Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Tall bearded irises – Monterey Herald

Treatment for your backyard garden

Numerous weeks in the past, I wrote about the Monterey Bay Iris Society’s annual iris present, the initial in-man or woman show soon after two several years of pandemic limitations. The celebration was pretty thriving, with more entries and more site visitors than in 2019.

The judges regarded personal vegetation with awards in distinct groups of the diverse earth of irises. The People’s Selection award went to just one of my favorite irises, “That’s All People,” shown by nearby gardener Jane Jordan. This column reveals this plant developing in my backyard.

That column delivered a wide overview of the iris genus’ a number of sub-genera, hundred of species, and thousands of hybrids. Examine that overview by browsing

In this column, we narrow this great array of plants to the most preferred wide range: the tall bearded iris. These vegetation increase to about 3 feet tall, and usually bloom in late spring and early summer months.

I frequented a friend’s iris backyard very last week on the working day soon after he had hosted hundreds of guests on a neighborhood yard tour. The growers, Jim and Irene Cummins, extensive-time associates of the nearby iris society, have thousands of crops, furnishing a gorgeous display screen of blossoms, even nevertheless the plants had peaked all around Mother’s Day.

Irises develop from a rhizome, which Wikipedia defines as “a modified subterranean plant stem that sends out roots and shoots from its nodes.” The plant propagates by producing supplemental rhizomes and can turn into crowded underground soon after three or four a long time of development. Then, it’s time to raise and divide the rhizomes, and both replant them with much more area to develop, or share them with other gardeners.

When I visited, Jim was setting up to raise rhizomes from his back garden. He and other gardeners freely share their rhizomes for the Society’s once-a-year rhizome sale in August.

When you have countless numbers of plants, several have developed to the place when they really should be divided, so this task can be a considerable enterprise. It becomes even extra demanding by the will need to continue to keep track of the names of the vegetation. When the grower lifts the plant, he or she trims the leaves to about 6 inches very long and writes each individual plant’s name on its leaves with a felt-idea pen.

The exceptional title of each individual iris plant is important information and facts to collectors since the American Iris Culture documents the names of plants that are formally introduced, alongside with the hybridizer’s identify, the day of introduction, the plant’s parentage, a description and photo of the blossoms, and the plant’s awards.

This info is meaningful and significant to iris collectors, while some gardeners may possibly be intrigued only in every single iris’ identify, to differentiate it from other irises in the garden.

The AIS’ Iris Encyclopedia is a formidable business, readily available for free entry at The captions with this column’s photographs are from the Iris Encyclopedia.

Hybridizers have been doing the job creatively and diligently with tall bearded irises to appear up with new ideas, refinements of the typical kinds, larger blossoms, far more quite a few blossom stalks, increased vigor, ailment resistance, and other qualities. There is a seemingly countless vary of options so that collectors anticipate new introductions and informal growers recognize the plant’s flexibility in the backyard.

As you assessment the photos in today’s column, look for the often-subtle variances (moreover colours) in between the blossoms, and review the 1939 introduction with the more present-day hybrid cultivars.

Progress your awareness

Reminder: The Mount Vernon Women Affiliation is keeping an online symposium, “Gardens and Landscapes in the Age of George Washington and Now,” from June 3-5. This cost-based mostly event contains 10 on the internet lectures that can be viewed throughout or soon after the symposium. For illustration, 1 communicate will examine America’s oldest landscaped gardens. For a list of the talks and registration data, take a look at

Enrich your gardening times

Mark your calendar for the Monterey Bay Iris Society’s annual rhizome income in August. These events will be held on various times and locations in the course of the thirty day period, which is the starting of the season for installing iris rhizomes in your backyard garden. The rhizomes (admittedly not captivating in themselves) will be discovered with plant names and blossom photos for each avid collectors and casual gardeners.

Appreciate your garden!

Tom Karwin is previous president of Pals of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Culture, a Life span Member of the Monterey Bay Spot Cactus & Succulent Society, and a Life span UC Grasp Gardener (Licensed 1999–2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Society, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Society. To watch everyday pics from his backyard, For back garden coaching info and an archive of former On Gardening columns, check out

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