Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Irises: The Best and the Bluest, Part Two

By Renee Fraser

So many blues, so little space!

In the last post on blue irises, people shared their favorite blue tall bearded irises. But bearded irises are not necessarily the bluest of the blues; indeed, Siberian irises, Japanese irises, and Louisiana irises come in blues to melt your heart.  So here are the truest blues, the prettiest blues, and the best performing blues in these categories from my random poll of iris growers and gardeners across the Internet.

Let us start with Japanese irises, also known as ensatas.  The top vote-getter for favorite blue was 'Lake Effect'.  Take a look at that sky blue color!

'Lake Effect' 

Chad Harris, an iris hybridizer, flower photographer extraordinaire, and owner of Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm in Washington, claims 'Banjo Blues' as his top pick, but he couldn't help throwing in a lovely pale blue, 'Bewitching Twilight'.

'Banjo Blues'

'Bewitching Twilight'

Marilyn Campbell, who lives in Massachusetts, loves 'Sing the Blues'.  Her photo tells you why.

'Sing the Blues' Photo by Marilyn Campbell

Unlike the bearded irises, Japanese irises require moist soil to thrive, as do Louisiana irises, natives to the bayous of the state.  Like Japanese irises, Louisianas can be grown in boggy conditions. 

Louisianas come in a wide range of colors, including some stunning blues.  A recent poll at a San Fernando Valley Iris Society meeting found the blue Louisiana iris 'Sinfonietta' a popular choice, and here's why:  take a look at Evan Layne's beautiful photos, close-up and in the garden.


'Sinfonietta' Photo by Evan Layne

'Lake Sylvia' 
Another gorgeous Louisiana blue is recommended by Patrick O'Connor of Zydeco Louisiana Iris Garden.  He says 'Lake Sylvia' "may be the most brilliant, saturated blue available."

Ron Killingsworth, one of the contributors to this blog, lives and gardens in Louisiana.  He has seen just about every Louisiana iris, and his very favorite blue is 'Southdowns' by Patrick O'Connor.  He says it is a very soft blue.
'Southdowns' Photo by Ron Killingsworth

Ron also likes 'Little Rock Skies' which is a very pretty blue with short foliage and petite blooms.

'Little Rock Skies' Photo by Ron Killingsworth

Another favorite blue is 'Dural Bluebird' which has some very nice ruffling.

'Dural Bluebird' Photo by Ron Killingsworth

Siberian irises have lovely graceful foliage and come in a great variety of blues.
Polly Kinsman, an avid iris gardener and a grower who owns Siberian Iris Gardens, says 'Careless Sally' is her very favorite.

'Careless Sally'

She also likes 'Shaker's Prayer'.  Polly and Denise Stewart, owner of Snowpeak Iris in Oregon, are administrators of an internet gardening community called Iris Cubits, where many lovely photos of Siberian irises can be found.  

'Shaker's Prayer' Photo by Polly Kinsman

Marilyn Campbell claims 'Lee's Blue' as her favorite blue Siberian iris.
'Lee's Blue' Photo by Marilyn Campbell

A popular blue that is in widespread commercial circulation was shared by Sandra Eggertson.  'Silver Edge' grows well in her garden in Manitoba, Canada.

'Silver Edge' Photo by Sandra Eggertson

Chad Harris grows and sells Siberian irises as well as Japanese.  This striking blue iris is his favorite blue Siberian.
'Ships are Sailing' 

Kathleen Devlin, who gardens in Michigan, sent this photo of 'Cape Cod Boys', her favorite.  This clump growing in John and Jean Kaufmann's garden will be even more spectacular by next year's Siberian and Species Iris Convention in June.

'Cape Cod Boys' Photo by Kathleen Devlin

Which of these beauties is your favorite?  Do you grow any blue beardless irises, and if so, which do you think is your truest blue?


  1. Here in Australia, amongst others, I am growing what we call Pacific Coast Iris. I have many varieties which all seem to do very well in my conditions. I think this variety originated in America, but to date I have not seen them mentioned on your pages. I am wondering if you call them by another name? They do look very like some of these magnificent "Blues". I do love my Pacific Coast! Thank you for your help.

    1. Hello Susie, and yes indeed, they are called Pacific Coast Irises here as well. Thank you for the suggestion for a post on these beauties. Look for it here in the future!

    2. Susie, The Pacific Coast Native Iris Society also has a nice Facebook page. Here's the URL:

  2. Thank you so much, Renee, for another wonderful article! I plan to try my hand at Japanese Irises next year, when my husband finishes the back yard which will include a pond and bog area. I have not paid much attentention to blue Japanese irises, but they certainly have my attention now!

  3. Oh, I have just found your reply! Thank you so much Renee. I always enjoy all your posts, and I certainly will very much look forward to one on Pacific Coast Iris. Thank you. Your photos are always breathtaking. I am in awe of the beauty of all Iris. Just this week one of my Pacific Coast has come into flower - the first for the season. Beautiful - it's Spring! Thank you too Andi. That's great! My best wishes to you both.

  4. Hi Renee... Great article! However, I believe you have a label wrong. I noticed because 'Southdowns' is one of my favorite Louisiana irises. You described it as an ice blue, but the photo is a brighter blue iris with the wrong markings. Here's a link to a photo of 'Southdowns' posted on the website of the hybridizer, Patrick O'Connor: . The delicate colors in it are gorgeous!

  5. Whoops! Thank you Evey, the wrong photo must have been attached to the file. 'Southdowns' is a lovely pale blue indeed.

  6. Lovely pictures, don't you just love the Japanese Iris? They are just beautiful. There is not a single Japanese Iris I don't like.

    I grow a couple different ones, 4 of them didn't bloom for me this year since I had divided them last year. But, two of them bloomed heavily. Ocean Mist is the best!

    check out my couple pictures.

    My Japanese Iris Pictures


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...