By Susanne Holland Spicker
A few readers have messaged me recently asking about the collages I make of the tall bearded irises I use for my personal use as well as the AIS World of Irises articles I've written. I appreciate your comments, questions, and suggestions. With the onset of the iris season, now is a good time to get our iris maps, pictures and files organized. Wayne writes that "he would be interested in knowing more about how I create the collages and [my] visual "wish list." He goes on to ask what "thought process, tools and workflow" I use and says that "the collages really help" him.
Probably many of you do this already. I use a program called Picasa that was free with my computer. It allows me to create a collage. I'm sure there are many programs that do the same thing. To create the collage, I first select the iris picture I want. I crop it, then save it in the picture bar until I have the number of pictures I want. For the large collages, I usually select 15 irises, although sometimes I choose more. For the single iris collages, I use three shots of the iris, usually front, side and a stem shot. The rest is easy--just select "create" and the collage magically appears--I love technology! To arrange in a different order there is a shuffle option, or you can click and drag to the desired placement. Text and section dividers can also be added in fonts and colors of your choice.
My visual "wish list" is made by copying images taken by fellow iris lovers of beautiful irises they've grown and shared on the "Iris Lovers" Facebook page. I have a folder on my computer that I save those images in. I tag them with the name of the iris, the hybridizer, the person who took the picture and any other pertinent information, such as where I can purchase them, etc. At last count, I had 454 irises on the list! I know I can't possibly get them all, but it makes for some enjoyable viewing as I can then watch them as a slide show.
Another reader, Rebecca, is planning a blue monochromatic bed and saw a recent AIS World of Irises article (click blue monochromatic to view article) that discussed that topic. She wrote and asked if I could label all the irises in the collages. It was simple to go back in the folder and edit the collage, adding the names of each iris. I was then able to send her 5 or 6 collages of the blue irises grown in my garden. Like I said, I love technology!
To organize irises for use in identification, color coordinating beds, purchasing new ones, or just keeping track of what you've got, the collage system has worked well for me, and it may for you. It's fairly quick and very easy to do.
Having a visual of each of my iris beds, as well as a collage of each individual iris is what has worked best for me. I hope this article has helped anyone having similar questions.
If you have a great way to keep a visual record of your irises that works for you, I'd love to hear from you! I love reading your comments.