Monday, December 19, 2016

"Talking Irises" WHITE TALL BEARDED IRISES - "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"

By Susanne Holland Spicker


 "...May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white."



'SKATING PARTY' (Gaulter 1983)  Always a perfect bloom, with great form and branching, 'Skating Party' is a long bloomer, and is vigorous and reliable. It takes a great photo.

I first fell in love with tall bearded white irises many years ago. My parents had 'Skating Party' planted in their flower bed, and I still remember the pure white falls and lavish ruffles. Oh, and the aroma--it still invokes special memories! So it was fitting that it was the first white iris I planted when I had my own iris garden. In all these years, it has consistently performed well each and every season. It is one of the first to flower, signaling a new bloom season in my zone 6 garden. There have been years when it is still one of the last blooming at the end of the season. I wouldn't be without it in my iris garden. Pictured in this article is a sampling of just a few of my favorite white irises. They are favorites because of they are not only reliable and vigorous, but they are heavy bloomers, with nice form and good branching as well. 




'SLY FOX' (Wood 1997) Beautiful form with red-orange beards, ruffles and lace--a favorite!

I've heard it said that there is nothing more beautiful than a simple white flower. Although I don't know that I totally agree with that statement, what I do believe is that the pristine petals of a white tall bearded iris, with its elegant and graceful beauty, certainly has the ability to quietly command attention, as well as brighten up the flower garden.


'SLY FOX' (Wood 1997) With a long bloom time and nice petal substance, this white iris increases fast and is always a reliable favorite in the garden. Beautiful!

Relatively small beds seem larger when planting whites strategically in the iris garden. They give an extra measure of depth and light that opens up the bed, giving it a feeling of peace and tranquility. For this reason, I like whites and use them in all of my iris beds. 


'LACED COTTON' (Schreiner 1980) If you love lace, this ultra-laced white tall bearded iris won't disappoint. A clump of it is stunning! When first open, a slight green cast is seen on the petals. Unlike many laced irises, this one opens up nicely.


'LACED COTTON' (Schreiner 1980)



'FRESH POWDER' (Van Liere 2011) A vigorous, beautiful white, with extra bright yellow-tangerine beards, this iris is one of the brightest whites I grow. Unique and highly recommended.



'FRESH POWDER' (Van Liere 2011)


When planting whites, here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • A little white goes a long way; be careful about their placement. Too many may 'drown out' the bed
  • White makes small spaces appear larger
  • White can have undertones of yellow, blue, or green, so experiment with their placement if necessary. White can clash with other colors of different undertones
  • A peaceful, almost ethereal feeling can exist in an all- white bed. Experiment to see what looks best in your garden

'BUBBLY MOOD' (Ghio 1984) With lavender undertones and faint green veining on the falls, this huge, bubble-ruffled white iris goes well with cool-colored irises and companion plants.



'BUBBLY MOOD' (Ghio 1984)


Another favorite, a relatively new introduction from Bob Van Liere, 'CHRISTMAS EVE', is one of the tallest in the garden. 
'CHRISTMAS EVE' (Van Liere 2010)



'CHRISTMAS EVE' (Van Liere 2010) The perfect name for this iris!  Standing tall in the garden on strong stems, the ruffled, graceful falls of this white beauty have heavy substance and are framed with bright red-orange beards. Excellent!



'CHRISTMAS EVE' (Van Liere 2010)


'GARDEN BRIDE' (Chapman 1998)


'GARDEN BRIDE' (Chapman 1998) This extra large, pristine white iris is exceptional! I think this is one of Chuck's best. It's always a garden favorite with visitors, and its mid-to-late bloom is always refreshing after the first flush of bloomers has waned 


'MESMERIZER' (Byers 1991) This tall space-age iris is a favorite of many. Some years the appendages curve upward and are more petal-formed. Lovely!



'MESMERIZER' (Byers 1991)

And last, but not least, 'DEVONSHIRE CREAM', (Sutton 2000), a luscious introduction that promises to be a stand out in the iris bed. 

'DEVONSHIRE CREAM' (Sutton 2000) Lovely, laced, and ruffled, this stellar white is pictured in it's maiden bloom. Next year I expect the appendages to be more extended and larger. Exquisite!


Growing a variety of white irises has been a work in progress. I have added new ones to the beds as the years have passed. Each one is unique and beautiful in it's own way.  

This Christmas, I'll be dreaming of white irises--maybe another beauty I can add to the beds this coming year!

Do you love white irises as I do? I'm always on the lookout for a new one, so I'd love to hear from you if you have any favorites.




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