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.
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.