Irises and Iris combinations

I didn’t grow Irises when I lived in England and when I saw them I found them rather over the top with their, often, strange mix of colours. After moving to Italy and finding that they really thrive in my hot dry garden I have learned to appreciate them more, love them in fact.

Some of the very first plants I was given by friends for the garden were irises; I. ‘Kent Pride’, I. ‘Jane Philips’ were the first. Then I bought some from the same friends and then I bought quite a few at Courson when I visited the plant fair there in 2012.

I. 'Kent Pride'  with Nandina

I. ‘Kent Pride’ with Nandina

I. 'Kent Pride' with cistus

I. ‘Kent Pride’ with cistus

I. 'Kent Pride' with Californian poppies

I. ‘Kent Pride’ with Californian poppies

I. 'Kent Pride'

I. ‘Kent Pride’

I. 'Kent Pride'

I. ‘Kent Pride’

I.'Jane Philips' close to Rosa 'Molineux'

I.’Jane Philips’ close to Rosa ‘Molineux’

I.'Jane Philips'

I.’Jane Philips’

Iris 'Jane Philips' with red and orange poppies

Iris ‘Jane Philips’ with red and orange poppies

Some that I bought last year and planted a bit late in autumn aren’t flowering or aren’t flowering as well as I would have expected but all the irises everywhere in the garden have put on a lot of new foliage so I’m assuming that the wet winter has built up their rhizomes and next year will be spectacular!

Iris 'Before the Storm'

Iris ‘Before the Storm’

I. 'Before the Storm' on the slope with poppies

I. ‘Before the Storm’ on the slope with poppies

I. 'Before the Storm'

I. ‘Before the Storm’

I. 'Before the Storm' close up

I. ‘Before the Storm’ close up

I. 'Rustic Jewel' with dianthus and Cotinus

I. ‘Rustic Jewel’ with dianthus and Cotinus

I. 'Rustic Jewel' with dianthus

I. ‘Rustic Jewel’ with dianthus

Some that I bought last year and planted a bit late in autumn aren’t flowering or aren’t flowering as well as I would have expected but all the irises everywhere in the garden have put on a lot of new foliage so I’m assuming that the wet winter has built up their rhizomes and next year will be spectacular!

I’ll show you the others as they flower (some I’ve missed photographing even though they have flowered).

I. 'Perten Hall'

I. ‘Perten Hall’

Lovely but no name, sorry

Lovely but no name, sorry


When I was looking at the un-named Iris I suddenly noticed this! It was huge! I could see it taking huge mouthfuls of the petals. sorry but it had to go.

Anyone any ideas on an ID????

Anyone any ideas on an ID????

A very leathery catapillar eating an un-named iris

A very leathery catapillar eating an un-named iris

Sorry but it had to go!

There is an Iris garden in Florence (Piazzale Michelangelo) at the moment the garden is open as there is a competition for new iris introductions, I’m hoping to visit; I don’t think the irises are for sale but if they are I will have to be very strong willed!

Do you grow Irises? Do you have a particular favourite?

36 thoughts on “Irises and Iris combinations

  1. I’ve never seen any of these irises before, they’re lovely. Really like Jane Phillips, and the way you’ve combined her with the poppies.

    • Jane is possibly the easiest Iris to combine with other things as she is such a lovely pale blue. I also have her with Ceonothus repans and Gladiolus byzantinus.

  2. I only grow a few as my garden has lots of trees so not a lot of hot dry sunny spots. But I have an unnamed dark one that you may have seen on my blog this week and a new one that has already got 3 flower spikes. It’s called ‘Bold Print’, when it opens I will post it…..your pictures are stunning …it just goes to show that in the right place ( hot and dry ) Irises look amazing.

  3. Your iris are beautiful, love the pale blue of Jane Phillips. At the moment I just have my dwarf freebie in flower as well as a little Burgandy Californian iris. It amazes me that there is an iris for every condition in the garden. I have the Californian Iris in shade in the bog garden and it just gets better and better as the years go by.

