniature Dwarf Bearded  Up to 20 cm. Suitable for rockeries only.

Aril Bred Iris: Arilmeds:    45-75 cm. Cross between Tall Bearded Iris and desert Aril Iris. They like very well drained soil and may die down in Summer.

A good site for more information on Bearded Iris is: https://www.claireaustin-hardyplants.co.uk/blog/types-of-bearded-irises.

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Bearded Iris   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

For a description of the many different species, see: http://www.irises.org.au/TypesIris.htm and follow the underlined links.

Siberian Iris:  Iris sibirica

Hybrids of Iris orientalis and Iris sibirica.

Native to Asia and Europe.

Beardless flowers in blue, lavender, yellow and white in late Spring/early Summer. The flowers are smaller than those of Bearded Iris and the foliage is very decorative. They do not grow in water and are not bog plants, but are very tough and can be planted in Spring and Autumn. They need a frosty Winter to flower well. Flowering time is usually November in Australia. The best situation is a damp, sunny spot and they are dormant in Autumn to early Winter.

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Siberian Iris  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Japanese Iris:  Iris ensata

Once called Kaempferi Iris, they have been cultivated in Japan for more than 500 years and were once grown exclusively for royalty. Flowers are purple, pink and bicolours and both the sepals and petals are flat. They do not actually live in water, but like the same moist conditions as ferns. Flowering  in November to December, they like damp, acid soil with cold Winters and will be dormant from Autumn to Winter.

Large Blue Flag:  Iris versicolour

Grows in boggy areas and swamps in North-Eastern USA and comes in blue, violet and white.

Yellow Flag: Iris pseudocorus

Native to Europe, where it grows in swamps and boggy ground, but naturalized all over the world. Very invasive and aggressive growth, so should not be planted near waterways. Much safer contained within a walled garden like this one at Dalvui, Noorat, Victoria!Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2090

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Iris pseudocorus ‘Berlin Tiger’

Pacific Coast Iris

From west coast of USA, they are low growing, extremely drought-hardy irises, that need a sunny spot with acid soil. They must only be moved in late Autumn to early Winter .

Louisiana Iris

From the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River area of USA. They are evergreen and one of the few irises that like tropical areas, although they will grow in most of Australia. Has flatter flowers 4 to 6 inches across and bloom in October to November in Australia.  Likes similar conditions to Japanese Iris: moist rich  acid soil and partial shade.

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Louisiana Iris   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Spuria Iris :

Come from Central Europe. They usually go dormant for a while in Autumn. They grow in a wide range of soils (especially alkaline), but need a cool Winter and dislike extreme Summer humidity. Flowering in Australia is in October to November.

Dutch Iris: Iris x xiphium  70 to 90 cm tall

Beardless bulbous iris, with royal blue, white and gold flowers in Spring. A favourite with the florists. The blooms last 5 to 7 days.

BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2941BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.33Growing Conditions and Propagation:

Basically, iris like a well-drained soil, with at least 6 hours of sun a day. Full sun all day is even better, but darker-coloured varieties are probably better with protection from the  hot afternoon sun. Because of the wide geographical distribution, cultivation requirements vary greatly and there is an iris for every situation.

Most Iris like to be chilled in Winter, in fact some Dwarf Bearded iris actually require frost to bloom. Bearded Iris are grown in Zones 3-9, while Dutch Iris can be grown in Zones 5-9.

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Bearded Iris in the garden of Villa Lettisier, Morninton Peninsula, Victoria

Bearded Iris likes dry Summers and cool to cold Winters and a neutral to alkaline soil, which is moist during their active growth and flowering, but dry after that. Siberian Iris like damp boggy soil, shade and a frosty Winter. Pacific Coast Iris like a dry Summer, a cool damp Winter and an acidic soil, while Louisiana Iris also like a damp, wet, acidic soil. Rockery Iris like moist, perfectly-drained gritty soil. Iris reticulata likes a good porous soil in a sunny or shady spot with leaf mulch in Winter. None of them like too much nitrogen.

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Dutch Irises: Discovery either side of Hildegard
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Dutch Iris: Lilac Beauty
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Dutch Iris: Hildegard

Plant Dutch Iris bulbs in the Autumn for Spring flowering. Last year, we ordered and planted 5 bulbs each of Discovery (Royal Blue); Hildegard (pale blue); Lilac Beauty (violet); Casablanca (white); and Golden Beauty (gold) from Tesselaars. Plant bulbs 10-15 cm deep and 10-15cm apart, pointed end up. Lift and divide every few years to avoid overcrowding. I planted them with cornflowers to hide their dying foliage after blooming.

