Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Iris versicolor: a plant for wet clay and sun

My specialty, by necessity, is plants that thrive in wet clay (I won't even call it soil) and sun. I've tried Iris versicolor, a native in my area of New Jersey, for three years, and it has passed the test. I'm sure my plants, some of which came from Lowe's, others from the Millersville University Native Plants in the Landscape conference, do not have local genetic provenance, but so it goes.Some have grown into sizable clumps and this year, for the first time, the plants have formed a community of sufficient area to make a pronounced visual impression - a field of starry blue flowers. The bloom period has lasted for about three weeks, though some plants blossom at different times, apparently because of the relative wetness of their locations, and perhaps length of exposure to direct sun, some being closer to woodland edge than others.Most of these plants were inserted directly into the existing matrix of vegetation - so they have had to compete for space and nutrients with little to no attention from me. If I have time, I do try to clear some space around the plants to give them some advantage over their neighbors, but that extra care hasn't proven to be necessary, at least in this environment. The last photo shows a drift of Iris versicolor with grass, Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata 'Berry Nice' - hate that name!), miscanthus, and a clump of unknown Siberian iris.

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