When I started gardening my backyard in Brooklyn, a friend gave me blackberry lily seeds. I planted them and soon forgot they were there. Other plants grew and grew, overshadowing the lilies, and because they had been shaded, they didn't bloom. Later, I started gardening here at the High Line, and to my surprise, the Meadow Walk features large clumps and lots of little seedlings of this great plant.
Blackberry lily`s scientific name used to be Belamcanda chinensis, but botanists from the Missouri Botanical Garden and Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney transferred the plant to the Iris genus in 2005. It has been known as Iris domestica since.
The flowers are great; they are small and orange, splashed with red and can be seen on the smaller plants at this time of the year. It's because of the flower that I. domestica is also known as leopard lily. The spent flowers twist and twirl and spiral like wrought-out laundry. The larger clumps have gone to seed, displaying pear shape seed pods and clusters of round seeds from which the common blackberry name derives.
Iris domestica is best grown in average, well-drained soils in full sun. It's a low maintenance plant that does not suffer too much from insects and diseases, although the Iris borer caterpillar can damage the rhizomes.
WHERE TO FIND THIS PLANT
Along the Meadow Walk from West 24th to West 25th Street. I. domestica is native to Central Asia, India, China and Japan.
The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.
Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.
TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.