Monday, April 9, 2012

Swing Into Spring With Iris Garden Visits

     With the arrival of spring flowers, it is time to think about seeing irises in bloom. Since you are reading this blog, I am assuming that you have an interest in irises. In the pageant of color of the garden each year, irises herald the arrival of spring and the riot of color that will come in the upcoming months. To see irises in their splendor is to understand why they are so essential to the garden and why gardens can put up with the need to divide their iris clumps every 3-4 years.
Superstition Iris Gardens 2011--Williamson image
'Subtle Beauty' (Tasco)--Tasco image
     If you are lucky, you may have a local iris society in your area. For a list of local iris societies, you can check The American Iris Society and under the link “Resources and Iris Links” you will find a list of local societies by Regions listed as “AIS Local Club Websites”— each region is made up of a part of state or more than one state.
Paul Black image
     Going to an iris show is a good place to start to see all types of irises, though usually shows are designed for best Tall Bearded bloom. At the show you will meet local members and the local society often will have a garden tour that you can join and see irises in the garden. Take along a notepad to write down the names of varieties that you like and do well in your area.

Napa County Iris Garden
     You may also have a local garden selling irises and a visit there is always productive.
     If this whets your interest, then the next step may be to join the local society. They are a good source of social interaction with other gardeners, plants, and good information.
     If you are really interested, considering joining the American Iris Society. The society has a new, young, energetic editor, Kelly Norris, who is working hard to produce a diverse product. If you interest is in Tall Bearded, TheTall Bearded Iris Society is a good bet—a 10.00 a year membership, with two magazine sized, full color publications a year, is a great deal for the money.
'Big Bang Theory'-- Jedick image

You will find many catalog and online sources for irises. I have had good luck buying from the following sources (note that I have restrict this list to sources of lower to mid priced varieties not wanting to scare you off with the boutique gardens that specialize in new hybrids that may be as much as $65.00 per plant).  I cannot guarantee that you will have success with these gardens, but they are a good place to start looking at irises.
'Endless Ocean' -- Beaumont Ridge image
Beaumont Ridge Iris.  An interesting mix of newer and older tall bearded irises that grow and bloom well in eastern Oregon.  Prices are very good and the owner is generous with extra plants based on the size of the order.  The website is simple to use with most of the varieties list with a color picture. This is a good nursery for someone starting an iris collection.

Blue Jay Iris Gardens -- Jedick image
Blue Jay Iris Garden. They have a huge list with many older, tried and proven varieties. The website is a bit hard to navigate and if you have specific varieties that you are trying to buy, use the search function of the site to locate them. They are hybridizing Space Age irises and have some very interesting recent introductions in that area:

'Center Line' (T. Johnson '11) -- Paul Black image
Mid America Iris Gardens. Full color catalog or look at the PDF catalog at the website; there is also a PDF of the order form so that you can order if you want. They have a good selection of median irises (bearded irises under 27” tall) too:

'Teasing Tiger' -- Napa County Iris photo
Napa Country Iris Garden. Lovely stock and the easiest to use website that I have found for any iris garden. The list is a nice combination of newer varieties and older, tried and proven irises:

'Harmonous Flow' (Nicodemus '12)--Nicodemus image
'Pinkablue' (Richardson '12)--Richardson image
Rockytop Gardens. Black and white catalog with some color. The owner looks for good, hardy varieties that go well in his “freeze and thaw” climate in Tennessee and he is especially adept at finding varieties that have been overlooked, but are very good. Stock is very nice:
Schreiner's Iris Garden. Full color catalog or order online. They also have a good selection of slightly older medians and a small selection of beardless irises too:

'Sand Dancer' -- Tasco image
Superstition Iris Garden. No website and the catalog is $1.50. Listing over 1000 varieties, they have everything from the newest varieties to historically important iris from the past. One of the few commercial sources for arilbreds. Their stock is always very good and don't miss the $3.00 section towards the back of the catalog with some really wonderful bargain iris. They just started a Facebook Page:


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