I was fortunate enough to visit some open gardens last spring around the Tumut area, and was very impressed with the thought that went into the layout of the gardens and choices of plants.
Attention given to the garden colour palette can greatly enhance the visual impact of a planting. I had not considered before the effect that mass plantings of the one colour of iris can have when complementing other plant varieties. My attention was drawn to a clump of silver birch trees planted in a focal area of a garden. The owners had planted some beautiful white irises in front of the silver birches, enhancing the lovely silver white of the trunks of the trees. They finished off the display with a charming bird house.
In another corner of the garden, different shades of one colour create a stunning display. Light and dark purple bicolour irises are a stunning backdrop for a mass planting of English lavender.
The foliage of plants should also be considered when planning a garden and although irises only flower for a short time, the leaves can still add to a display throughout the year. Mass plantings of one shade of green tucked neatly in front of another variety with the striking tall fronds of irises in the background can create a lush year-round picture.
A large clump of one variety of iris will also create a stunning display. To achieve this effect, it is not necessary to plant a large number of rhizomes. When treated with care, four or five rhizomes could become 12 or more in just one season, giving this amazing blast of colour. An interesting piece of garden art completes the spectacle.
When thinking about your next iris purchase, consider the neighbouring plants. What colour will complement or contrast with what you already have planted in the garden? How can the foliage be displayed for maximum effect? Plants with similar water and sunlight requirements as irises also work well together, such as roses, lilies, salvias, phloxes, daisies and chrysanthemums.