Pacific Coast Iris -- more info

Pacific Rim
Wed, 19 Apr 2006 19:23:51 PDT
Jane McGary said a couple of things I'd like to comment on.

> As for whether PCIs look ratty in summer, I'd say that some species do and
> others don't. Our local native I. tenax looks bad in winter, since it's
> semi-deciduous, but it's known as the hardiest species. Many hybrids have
> I. douglasiana in their ancestry, which gives them handsome, deep green
> foliage and adds to their attractiveness out of bloom. Some forms of I.
> innominata look good all summer here.

Jane is right that some species look ratty and some don't. But if you are 
interested in PCIs, please note that:

--  raggedness in early spring varies by climate. The species native to 
drier and more southern regions look ghastly here in rainy southwestern 
British Columbia till they send up new leaves; they look better from the 
start in middle and southern California and anywhere else with the right 
conditions, including some glasshouses.

--  within each PCI species there seems to be a range of hardiness and 
earliness, just as there is for traits that many of us are more accustomed 
to monitoring, such as color, floriferousness and height. I do not propose 
that Iris purdyi will flourish at the North Pole, but only that it is well 
worth growing many lots of wild seed in your own garden; those that work for 
your conditions will self-select. When I began growing PCIs, I assumed that 
only a few would grow here. In fact I can grow examples of all the species 
outdoors, if I choose their niches carefully. Probably many of you can, too.

-- In my experience some sources of seeds are outstanding:

1. Ron Ratko (Northwest Native Seeds). . This list is non 
pareil not only for Iris species but for most interesting and gardenworthy 
species of western  North America. Ron is probably out appraising wildflower 
populations at this time of year, but he does eventually respond to email. 
His seeds are always wild, always well described, a botanist's dream. His 
list comes out in late December-early January, formerly by post, but by 
email for the past couple of years.

2. SIGNA -- the Species Iris Group of North America . 
This society has an extensive annual seed list of Iris from all over, with a 
small but often toothsome group of wild seeds from western North America.

3. There is also SPCNI -- the Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris . It has a very simulating and helpful 
website but it generally has fewer wild seeds of interest than SIGNA. It is 
an excellent source of hybrid seeds if those interest you.

Paige Woodward

Pacific Rim Native Plant Nursery
PO Box 413
Chilliwack, BC V2P 6J7

T.604 792 9279; F.604 792 1891

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