HARDY PERENNIALS: IRIS

What was said of the bewildering range of Hemerocallis varieties applies equally if not more so to Iris, especially the germanica or ‘June flowering’. Every conceivable combination of colours, in which blue, white, purple, yellow or brown-red are basic, exists somewhere or other as a named variety. The upstanding portion of the flower, known as the ‘Standard’ and the drooping tongue like petal known as ‘Falls’ are often of,differing colours, and it can only be a matter of choice from seeing them in flower, or as colour illustrations, that one can make a choice on which appeals most to individual taste. A list of recommendations from the use of words would be quite inadequate to say the least, because some with several colours merging on the same flowers are virtually beyond accurate description within the limits of space. The June flowering Iris need sun and good drainage but have no liking for rich soil or manure, other than a lime or phosphatic based fertiliser.

HYLOMECON japonicum (syn. vernalis)

IRIS germanica ‘Wabash’

Planting is best in July-September and when dividing for replanting, discard the centre parts of an old clump. The rhizome should not be buried entirely, only barely below surface, but the fibrous root at the base of each fan should be well down and well spread. I. pumila is a miniature race, flowering April-May from 6-10 inches high in blue, purple, yellow and white. I. sibirica grows rushily to 3-4 feet from a plant that becomes quite large in the moist soil these prefer. They flower under various names, in blue, white and deep purple shades, and though flowers are small, they make quite a show in June-July in the right place, l.kaemp-feri have large, wide open flowers up to 5 inches across. These dislike excessive winter wet, excessive summer dryness and alkalinity of soil, but where they grow well, they are a real joy. Heights are about 2Vi-3 feet and colours range from snow white through many shades of blue and purple. These, and the sibiricas are best divided in spring. Two variegated leaved Iris are worth mentioning I. pallida variegata has blue flowers in June, and a year round leafage, with glaucous grey-green strongly marked primrose yellow. These prefer sun, with ordinary soil, but X.foetidissima variegata is best in quite deep shade, and does not object to dry soil. The leaves are deep green, streaked and shiny with light yellow, and though flowers are of no account one sometimes sees bright red seeds as pods burst open.

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