1884, An Iris Garden, by George F. Wilson

The Gardeners' Chronicle p.151, February 2, 1884

An Iris Garden.— I lately had the pleasure of visiting a really scientific garden, the capital of Irisdom ; its situation is known to hardy plant growers, but as it is hardly a place for the merely curious visitors I need not name it. The owner is well known for his high scientific attainments : these have obviously reacted on his garden. The natural soil did not seem very favourable, nor the climate, except that the garden being on a hill in a very flat country, it is somewhat above the damp. I went as an ignoramus in Irises. Some species, especially Iris Kaempferi, grow well in our Oakwood experimental garden, but this is "plus par bonheur que par sagesse" — we had exactly the right soil and damp situations, and therefore they thrive; other species, mostly owed to the kindness of friends, are, after being watched, and under advice, moved about till they seem happy. But Iris growing at S--- is very different from this. There the exact requirements of all species of soil, situation, moisture, and dryness have been studied till they are known, so that any new arrival has a congenial home at once ready for it. Some of the mechanical contrivances are very good; two especially struck me — one a dark frame tor seeds in a greenhouse; another a frame made so as to give complete shelter or full open air, with shelter from wind, at will; this last, I think, might be useful in Lily growing. Very few species were in bloom — these beautiful ones; but there was plenty to learn from the growth. In going over a garden like this some thoughts force themselves upon you: — That in plants of this sort a nursery even for specialities has no chance against an amateur's garden. That the always growing number of influential amateurs who make hobbies of their gardens will not long be content without a powerful, prosperous, independent Royal Horticultural Society, with a paid secretary, like the Society of Arts. That gardening seems the natural and most satisfying rest for the highest order of minds: this struck me lately, when a note from my friend, Professor, now Sir Richard Owen, showed that long life had not the least blunted his keen delight in his garden. That it would be a thousand pities if all that had been studied and learnt in this garden should be buried with the possessor; his notes in the gardening papers are, of course, very valuable, but they are not like a book ; it would be a great boon to the gardening world if he could hereafter find time to do for Irises what Mr. George Maw is doing for Crocuses, or, as a late lamented great grower of them would have said, Croci. George F. Wilson,
Heatherbank, Weybridge

For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at

-- BobPries - 2014-09-30
Topic revision: r1 - 30 Sep 2014, BobPries
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