Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Japanese Water Iris
Iris ensata has been a resident of our gardens for a number of years. Our gravely soil quickly drains and these plants would prefer more moisture than they experience here. Despite our dry conditions, these plants continue to create a dazzling display with little to no help from us. The tightly wrapped bud will open in a single morning. Patiently standing by watching usually reveals no movement by the flower parts. A return visit a short time later features a fully opened flower. It must be an amazing sequence to watch but so far we have never been that patient.
As beautiful as these flowers are, their time in the sun quickly ends. The brief period of open flowers led to their decline in popularity here. No new varieties have been purchased recently. Another negative characteristic is the huge root mass that must be unearthed in order to make needed divisions. A backhoe could handle that task while my attempts with a pry bar and fulcrum tax my skills to the limit. The two back to back spade trick to divide the exposed root mass nearly pushes the tools to the breaking point. A better plan would be to plant this specimen where it can be left alone.
As a general rule, we do not purchase plants that have been bred to be doubles. In this instance the doubles are more attractive than the open single flowers. The visible growth of sheep sorrel shows that this iris is working all alone
A close look at these flower petals that have been hit by rainfall shows just how delicate these flowers are. It is highly likely that we will buy no more of these plants. As long as they can make it on their own, they will hold their places in the gardens.