With the end of May comes the blooming of irises, and my hometown of Montclair, New Jersey is the place to witness the bloom! The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is home to more than 10,000 irises of over 1,500 varieties (some of which date back to the 1500s), and is the largest non-commercial iris garden in the world. Created in 1927 in honor of Frank H. Presby, a founding member of the American Iris Society and a passionate hybridizer with a fine collection, the gardens have been meticulously cared for and remain a highlight of every Memorial Day weekend!
I volunteered here in middle school, helping to weed and replant iris bulbs as a pre-teen every Tuesday afternoon for a semester. It’s where I learned to love plants, appreciate manicured gardens, and found enjoyment in working hard to make something beautiful.
It’s been many years since I have seen the bloom, so I decided it was about time I stopped and smelled the irises.
A trip to the garden is usually in direct sunlight, so where better to wear a parasol? I snagged this one from the museum gift shop at Versailles, the day before my wedding, when it was over 90 degrees in Paris. It comes in handy from time to time and is the perfect accessory for strolling through flower beds.
I love the colors! Irises are most known for their deep purples, but they come in every color under the sun. Literally. From soft pinks and yellows, to bold reds and even patterns, take your pick of color or hue.
Did you know the word iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow? I can see why!
The gardens sit on a large park, perfect for an afternoon picnic or a walk with your dog, and the beautiful home on the property serves as the gift shop and headquarters for the Presby Memorial garden committee. Surrounded by stunning peonies and flowers, it’s worth having a look around and inside. On weekends during a bloom they offer tea and cookies on the porch to visitors.
Can you figure which irises I’d plant at home? Any and all that are soft blush! While they don’t have as much contrast as the deep purples, they are my absolute favorite color! This iris, in particular is a stunner.
The cool weather has drawn out the season for another week, so if you’re in the area be sure to stop by and catch the last look of the late bloomers! Then, the flowers will be gone again until next year. Time with the iris is always fleeting, but it’s a special treat to catch the rainbow.
For more information, check out the Presby Memorial Iris Garden’s website here and be sure to plan a visit soon! Do you have any amazing gardens where you live?