Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Tall bearded irises – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Treatment for your garden

Numerous weeks in the past, I wrote about the Monterey Bay Iris Society’s annual iris exhibit, the first in-particular person show after two years of pandemic restrictions. The function was really successful, with far more entries and additional people than in 2019.

The judges regarded unique vegetation with awards in precise groups of the diverse earth of irises. The People’s Preference award went to 1 of my favorite irises, “That’s All Individuals,” exhibited by community gardener Jane Jordan. This column displays this plant rising in my garden.

That column presented a wide overview of the iris genus’ multiple sub-genera, hundred of species, and countless numbers of hybrids. Go through that evaluation by checking out

In this column, we narrow this great assortment of vegetation to the most well-liked range: the tall bearded iris. These plants increase to about 3 toes tall, and normally bloom in late spring and early summer season.

I visited a friend’s iris garden final week on the day right after he experienced hosted hundreds of visitors on a regional back garden tour. The growers, Jim and Irene Cummins, lengthy-time users of the regional iris culture, have 1000’s of plants, supplying a beautiful exhibit of blossoms, even however the vegetation had peaked about Mother’s Working 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 generating additional rhizomes and can turn out to be crowded underground just after three or 4 years of improvement. Then, it is time to carry and divide the rhizomes, and both replant them with extra place to increase, or share them with other gardeners.

When I visited, Jim was organizing to raise rhizomes from his garden. He and other gardeners freely share their rhizomes for the Society’s yearly rhizome sale in August.

When you have hundreds of crops, numerous have grown to the position when they should be divided, so this task can be a substantial company. It will become even far more hard by the require to hold monitor of the names of the vegetation. When the grower lifts the plant, he or she trims the leaves to about 6 inches extended and writes every single plant’s identify on its leaves with a felt-idea pen.

The special name of each iris plant is crucial information and facts to collectors simply because the American Iris Culture documents the names of vegetation that are formally released, together with the hybridizer’s name, the date of introduction, the plant’s parentage, a description and photograph of the blossoms, and the plant’s awards.

This information is meaningful and critical to iris collectors, although some gardeners could possibly be fascinated only in every single iris’ title, to differentiate it from other irises in the yard.

The AIS’ Iris Encyclopedia is a formidable organization, available for free accessibility at The captions with this column’s images are from the Iris Encyclopedia.

Hybridizers have been performing creatively and diligently with tall bearded irises to come up with new tips, refinements of the basic varieties, larger blossoms, extra numerous blossom stalks, bigger vigor, disorder resistance, and other attributes. There is a seemingly endless range of possibilities so that collectors foresee new introductions and relaxed growers take pleasure in the plant’s versatility in the garden.

As you assessment the images in today’s column, seem for the often-refined dissimilarities (in addition to colours) involving the blossoms, and examine the 1939 introduction with the a lot more present-day hybrid cultivars.

Progress your expertise

Reminder: The Mount Vernon Girls Association is holding an on the net symposium, “Gardens and Landscapes in the Age of George Washington and Now,” from June 3-5. This payment-based mostly celebration features 10 on the net lectures that can be considered throughout or immediately after the symposium. For case in point, a single converse will examine America’s oldest landscaped gardens. For a checklist of the talks and registration info, take a look at

Enrich your gardening times

Mark your calendar for the Monterey Bay Iris Society’s once-a-year rhizome sales in August. These occasions will be held on different days and destinations through the thirty day period, which is the starting of the time for installing iris rhizomes in your backyard. The rhizomes (admittedly not desirable in themselves) will be determined with plant names and blossom photos for both avid collectors and everyday gardeners.

Love your backyard garden!

Tom Karwin is earlier president of Mates of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Culture, a Life time Member of the Monterey Bay Spot Cactus & Succulent Society, and a Lifetime UC Grasp Gardener (Accredited 1999–2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Culture, and lively with the Pacific Horticultural Modern society. To look at day by day photos from his yard, For backyard coaching facts and an archive of earlier On Gardening columns, go to

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