Certain perennial flowers are must-have’s and an iris is one of them — a Snappy plant pick. Amongst the spiky foliage, stalks shoot up in the spring and magically transform to these grand blossoms. An iris has striking blooms that work well in vases, has long-lasting foliage, is space-efficient, works well in partial sun to full sun, and is a low maintenance perennial (comes back every year).
Irises have long been a personal favorite. My grandma Unger and my mom had a bunch of varieties. Each year, it seemed I would pick a new favorite amongst the golden yellow, deep purple, light peach, periwinkle, violet and white two-tone, burgundy and more.
I left the family farm in Ohio over 20 years ago. But thanks to my mom sharing the iris starts from her garden, I feel connected to my family and my childhood each spring when the irises handed down through the generations bloom in my garden in New Jersey.
About Iris Flowers
The name iris comes from the Greek word for “rainbow” — so many colors and varieties to enjoy. In fact, there are 260-300 types of irises! I prefer the larger blooms of the tall bearded irises, which grow well in the clay soil common to the midwest and northeast.
The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair, New Jersey (about 30 minutes from New York city) has a “spectacular display of thousands of iris varieties” and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. May is peak bloom time and worth a visit. On the weekends, one can often find artists doing oil paintings amongst the field of iris blossoms. Check out the live webcam to see what’s going on. Presby is a great place to buy iris plants as well. Check out the upcoming plant sale May 11-12, 2012 and other opportunities to purchase the Presby garden’s heirloom rhizomes (kind of like bulbs from which the plants grow).
If you’re near Salem, Oregon, Shreiner’s 10-acre display of iris gardens seems to be the place to go.
Caring for Iris Plants
The experts at Presby Iris Gardens have some quick, helpful tips for planting iris rhizomes and taking care of the flowers through the years. One important tip is to wait until after the spring blooms to move or divide iris plants.
Coming soon: Exterior Decorating – tips on designing flower gardens. Don’t miss a beat – follow Snappy Gardening: www.Facebook.com/SnappyGardening.