Iris in the Garden

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Purple Bearded Iris

Our garden in currently blessed with six different iris in bloom. These purple bearded iris are out front, paired with ‘Limemound’ spiraea. The color contrast is dramatic. We planted these about four years ago and they’ve spread significantly, creating a large splash of color.

Yellow Bearded Iris

In the back yard, these delightful rich yellow iris just opened yesterday. We got them from another gardener last year so this is the first time we’ve seen them bloom. They’re definitely a keeper.

Siberian Iris

We’ve been growing Siberian iris in our gardens for many years. They now live in a front yard bed that’s mostly native shrubs and flowers, although this is definitely not a native iris. I wonder if the Pacific ninebark behind it will open before all the iris blossoms fade away.

Pacific Coast Iris

Another little gem opened yesterday, this Pacific coast iris (Iris douglasiana). It’s a northwest native species that takes well to gardens. Plant hybridizers have created many different color forms of this, but our plant appears to be true to the species I’ve found along the outer coast in Oregon. Here it’s at the base of a red-flowering currant that finished blooming a couple of weeks ago.

Rocky Mountain Iris

Another northwest native, Rocky Mountain iris (Iris missouriensis), is planted at the edge of our backyard pond. It also just opened for us yesterday. In the wild this species can form large colonies, filling a damp meadow with a sea of blue.

Yellow Flag Iris

Finally, we have this beautiful thug. It’s yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) and it likes wet feet. At our place it’s also at the edge of our pond, a plant that came with the house when we moved here. Each year I make sure to cut down all the seedpods before they mature and dig out many of the plants. This thing spreads rampantly and often escapes cultivation to invade roadside ditches and wetlands.

Yellow flag iris is a Class C noxious weed in Washington state. According to the weed board, “It will sicken livestock if ingested and is generally avoided by herbivores. Contact with its resins can cause skin irritation in humans.” Class C weeds are widespread in the state, with control requirements left to the county. In our garden we’re slowly working to get rid of all of it and replace it with better-behaved native species.

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