Monday, June 19, 2017

I'm Singing the Blues

By Bryce Williamson

In the last twenty-five years, there has been an amazing proliferation of new patterns and color combinations. Lost in this transition, however, is one of the basic reasons to grow irises—they have wonderful blues and violets colors found in few other flowers. Other flower groups should be green with envy if they had these colors.

In the light blues, I am particular fond of Richard Tasco's light, approaching sky blue, Absolute Treasure:
Image by Bryce Williamson

With tall stalks that stand up well inclement weather, Absolute Treasure looks good in newly set plants and in second and third year clumps.

In the mid-blue range, I am adding Schreiner’s Blue Hour to the garden this year:
Image by Bryce Williamson

I saw this at the American Iris Society Portland National and was impressed, but did not add it to the yard then since we were in the middle of the horrible drought. With water restrictions lifted, it is nice to have plants thriving instead of struggling to survive.

In a darker shade of blue, Keith Keppel’s Adriatic Waves starts the tall bearded iris season for me:
Photo by Jeanette Graham

With its deep ruffling, it is a standout in the garden.

In a variation of the blue theme, Paul Black has added a tangerine-red beard to his creation Bluebird of Happiness:

Going yet darker in blue, but still clearly blue, it is the hard to beat Ray Schriener’s Yaquina Blue:
Yaquina Blue--Image by Betty Jacobs

This easy to grow variety won the Dykes and deserved to win it.

Then there are the wonderful blue-violet irises. I think Gerald Richardson’s Magheralin is about as close to perfection for form as an iris can get:

Image by Dale Austin
Sadly this wonderful iris, a standout in the yard for both growth, healthy plants, and good bloom, has been ignored by the public.

From blue-violet, the colors can go in two direction. Slipping into the magenta range of violet, it is still hard to beat for growth and good form Schreiner’s Diabolique:
Diabolique--Image by Augusto Bianco
The cerise-violet coloring commands attention.

In a different direction as the blue-violets get deeper for color, then the irises are in the territory of blue-black. One of the few newer irises that I am adding to the collection this year is the stunningly dark Coal Seams (Schreiner’s).
Image by Bryce Williamson
With family members loving these colors and demanding to see them in the spring, I can keep peace within the family with this purchase.

If these irises don't provide enough variety, there are the variations on the theme of blue--reverses and neglectas.

My own Chance of Showers is an example of a reverse with darker standards and lighter falls.
Chance of Showers--image by Jeanette Graham

In the group of neglectas, I am especially fond of Global Crossings (Van Liere). In the same color range as Great Gatsby and World Premier, this is an updated version of them.

I like the velvet finish on the falls.

So, when gardening with irises, enjoy the amazing new color combinations and patterns, but don’t forget to sing the blues and you will not regret those choices and you will be the envy of your neighbors.

1 comment:

  1. HELP! I cannot for the life of me figure out why growers always describe as BLUE, flowers that I would call lavender or purple. Am I crazy or what? Am I colorblind? Can someone explain?
    Thanks! This has befuddled me for years!


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