Bearded Iris (15th March)

Bearded Iris talk by Luci Skinner – The meeting was extremely well attended with several new members joining us. Luci Skinner came to us from Woottens nursery, Wenhaston. The nursery is now only open on the first weekend of each month, but all their plants are available online and can be collected direct from the nursery. Woottens specialises in scented pelargoniums, and boast 400 different types of Auricula and many varieties of Hemeracallis (Day Lily). Luci had many choice plants for sale -a plantaholics paradise.

Luci’s talk was on Bearded Iris for which she has a special affinity -Woottens has over 600 varieties. All are propagated on site, as are all the rest of their plants. Their Iris field covers 3 acres and grow in chronological order.

According to Lucy many people believe that Irises are only in bloom for a short time, but there is actually an Iris suitable for every month of the year with over 300 species of Iris, some with rhizomes, some with bulbs. They are pretty hardy plants only sometimes getting fungal leaf spot, or rot in the rhizomes if they get too wet.

Lucy demonstrated how we can have a different iris flowering every month of the year. At the moment the Iris Reticulata are in bloom and will shortly be followed by Dutch iris, (good for cutting), Bearded Iris and then Iris Sibirica. Irises have varying requirments some happy growing in boggy soil or pond margins, others needing bonemeal or a high nitrogen feed to keep them flowering.

Modern breeding produces flowers which are double and ruffled with many colour combinations which Lucy believes have strayed away from the beauty and simplicity of the older Irises. Bearded Iris comes in many different sizes and colours, enough to suit any garden. They are best divided between July and October. Lucy pointed out that for those really interested there are some good books around on the subject. Following the talk members rushed to the sales table to take advantage of the lovely plants Lucy had bought with her.