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Dutch Iris: Golden Beauty
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Cornflowers replacing the Dutch Iris for Summer in the cutting garden

Propagation is usually by division, more rarely seed. In the following paragraph, I will describe the cultivation of Bearded Iris:

Divide the clumps in Summer every 2to 3 years, when they become congested. Separate the rhizomes by hand or with a sharp sterile knife if necessary. Check the rhizomes for borer attack, to which they are susceptible, and discard any infested ones. A good rhizome will be the thickness of a thumb with healthy roots and 1-2 leaf blades. Plant bare-rooted in late Summer in an open sunny position. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rhizome should still be visible on the surface of the soil, where it can absorb the sun’s warmth, but in Australia, they can be covered with  1.5 cm soil to avoid scorching. My gold Bearded Iris came from our rental place and last year, we discovered some forgotten Bearded Iris clumps growing under the shade of the cumquat trees, so we divided the clumps and replanted the rhizomes singly along the edge of the Moon Bed. Already, they have multiplied profusely and I cannot wait for them to flower this Spring, so that I can discover their colours!BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-18 09.01.28Uses:

Highly ornamental plant, which is fragrant, low maintenance and  multiplies readily. Good as a feature plant, in a border or in a rockery. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love them!

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Bearded Iris in ornamental bed at Carrick Hill, South Australia

Floristry: Buy when the colour is visible beneath the sheath, but before the petals have started to unfurl (see photo below). They do not like preservative, as iris do not like sugar, so only use a few drops of chlorine bleach in the vase water. Do not arrange with daffodils unless the latter have been conditioned, as the daffodils’ toxic sap will affect the iris stems.

BlogDaylightslavg BG20%Reszd2015-10-05 16.25.10BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 11.04.10BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3012Perfume Industry and Medicine:

Grown for the production of irone, orris oil and orris root. Irone is a methylione odorant, used in perfumery, which is derived from orris oil and has a sweet floral, woody, ionone odour. Orris root is used in perfumery, potpourri and medicine and is actually the rhizome of Iris germanica and Iris pallida. The rhizomes are harvested, dried and aged for up to 5 years, during which time the fats and oils degrade and oxidize, producing fragrant violet-scented compounds, which are valuable in perfumery. Aged rhizomes are stem-distilled to produce iris butter or orris oil. This essential oil is used as a sedative in aromatherapy. The dried rhizome has also been given to teething babies to soothe their gums. Orris root and iris flowers are also used in Bombay Sapphire Gin and Magellan Gin for its flavour and colour. In the past, iris has been used to treat skin infections, syphilis, dropsy and stomach problems, as well as being used as a liver purge, however it should only be used by a qualified practitioner, as the rhizomes can be toxic. Iris contain terpenes and organic acids, including ascorbic acid, myrsistic acid, tridecylenic acid and undecylenic acid. The Large Blue Flag, Iris versicolour, and other common garden hybrids, contains elevated amounts of toxic glycoside iridin, which cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and skin irritation, though it is not normally fatal.

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The Yellow Flag Iris,  Iris pseudocorus, used to be grown in reed bed substrates for water purification, as they consumed nutrient pollutants and agricultural runoff, but they are extremely invasive and have become a noxious weed, clogging up waterways.

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Iris pseudocorus   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Finally, a brief description of some other types of iris in the Iridaceae family:

Native Iris

Peacock Iris: Moraea aristata: Endemic to Cape Town, South Africa

Rare Winter-flowering bulb, with large white blooms (5 to 7cm across) with a deep, iridescent blue eye on each petal. Their undersides are also white, but covered in decorative blue freckles. They have no scent. Easy to grow, they are best left in the ground to naturalize. The foliage and flowers emerge Winter to Spring and they are dormant through Summer. The flower stems grow 20to 35cm tall and the narrow foliage grows to 40cm. Can easily be cultivated in sunny gardens with sandy or clay soils , but prefers well-drained, humus-rich soil. Grow in full sun to light afternoon shade. Water in and keep moist during active growth and keep relatively dry during dormancy. Critically endangered in the wild.

Dietes, also called Wild Iris, Butterfly Grass or African Iris: Dietes iridioides

A clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial, also from South Africa. Dietes have dark green, strappy foliage and white (marked with yellow) and mauve, iris-like flowers on tall stems in Spring. The flowers have six free tepals, that are not joined into a tube at their bases and only last one day. The flowers are followed by 3-celled capsules, containing numerous seeds, on stalks, which bend right down to the ground for easy propagation. Grow in full sun or part shade. Although tolerant of tough conditions, Dietes will perform best in well-drained soil, rich in organic material. Fertilize occasionally and water during dry spells. Do not remove flower stems, as they continue to flower for several years. Propagate by seed or by division of established clumps.

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Dietes   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Native Iris or Silky Purple Flag: Patersonia sericea

Densely-tufted, perennial herb with short rhizomes. Endemic to the east coast of Australia and first described in 1807, Patersonia grows in dry sclerophyll forests, woodland and heath, preferring sandy, well-drained soil on the coast and ranges.blogiris20reszdimg_0651 Up to 60cm tall, with stiff grass-like grey-green leaves and three-petalled, blue-violet flowers in terminal clusters, enclosed in two large papery bracts, in Spring and Summer, which last less than a day. Frost-tolerant and thrives in hot, dry situations. There are 6 other species in the Patersonia genus.blogiris20reszdimg_0673