Late spring is when my yard seems to look it's best and this year's lack of rainfall did not hinder some of my favorites from performing well, especially the irises. Of the 300 types of Iris, all have three inner petals and three outer petals. There's an Iris that can be grown in every temperate region. I have three types in my yard; bearded, douglass, and a mystery.
The Iris douglasiana or Douglas Iris is a common coastal wildflower found from Southern Oregon to Central California and occasionally inland. This dainty but rugged native adapts well to gardens forming neat clumps of foliage and a reliable show of blooms. Though sometimes considered a nuisance to farmers because cows do not like the taste, I find them delightful, unfussy and long lasting in my border.
The most prevalent Iris that I grow is a mystery to me. Like most of my “lost and found “ yard, I inherited it, and since there's so many types of Irises to begin with- I am not sure what to call this vagrant turned resident. At one time I thought it was a reticulated (Iris reticulata) because the flowers are similar but it is much too tall (at knee high) to be that tiny early blooming gem. No, my nameless sport has swordlike grassy mounds all year with plenty of flowers and bright orange berries seeds in the fall that hang on-unless the birds disperse them to and fro. The flowers are not flamboyant like many of its relatives, being a soft dusky purple, but they will grow without water or care and you can't ask for much more than that. Out of all the Iris I have grown, these subtle beauties are my favorite.
Master Gardeners are following recommended social distancing guidelines that keep everyone safe, Napa Master Gardeners are available to answer garden questions by email: email@example.com. or phone at 707-253-4143. Volunteers will get back to you after they research answers to your questions.
Visit our website: napamg.ucanr.edu to find answers to all of your horticultural questions.
Photo credits: Janet Krupka
The Jepson Herbarium
-Iris germanica https://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=29198
-Iris douglasiana https://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=29188
Pacific Bulb Society-Iris https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Iris