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The Iris Collection At The New York Botanical Garden

The Iris Collection at the New York Botanical Garden.
[Written Ixfnuly flr Th! Hill/fl ann.] BY H. A. GLEASON.

EVEN BEFORE the formal organization of the American Iris Society, the New York Botanical Garden had offered its facilities for the development of a trial and demonstration garden of Iris. After the Society was established this offer was accepted and a definite agreement entered upon by which the Botanical Garden contracted to provide the necessary space and maintenance, while the Society furnished the planting stock.

Both in its position and in its surroundings, the new Iris garden occupies one of the choicest sites in the Botanical Garden. An area of some five acres adjoining Southern Boulevard had already been designated as the Horticultural Grounds of the Garden, and plans made to use it for extensive collections of plants of horticultural rather than botanical interest. These collections, as developed so far, include Cannas, Gladioli, Hardy Chrysanthemums, Hardy Phlox, variegated plants, and Hybrid Mallows, and for 1921 a remarkable display of Tulips. Additional collections, to be developed as funds permit, will include an extensive rockery, Hardy Lilies, ornamental shrubs, and hardy annuals, and the first two of these are already under way. The site has a general slope from Southern Boulevard on the west to a driveway on the east. On the north it is bounded by a handsome forest border occupying somewhat higher land and by the rocky hill now being developed as a rock garden. On the south another gentle hillside rises above the tract and is occupied by plantations of pines and by the War Memorial Grove of Douglas Fir. A rocky promontory on this side offers a beautiful view of the whole Horticultural grounds and may eventually be occupied by a shelter house. An automobile drive passes the eastern side of the tract and beyond it again is a natural forest. Thus the area is a unit with natural boundaries, sheltered by forest or hills on every side, and beautifully adapted to ornamental planting.

Southern Boulevard, at the western side of the tract, carries a very heavy traffic of pleasure automobiles. Three lines of street cars pass at a distance of three minutes walk, and the chief lines of pedestrian travel between the Elevated Railway station and the Zoological Park pass by or through the area. Thus it occupies an unusually prominent position; it is visited now by a large proportion of the sight~seers in the Botanical Garden, and its popularity will undoubtedly increase as further plantings are completed.

Preparation of plans for the development of these grounds was referred to John R. Brinley, Landscape Engineer of the New York Botanical Garden, and the blueprints were completed early in 1920. The general arrangement of the plantings is along an east and west axis extending from Southern Boulevard on the west to the automobile drive on the east, and with plantings placed more or less symmetrically on each side. At the Southern Boulevard end of the axis a handsome stone entrance and a section of fence are now being erected. Other architectural developments along the axis include a sun dial near the entrance, and an exedra and fountain overlooking the upper portion of the Iris garden. The construction of these last items awaits the receipt of further funds.

The Iris garden occupies the choicest portion of the grounds. Almost in the middle of the tract the slope to the east becomes somewhat steeper and is interrupted by small outcropping ledges of rock. Around this portion an oval area has been laid out as the central feature of the garden and contains the chief collection of bearded Iris. This area is about 350 by 150 feet, and the slope is such that almost the whole of it is visible from the driveway to the east. It is treeless, except for one small pin oak on a rock ledge at the north end. onstruction was begun here in May, 1920, through the aid of contribu-

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

-- BobPries - 2014-08-11
Topic revision: r2 - 31 Jul 2018, BobPries
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