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The Iris is one of nature’s exquisitely shaped flowers

Posted in Nature, Plants on Thursday, 28 February 2013

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This edited article about the Iris originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 166 published on 20 March 1965.

Iris, picture, image, illustration


The Iris is one of the oldest flowers known to gardeners; indeed, it was named several thousand years ago after the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

When its name is mentioned as a garden flower most of us naturally think of the large flag or bearded Iris, seen flowering gaily in May, its flowers in many wonderful colours, held proudly on sturdy stems above its sword-like leaves.

But there are many other types of Iris that interest the gardener, including some which grow from bulbs, in the same way as daffodils and tulips, instead of from the thick fleshy creeping stems, which botanists call “rhizomes,” that belong to the bearded kind.

Among the loveliest and most useful of these bulbous types are the Dutch Irises, which the bulb growers of Holland have produced in many handsome varieties.
To produce these blooms the nurserymen plant the bulbs in their warm greenhouses in autumn, but they are quite as easy to grow in our gardens to flower at the beginning of June.

All they ask is a place in the sun, in any ordinary garden soil, their bulbs planted 3 or 4 in. deep and about 6 in. apart in autumn, and then to be left undisturbed for several years.

In beauty and value as garden flowers for cutting, however, the Dutch bulbous Irises have their rivals in the English Irises, which flower in early June, and the fragrant Spanish Irises which follow them into bloom.

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