Monday, March 14, 2011

Irises you don't suppose to grow

I don’t know about you, but ever since I started growing irises it’s been my dream to grow as many types of irises as I could. I specially like MTBs (Miniature Tall Bearded), Species, Louisiana and Siberian irises. I have tried to grow these over the years, but with a lot of difficulty in my Southern California garden. I wish I could grow more.

I was in a daze when I saw Miniature Tall Bearded iris ‘Sailor’s Dream’ (Kenneth Fisher, R. 2004) at the Portland’s 2006 National Convention of the American Iris Society. It was blooming profusely at every site I visited, it had healthy leaves, and the color was extremely nice – a deep wisteria blue that really caught my eye.

Below, MTB 'Monty Duane.'

As Portland was my first National Convention, I was making excuses to the other closing-program dinner guests on why I voted for ‘Sailor’s Dream’ to win the Franklin Cook Medal Cup. “Very rarely,” they said, “would a MTB win.” Anyway, we all laughed about it, but to my surprise and that of the other dinner guests ‘Sailor’s Dream’ won The Franklin Cook Memorial Cup for 2006. That the iris I voted for won this award was an unbelievable feeling. Upon returning home I ordered it immediately, but to this day it has never bloomed. Still, this story is not really about ‘Sailor’s Dream,’ (I like to believe that some day it will bloom so I still grow it) it is about the other MTBs I grow and which bloom every year.

Is there a scientific reason why they bloom in my area? If there’s one, I don’t really know. I only know that everyone else tells me they don’t suppose to. So, here are the MTBs that do well: ‘Monty Duane’ (Wyss 2000); ‘Missus Bee’ (Bunnell 2003); ‘Bangles’ (Lynda Miller 1995); ‘Ozark Dream’ (Fisher 1992) and ‘Little Bay Denoc’ (Fred Williams 1978). Proud to grow them in Los Angeles, where they don’t suppose to grow.

Next time, I will tell you about the Siberian irises that don’t suppose to grow in my area either.

Below MTB 'Little Bay Denoc.'

Note 1: From The American Iris Society: The Franklin Cook Memorial Cup is awarded annually during The American Iris Society’s national meeting. All introduced irises seen growing and in bloom in the official tour gardens of the meeting are eligible for the Cook Memorial Cup, except irises originated within the host region for that year’s national meeting or originated by a hybridizer whose garden is included on the official garden tour, regardless of its location. Irises considered need not be an official "Guest" iris. Each registrant may vote for only one variety and the Franklin Cook Memorial Cup is awarded to the iris receiving the greatest number of votes.

Note 2: Sailor’s Dream has earned the following American Iris Society Awards: Honorable Mention 2006; Award of Merit 2008, Williamson-White Medal, 2010.


  1. Hey Andi, can we see a photo of 'Sailor's Dream'?

  2. Yes, I will follow up with a picture 'Sailor's Dream.' Thanks Renee.

  3. Betty Wyss was such a charming lady even tho life kept throwing lemons at her. I'm so happy to see the iris she named after her son doing well.