I have a soft spot for bearded Iris. I use them often in the gardens I design. They are reliably deer resistant and I like their sculptural blooms and their grey green spiky foliage.
Each May, when I was a teenager, my mother and I would go to a neighboring town during bloom time to visit Mr. Grey–an Iris expert who grew and sold hundreds of varieties in straight rows in his suburban yard. We would choose one or two to try in my mother’s garden. I still have a yellowed and much cherished typewritten sheet that I follow from Mr. Grey explaining his best practices for dividing, cleaning and planting the tubers. I learned from Mr. Grey that the easiest way to keep track of when to divide iris is to do so every presidential election year.
Yesterday was a glorious, perfect day. Off I went to Upper Montclair to the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.
It’s close by–less than 30 minutes away, yet I’d never been at bloom time before. Consistent here, Iris start on May 15. Of the 3000 varieties in the garden dating back to the 1500’s, here are a few of my favorites.