Monday, August 3, 2015



At the end of Susanne Spicker's post published June 8th, she asks “what are some ways you enjoy the beauty of your irises through the year? Do you have any creative ways in preserving their beauty when they're not blooming?” 

In this post, I give a four-part answer:

1.  I made an album where I keep all the pictures and descriptions of the irises.

2.  I make digital scrapbook pages that I can upload to a printing company to be made into a book.

3.  I make collages for later enjoyment.

4.  I love to make iris slideshows set to music that can be played on my T.V. year-round.  

1.  The album: I started collecting and growing irises in the mid 1980s.  I cut photos out of older catalogs and put the photos and the descriptions in an album to help me make comparisons and double check my maps. This is an important garden reference book, but I also enjoy just looking through it.

2.  Digital scrapbook pages and self-published books:  I have used both Mixbook and Picaboo publishers and have had good results with both.  Sometimes I like to create the pages in the scrapbook section of the Smilebox software and then save them as jpg's or jpeg (jpg stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group).  It is a common format used for storing and transmitting photographic images on the World Wide Web.   When Mixbook or Picaboo have a sale, I go to the site.  When it asks me to upload photos, the pages have already been created (with art and embellishments).  All I have to do is upload them. Here is a sample page made in Smilebox but saved as a jpg ready to be uploaded to a company that prints books. This process helps make your books look more professional.  
Pages can hold 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 photos, but of course, the photos will be smaller each time one is added.  

Susanne Spicker has used different companies with success. She has produced beautiful iris books, garden books, and even flower arranging books. (Perhaps if we are lucky she will show some of her books on one of her posts here.)  The books can be hard or soft cover and are generally not too expensive unless they are very long.  Once you get started, some of these companies e-mail you when they are having a sale.  Costco and Walmart also make good photo books, but I have had better results with my local Walmart than I did uploading the files to the main Walmart company in another state.  (Uploading is a process that these companies use to take copies of your picture files off your computer and put them on theirs so that they can print your book). Don't worry, you control what files they have access to.  

Here are a few of my iris books:

This book has pictures on the front and back of the hard cover.

3. Collages:  I love to make digital collages.  They are easier than they look, especially after you have made the first one.  I use the free software called Picasa from Google.

The irises above are 'Private Label' (Nelson, 1985), 'Aristocracy' (Keppel, 2005), 'Mulled Wine' (Keppel, 1981), 'Salsburg Echo' (Schreiner, 2009),  'Conjuration' (Byers, 1988), 'Queen in Calico' (Gibson, 1979), and 'Kitty Kay' (Keppel, 2002).

These collages were made with Picasa.  It is a fun way to enjoy looking at your iris all through the year.  You can even upload these collages and have them printed in a photo book. 

There are too many irises in this collage to name them all!

4.  Compact disks that can be played on the T.V.:  The slideshow disks that I create for T.V. are made with Smilebox  software It is really pretty easy, but it takes some time to find your pictures, decide which photos to use, and to add the captions.  The art work in Smilebox  is already created and you just pick what you like.  Some of the introductions even include animation.  This company is making new designs all the time.  Another fun thing is that you can set your slide show to music to add to your enjoyment.  Smilebox has lots of music to pick from, or if you have some already stored on your computer you can use that.   
To see one of my iris slideshows adjust your speaker volume for music and then click  5 minute Slideshow. The show has 50 photographs taken in our iris patch. 
They are tall bearded irises, historic and new, in no particular order.  You can stop the slide show at any time by pressing the "Esc" button on the top left of your keyboard or the "X" button at the top right of your screen.  If you want to hear all three songs in the show slide the cursor across the iris while the slideshow is running and white letters appear; click on the rectangle to the right of all the white letters; when you click, it will allow the show to loop and play over and over until you stop it.  When the slash line is through the box it will not repeat play.  

I'll end this article with the same question that Susanne asked before:  What are some ways you enjoy the beauty of your irises through the year? Do you have any creative ways to preserve their beauty when they're not blooming?”

P.S.  I’m often asked if I sell or trade my irises.  I’m sorry but I don’t.  My husband has Alzheimer’s disease and he does all the digging and takes care of our orchard (and me!) and I can’t ask him to do more.  I can give you the name of the iris, the hybridizer, and the year of registration (for most) so you can order your favorites. I do keep rows of irises for sharing, and I give those away to people who come to the garden while they are blooming, usually around Memorial Day, but I do not sell them.


  1. I am so impressed with the wonderful work that you do off season with all of the books and digital scrapbooks. I especially love the collages. If I had a yard, this blog would most likely inspire me to start planting irises! It is beautifully done. Thank you sharing.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate them.

  2. Great article, Dawn! You've gone to a lot of work and it shows!

    1. That nice comment is especially great coming from you. Thanks.

  3. Thank you so much for this article. I just recently finished a huge new TB bed, which I documented on the Greater St. Louis Iris Society's Facebook page. I was wondering how I could use the photos I took of the building and planting of the bed, and continue it in the spring during bloom season. I was tossing around the idea of a scrapbook, but you've given me all kinds of ideas! If you'd like to see the building of the bed, just go on to FB and like the Greater St. Louis Iris Society page. It's a relatively new page, and we're hoping that through social media, we can increase interest and membership in the Society, and maybe even bring in some young people. Thank you, again, for a great article! I'll be sharing it on our page!!

  4. Thank you and good luck in the good work you are doing. I will be checking out your Facebook page.


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