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Re: iris in shade

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: iris in shade
  • From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>
  • Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 09:38:48 -0600 (MDT)

>I have a walkway with narrow (12"-15" wide) beds along one side of my house.
>They are protected on one side by a 5' solid fence and the other side by the
>house. Gets very little (maybe 1 1/2 hours) direct sun during the summer. Even
>less in the winter.

This sounds like an ideal place for some nice clumps of Iris foetidissima,
with Iris cristata in the foreground.  The cristatas will probably be
somewhat shy bloomers but that depends on how bright the indirect light is
in this place.  I would suspect that older siberians, particularly forms of
I. sanguinea, would grow slowly there and provide some sparse bloom--based
on seeing them in overgrown shrubberies some years ago.  But they would be
far from ideal and probably not very attractive.

I. foetidissima has very nice, glossy, dark green foliage that stays
attractive, except in very harsh winters, interesting flowers, and those
colorful seed displays.  It is easiy grown from seed (and has seeded itself
abundantly in my woodland) and one can expect some variation.  I have
mostly the common form, a sort of buffy tan with light violet veining--not
much of a color splash.  However I have seen some good blue forms in the
past, and have one plant of a nice light yellow.  English nurseries have
sold varieties with white or yellow seeds, as well as the usual bright red.
Plants are not generally sold by commercial nurseries in the US--maybe some
of the listers know a source or two.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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