Visit beautiful Keppel Croft Gardens in Grey County, Ontario.
In the large pebble bed to the south of the house we have used irises as part of a general planting. Bill covered the area between the planting holes with newspapers, plastic and the stones out of the holes as mulch. In this garden there is an assortment of perennials - roses, peonies, lilies, gasplants, Russian sage, phlox, and false jupiter's beard. We placed irises along the perimeter.
Several years ago we established a second garden for irises in memory of Clarence and Sadie Spencer. This garden is on a dry gravel ridge that runs down to the dry stream bed. Once again the irises are planted in holes in an area mulched with stones. This time the planting holes are elongated to accommodate the length of the rhizomes. Behind the irises we planted some low evergreens, lilies, achillea and lilacs. A possible mistake was planting a couple of buckthorns. They are prickly spreaders. Their greyish leaves are their saving grace as Bill planned a background of grey leafed plants for the lower end of this garden.
The colour selection of irises for this garden originally was to include oranges, whites and browns with some blue irises as well. The plan isn't strictly adhered to so there is a variety of colour.
At the time most of the irises are blooming, there is a flush of colour from the Spanish Poppies (papaver rupifragum) which self seed cautiously throughout the upper portion of this garden. This plant flourishes in a xeriscape garden where no additional water is provided. They have silver-blue leaves and boldly upright stalks with blooms of sherbet orange. The flowering season can be lengthened by clipping the spent blooms. This has to be one of my least favourite garden chores. The sap from the poppies stains everything it touches and deadheading seems an endless daily task during their flowering season.
Bill loves working with concrete so designed a path to run along one side of this iris garden. He used assorted large flag stones for the main body of the path. He used small black polished stones to add interest to the path. Each section has inserts to add interest to the path. There are even old trivets on display underfoot.
At the end of the steps in the iris path Bill placed a concrete sphere on a pedestal. He makes these spheres by filling old globe light shades with a concrete mixture. After this hardens, the glass is carefully removed and the glass shards discarded. The resulting sphere will have a marble like finish if you leave the concrete to cure for a long time. You'll notice that by the end of the iris season California poppies have filled the gardens with a froth of feathery green leaves and orange blooms. These poppies self seed with enthusiasm throughout the planting spaces, over the mulch and even on to the lawn.
At the edge of the dry stream bed Blll has planted some blue flag irises (iris versicolor). They tolerate the brief but soggy conditions of spring run off just as well as they tolerate dryness in late summer. Dark leafed berberis throw the blue irises into the spotlight. The blue flag iris is now the provincial flower of Quebec, replacing the madonna lily which is not a native plant.
One of our favourite irises in this garden area is Iris 'Batik'. It is a border bearded iris which grows to medium height, about 65cm. It has striking purple-blue and white blooms with yellow beards. Each bloom is different but all have a beautiful silky quality.
Our irises multiply in satisfying quantities so we will be dividing Batik later in the summer and putting the rhizomes in some new planting holes which we have already prepared. In midseason next year we should have some really spectacular showings from our favourite!
Once we figure out their names and match those with photos, I will post another webpage with some of our other favourite irises.
Return to the garden tour of Keppel Croft.
Or view other Garden Tour linked pages at
Site Revisions made April, 2013