Iris 'Thornbird'

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My reaction is:  what color is that?  Greeny dirty yellow?  Greyish yellow?  Yellowy grey? 

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And what do you pair that strange color with?  In a mass planting of Iris, as grown by aficionados,  that color is fine.  Try it with pink roses, though, and it's a different story. 

Perhaps something along the lines of Cordyline 'Torbay Dazzler',  Carex testacaea, Phormium 'Alison Blackman', 'Royal Purple' Cotinus, maybe some purple foliaged Heuchera, and this Iris would look somberly soberly austerely great together, for the two or three weeks that the Iris blooms.

I did not do that.  I put it next to a pink rose.  No, you can't see it.  Some mistakes are better unphotographed. 

Cordyline 'Torbay Dazzler':
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Tall bearded Iris come in and out of fashion.  We see a huge stand of iris with dozens of flower spikes and think:  Wow.  Then a few years of pulling brown foliage for 49 weeks and cleaning up dead flowers for three weeks and then digging up plants from the hardened baked soil of summer, and dividing them and replanting them in the heat of August every two, three, or four years, and waiting out that 49 week interval between blooms and suddenly we get very, very tired of Iris. 

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The rebloomers are as yet not as striking and startling as the very exotic varieties. 

'Paprika Fonos', not a rebloomer.  This is a pretty strange color, too:
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My pure white 'Frequent Flyer' Iris reblooms several times a year, and it is beautiful, but it spreads like mad--dividing and replanting every two years instead of every four is barely enough to contain it.  And in the blazing heat of August, the traditional time to work on Iris in Southern California, dividing and replanting doesn't always get accomplished.  In August, sitting in the shade with a clinking glass full of ice and lemonade, tossing pellets to the koi, always seems more urgent.

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Without question, Hemerocallis fill the same-sized garden niche as Tall Bearded Iris, and with many many more weeks of bloom--four to six months here, contrasting with a few weeks for Iris.  Hemerocallis have also filled the same niche of interest for gardeners the past couple of decades.  Hybridizing Iris was once a cottage industry of the sort that Hemerocallis hybridization has become.  Sixty or eighty years ago, nutty (plant nutty) people would move to California and hybridize Iris.  Lately, Iris in California has become Hemerocallis in Florida. 

Hemerocallis 'Bella Sera':
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However, now that I've thought about 'Thornbird', rather than just wincing when I see it happily blooming away in a shower of pink rose petals,  I'm yearning to try it grouped with  Cordyline 'Torbay Dazzler', Phormium 'Alison Blackman', etcetera, to see if I can possibly pull off sober somber gardening sophistication.  Or at least get a yallery-grey iris away from that pink rose.  And no, I'm not going to show that. 

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Comments

  1. Those iris blooms are really gorgeous, even if unusually colored. Great pictures, thanks for posting these.

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  2. The color of the Thornbird Iris reminds me of silks worn in a bygone era. Gorgeous!

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  3. Thornbird looks great with burgundy foliage.
    I have Bayberry Candle iris to go with purple ajuga. For those three weeks- magic!

    Daylilies? Eh. I bought a dozen, tore out ten this year.

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  4. Thanks all for your kind comments!

    Renee, there are gazillion "meh" daylilies, but some that are truly beautiful. They are worth looking for.

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  5. My mature Allison Blackman has lost the dazzling colors she had as a juvenile. Still a good phormium, but when I see it in a gallon at nurseries it's dazzling. I like your thoughts on combining "old-fashioned" plants in new ways.

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