Using Bearded Iris Flowers For Landscape Color

Summary: Bearded iris provides gardens with a rainbow of color from late May and early June. What color combinations will you use?

If you want a rainbow in the garden in late May and early June, plant plenty of tall bearded iris. There was a time when the tall bearded iris found its place in the landscape reserved for stately majesty and quiet beauty.

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Iris fanciers have known for years that their favorite flower could be just as colorful in the garden like any other. Time has brought many changes in the iris world through intensive hybridizing by scores of breeders, and perhaps the most notable of all the improvements in varieties is their greatly enlarged range of colors.

No longer must the gardener accept the magenta purples, tepid lavender blues, grayed whites, muddy yellows, and dull blends that were once synonymous with the very word iris.

Now, this elegant, stately flower can preen itself with a wardrobe of such colors as clear, cool light blues, rich dark blues and purples, luminous yellows, delicate coral pinks, luscious warm browns, deep maroons. startling bicolors, and bright blends in tones of yellow, tan and coppery red.

Iris Blossom Form Improvement

Improvement in the form of the blossoms – the falls (lower petals) of most of the iris varieties are flaring or semi-flaring – has added a jauntiness which perks up the color at the same time. In the past, a large number of iris were marred by prominent lines (called “reticulations”) on the falls near the haft (center of the flower).

In the course of selective breeding, these have either become inconspicuous or have disappeared altogether and their absence has given the flowers added clarity and richness of color.

Each year the American Iris Society holds a symposium, which is actually a popularity contest of favorite iris. Accredited iris judges from all over the country cast their votes for the 100 favorite iris. The results of this poll, or symposium, offer a good guide to the best in iris.

Among the high-ranking iris, many are blue in color, as might be expected because of the excellent garden value of this color. Closely following the blues in appeal are the clear yellows and the clean whites.

They are all quite different and all are well worth having in the garden. One variety, a medium blue, maybe large, tall, and well-branched to make a wonderful stately clump. On the other hand, a lower-growing lavender-blue could be a lovely hit of fluff for the front of the border.

The Delicate Pinks

One real sensation I enjoy in the iris world comes from the coral pink iris, many of them set off by tangerine beards. This color break in iris seems to intrigue gardeners more than the iris of any other color in people I talk to.

Many intriguing color groupings can be visualized with these delicate pinks. particularly if planted next to deep purples and pale blues, or even in some cases the maroons. For those who like lavender-pinks, they can be especially attractive when planted with good medium yellows.

Colorful and fascinating blends of all iris descriptions now comprise a very large color segment of the modern tall bearded iris.

Many of them cannot be counted on to give a satisfactory color effect from a distance but must be viewed at rather close range in order to be properly appreciated. Generally, they show up best if planted as companion plants to the clear-colored selfs.

We have suggested desirable color combinations but have not named specific varieties (which change every year) with the thought that the reader could easily make his own selection from the many fine varieties in each classification.

by F Casseberg