Friday, 6 June 2014

Was it worth the wait?

You bet it was!

When my brother moved into his house back in 2010, he had a reasonably well stocked garden.  Very little of it too my taste and certainly not his!  He doesn't do gardens!  End off!  There was a raised bed in his back garden that looked like it hadn't been touched in years, it was over run with all sorts.  In amongst the weeds, Japanese anemones and the cornflowers (centaurea montana) and many more were some huge clumps of Iris - bearded Iris judging by the size of the sword like foliage I told myself.  I'm no Iris expert, far from it - they could have been anything really but that was my guess and I was sticking by it.

He announced that this was the spot his shed was going into and if I wanted anything, I'd best take it soon because it's all coming out!  Without any consideration (at that time I knew no better) I came armed with spade and fork first thing the following morning.  Some of the clumps were so large they were almost impossible to lift.  My only choice was to slice through what I could and take a piece of each, leaving him with the impossible job of getting the rest out.

The only piece of knowledge I had concerning Iris was that they like sun - yep, sun!  That was it.  A quick internet search then told me they needed to be planted on the surface in order their Rhizomes bake in the hot sun.  That made sense, when I considered how near to the surface they were when I attempted to lift them.  When I got them home, I chose a sunny spot in the back garden and lifted some turf.  Dug over the entire area and proceeded to plonk them on, rather than in!  I covered the roots and firmed them in.  Ensuring the rhizomes were still on the surface.  I religiously watered for the remainder of the summer.  They hadn't died and had began sprouting some new foliage.  Autumn and winter came and went - come springtime I was confident they were still alive.  As the year went on, sadly they produced no flowers but they were still alive.  Maybe next year - I kept telling myself.

Jump forward to late spring 2012, they looked ever so healthy and as we moved towards May, dare I hope for flowers?  Let me tell you, the suspense was killing me!  May turned to June and still no flowers - disappointment again!  To say I was gutted is a bit of an understatement.  But they weren't dead - the voices in my head kept telling me that was a good thing.  Then it happened!  The wet summer of 2012 rolled in - the spot I had chose for the Iris flooded.  I watched for weeks as the plants were drowning in front of my very eyes.  I lifted what I could and potted as many of the shrubs as I had large enough pots for.  I was determined I was not going to loose those Iris - I had brought them through this far, I wasn't going to let a bit of wet weather beat me.  By this time - I knew that my front garden had far better drainage than the back garden.  Perhaps I should give them a go round them.  As I dug them from the ground, that big slurping sound haunted me as I put the fork underneath them - I lay them in my neighbours greenhouse for a couple of days to dry out.  Rightly or wrongly, I'll never know but when I went back to look at them, some of them were pretty rotten and mushy and of course, I think what roots they did have were left in the ground when I removed them.  With nothing left to lose I re planted them in the front garden - where they were left to their own devices.  If they were meant to be then they would survive.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!  Over the ensuing weeks, they got worse instead of better and any foliage that remained all but died right back.  They've had it I told myself and I completely forgot all about them.

Last year, 2013 - we had a wonderful summer here in Edinburgh.  One of the driest on record and I was amazed to see that some of the rhizomes had dared to put out some foliage.  Yet again, these Iris had my hopes raised - they certainly know how to keep a girl (well, not quite a girl) on tenterhooks.  Sadly again, no flowers.  I gave them the good old talking too - you know the one.  Either buck up your ideas or your out of here.  I always think that odd because 9 times out of 10 it works.

I know I've kept you all on tenterhooks, I wanted to add to the effect and of course share with you just how great it feels to finally have some Iris flowers.

Back at the beginning of May, the largest clump  had started to send up a few flower stems - had my perseverance, prayer and patience paid off, you bet!  Look what I got

Unknown Iris
This Lemon/White flower was not alone - sadly unscented but you can't deny their beauty, well I can't that's for sure. 


Further along the bed a couple of more rhizomes began sending up single flower stems - I dared to get excited.  I kept my beady eye on them every single day.  

  
Down by the front gate - we have another, identical it may be, I don't care - I'm just so pleased some of them have flowered.


