The foliage of Japanese Irises makes great filler in the flowerbed. That is what prompted me to order large quantities of this plant as back-up stock for clients’ gardens. At the time, I was too busy designing and planting and did not pay attention to the variety of cultivars; I selected them blindly. All I really wanted was the foliage. And then it happened. Those few plants that I held in reserve in my test garden began to bloom and I was smitten; especially by one cultivar, Freckled Geisha.
If you think that this variety is beautiful in the photo, wait until you see it in real life. It is romance embodied in a flower. The magenta freckling on the pure white ground of the ruffled falls are soft and wispy while its bold defining edges add drama. There are six falls on the flower. Each one has a soft yellow signal that completes this finely detailed creation. The best on-line image I could find, to illustrate the flower, belongs to Heronswood Nursery; but the best appreciation for this plant will be experienced when it blooms in the garden.
When not in bloom, lush, graceful sword-like foliage provides elegant vertical structure to any garden composition. That effect is very pleasing to the eye. This perennial performs best in boggy or moist soil with full sun, and is hardy from zones 4 to 9. In less than moist soil, this plant needs a bit of shade.
Japanese Irises have the capacity to be showstoppers. For this phenomenon, we must thank the breeders that infuse each new variety with sublimely beautiful color combinations and petal design. The cynical side of this gardener wants to ignore newer cultivars because I predict that there will be no end to the number of beautiful varieties introduced in the years ahead. However, my creative side can hardly wait for more. I have been bitten and smitten by the beauty of this species