I took a look today at the Louisiana irises at Longue Vue House and Garden in New Orleans. There’ s nothing in bloom yet, but the plants look fantastic. There are many, many scapes showing, and the work of the last couple of years will be paying off very soon. With the damage from Hurricane Katrina and reduced staff since, credit is due to Head Gardener Amy Graham and part-time gardener and native iris aficionado Tyrone Foreman. Those who donated irises will be proud, too, and include Benny Trahan Sr. of Slidell; Plantation Point Nursery in Mooringsport, LA, especially Bobbie Hutchins and Ron Killingsworth; and Rusty and Bud McSparrin at Bois d’Arc Gardens in Chacahoula, LA. I gave a few rhizomes, also.
Longue Vue is divided into areas with different themes. The irises are the centerpiece of the Wild Garden, occupying both sides of a long curving and sloping walk nearly a hundred yards long. The wild azaleas were beginning to bloom today, and there was Scilla and some nice viburnums. The other garden areas are entirely different, more formal and each unique.
The lush growth on the irises this year is impressive, and is due to the rainy winter and hard work of Tyrone and Amy. There was no bloom to report on yet, but I was struck by a section of Iris giganticaerulea and another of Iris brevicaulis in a part of the walkway devoted to species. There could not be a greater contrast in size, as can be seen in the picture. The brevicaulis are in the right foreground, growing less than a foot tall at this point. The giganticaeruleas are the monsters in the upper right center. Their foliage was between five and five and a half feet tall today. The blooms will be above that when they come. The giganticaeruleas were donated by Benny Trahan and he may have provided some particularly tall collected plants. In truth, I have never seen them grow this tall in a garden setting. All the other irises, including the many hybrid cultivars were between giganticaerulea and brevicaulis in height.
Longue Vue’s Wild Garden will be a sight to behold in the coming weeks.