"The Flower-de-luce, and the round sparks of dew, That hung upon their azure leaves, did show Like twinkling stars, that sparkle in the evening dew."
The Iris is a very extensive and beautiful family, claiming the whole world as her country. Some of the species have very large flowers, which, from their being very vivid, and several uniting in the same blossom, are extremely showy.
Many of them are bulbous-rooted; of these we shall treat in this place, reserving the fibrous and most of The tuberous-rooted to describe under the head of herbaceous perennials. One of the most esteemed bulbous-rooted Iris, is the Persian, on account of the beauty and fragrance of its flowers. It is also very early, but not perfectly hardy. It is valued for forcing, as a few of its flowers will scent a whole room; their colors are pale sky-blue, purple, yellow, and sometimes white. The Spanish Iris, or J. xipkium, is a very pretty border flower, of many varieties, all rich and elegant; embracing the most delicate shades of light and dark blue, brown, purple, yellow, and white. Many of the varieties are various colored, striped or spotted; the bulbs are small, tooth-like, sending forth rush-like foliage, with flowers in June, on stems about eighteen inches high. These bulbs, as well as the other species named here, should be planted about two and a half inches deep, in a light and rich garden soil; the proper time is in October and November, and, excepting I. susiana, need not be taken up oftener than once in three years.
The English Iris, or I. xiphioides, is somewhat similar to the last, but more robust in its growth; the bulbs are larger, and the stem two feet or more high, producing its flowers in June, which are as various in color as the Spanish, and as desirable for the border.
Iris chalcedonica, or I. susiana, is one of the most beautiful of the race; it is not a bulbous root, but tuberous, imported with the bulbous kinds from Holland, and planted at the same time, and manner, except the soil should be of a more loamy character. It has the largest flowers of any of the species, and the most magnificent of them all. The colors of the flowers are of various shades of the richest purplish brown, beautifully mottled and spotted, so as to give it a very rich and unique appearance. It producesits flowers in June, on stems a foot high. It may be increased by parting the roots in autumn. This splendid flower is reputed to be tender; but I have sucseeded in planting it in October and November, and even in
December, with success, giving the same protection as to Tulips or Hyacinths; but if the roots are suffered to remain in the ground after flowering, it will never bloom again, and most assuredly perish. Our season is too long for it; if left in the ground through the summer, it commences growing in autumn, forms its flower buds before winter sets in, and dies. Observing this, I have taken up the roots the first of August, and kept them out of ground till the time of planting in autumn, with perfect success. After drying, the roots may be kept in dry sand or moss.