Saturday, September 19, 2015

Newly Published: BEARDLESS IRISES, A Plant For Every Garden Situation

By Andi Rivarola

We iris lovers take for granted the huge amount of information that is available online, and because there are so many people sharing their love for iris with photographs, blogs, and plainly just posts on Facebook, we forget that there are those in the iris community that are really experts in the field.

I didn’t know anything about Kevin Vaughn just a few months ago, and didn’t think of him as an expert when I first met him. In fact I thought of him as another iris fan with an amazing taste for garden design, but after reading all the details in his book I realized that the love for irises runs deeply than that for him.
Today I believe that he has not only great advice to give on how to grow irises successfully, but also offers a multitude of information that makes reading his new book a joy. 

During the recent National Convention of The American Iris Society, held in Portland, Oregon, attendees were able to experience the beauty of Kevin Vaughn’s garden twice. Once during the pre-convention (optional) tour, and then as part of the Siberian & Species Convention held after the regular convention.  It was during these two sessions that I had the pleasure to meet Kevin Vaughn and enjoy his friendly demeanor, and also his knowledge of irises.

Cover photo provided by Kevin Vaughn

One feature of the Portland convention that was really different from other conventions is that many of the irises were blooming at the same time. Call it "Global Warming," or simply, "the weather." Normally, one would not see this, but having all the different irises blooming at the same time made it an extraordinary experience. The Vaughn garden had a huge variety of iris types, Louisiana, Spuria, Siberian, median and other irises, several of which he's also hybridizing. There was a particular combination towards the back of the property that really caught my attention: a fantastic display with a gorgeous bright yellow i. pseudacorus next to a deep purple Siberian iris seedling. Both reaching five feet tall and blooming in full glory. What a sight! (I'm still to post the many photos of this garden, stay tuned). 

Pacific Coast iris 'Caught in the Wind' (Joseph Ghio, R. 2012)
Even though Kevin grows many bearded and non-bearded irises, this book focuses on everything that is fascinating about the latter. 

So why write about beardless irises? Kevin says,”Compared to their bearded iris cousins, the beardless irises have remained a secret to many gardeners…” 

With this gorgeous book, suddenly a wide variety of non-bearded iris types are introduced in a way that is easy to understand, with a multitude of photographs to tempt the unsuspecting reader to take a chance; perhaps grow a few of them.

Louisiana iris 'Aqua Velva' (Kevin Vaughn, R. 2014)

You will also find answers to the following questions:

"What are beardless irises?"
"What is the purpose of the beard on bearded irises, and how do beardless irises do without them?"
Pacific Coast Native iris 'Moderator' (Joseph Ghio, R. 2011)
If you don't grow beardless irises in your garden at this time, after reading this book you may just start doing so. Some of the sections on each chapter such as, "Garden Use and Culture," Pests and Diseases," and Kevin's own "Favorites," will help you make decisions about where to start. 

Vaughn Seedling 40-chromosome Siberian iris seedling 
I hope you also start keeping an eye on Kevin Vaughn's work as I have, as many of the iris seedlings in his garden show much promise. I have started to add some of his Spuria irises to my wish list, and one of the first ones is a child of 'Adriatic Blue' called 'Adriatic Memories,' that is just amazing. Can't wait to see it growing in my own little garden.

Vaughn wide-ruffled Spuria iris seedling
Enjoy this preview of pictures provided by the author, and let me assure you that there are many more in the book. Besides being a great writer, Kevin Vaughn is a great photographer and hybridizer. Here's the list of iris varieties covered in the book:

Pacific Coast Natives

"BEARDLESS IRISES, A Plant For Every Garden Situation" is available via 


  1. Thanks for a great and interesting article, Andi. I need to get the book now!

    1. You're going to love this book Susanne, and thank you for your kind comment. :)

  2. Sounds like a good addition to the book-shelf :)

  3. No doubt, Jan, and you're going to enjoy it very much.

  4. Andi,

    Thanks for your very kind review! I tried to write a book that would cover the basics for beginners but also have information that seasoned irisarians could use as well;. I've been doing this for 52 years now!