a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Let’s here it for Iris


Over the years I have come to appreciate irises more and more.

I have them planted along the wall of an outbuilding.

I have planted them on the outside of our garden wall.  This is not an original idea.  I adopted it because our area I saw so many irises planted along the outside walls of houses blazing into colour at this time of year.  It seemed such a lovely way to brighten the roads and share your flowers with any passer-by.

Shortly they will be scorched by the sun and stay in the dry earth throughout the summer and re-appear triumphant next May.

There cannot be many plants that will thrive on such rough treatment and yet look so beautiful and elegant.  All my iris are bearded iris that have been acquired as bits broken off from the roots of friend’s plants or bargains in end of season sales.  However, there are many varieties to suit almost any site from shade to full sun, from dry sites to places that are boggy all year round.  My iris are all tall and can get blown over in the wind but my garden is very sheltered so that is not a problem.  You can find shorter varieties for windy sites.

The range of colours available is enormous and there are so many different hybrids that you can choose which is best for your requirements.

I have been told Bearded iris like sunshine on their rhizomes but I have planted them in shady places under trees and the spring sunshine through the light canopy seems to be sufficient to allow them to flourish and flower.

Iris grow wild in France and  these wild iris grow in water and around the water close to our house.

The wild iris is no quite as “flashy” as some of the hybrid iris but is still beautiful.  It is certainly a tough survivor and wins my respect.

This iris completely amazed me.  It is flowering on steps leading to the beach at St. Palais-sur-Mer in the Charente-Maritime close to where I live.  It has made its home in a crack between the wall and the steps and has braved winter temperatures this year which stayed below freezing for two weeks.  It has braved the harsh salt winds and survived several long periods with no rain since last May.

There are not many plants that could take that sort of treatment and look so good after it!

A good choice for the gardener who doesn’t like fussy plants?

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

5 thoughts on “Let’s here it for Iris

  1. I am a newish convert to Iris, but living in Italy with a climate, I imagine to be, similar to yours they are such a reliable bautiful addition to the garden and as you say there are irises for almost every situation. i love the depth of colour of the one you have planted by the outbuilding. Christina


    • I would imagine you would struggle with many of the same problems as we do in the garden. We do seem to have frequent swings in temperature from very hot to very cold which would see off anything too fragile. I am trying to steer away from anything too exotic and trying to favour as much of the natural European plants to help the wildlife, especially the bumble bees.


  2. Could you have a wee look at the blog I posted about Irises yesterday…… I am trying to identify what variety I have got…. mine are all the same variety… They look a bit like the second photograph on this post. Cheers Jx


  3. I too was never really a fan of irises but I’ve become hooked since moving to Bulgaria. They are very popular here and when I found that I had some white irises growing in my garden I was delighted, I’ve separated them twice now and they just keep growing and look stunning. I’ve since planted more bulbs and after seeing some of the lovely photos on other bloggers sites I’m considering planting more. I didn’t realise how many varieties there are of the iris. Thanks for sharing the photos, they’re beautiful 🙂


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