Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Talking Irises" TALL BEARDED IRISES IN YOUR LANDSCAPE--Using a variety of plants is beneficial in your iris beds

Susanne Holland Spicker

Tall Bearded Irises  (front to back, counter clockwise)
"GLOBAL CROSSING," "GOOD HOPE," "LACY DAY,"
"PURPLE RITZ," "POND LILY," "MARY FRANCIS,"
"BUBBLY MOOD,"  "EMBRACE ME," "EVENING
TIDINGS
," and "ASCII ART" with clematis, oriental
lilies, lupine, peonies, pansies, and columbine
Since planting my first tall bearded irises in 1995, I have routinely planted the reliable and hardy beauties with a variety of companion plants. Over the years I'd always thought mixed planting was beneficial in more ways than the aesthetic beauty provided to the landscape. However, some sources had discouraged this practice, some even saying it was detrimental to the irises to plant them closely with other perennials and annuals. 

Tall Bearded Irises "BUBBLY MOOD," and (background)
"ABOVE THE CLOUDS," with pink and blue lupine,
Raspberry Queen poppy, Bowl of Beauty Peony,
and assorted larkspur
Recently, however, two well-known and trusted sources confirm my thoughts about planting a variety of plants with bearded irises in your landscapes.

In his comprehensive book "A Guide to Bearded Irises--Cultivating the Rainbow--For Beginners and Enthusiasts," (Timber Press, Inc.) award-winning author, horticulturist and expert on iris Kelly D. Norris tells us that it is a myth that bearded irises "don't play well with others and need to be kept separate from companion plants." He says problems such as "leaf spot, rot, and brown foliage" are not due to mixed planting, and he encourages us to "use bearded irises to punch up our gardens with color and springtime life." 

Blooming tall bearded irises "BLACKALICIOUS,"
"BLUEBERRY BLISS," "GARDEN BRIDE,"
with clematis Josephine, assorted lupine,
and Mons Jules Elie peony
The Schreiner's Iris Gardens blog "For the Love of Iris--Articles, Tips & Notes,"  (click to go to their site) tells us that a "centuries-old gardening tradition follows the theory that different plant species, planted close together, can assist each other with nutrient production and absorption, controlling pests, attracting pollinators, and other factors necessary for their full productivity." In the Display Gardens at Schreiner's Iris Gardens, Ray Schreiner designs with these principles in mind. The article goes on to say that "some of his [plant] choices fix nitrogen in the soil, others attract butterflies, others pollinators, some work to control weeds," and, of course, some are "chosen simply for their aesthetic appeal."

Tall Bearded Irises "LIBERTY SONG," and "MIDNIGHT
TREAT,
" with salvia, violas, pansies, lupine, and lilies
 


When planning flower beds for your landscape, always keep in mind the growth of the plant. Even when planting close, allow room for them to "breathe" as they mature and reach their maximum size. Because of my space limitations, most established clumps of irises are limited to roughly 10-15 stems.

Tall bearded irises "POEM OF ECSTASY,"
"FEATURE ATTRACTION," "MARY FRANCIS,"
"JUMP FOR JOY," and "MASTER TOUCH,"
with assorted lupine and poppy 
Be aware that close planting requires careful grooming of perennials in the early spring, and regular fertilizing and care of the soil for maximum success through the season. Choose flowers that provide great interest in height, form, and texture. For best results, use plants that have similar growing conditions and needs. Bloom overlapping keeps your landscape in color throughout the entire growing season; you may need to experiment with different cultivars to ensure the longest bloom time. 



The blue iris bed: Tall bearded irises "QUEEN'S CIRCLE,"
 "PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE," "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN,"
 "VICTORIA FALLS," "PROUD TRADITION," "ALTRUIST,"
"WORLD PREMIER," "CLASSIC LOOK,"
"CITY LIGHTS," and "SONG OF NORWAY," with
assorted lupine, assorted poppy, clematis, peony
and Siberian iris
Using plants that complement each other with a variety of textures, colors, size and shapes make the landscape more interesting and pleasing to the eye. I've seen many pictures on this site with stunning landscape designs. To view these, check on previous articles here at the AIS blog, "World of Irises."

Tall bearded irises "MYSTIC'S MUSE,"
"J T'AIME," with columbine, allium, larkspur,
poppy, pansies, lilies, and foxglove
Whether you're a beginner iris-loving gardener or an expert designer, the practice of companion planting in your iris beds will enhance your landscapes and bring a joy that I've found to be most rewarding.

Tall bearded irises "FRINGE OF GOLD," "CREATIVE
STITCHERY," "SILVER YEARS," "NEUTRON DANCE,"
"LACE JABOT," "EAGLE'S FLIGHT,"
"BOYSENBERRY BUTTERCUP," "COUNTY CORK,"
and "DUSKY CHALLENGER," with allium, peony,
assorted lupine, violas, pansies, and flowering shrubs


What different plant species do you have in your landscapes that go well with irises?  

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad to see you showing pictures of your garden because it is spectacular. I think you have both the knack of companion planting and the knack of knowing which colors will compliment or coordinate with each other.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Eventually I would use for companion plants the basil in the warmer months to ward off aphids and the colder plant counterpart to ward them off in the winter, I haven't tried companion gardening, But I am keen to use them.
    Ben Evans

    ReplyDelete

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