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Garden Diary - May2015


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May


Great Gardens to Visit in New Jersey
Presby Memorial Iris Gardens

Right now, anytime between mid-May to early June, is the time to make a visit to the fabulous Presby Memorial Iris Gardens located at 474 Upper Mountain Avenue in Montclair, New Jersey and see 14,000 bearded iris in stunning bloom. Approximately 3,000 varieties will produce more than 100,000 exquisite flowers over the course of the season. Gardeners come to admire the numerous varieties in lush bloom.

Artists come to paint en plein air the sort of scenery Monet would capture on his canvas.

Time for you to come and admire them too.

Some of new Jersey's great public gardens have flowers to see from month to month. Here's a uniquely special one that focuses like a magnifying glass on something exceptional and specialized. Established in 1927, there are new introductions and traditional varieties of iris, some from the last decade and others dating back to the early 1900s. Each is carefully labeled with a marker that lists the name of the iris, its hybridizer, and the year the iris was registered with the American Iris Society.

A flowering rainbow of colors named for a goddess. That's Iris, well named with its flowers of white, yellow, pink, red, blue, violet to lavender and purple, even velvety black and brown. In Greek mythology, you see, Iris is the personification of the rainbow. And this deservedly popular garden flower is also a symbol of royalty. The fleur-de-lys is a symbol in French heraldry, created from a stylized iris.

•Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is open for the annual Spring Bloom Season on weekdays, weekends, and even on Memorial Day
•Park is open from dawn to dusk
•While there is no admission fee a suggested donation of $8 / person helps fund the garden's operation.
•Parking is an issue. The small lot is for staff only. Street parking on Upper Mountain Avenue but only on the garden side.
•Parking is prohibited on Upper Mountain Avenue past the garden's driveway. Be warned - the Montclair Police Department will issue tickets.
•You could also park on Highland Avenue, which is the street above the garden, and walk down.

Upcoming Events at Presby Memorial Iris Gardens

•May 8, 2015 - National Public Gardens Day at 10:00 am, and Plant Sale & Gift Shop Opens at 10:00 am
•May 9, 2015 - Plant Sale & Gift Shop Opens at 10:00 am. Also come knit and crochet, Petals and Purls in the Garden, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm (every Saturday during Bloom Season)
•May 10, 2015 - Mother's Day at Presby at 10:00 am, plus Plant Sale & Gift Shop Opens at 10:00 am
•May 15, 2015 - Bloom Season begins all day

Another display garden that you might enjoy visiting, smaller but also well organized with beautiful bearded iris to admire, is the Carol Ann Moyer Iris Garden at the Henry Schmieder Arboretum of Delaware Valley College. Located at 700 East Butler Avenue in Doylestown, Pennsylvania the arboretum is open for free, self-guided tours every day from dawn to dusk. Stop by the security building to pick up a walking-tour map and visitor parking permit.

Hand-colored engraving of Iris odoratissima from Plantarum rariorum Horti Caesarei Schoenbrunnensis by Nickolaus Joseph Jacquin (1727 - 1817)
courtesy of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden

Bearded iris are easy to grow in your own garden.

•Summer is the best time to plant bearded iris - July, August, or early September.
•Bearded iris do best with full sun, at least 6 hours of full direct sunshine every day at a minimum.
•Good drainage is important. They don't like soggy conditions.
•Dig over the soil, adding some compost and 5-10-10 fertilizer.


•Space iris about 12 to 18 inches apart. Clip the sword-like leaves into an inverted V.
•Make a planting hole with a ridge in the center so the iris tuber will be at the soil surface. The roots will go in the furrow to each side, covered with soil.
•Water well, once. Then let Nature take care of things unless there is a drought.
•While there are a couple of insect pests (iris borer, for one) deer do not eat iris.

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