We have twins - no, change that, we have triplets!  Can you see it?  You can just make it out.  I must have missed a piece of rhizome when I was taking them out.  This one is special - it's totally swamped by the surrounding plants.  As you can see - this bed is now planted with moisture lovers, Trollius, Ligularia, Periscaria and Astilbe - just in case the flooding reoccurs but so far, touch wood, it hasn't!
  
A close up of the flower - this one obviously doesn't read the gardening books, whilst it's in a sunny spot, it certainly can't get baked in the sun - I had a look under the Persicaria it is growing through and I can't see the rhizome at all.  It must be completely buried under the roots.


It's a beautiful burgundy colour with white and gold markings and scented too boot!  I might never find out it's name - not that it matters, I'm hoping it's here to stay.

There are still many more rhizomes with leaf only, they are sorry pathetic looking things but hopefully given enough time, I'll have a few more to add to the collection.

Many more like these in the garden
I know there are many of you that successfully grow Iris, if you can offer any tips, I'd be really grateful.  Would you recommend feeding them, if so what do you use?  I know they aren't in a particularly roomy spot for them but in my hurry to rescue them I didn't give room much of a thought!   

36 comments:

  1. Hi Angie,

    I have Irises that aren't in a hot, dry spot. Granted they're in a sunny spot that gets a lot of sun but the border is nice and damp thanks to having very heavy, solid, yellow clay underneath. They have done well, but perhaps because they're not bearded but rather the normal type perennial irises.

    Good luck with them; both are gorgeous and I suspect would look very nice planted together too.

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    1. I recently bought some that prefer moist soil and I'm hoping they come good round the back.
      I also think they might look good together - another consideration for when I finally get round to doing something with the front garden.

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  2. You have some beautiful Irises. I have them too but also many with leaf only. I know I have not the right circumstances for them, they need clay soil and lots of sun on the rhizomes. They also like to be split up every few years, to get more flowers. Wish you a lot of success with them theybare so nice.

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    1. Thanks ever so much Janneke - interesting that I'm not the only one with leaf only. Not having the right circumstances doesn't stop us having a go does it.

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  3. I'm sorry I have no advice, but congrats on persevering! They are both beautiful flowers. I hope you get more from the rest.

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    1. I hope so too Alison - it won't be for lack of trying if they never flower that's for sure!

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  4. So many beautiful iris! I just love that lemon yellow one. Definitely worth the wait! My irises have taken forever (it seems) to start blooming as well.

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    1. I do wonder if I'm perhaps a bit too impatient - time will tell. I do like the lemon one, it's quite fetching when the sun hits on it.

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  5. Nowt beats a damn good talking to and a lot of finger wagging....works every time!
    Percy Vearance to the rescue...well done :-)

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    1. Ah, good old Percy to the rescue AGAIN! He's a busy chap in my garden Jane :)

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  6. Hurrah for persistence, patience and perseverance!
    I’d love to have some of those burgundy scented ones, they are just gorgeous, if my garden had been better suited for them.

    I also give my plants a good talking to if they don’t behave, and the good old threat of the compost bin seems to work down here too. I can’t offer any advice on irises though, my acid soil in shady conditions is not really suitable for any type of irises. I have tried some Dutch irises, but even they didn’t really thrive here and were rather pathetic the following spring.

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    1. Thanks Helen, if you see Pauline's comments below intermediate bearded iris can take a bit of shade. Not that I knew that but perhaps the might suit your conditions better. I once read an article that it's recommended to grow Iris in pots here in Scotland due to the wet - I did consider that and then decided that I had way too many pots already and couldn't be bothered with the hassle.

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  7. They are both beautiful, well done for rescuing them. Not all iris need to be baked in the sun, there are so many different varieties that like different conditions. Tall bearded like to bake, but intermediate bearded iris can take more shade and aren't so bothered about their rhizome being shaded as I have just learned when doing my last post.

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    1. I really didn't know there was a difference in types of bearded Iris Pauline. Thanks for making me aware of this - I need to do more research - perhaps the darker one I have is actual that.

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  8. Congratulations on your dedication to your irises. You got there in the end. They are lovely.The only feeding I do is a bit of bone meal in March. They have to be split up from time to time as there rhizomes get congested.

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    1. Thanks for the advice Chloris - it's really appreciated. I've just popped over and read Pauline's blog - I truly had no idea just how big a range of them there are. I'll be adding more to the garden, I'm sure!

