The Garden Coach: June

Iris - one of nature's showstoppers

Iris - one of nature's showstoppers - Credit: Archant

Judy Shardlow recommends adding some drama to your garden with irises this summer

Every garden border needs some seasonal drama. This time of year, tall bearded irises come to the fore with their sumptuous ruffled silk petals.

The enticing names are a clue to the hundreds of gorgeous colours available, including Dutch Chocolate, Black Swan, Dusky Challenger and Supreme Sultan. Choose, if you can, between glossy chocolates, vivid purples, deep brooding blues and blacks, crisp whites and delicate baby blues. And while these plants look incredibly exotic, they couldn’t be easier to grow.

Bearded Irises (Iris germanica) need a sun-baked spot on well-drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil. On heavy clay soil, adding horticultural grit and well-rotted manure will help to improve the drainage. Irises grow from flat scaly rhizomes which need to be baked by the sun for up to six hours a day in the summer, so a south-facing spot is ideal. Make sure that the top half of the rhizome sits on top of the soil when planting and that other plants don’t crowd or shade the rhizomes as they grow.

Irises increase quickly and can be divided in autumn or spring by gently digging up and separating congested rhizomes, removing any woody, old pieces, and then replanting the separated rhizomes.

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