GARDEN AND FOREST
6(257): 47 (January 25, 1893)
The Iris Season
Shelford, Cambridgeshire, England
To the Editor of GARDEN AND FOREST:
Sir,—I observe in GARDEN AND FOREST of November 30th of last year, that one correspondent thinks that the Iris season may last from May to August, while you yourself extend it to the period from February to August. I cannot resist the temptation to say that, with the help of a cold frame and a cool greenhouse, I manage so that I am never, I think, a whole fortnight during the year without an Iris bloom to look upon.
Iris Monnieri, a very handsome yellow Iris of the spuria group, is somewhat later than I. Kaempferi, and very soon after its last bloom has gone, I have, during early September or later, a fair succession of blooms from I. ensata, var. biglumis. This latter is a second blooming, but with me is better and fuller than the first blooming. I can always depend on this plant blooming twice. When it has passed away I have to depend on second blooms of certain dwarf Irises, namely, a variety of I. Cengialti, and certain hybrids from it, some dwarf Irises of the biflora group, some hybrids of I. virescens, etc. These all bloom fitfully, and as the damp, late autumn comes on, the blooms are poor; but still they are there. And I often get late second, or even third, blooms from the little North American I. lacustris. Before these have wholly failed, I. Vartani (belonging to the reticulata group) and I. alata make their appearance in a cold frame; very soon afterward I. unguicularis (stylosa) comes out in a cool greenhouse, say, in December, and then I am quite safe, for I. unguicularis goes on blooming for many weeks. I. Palaestina flowers at Christmas in the greenhouse, and with the help of a few pots of I. histrio, and others of the reticulata group, I am secure until the various forms of I. reticulata and I. Rosenbachiana flower in the open ground, to be followed by other bulbous Irises until the first I. pumila expands. I may add that the hybridization of Irises is not wholly unbroken ground. I have some thirty hybrids of my own raising which have flowered, and of some of which I am rather proud; and there are very many more "on the way."
[The note to which our correspondent refers was from the owner of an estate whom we knew to be especially interested in hardy plants, and our comments were only intended to note the flowering of Irises in the open without protection. We know of gardens here where Irises may be found in flower under protection from early November till flowers appear in the open ground in the early year. It will scarcely be denied, we think, that Irises are very scarce flowers from August to November, but we are obliged to Professor Foster for calling attention to the fact that from his well-known rich collection of plants it is possible to secure flowers even at that dry season. Further notes from him as to varieties likely to flower then will be helpful to our readers. We say likely to flower, for it appears from the list given that most of the blooms of that season are secondary and fitful. The horticultural world will welcome any hybrid Iris bearing Professor Foster's endorsement, and we trust others may follow the good example and add to the riches of our gardens—ED.]