A beautiful nuisance and its delightful cousins

Yellow flag irises (Iris pseudacorus, below) are beautiful, but while I monitor to be certain none escape from the koi pond, they have become a bit of a nuisance. Happily, it appears that tall sweet flags (Acorus calamus) have mostly driven the yellow flags from the shallow, bog area of the pond, but today few of the splendid Japanese irises that occupied pockets around the pond have survived the invasion. I presume the yellow flags could be extricated from between boulders in the pond only with great difficulty, so I accept and admire them while in bloom. I will not love them as I do any of the other irises.

With limitations on available spaces in full sun, irises in the garden are selected for their tolerance of moist soils. Dense clumps of native blue flag (Iris versicolor, below) are beginning their glorious bloom, and of course I am most thrilled by brilliant color contrasts. A second blue flag with purple stems. ‘Purple Flame’ has recently been planted in damp ground where I expect it to thrive. If it thrives too much, there is plenty of damp ground to transplant into.

The contrast of the Siberian iris ‘Miss Apple’ (Iris sibirica ‘Miss Apple’, below) with bright yellow Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) covering the ground beneath is questionably too much. I suspect that every combination with Creeping Jenny borders on too bright, but it is well suited to the sunnier spots in the garden.

A single clump of an unremarkable white flowered iris (below) is planted in dry ground just above the greenhouse. I can’t imagine why I planted this one. There is, of course, nothing objectionable about it, but it doesn’t stand out the way other irises do.

While few Japanese irises (Iris ensata, below) have survived the yellow flag onslaught, others have been planted in the damp ground where a trickle of a spring originates under the garden shed. This area is also the overflow for the koi pond, so the dampness has promoted vigorous growth and splendid flowering through late spring as other irises begin to fade. With varying bloom times, the Japanese irises flower beginning in late April for several weeks into early summer.

One of the few remaining Japanese irises that border the koi pond.

One Comment Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Yellow flag iris is fortunately such a problem within our region. Technically, it is aggressively invasive. However, within chaparral climates, there are not many riparian situations for them to inhabit. There are more riparian situations within the Santa Cruz Mountains, but they are confined to narrow and mostly shaded canyons. I acquired some yellow flag iris from where they were naturalized nearby, and I happen to like them, but now that I got them, we can not plant them within the landscapes. I am not concerned about them escaping into the wild, since they are already out there. I just do not want them to dominate riparian portions of our landscapes. They will likely go to the iris bed, where they will get irrigation, but will not escape into their surroundings. Meanwhile, I added Louisiana iris to a small portion of a riparian area of the landscapes, so will need to watch them. I doubt they are as aggressive as yellow flag iris.

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