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  9. Hi Angie, the yellow one is my favourite, how beautiful it is! Generally they (bearded iris) prefer sunny positions and don't like being overcrowded by others but they can still produce flowers in less ideal spots. I find it hard to combine them in a border and like them best on their own, so have taken out all here and planted them along the road/boundary. Don't worry about feeding them - they don't like being pampered. Have a lovely weekend :)

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    1. Thanks for your tips and advice Annette -it's much appreciated. I can see why you find it hard to combine them, the one growing by the peonies just looks 'cramped' and would benefit for being in the open more.

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  10. I have some bearded irises that took a while to come into flower too. I bought a collection but seem to have ebded up with just purple ones,

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    1. Glad I'm no the only one Sue :) I suppose it's a case of what enjoys your conditions that have thrived, as with many species of plants.

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  11. Nice pictures Angie, Iris make wonderful subjects. I had one which was so intent on reaching the sun it tried to grow over the flags! As far as I know as long as they are dry and in the sun they even thrive on poor soil. I mainly grow the Sino-Siberian types which don't mind the damp and semi-shade

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    1. I'm going to look into the ones that like the damp and shade, I've a perfect spot for those. Thanks for letting me know about them, it's much appreciated.

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    2. Hi Angie, I have just put on a quick post about these Iris if you would like to have a look.

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  12. Oh well worth your long wait Angie for that splash of sunshine in the rain. The dark flowered iris is beautiful too. As far as irises go I've only ever grown a couple so my knowledge/ experience leaves a lot to desired. I bet you on tenterhooks to see what the other rhizomes produce.

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    1. It sure has been a long wait Anna - perhaps if it wasn't for he flooding, I'd have had some flowers last year. Hey ho - that's gardening right! I am on tenterhooks but it won't be this year, perhaps next.

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  13. Congratulations! The performance of my bearded Iris have been spotty this year so I'm hesitant to offer advice but, as I've been investigating what I can do next year to improve flower production, here's what the local experts in California say: plant in full sun except in the hot summer regions, where they may be placed in afternoon shade; place rhizomes barely below the surface (I usually leave 1/2 - 2/3 of the top exposed); water regularly once new growth starts and for about 6 weeks after flowers fade; limit summer water, especially in cool areas; and fertilize in early spring. In my own case, I think the lack of rain in winter and spring here was the reason fewer flowers made an appearance.

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  14. Angie what a wonderful reward for all your care and hard work, you give me hope, I bought 3 bearded irises a couple of years ago and only after learnt they need to have sun to flower, your irises are beautiful and perfumed too a lovely bonus, Frances

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  15. Ciao, bellissimi quegli iris! Hanno un colore bellissimo ma anche quel polemonium ė fantastico! Un saluto!

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  16. One of the most beautiful blooms there is. The last ones just look young, bet they bloom for you next year. As they start forming clumps you will see that not every stalk comes up will bloom, but the following year that stalk will. Glad you were able to save some of them.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  17. I give mine sun, water and time...and it pays off for sure. Love the lemon yellow...very unusual!

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  18. They say they should be divided every three years, but then they take a while to come back to full flowering power. I leave them alone until they begin to throw up fewer flower stalks. I also divide only one clump at a time, so the older ones can keep blooming while the newly divided ones get up to speed.

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  19. Pardon the lateness- your post has taken a long time to appear for some reason. Boy, you have some patience, but, yes, it was worth it! They're both beautiful irises. I love irises - they have such amazing flower structure and colours. Real wow! factor.

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  20. Hi Angie! I don't feed my bearded iris much, but I do try to make sure the rhizomes are uncovered and exposed to some sunlight. They may rot if covered, and supposedly they need sun on the rhizome to encourage good blooming. Enjoy yours!

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  21. I love Irises and at last you too have some beautiful flowers. I planted years ago quite a lot of them in the garden and I know the rhizomes need sun and so on, but also here it is difficult to get them into flowering. I don't have the right soil for them, we have rather acid soil and they like clay. I do my utmost, give them soil in winter, transplant and divide and yes I have flowers every year but not so many. Wish you a lot of success, great they are doing well now.

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