Thursday, June 7, 2012

Japanese irises

The poppies of the community garden field in the previous entry are all lightness, bright color and cheer.

Back in the home garden, the high drama of the Japanese irises is reaching a peak. Somehow these huge irises escape being ponderous in spite of their sombre colors, the substance of the petals, the solid form and the stiff bearing, And yet each iris flower typically lasts no longer than one of the poppy flowers.

Japanese irises have a devoted following, are readily available in the trade, and have been grown in this country for well over a century. Yet they are not often seen in gardens, certainly no where nearly as often as the various bearded irises. Nor are they more difficult to grow than the bearded irises. Nor do they compete with the bearded irises in season of bloom: among the widely available irises they are among the last to bloom.  And to see them well grown is to want them. Yet I don't see them in gardens that often.

Those with somewhat muddled color patterns  remind me of the Japanese morning glories more than some sort of iris. Those with dark pin stripes against a white background pull off this effect as well as the arilate irises.

Two photos are given here. The first one shows them in natural light. The exposure of the second photo was  deliberately manipulated to produce the sort of effect seen in color illustrations in books from the early part of the twentieth century.   I obtained these years ago from a sale sponsored by the local iris society. The names were carefully recorded in my notebooks, and labels were buried with the plants. I've not been able to find the labels buried with the plants, and the names recorded in my notebooks do not match images brought up in Google Images.

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