Last summer, we had about 300 Louisiana Iris left over from
spring, and we did not want to divide them and grow them until
so we decided to donate them to City Parks
Big Lake project.
The big lake in the park was being renovated with a small
boat house, jogging and bicycle paths, an orange grove and a
small wetland area. Located right next to the New Orleans Museum
of Art, it is a delightful wetland oasis in the middle of City
Park, attracting ducks, (domestic and native), swans, geese,
egrets, herons, and even some pelicans.
We delivered our potted iris to the parks nursery last
July, where we were surprised to find that a large assortment
of Louisiana Iris hybrids were already there, awaiting volunteers
to get them planted next to the big lake. (Louisiana Iris tend
to go semi-dormant in the summer heat, so they were a pretty
sad looking collection of plants.)
Last fall, several areas next to the big lake were rototilled,
the soil amended, fertilizer added, and a sprinkler system installed.
Then came the volunteers, guided by park and botanic garden personnel,
and about 2,000 Iris were removed from their pots and planted.
The Iris were just beginning to come into their fall growth,
and as a result, the planting looked pretty pitiful for several
weeks, as the plants began to take root. I was wondering if the
turtles, ducks or nutria would damage the plants, by eating them
or just by walking through them.
With full sun and moist conditions, Louisiana Iris are supposed
to grow rapidly in the fall, winter, and into early spring, blooming
in April here in New Orleans. I had my fingers crossed, and often
inspected the plantings during my morning jogs through the park.
The wildlife around the lake were most cooperative, and left
the Iris alone.
After an unprecedented cold winter, with several killing frosts,
spring arrived in Louisiana two weeks late. None of the rapidly
growing Iris showed any signs of winter damage. I think the lowest
temperature one night was around 27 degrees F (3C), but these
are really tough plants!
As a result of all the volunteers hard work and planning,
including several winter applications of fertilizer, we were
rewarded with the most spectacular collection of Louisiana Iris
hybrids I have ever seen. For over a month, an incredible rainbow
of Iris flowers straddled the pathways along the big lake, creating
quite a stir in city park, drawing record crowds to the newly
Although there were perhaps only 50 different varieties of
Iris in these plantings, out of the hundreds of hybrids available,
I was really impressed with the spectacular variety and performance
of these newly planted areas. I can hardly imagine how fantastic
they will be next year, when the plants have multiplied and are
producing three times the number of bloom stalks that we saw
this first year.
I invite you to my photo tour: walk with me along the big
lake, and enjoy a rainbow of colors that will dazzle your eyes
and test your vocabulary. Not bad for leftovers, if you ask me!