Monday, March 30, 2015


by Dawn Mumford 

Purple is the symbol of royalty and wealth.  It also represents wisdom and spirituality.  Since it does not often occur in nature, it can sometimes appear exotic or artificial.
Here are some of my very favorite purple irises:

'Paul Black' (Johnson, 2002) HM 2005, AM 2007 and Dykes Medal in 2010; 'Feature Attraction'  (Schreiner, 1994), Winner of the 1994 President's Cup at the American Iris Society National Convention in Portland Oregon; 'Poem Of Ecstasy' (Hager, 1997)  HM 1999, AM 2001; 'Stepping Out' (Schreiner, 1964)  HM 1965, AM 1967, and Dykes Medal in 1968; 'Magic Man' (Blyth, 1979); 'Allegiance' (Cook, 1958)  HM 1958, AM 1960 and Dykes Medal 1964; 'Like Wow' (Schreiner, 2012); 'Glistening Icicle' (Maryott, 1982) HM 1986; 'Gypsy Lord' (Keppel, 2006) HM 2008, AM 2010 and Wister Medal 2012.

According to the the ProFlower Blog, "the iris’s history is rich, dating back to Ancient Greek times when the Greek goddess Iris, the messenger of the gods and the personification of the rainbow, acted as the link between heaven and earth. Purple irises were planted over the graves of women to summon the goddess to guide the dead in their journey. Ancient Egyptian kings marveled in the iris’s exotic nature, and drawings have been found of the flower in a number of Egyptian palaces. During the Middle Ages, the meaning of irises became linked to the French monarchy, and the fleur-de-lis eventually became the recognized national symbol of France. From their earliest years, irises were used to make perfume and as a medicinal remedy. Today, they are primarily seen in gardens, in bouquets, and in the wild all over the world." 


I love purples of every hue and shade. I have so many favorite purple irises that I will have to present them in two parts, like I did with my favorite pinks.  Click Here (Part 1) and Here (Part 2) to review the pink blogs. 

In some of my beds, I like to plant similar colors together to get greater color impact.  It is also fun to compare the different subtle shades of purple. For instance, look at all the rose coloring that is in 'Theatre' compared to 'River Hawk' behind it.  To the right of 'Theatre', look at all the blue in 'Rare Treat' compared to 'Stepping Out':

This method of planting in a single color block can create problems, though.  If two plants are too much alike and you plant them next to each other then eventually you may not know which is which.  I had 'River Hawk' and 'Tropical Night' next to each other and I have a difficult time telling the difference. 'Tropical Night' was introduced by Schreiner in 1970 and nine years later Plough introduced 'River Hawk'.  He used 'Tropical Night' as the "pollen parent" so no wonder they are so much alike. Here they are in my garden:

'Tropical Night' (Schreiner, 1970)

'River Hawk' (Plough, 1979)

Some of my favorites were gifts from friends:

'Angelique' (Batson, 1961)

I tried to find 'Angelique' on the American Iris Societies WIKI but couldn't.  I love its orchid coloring and it grows well for us in zone 6b.  I was given a rhizome by my friend's sister, a woman who started collecting many years before I got my start in the mid '80s. 

'Boysenberry Buttercup' (Lauer, 1997) 
Another friend gave me a rhizome of 'Boysenberry Buttercup' and it is a very nice iris.  I like how it looks in a vase, where it compliments my maroon carpeting.  

Other favorites include 'Into the Night': a fine example of a rich royal purple color. 

'Into The Night' (Schreiner, 1989)
The catalog lists 'Versailles' as a blue but I also see shades of lavender.  The flaming orange beards are a wonderful complementary contrast.  

'Versailles' (Keppel, 2007)

'Rhinelander' is a great iris to have in your garden.  It grows vigorously, it has good color and substance.  Someone said to me that they liked it because as it ages it is still pretty because it almost looks "antique".  
'Rhinelander'  (Schreiner, 2006)

Notice how both old and new 'Rhinelander' blossoms are beautiful.

This is our "share" iris garden.  These are the extras that we plant here away from all the others so that when friends come to see the irises they can dig some up and take some home from these "share" rows. (We don't sell or mail irises).

 'Rondo' (Schreiner, 1972)

'Conjuration' (Byers, 1989)

'Conjuration' won HM in 1991 and AM in 1994, the Wister Medal in 1998 and the Dykes Medal in 1998.

My mother loved purple, my three sisters and an aunt love purple, and I guess it must be in the blood because I love purple.  
I wear purple, I decorate with purple, and the carpeting in my bedroom is plum colored.  I even have a purple and lime green Christmas tree!

Do you have a favorite color of iris?  Are there some colors that you don't like?

Every time I exclaim that I love a particular iris my husband says "Dawn, let's face it, you love all iris."    He is right, but I love purple just a little more.


  1. Bonjour,
    'Angelique' (Batson, 1961) is an AB - 'Snow Flurry' X 'Capitola' - cf. : - very pretty and photo ! Thank you.

    1. Sophie, (one of my granddaughter's names)
      Thank you Sophie for that additional information. I think Angelique is an iris that shouldn't be lost to the world. Thank you for reading the American Iris Society's blog and in particularly for reading mine. I appreciate the attention that you paid to it. Sincerely, Dawn Mumford

  2. Purple is the best color there is! 😄
    You certainly do have a lot! I love all variations and shades as well, from magentas and raspberry colors to the purple blacks. A few of my favorite pink/purples lately, are Seven Of Nine, and Kick Up Your Skirts. Old favorites are Hook, Gypsy Romance and Sultry Mood.
    Dawn, you don't sell or mail irises? What happens to all those lovely rows when they need to be divided?
    Your fields look like a mini Schreiners! Such a beautiful sight! 😊

    1. For 20-25 years I ordered exclusively from Schreiners and a few from Cooleys. That is probably why it looks like a mini Schreiners. Later tonight I will look up those purple iris that are your favorites. I may not have quite enough. We discard some of our iris but we put a lot of them into share rows and during the iris season visitors can tour the iris and go home with a few from the share rows. I don't mail or sell them because my husband has Alzheimer's disease and he does all the digging and takes care of the orchard. I can't ask him to do more.
      Thank you for your interest in the American Iris Societies blog and particularly to mine. I appreciate it so much. Happy gardening. Dawn Mumford