Monday, April 29, 2013

Orchid-Colored Irises in My Garden

By Renee Fraser

My garden is filled with hot-colored roses and lilies, and although I love the oranges, yellows, and reds, they can be pretty ovewhelming on a hot Southern Californa day.

My internet gardening buddy Hoovb, who writes the gardening blog  Piece of Eden, suggested some purple or lavendar to cool it down.  Now I know I have strange tastes, but I don't care for purple, and I really don't care much at all for purple-blues with salmon-orange, the dominant color in my garden.  But she was onto something, and I thought about it until one day I saw Persian Berry in bloom at a nursery. What color is that? Using the most universally recognized color chart in the western world, the Crayola 64 Count Crayons, I decided the color was ORCHID. Cool pink, warm lavendar, that color.  Orchid to tame my hot colors.

Fortunately, there are a multitude of orchid-colored irises and each is more beautiful than the last.  Soon I was on the hunt for 'Jennifer Rebecca', which reblooms here in Southern California.  It took a long time to become established in my garden, and it has been moved from spot to spot, mercilessly, until it finally found its home right between two screaming salmon-orange roses.
'Jennifer Rebecca' Zurbrigg 1984,  reblooming iris with 'Marmalade Skies' floribunda rose

'Jennifer's' beard is the same color as the rose.  What a stroke of luck!

And here is the inspiration iris, 'Persian Berry'.  It looks very nice with yellow, and like 'Jennifer', it has a nice orange beard.  

'Persian Berry' Gaulter 1976

I have 'Persian Berry' in a bed with the pale yellow David Austin rose 'Allux Symphony' (aka Symphony), foxgloves, and dark reddish-violet violas.  I await 'Storm Rider' from Rick Tasco at Superstition Iris Gardens to center between the two roses.

'Storm Rider' Tasco 2013

To the right of 'Allux Symphony' I have 'Plum Pretty Whiskers', which reblooms for me.  It's a lovely shorter iris, perfect for the front of the bed.  The deep color in its falls was the inspiration for the dark violas and 'Storm Rider'.
'Plum Pretty Whiskers' Spoon 2003

Late-bloomer 'Rhinelander' is the latest-blooming of my orchid-colored irises.  It has yet to bloom this year, so this photo is from last year.
'Rhinelander' Schreiner 2006

I just couldn't help myself, so last season I got two more orchid-colored irises, even though (as usual) I didn't have good spots for them.  I ordered 'Orchid Pinstripe' because it is so unusual, and Randy Squires of the San Fernando Valley Iris Society gave me 'Enchanter', a huge iris that towers over the others.  I am anxiously awaiting their first blooms.  This year, however, I resisted buying any new orchid-colored irises, even though there were a few that sorely tempted me.

Do you grow any orchid-colored irises?  Or is there another color that you just cannot resist, regardless of how many you already have?  Let us know which you love best in the comments section.


  1. Blue...I just can't resist iris with blue in them!

    Pinks, purples, and reds are next.

    1. And there are so many great blues. I love blue and orchid together. We can grow agapanthus and society garlic here in CA, and they come into bloom late and extend the lovely blue and orchid show when most of the irises are finished.

  2. These photos are simply breathtaking!! You are an inspiration to me--your garden is perfection in every way! Thanks for a wonderful post! :)

    1. Thank you, Susanne. We are all looking forward to your first post on World of Irises.

  3. Great article Renee! You are absolutely correct - Crayola's 64 Assortment, including gold and silver which I quickly reduce to nubs, is the ultimate color authority!

    Persian Berry is seriously happy in your garden - what a clump!

    My two favorite orchid iris are TB, Rhinelander and SDB, Gal Pal.

  4. Your garden looks glorious, Renee!

  5. I don't have any of those but I wish I did, after seeing this post. Such beautiful iris and such a beautiful garden!!

  6. Now, that's an idea! I'm in SFV SoCal and I've been facing the opposite problem. My garden beds in front are anchored by roses, Iceberg and Perfume Delight, in multiples with lots of Agapanthus in the back beds. Planted there by a former home owner. They bloom heavily in icy white and cool medium pink and blue. So taking the cue from them, I added geranium Roxanne, wendys wish salvia, alyssum and varies other cool toned roses and plants so they didn't clash. While the look is refreshing in the heat, it looks flat. I had a Julia child rose to that looked surprisingly (to me) good with my cool tones but it was chomped up by a gopher. Now I realize why it looked so good there, it added that warm zing, I'm missing. Thank you for this post, it really gave me some food for thought!

    1. I'm happy you got something out of it, Geetha. I hope your next Julia outlives the gophers.


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