With their colourful variety of stunning blooms, irises are a firm gardening favourite. Their beautiful colours have long caught the eye. Indeed, irises were one of the favourite flowers of the French impressionist artist Claude Monet.
As well as lining the pathways of his home at Giverny, irises featured in a number of Monet’s works including ‘The Path through the Irises’ and ‘The Artist’s Garden at Giverny’. Although the bloom of an iris can come and go within the space of a couple of weeks, consideration to the different varieties of iris when landscaping a garden can help extend their striking blooms through the year.
There are around 200 different varieties of iris. This offers the opportunity to plant varieties which bloom at different times of the year to provide extended colour to your garden.
Among the early blooming irises is the Dwarf Bearded Iris, its showy flowers of many varying colours brightening your garden from late April to early May. The low-growing Iris Reticulata is one of the earliest varieties to bloom, normally showing their colourful display through to mid-April. Further early season bloom varieties include the fragrant ‘Better than Butter’ bearded iris and the exquisite ‘Celestial Flame’ bearded iris.
One of the more common varieties used in gardening is the Tall Bearded Iris. In appearance it is a larger version of the Dwarf Bearded Iris and blooms mid to late May.
There are different varieties of the Tall Bearded Iris and they can grow up to three feet when in bloom, their colourful display lasting for up to three weeks. The elegant Japanese Iris is another option for a mid-season flower as they bloom from late June on towards mid-July, with their large flowers putting on a wonderful showy display.
While most irises will bloom in Spring or early summer, re-blooming varieties are becoming increasingly popular. These irises will bloom in late Summer and early Autumn, offering additional bursts of colour to your garden beds and borders.
The Iris ‘St Petersburg’ is an example of a re-blooming variety, a tall bearded iris with a violet white flower which changes to pale green toward the center. Another re-blooming tall bearded iris variety is ‘Immortality’, offering its second bloom around August to September time. The bloom second time round may not be so prolific as its spring offering, yet it still provides a splash of colour at a time when the garden is starting to prepare for the winter months.
Landscaping a garden with carefully selected varieties of iris can therefore provide a rainbow of beautiful colours throughout the growing year.
Bearded varieties tend to be rhizome iris types which grow horizontally under the ground. Bulbous irises are generally smaller and produce smaller blooms, with the roots forming at the base of the bulb. Irises are easy to grow, but you should be aware of whether a variety is rhizome or bulbous beforehand.
Planted correctly and given the right conditions, irises can provide your garden with continuous displays of colour.