I never really got what the big deal about Juno irises was.
But last fall, when I did my very-last-minute-end-of-sale order, Iris bucharica was still on the list of one of my favorite bulk suppliers. It’s one of those ones I was always planning to try, and always knocking off the list as I honed down my original thousand-dollar wish list to a ghost of its original self.
Now I was left with the ghost list to choose from, and I picked these irises.
As is my thrifty habit, I put them in a container with some of the mid-season tulips I bought, ‘Golden Melody’. I wouldn’t honestly have bought ‘Golden Melody’ usually, either, but it was one of the few tulips left on the list. I’m not actually a big fan of really bright colors in tulips, but how bad could bright yellow be?
As it turned out, not bad at all. ‘Golden Melody’ exactly matched the buttercups in the field behind and around them, and had a nice sturdy quality that made it an excellent cutting flower. I gave away a lot of bouquets involving ‘Golden Melody’, and of course I had it in the house myself.
But my favorite ‘bouquet’ turned out to be in my container.
It wasn’t an auspicious start: when I first saw the Iris bucharica foliage, I thought the chickens had been in my plant pots again, biting off foliage to little layers of whacked-off leaves.
All the other irises I’ve grown have had nothing like the fantastic pleated unfolding of Iris bucharica foliage.
And each level of foliage (doesn’t it remind you of polygonatum?) puts out a stubby flowering stem, so Iris bucharica blooms a long time.
I loved watching the snub-nosed, finely-marked buds of Iris bucharica open out into two-colored marking-etched flowers.
I had originally figured that the Iris bucharica would bloom early, and ‘Golden Melody’ would take over about the time they were giving out. I hadn’t known about the multiple blooms of Iris bucharica, and I hadn’t known we were going to have such a cold rainy spring: flowers lasted (and in some cases are still lasting) weeks beyond their usual time.
So I wound up with a big bouquet of Iris bucharica and ‘Golden Melody’ in a container – and it was a pleasure to watch it develop and flourish over the course of almost a month. (That’s crimson-and-yellow-striped ‘Professor de Monsseri’ in the background.)
It’s sad that I didn’t do the research on Iris bucharica first, the way I usually do. I didn’t know it had multiple flowers; I didn’t know, as Janis Ruksans points out, that in the wild it has many variants, (His favorite form is one collected near the Afghanistan border, a lemon yellow with green markings, which he selected.) The form most commonly used in the garden, he says, is a good grower and an exellent increaser.
I’m glad it’s going to increase, because not only is Iris bucharica beautiful and long-lasting, it’s fragrant. I only found that out toward the end of its life, though, and sniffing fading irises in the rain is not a true indicator of scent. I didn’t get any.
But you can benefit by my loss. When you order your own Iris bucharica, be sure to inhale.