Plant the rainbow with Bearded irises

Amateur Gardening|May 23, 2020

Plant the rainbow with Bearded irises
For flamboyant spring-to-summer flowers in a spectrum of shades – often within the same bloom – flag irises are an obvious pick. Anne Swithinbank shares her favourites
Anne Swithinbank

IN Greek mythology, Iris – the offspring of a marine god and a cloud nymph – was goddess of the rainbow and messenger to the gods. Fittingly, she lent her name to a group of plants whose flowers seem to represent every colour of the spectrum – with the exception of red.

Bearded iris open their blooms from spring to early summer; there are thousands of cultivars, but my favourites have always been those reminiscent of seascapes and skies. The peach, pink and blue of ‘Chasing Rainbows’ is sunset over the sea; ‘Wintry Sky’ has petals of pale and deep purple-blue, and cream; the subtle, washy hues of ‘Ciel Gris Sur Poilly’ are like rays of sunlight through brooding storm clouds.

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May 23, 2020