    • Irises really are a most adaptable species aren’t they? All conditions from bone dry to marginal in water; and almost all seasons of the year. Plus a colour range almost unknown in other plants.

  4. I do love them with their amazing colours, and try to grow them but with mixed results. Despite our sandy soil, our garden tends to be too shady for them, and they don’t flower too well. I keep persevering though. I have “Jane Phillips” which is one that is doing really well at the moment – a beautiful shade. I also have Iris “Deep Black”, which is yet to flower, and several chocolate/red irises looking promising. I am in love, though, with your “Before the Storm”. I’ve never seen a flower so black!

  5. I am so glad you’ve fallen in love with Irises. They are one of my favorites. I’ve seen pics in catalogs of “black” flowers and was never sure if they had been touched up but, “Before the Storm” is spectacular! “Jane” is so sweet….what a lovely color. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Can’t help with the ID but what a joy seeing all your irises. I adore them and especially like your Jane Philips with the two colors of poppies. The dark one is intriguing and much blacker than mine is upon opening. I. ‘Perten Hall’ looks like one I’ve been trying to identify, so thanks for the lead.

  7. I really, really like Irises, I have one thats virtually identical to your Perten hall, (unnamed here and I can never decide from internet searching) that I love as its so velvety. The garden in Florence sounds fantastic. I think your visitor is the Hummingbird Moth caterpillar.

  8. The caterpillar looks like some kind of hawk moth, maybe a kind of humming bird hawk moth. I love irises of all shapes and sizes – your Before the Storm is really special. Amelia

  9. I adore irises and have so many…many love moist or wet soil and some dry…It will be weeks before I see them though. You have so many beautiful colors…sorry I don’t know what that caterpillar is.

  10. All of your Iris complement the plants you’ve shown with them. I didn’t grow Iris germanica until we acquired our current sunny, hot, dry garden. As you noted, those are conditions under which the bearded Iris generally do well, although I had an unusually low turn-out last year and it’s as yet unclear how many flowers I’ll see this year. I blame the lack of rain we’ve had this season and last for the diminished flower power.

  11. The irises are all lovely and Kent pride goes so well with the Californian poppies. Your caterpillar is beautiful! I agree with Amelia, probably some kind of hawkmoth.

  12. Lovely range of irises, they really suit your garden. I love the way the colours in Kent Pride pick out different colours in their neighbours, especially the red of the nandina. I’ve yet to find the right iris/position for our garden, but one of these days…

    • I’m sure you will find the right iris for the right spot, there are so many different varieties suited to many varied situations; the foliage can work really well too as nothing else really has such sword-like leaves.

  13. Oh some beauties there Christina. I especially like the look of ‘Perten Hall’. One of the first plants I planted in the garden was a little white iris but sadly it is now long gone. I’ve only got one Pacific Coast iris now bought without a label from an NGS open garden. It’s in flower at the moment and although the flowers do not last long at all I would not be without it.

  14. I have a few Iris sibirica which I like because they have quite dainty flowers and they work in my small garden. I never really liked the larger irises until a few years ago but I really like them now. I think yours are stunning and work so well with your planting schemes. I have seen there will be lots of new Iris varieties introduced at this year’s Chelsea. So keep an eye on the coverage. Have a lovely weekend.

    • thanks for the tip about Chelsea. I may visit the Iris garden in florence soon where they grow 2000 varieties of Iris and there is a compitition at the moment for new indroductions.

  15. I love your iris, they do seem to like your garden. There is such a range of colors and the black one really is something. I’m always torn between having too many and not enough, they multiply so well every few years I get to a point where I need to be ruthless.
    I cut back last year and am now worried I don’t have enough!

    • Mine have really only just got to the point that there may be too many of some types, most need dividing this year. You are right it would be a mistake to have too many as their period of interest is quite short.

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