Receiving the Cayeux iris catalogue (
's answer to Kelways of Somerset) this week jogged my memory that it is iris planting time. Their website is www.iris-cayeux.com and the other iris grower I know of is Iris de Provence, France , who also issue a catalogue their website is www.iris-en-provence.com). Hyeres
There are several points to take into account when making your choice: colours (plain, bi-coloured, tri-coloured), height, flowering time, repeat flowering, cost, availability.
In a garden exposed to the fierce Mistral wind and heavy rain it makes sense to give the very tall stately species a miss; when choosing colours, remember that subtle, pale colours will appear white from a distance so choose strong colours for areas away from the terrace (plant the pale iris in pots to keep on the terrace); if going for grouped colours of, say, a solid colour, a bi-colour and a tonal colour make sure you choose iris that flower at the same time or the colour blend does not happen (oh, yes, I have made that mistake!).
Cost - check between the websites in case you can find the same variety cheaper elsewhere but remember to factor in the delivery costs if using two suppliers. And note that as new varieties are introduced so others are dropped so, if you want to increase a particular favourite ahead of the rhizomes becoming large enough to divide, make sure you re-order soon in case it is discontinued. If all else fails, try the internet (www.google.fr) because the delivery costs will be higher if despatched from outside France).
Finally, the name – at least half the names are in English so easier for the English-speakers to play the sentimental game and choose an iris to remember the Rock 'n Roll years (Blue Suede Shoes, Honky Tonk Blues), an occasion (Bride’s Blush, Jazz Festival), a holiday (Miami Beach, Naples), for a girlfriend who loves shopping (Shopper’s Special) and even a rugby match (Canadian Streaker!).
The iris flowering season runs from March/April to end May (Cayeux say from April to June but the Var's seasons start earlier than the north of
) spread between the early, mid-season and late flowering species; I have personally not succeeded with repeat flowering irises in the Var and wonder if the Mediterranean climate is too hot for these irises? Irises can be ordered earlier but delivery will only be between July and October. France
Iris "Blue Suede Shoes"