Monday, May 14, 2012

Iris Classics: 'Elsinore'

The classic iris 'Elsinore' is one of the marvelous creations of Charles Henry Hall, of Pennsylvania. A child of (Lohengrin x ... ) X Aurea, it was introduced in 1925. Mr. Hall was well regarded for the quality of the flowers he produced and 'Elsinore' was no exception. It was well spoken of but never found a wide fame, which is unfortunate as it is a great garden plant in every way. It is hardy and a vigorous grower, a reliable bloomer, and it blooms over a long period as well. When you get a look at the beautiful flowers you'll see why it is so special and worthy of holding up for admiration.

'Elsinore' is an iris of great charm and grace, while still retaining a bright and cheerful aspect that makes it such a sunny addition to the garden. The yellow is a lovely soft primrose, with the standards lightly blushed rose along the top and accented with bright lemon yellow beards. The petals have a long aspect giving a clump the look of a fully lit candelabra. It lights up the whole area when the sun shines upon it. A Tall Bearded variety, it reaches around 30 inches in my garden and has a lovely soft fragrance.

Cooley's Gardens catalog for 1937 described 'Elsinore' as: "
A flower but little known, and one which is deserving of greater popularity. Of only medium size, its dainty blossoms of pale primrose-yellow are delicately edged and stained violet, and are produced abundantly. Something different. Try it."

I have to agree with Cooley's assessment. it is such a wonderful garden plant and really different from any other. Its lovely old fashioned form, its presence in a garden border, and all of its good performance attributes all serve to make this one a real stand out variety and one well worth growing and preserving today.

And speaking of historic irises: If you're looking for gardens where you can view collections of historic irises please check out the Display Gardens listings at the Historic Iris Preservation Society website. Many HIPS members generously open their gardens to visitors each spring and it is a great way to see which varieties do well in your area. Given the vagaries of the season it is best to contact the gardeners ahead of time to make sure there will be blooms to see. This is a great program HIPS offers to promote the preservation of these great old flowers, I hope you'll take advantage of it.


  1. What a subtle and soft colors of iris 'Elsinore'.
    Irises are very beautiful and interesting flowers. I like them.


  2. That's a delicate and lovely flower. Beautiful photography, as usual!

  3. Where would one buy such a beautiful thing?

  4. Superstition Iris Gardens is the only commercial grower I know of offering this fantastic variety. You'll find all their contact info here:


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