Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The blue and white Louisiana iris show

I guess it's fitting that we have both blue and white Louisiana iris growing here in Marrickville. Blue and white are the traditional colours of Greece, and as we have had the same wonderful Greek neighbours on both sides for almost three decades now, the least we could do is have a Greek-themed flower festival every October, (even if Louisiana iris are very unlikely to be found growing anywhere in Greece). On with the show ...

Not only are they in full bloom now, they're still popping out by the hour. At 7am I photographed this lovely white Louisiana iris with a gaggle of blues behind it. The other white bloom was still a furled bud at that hour.

By 9am, the furled person had gone "boing" (I think that's the technical term ...) and suddenly we had the full blue and white show. 

I truly do love my blue iris, but these white ones I love maybe just a little bit more. It's the fine green stripes on each of the petals that I can't take my eyes off. So many, so perfectly fine and such a mellow green.

One of the great features of these water-loving irises is that you can tell what's coming up next just by looking at the furled flower buds. This is the white one, photographed yesterday.

And a blue one. These buds keep on appearing, as the lifespan of each Louisiana iris flower is just a day or two. As each big bloom (10-12cm across) fades, another bud lower down on the stem readies itself for its brief 48 hours of glory. The whole show lasts less that a fortnight, but it's a seasonal highlight that is well worth the wait.

This year the neighbouring pot of New South Wales Christmas Bush is having its best-ever flowering season, and so the combination of one enormous blue showboat against a backdrop of hundreds of dainty dancers is well worth pausing to enjoy.

For overseas readers unfamiliar with the New South Wales Christmas Bush, this is a flowering plant with lots of relatively insignificant flowers at this time of year. Later on, closer to Christmas, the real show begins. This close up provides a preview of what lies in store. The outer bracts around the flowers turn all sorts of shades of reddy-pink, pinky-red — Pam says "think coral, and it's more red than pink" — there's quite a few variations. Right now it's a pleasantly white-flowered bush, but in a few weeks it will be something entirely different. 

In the meantime, it's the Louisiana irises' turn to be the star. The large pot pictured here is about 50cm across and high and it's full of water. Inside that pot, sitting on some bricks, is a wide shallow bowl about 40cm across and only 20cm deep, and it is full of the Louisiana iris rhizomes. The roots are inundated with water all year round, they love slow-release fertiliser, they breed like rabbits and provided they get the conditions they like they are very low maintenance.

I started off with just one plant about 10 years ago, and my how they have multiplied! The white flowers are the gift of two dear friends, John and Liz (I swapped some of my blue ones for one of John and Liz's whites).

If you want to find out any more about setting up your own pots, I've done Louisiana iris postings every October for the last 10 years, so do a search and you'll find plenty of growing tips.


MDN said...

Beautiful irises! I specially love the blue ones.

Jamie said...

MDN, when I saw your comment I realised I might have offended you by talking all about Greece's blue and white colours, and omitting to mention Argentina's blue and white as well. An oversight, and please accept my apology, but in my local area whenever you see houses with blue and white colour schemes, you think "Greek family".

I agree with you that the blue irises are lovely. I was totally happy with them until John gave me one of his white ones.

Phil in Newy said...

Jamie, your irises are certainly worth a blog posting every year. But never mind offending other countries, what about the football teams you now must acknowledge :0)

Coincidentally (although not really, considering the season) I visited my sister yesterday and she gave me a section of walking iris she had trapped in a pot. It's a white one and has a beautiful intricate center. I found it on Google image search that linked a wiki page:

My water pond irises have barely begun thinking of flowering. Hmmm.

As for Christmas bush, as a child I travelled with Dad all over NSW (he was a painting contractor, not a shearer! :0) and whenever Mum was with us she endlessly oohed and aahed about Christmas bush whenever it appeared - which of course was everywhere. So that item became part of my life.

Now you've reminded me of another plant for the bucket list.

All the best.

Jamie said...

If my football-loving friends dropped around they'd ask me "why have you got Doggie coloured flowers?" when they know I'm a Tigers supporter. It's very hard, of course, to have a garden full of black and gold flowers, so the best I can do is to have a garden gnome that I painted in Tigers colours.

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