Monday, April 25, 2016



Eight driving miles is the difference between 40 feet of snow per year in the Cottonwood Canyons and 5 feet per year in Salt Lake City. I found the above picture on the Ski Utah web site. To go there press HereOur iris garden is 54 miles north of Salt Lake City, where this picture was taken.  Winter has been slow to release Northern Utah from its clutches this year. While I drool over the iris pictures posted on facebook from those of you in California, North Carolina and other warmer states, we are watching our iris greens slowly wake up from the frigid temperatures of winter.  Our plants are about 10 inches tall and only in the last few days have they started sending up stems and forming buds. Nevertheless I know that they are growing and they will put on a lovely show when they bloom some time between the middle of May and Memorial Day. 
My husband and I like to recognize those irises that can always be counted on to bloom well, resist disease, provide beautiful blossoms, make big clumps or rebloom well.  We call them our Super Achievers.  We like to share this information so those of you who have similar conditions and climate zones (6b) can try planting some of these to get good results. Here as promised is part two of the Mumford Garden Super Achievers.  (To review part one click here. )

I made collages out of each iris and tried to include a distant shot, a shot from a few feet away, and a close-up or two so that you could see the full effect of the iris.  

'Aztec Treasure' (Roger and Linda Miller, 1984)

Yellows, golds, and oranges stand out in a garden: and this color always catches your eye.  'Aztec Treasure' does very well in our garden.  It makes a mass of blooms and it is very reliable. We bought this one back in the 1980's, and I hope someone out there still has this beauty for sale.  

'Showcase' (Schreiner's, 1973)

This plicata iris is a show off but not a trouble maker in our garden. You can see it from a distance. It is a historic iris, 32 years old.  It has the grace of an older iris but the gentle ruffling of a newer variety.

'Afternoon Delight' (Richard Ernst, 1983)

I've had this iris for a very long time.  I got it some time in the 1980's. It is another "historic" which perhaps needs more recognition.  This iris makes a lovely clump and is pretty  by itself.  It takes little or no care but remains healthy. 

 'Feature Attraction' ( Schreiner's, 1994)

I have too many irises to have a favorite but this would certainly be in the top 25. I love the icy lavender color, the white beard, and all the lacing. This one is robust in our garden. It provides a cool place to rest your eyes.  

 'Paris Fashion' (Keith Keppel, 2002)

This one isn't old enough in my garden for me to describe the clump. These pictures were taken its maiden year.  It gets the Super Achiever Award because I expected that I wouldn't like the muted colors, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The colors seem to give it a sophistication that I wasn't expecting. Look how lovely the spacing is (there is more than one stem in the photo).  It gets my Surprise Super Achiever award. I won't mistake this iris for any other in my garden.

 'Dusky Challenger' (Schreiner's, 1986)

This famous iris turns 30 years old this year.  That makes it "historic". Year after year it gets voted as on of the most popular irises in the American Iris Society Symposium. It has many things going for it.  It has a huge blossom.  Its shape is impeccable. The beard is lush and dark (dusky). The substance is very good. It never droops. It is healthy and makes huge clumps. Every garden should have this iris. Plant it next to an orange or yellow for a complementary color scheme. Each color will make the other color "pop". It won the Dykes Medal in 1992.

'Skywalker' (Schreiner's, 1996)

This iris was given to me by a friend.  It will always be special for that reason. It seemed to have a slow start at first, but by the second year it made up for it.  The two-toned blue is beautifully shaded.  The shape is wonderful.  Look for purple based foliage which most people find attractive.  It also has a slight fragrance.

'Suspicion' (Keith Keppel, 1998)

This is another muted color one that was a pleasant surprise.  I haven't found a catalog picture that really depicts the colors as pretty as they are.  If you look at the iris "WIKI"  American Iris Society's Iris Encyclopedia  you will see how different each picture is.  Perhaps the different climates and soils and conditions change the colors a bit.  I sure like what mine looks like.  Thank you, Mr. Keppel.

'Silverado' (Schreiner's, 1986)

This iris looks perfect whether it is in a clump or with a few or extremely close up. It also will turn 30 this year so it is classified as an "historic".  'Silverado' won the Dykes Medal in 1994. This iris changes colors according to the light and I suppose camera and monitor. Sometimes it looks almost pure white, sometimes it looks dusted with pale blue but most often it is shaded with a delicate lavender where the falls and standards meet. 

I feel like I need to confess how unorganized my digital iris pictures are. I have literally thousands of iris pictures but so many of them are in this computer and filed just by the date the picture was taken.  I admit frustration because I have so many "Super Achievers" that I would like to share pictures of, but I can't find that perfect picture that shows the clump, or the light hitting it from behind, or that perfect closeup.  I was limited to the pictures that I could find.  I do however have enough for a part 3, so look for that post in the next few weeks.  I am determined to label each iris as I put its picture in the computer this year!

One last note.  Neal and I don't sell or trade irises.  We share with those who visit in person and can help dig them up.  My husband is ill and I won't make him go into digging and dividing irises as a business. I hope you understand.  I do hope that by giving you the name and hybridizer of the iris that you can find a vendor if you want that particular one. The first 25 years of growing iris we bought about 95% of them from Schreiner's Iris Gardens and Cooley's.   

I loved all the responses I got from you last time about which irises do super well for you. Keep the comments coming.  Tell the rest of us what planting zone you are in so others in that same zone can try your "Super Achiever". Kindest regards from our home to yours.

Looking through 'Conjuration', 'Edith Wolford', Silverado and 'Dusky Challenger' at our home we built in 2003-4.  



  1. I am happy to have two of the "super achievers" you have listed here. We're in the high desert of north-central AZ, and ours started at the end of March. Maybe a few weeks of blooms left for us. Dusky Challenger has yet to bloom, but has lots of buds on. Silverado is blooming itself silly. :~)

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment. I have many more really deserving irises that I could put in this class if I only organized my pictures. Irises like Champagne Elegance, Song of Norway, Vanity or Pink Taffeta. Silverado shows up well at night and you are right it blooms itself silly.

  2. Loved the article! Of course, you know we share many of the same irises, and I share your thoughts on their 'super achiever' status.

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    2. I sure hope we can see each other's gardens this year. I am afraid you will have some that I want and I just can't order more. Your great photos and collages always tempt me to buy yet one more iris.

  3. I love your collages; they are a source of great "wish-listing"! Can't wait to look for Paris Fashion and Skywalker. I also have Dusky Challenger and Silverado. Silverado is new to me and hasn't bloomed, but I'm looking fwd. to all the benefits you describe. DC is a real stand-out for me, too; it never fails to perform outstandingly. I've had several stalks open 4 blooms at once! Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. Cheryl. It was so nice to hear from you. Collages are fun to do. I use Picasa which is a photo collecting and editing system and you can download it free. Skywalker is much like Honky Tonk Blues but a bit less intense and more aqua in it. If you can't find one then get the other.


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