May 22, 2006

Loreley's siren song

Lorelei iris
After showcasing a couple of new introductions, I'm going to do a 180 and introduce you to Loreley. This cultivar dates from 1909, so she definitely fits in the tried and true category!

Last fall my neighbour gave me a few rhizomes which had been languishing in her shady back yard. I wasn't counting on getting too many blooms this year, because I figured the rhizomes couldn't have bulked up too well in those conditions. Nonetheless, a couple of flower stalks have gone up and I am pleased no end. Most irises prefer a full sun location to soak up the energy they need for flowering. Siberians can tolerate a fair amount of shade, and crested irises flourish there, but that's a topic for another day.

This iris is also a good example of how "firsts" tug at our hearts, along with anything our grandmothers grew! When I was planting my first garden I grew almost everything from seed, mainly out of economic necessity. But I did rescue a sad-looking little iris from a clearance bin for about 25 cents, and popped it in front of the house. With the resiliency typical of bearded irises, it was soon flourishing and moved with me to my next house. It spread so enthusiastically, I was able to fill a cutting garden with the extras and my vases overflowed in spring with sprays of fragrant irises.

So when my neighbour offered me an iris that definitely didn't fit in with the colour scheme of the only sunny bed I had, I jumped at it. As it happens, this is the same cultivar that graced my yard and vases years ago, so there was no possible way I could say no!

And for those of you who love to know the history of names, the Loreley (or Lorelei) are the German equivalent of the sirens that lured Ulysses and his men in the Odyssey. The Loreley would perch on the cliffs of the Rhine river and sing sailors to their doom. This Loreley sang to me too, but fortunately to my nostalgic pleasure, not to doom.


GardenJoy3 said...

Now that is one beautiful Iris !

Jaime Willmann said...

I will definitely have to include this in my garden after my daughter, Lorelei.