Monday, October 8, 2012

Irises: The Best and the Bluest, Part Three

By Renee Fraser

Since I live in Southern California, I always thought there was just one type of bearded iris- the tall one. That is because the other varieties, which do so well in colder parts of the country, fare poorly here in the heat. When I first discovered these little beauties, I went into zone denial and ordered some anyway. They are all now resettled into happy homes in cooler climes, and I visit them via photography and the Internet.

The different types of bearded irises were originally hybridized from different species. The ones that are not tall bearded (TB) are collectively known as 'median irises'. They are further broken down into Miniature Dwarf Bearded (MDB), Intermediate Bearded (IB), Miniature Tall Bearded (MTB) and Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB) irises.  Information about cultural requirements can be found here

These irises come in some really blue blues!  So here is the last of the photos on the bluest and best irises from across the Internet.

Standard dwarf bearded irises are just 8 to 16 inches tall.  They can have spectacular white beards, as well as lovely blue colors.  Here is the favorite of 
Chad Harris of Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm, 'Ocean Pearl'.  
'Ocean Pearl'

Lucy Burton, who hybridizes irises in Massachusets, chose 'Sapphire Gem' as her favorite SDB iris.  This was the favorite of a number of gardeners.

'Sapphire Gem' Photo by Chapman Iris

Chuck Chapman of Chapman Iris in Canada chose the SDB 'Eramosa Skies' as his favorite blue. This was another very popular choice.

'Eramosa Skies' Photo by Marilyn Campbell

Miniature tall bearded irises grow from 16" to 27.5" tall, but bloom later in the season than the SDBs and the IBs.

Sandra Eggertson chose the miniature tall bearded iris (MTB) 'Little Bay Denoc', which she grows in profuse clumps at her iris display garden Merlebleu in Manitoba, Canada.  This iris got a number of votes.

'Little Bay Denoc' Photo by Sandra Eggertson 

'Sailor's Dream' likewise proved popular.  

'Sailor's Dream'

Intermediate bearded irises (IB) are characterized by 3.5 to 5 inch blooms, a bit smaller than the tall bearded irises.  They top out at 27.5 inches in height, and they are called intermediate because they bloom after the SDBs and before the TBs.

'Alberta Clipper' is a nice light blue with ruffles galore.  It won the admiration of a number of gardeners.

'Alberta Clipper'

'Barrel House Blues' was the favorite of Lucy Burton.  

'Barrel House Blues'

I have always wanted to try 'Megglethorp'.  It has an almost neon blue appearance and the flower seems to glow, as you can see in this lovely picture by Betty Jacobs, an accomplished photographer.  IBs do not fare well in hot inland Southern California, but this is one that some people have grown successfully.  I might have to try to grow them one more time...

'Megglethorp' Photo by Betty Jacobs

Do you grow median irises where you live?  Which is your favorite blue?

That is the end of our photographs of the best and the bluest irises.  Stay tuned for the search for the reddest red iris next.


  1. Wow! These Irises are just lovely. I love their shades. I will definitely plant some Irises. They are just adorable. Thanks!


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