This article on Cayeux Irises has been written by Malcolm Allison, plant consultant.
Bearded irises (also known as Cayeux Irises) have long been a component of the traditional June herbaceous border, notable for their elegant flowers coming in a wide range of colours, from white to blue to purple to pink to orange to yellow & red, with many bicolours & tricolours.
Historically the British firm of Kelways of Langport were important iris breeders & many of their varieties are still available; now most new cultivars come from the US, or nearer to home, Cayeux in France.
Cayeux now produce an English language website & catalogue & their new varieties are spectacular. They have expanded the colour range to include orange, have introduced better pinks & some reds & also more clearly coloured bicolours. Their new varieties have more flower buds per stem, which means a longer flowering season. The Cayeux varieties are also more compact than traditional varieties & are well worth growing in a sunny or semi-shaded spot. Bearded irises do particularly well on alkaline soils & tolerate dry places; on heavy clays slugs can prove a problem.
Cayeux Iris varieties which I grow & can particularly recommend are Coup de Soleil (tangerine orange), Cumulus (lavender pink), Ouragan (mid blue), Grand Canari (pure yellow), Andalou (brownish red & yellow bicolour) & Alizes (blue & white bicolour).
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