Bearded Iris: Regal Beauty in Rich Colors
It should be no surprise that the kings of France selected Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) as their emblem, the fleur-de-lis. The blossoms of this late spring/early summer flower possess a stately, classical beauty with their three "standards" (upright petals) and three "falls" (the pendulous ones). The English name, Bearded Iris, refers to the bristly hairs emerging from the flowers' throats. These sun-loving, hardy perennials produce a succession of blooms on sturdy stems above bold, sword-shaped leaves. Some Bearded Iris have a sweet perfume, many rebloom.
Bearded Irises combine ethereal beauty with a thoroughly practical, hard-working nature. The flowers, which measure up to 6 inches across, come in every color of the spectrum except true red, including some of the subtlest, most exquisite shades of the garden. As long-lived perennials, Bearded Irises can take summertime drought and are hardy from Nebraska to Mississippi and Arizona, flourishing in any sunny spot and on a wide range of soils, as long as they are well drained. Bear...