Iris a l’Orange

With certain heavily hybridized plants that people have been tinkering with for centuries, like irises, dahlias, and tulips, for instance, you only have to say Let there be orange, click the keys or fill in the catalogue order with your pen, and then forget all about it until orange erupts like Vesuvius in the garden in spring. (Iris was named for the Greek word for “rainbow.”)


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Which is apparently what I did when I ordered bearded iris last fall, probably sometime around Halloween, judging by the colors. I skipped tulips this year but ordered a few bearded iris even though their bloom period amounts to a very brief if ostentatious flyby. Dahlias bloom all summer but need as much water as farm animals. Bearded iris can take the hottest and driest of conditions, which is what I’ve got in spades. Their one big drawback is how fast they multiply, needing to be divided constantly for best bloom. The only time I ever worked on my horticultural certificate for a private party was splitting up enormous clumps of bearded iris for an elderly lady. Or maybe it was elderly iris for a bearded lady? Whatever the case, it was my last job in the field, other than installing plants in offices. And I’d rather work for the bearded lady than do that again.

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The other half of the order purchased under the influence of a Halloween moon, very black in bud.

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Maturing to a deep cabernet.

(Happy, joyous, boisterous Friday to us all.)