Iris obsession puts me in good company

Henry Mitchell loved irises. Me, too.

Iris time is peaking here in my garden. All  the rain of the past two weeks has left me with  soggy-tissue lumps to deadhead. But I have been delighted to see many of the pass-along plants I’ve received in the past two years blooming for the first time.

I thought my collection of miscellaneous iris might be redundant, but I am nothing compared to Henry. In his garden in Memphis, he apparently grew more than 500.  Schreiner’s Iris Gardens continued to honor Mitchell posthumously for many years with gifts of rhizomes to his widow.

In a post last year, I wrote about inheriting this property in which iris seedlings grew like grass. Most of them couldn’t be salvaged, but a year or two after the surgery I do have a healthy stand of several different cultivars. Now, I am increasingly fascinated with identifying which ones I have.

If you have any tips on sources that can definitively identify iris, bearded ones in particular, I’d love to hear them. I did find the World Iris visual gallery, and their “QuickFix index” which is helping me slowly. “Quick” is relative when there are so many iris cultivars out there, and plant identification apps seem to be low on the programmer-type’s priority list.

I’ve got (that I’ve counted) a total of 13 varieties of bearded iris, Iris germanica:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then, there are the ones I don’t know:

Iris germanica ‘Carolina Darkness’ has never bloomed for me before, but it looks as though it will in the next few weeks. I cannot find a picture of it online. And there is the muddy yellow one of which, inexplicably, I do not have a picture.

Then, there are the other species:

This spring, my neighbor Martha gave me Iris cristata, dwarf crested iris. I understand it is white. Other not-yet-bloomed characters include the purple Japanese iris that I received from my sister’s garden some years ago, and Iris x louisiana ‘Black Gamecock.’

I understand it is possible, in a not-unreasonable amount of time, to actually watch an iris unfurl. If it ever stops raining, I shall treat myself to a sabbatical long enough to do just that.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Iris obsession puts me in good company

  1. Pingback: Irises Steal the Spring Show | Stories from the Heart of a Southern Woman

  2. I was very pleased to find this lovely post about irises; mine have also been rather battered by rain and cold winds in my English garden this spring. I love photographing them too and posted three photos yesterday having brought a bloom indoors where it took about 6 hours to reach perfection. I tried sending some of my iris flowers to the Royal Horticultural Society for identification but even they could not name them all owing to the huge number of varieties in cultivation.

    • Thank you! I am glad you liked my post. Yes, the number of irises in cultivation is mind-boggling. I was happy to stumble upon the World Iris visual gallery, which I thought got me a tiny bit closer to determining who’s growing in my garden. But if the RHS can’t sort it out, I don’t know who can. That is remarkable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s