by Jim Murrain
Kansas City, Missouri gardener Rick Davis had grown Bearded Irises almost exclusively for decades. Shortly after he joined the Greater Kansas City Iris Society he moved to a larger lot in Independence, Missouri. If you live in the Kansas City area and grow Iris you will eventually be asked to help with the Species Iris Group of North America Seed Exchange.
Rick was asked to help count and package seeds a few years ago. This was his first serious exposure to beardless irises. The second year he helped he joined SIGNA and purchased a variety of seeds. At the end of the shipping season we had a sale on left overs and he purchased a few more.
Rick planted the seeds in tin cans and old flower pots and left them outdoors to let mother nature care for them. As Spring arrived he watered as needed and got good germination on most kinds of irises. Some didn't come up until the following year though.
He had especially good germination on siberian Iris cultivars. They looked like tufts of grass in the pots. When weather permitted he lined them out in a new garden area.
Unlike myself Rick is a keen gardener and kept the weeds at bay and watered the seedlings during dry spells. The photos here are three years old plants grown from those seeds.
While Rick had good flowering on many types of iris I was there at peak siberian season so can share these with you. You can see modern forms and species type like the one below.
I would call this a pink bi-tone.
A near double or six fall seedling.
I especially loved this row where the stalks were over four feet tall.
A soft yellow.
A good 'red' siberian.
A very cute species type flower in palest lavender with darker veins.
Many shades of Iris.
Soft pink with butter yellow styles and golden signals.
Almost a watercolor effect on this seedling.
Dick Davis discussing the garden with a member of the Greater Kansas City Iris Society
Unfortunately last spring was the last full year for Rick's garden. He dug and donated all of his bearded irises to a sale last summer. If he is able to keep the property into spring 2014 we will be selecting and digging beardless irises to move to member gardens. This is rental property and is listed for sale.
It was fun to see the amazing diversity that growing irises from a wide range of sources gave his garden in only a few years and at a minimal cost in plants.
The SIGNA Seed Exchange is arriving in early January and is a great way to add color and variety to your garden with the excitement of being first person to see a new seedling in flower.