Friday, May 6, 2011

Iris in the Landscape

I have been asked about how to use iris in the landscape and I must confess I had never thought much about it. Looking back, I remember my grandmother had an iris bed, about 6' by 6' outside the back door. I remember how amazing those purple, yellow and brown flowers were when they were in bloom, but also how intimidating that bed was to a young child when they were not in bloom!

Although I like the stiff, sword like foliage as a contrast to soft, round foliage in the garden, when grown alone, they look like a bed or swords sticking out of the ground. Not very pretty or inviting.

I like to grow them in front of a large shrub that will set the blooms off nicely my creating contrast and a pleasing background.

I have always mixed iris in with other plants, mainly because they bloom such a short time that there needs to be other interest to make the bed attractive the rest of the year.

I use them as focal points, fully integrated into a complex combination that includes other plants with similar cultural needs like daylilies and roses. They are a good mid-size plant that makes the bridge between taller shrubs and low-laying groundcovers quite nicely. These in my SJC garden are only a couple years old and haven't developed the large base of foliage and multiple stems that they will in years to come. I look forward to that display someday, but I am thrilled with what I have now too!


Dirt Princess said...

Beautiful. I love irises

Nancy said...

Thanks for this, Sheila! I am ordering new iris, of course, and playing with ideas. Another question: How do you get enough sun to the rhizomes when they are surrounded by all your other flowers and foliage? I'll put some more in my borders and investigate!

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Very good advice. I never thought of irises as hard to integrate into the landscape but I guess they are. Love all the different kind. Right now I have my eye on a variegated yellow flag iris.

Anonymous said...

I love iris and have quite a few. Like you, I mix them also.

Sheila said...

Nancy, it is hard to tell from these pictures, but of course the rhizomes are at the surface. I am forever walking around making sure I can see them sticking out of the dirt. Although they are low and you would think they are shaded, they seem to get enough light to keep blooming. The biggest problem is mulch that I add in heavy layers a couple times a year. It washes over the surface and must be removed too! Good luck!

karenleigh said...

So gorgeous and lush.