Monday, August 28, 2017

Let the Sun Shine In

By Bryce Williamson

As I wrote in a previous blog “I’m Singing the Blues,” some traditional iris colors have been ignored by hybridizers in recent years. Among those colors ignored are browns—oddly always popular with the carriage trade—and yellow. Ignoring the latter makes little sense. Yellow to gold is such a wonderful color in the garden and brings a shaft of sunlight into plantings even on overcast and dreary days.

Here are some yellows and golds to perk up even the dullest day.

Abbondonza--Image by Paul Black

Abbondanza (Ghio, 2003). With flowers that bloom from the early season to late, standards are mango gold, infused pink; falls mango gold, heart and shoulders pink; beards tangerine. This is a color that bring yellow and fruit tones together in a warm combination.

Amarillo Frills--Image by Paul Black

Amarillo Frills (Hager 2002). Not the newest iris on the list, but an early to midseason blooming variety that is a laced yellow self including the beards yellow.

Beauty Becomes Her--Image by Paul Black

Beauty Becomes Her (Black, 2010) Blooming in the midseason until the end of iris bloom, standards and style arms are medium dark yellow; falls pale yellow blending to medium yellow edge; beards medium yellow, light yellow at end. I have liked this when visiting gardens in Northern California and it grows and blooms well for me.

Best and Brightest--Image by Paul Black

Best and Brightest (Black, 2012). Some greenish hints in the falls of this bright yellow; anyone who is starting a hybridizing program will find this an interesting parent.


Better Than Butter (Black, 2010). Yet another of Paul Black’s irises on the list, but this time it is a variety that will expand your season, starting to bloom in the beginning of the iris season and blooming to the end.  Here the standards are white with a narrow, bright yellow edge; falls are light to medium yellow darkening towards the edge. A narrow, muted gold band circles the falls.

Dance Till Dawn--Image Paul Black

Dance Til Dawn (T. Johnson, R. 2011). Fifty years ago, one of the major tall bearded hybridizers of that time, Orville Fay, believed that tangerine-red bearded yellows and golds were just around the corner; that goal has been elusive because of genetic linkage. With golden-yellow standards and fall, blazed white, the beards are tangerine to yellow.

Fallalary (Johnson, 2010). In the tradition of Rainbow Gold, this bright, sunshine yellow has a classic, round form, light ruffling, and heavy lace around the petals’ edges, but the flowers open without problems.

Golden Gaga--Image by Paul Black

Golden Gaga (L. Painter, 2012). This variety takes yellow-gold off into a different direction with blendings of caramel in the standards and falls, darker caramel towards the edges of the petals.

Golden Panther--Image by Rick Tasco

Golden Panther (Tasco, 2000). Multi-awarding winning iris. Its awards include an Award of Merit, President’s Cup in 2004 at the AIS National Convention, and the Dykes Medal in 2009. Registered as gold overlaid in bronze, I find that some years it is definitely gold and other years it is bronze. Either way, it is bright and attention getting in the garden.

Notta Lemon--Image by Paul Black

Notta Lemon (Burseen, 2010). Well, actually it is sort of a lemon, though more a lemon-yellow-gold. Starts to bloom early in the season and continues to open flowers until towards the end of the bloom season.

Pure and Simple--image by Paul Black

Pure and Simple (Maryott by Ghio, 2004). I like this quiet, soft yellow better than its more famous sister seedling That’s All Folks. The falls are cream white with a wide band of soft-yellow, the color of the standards. This one always grows well for me and was a standout in the five years of severe drought here.

Pure As Gold--image by Brock Heilman

Pure As Gold (Maryott, R. 1993). Some may ask why this 24 year old iris is on this list. First it is here because of the deep, smooth gold color; the second reason is that it can rebloom in much of the United States. Some consider this to be Bill Maryott’s best introduction.

Smart Money--Image by Paul Black

Smart Money (Ghio, 2010). When I first saw this iris while visiting gardens, I liked its yellow tones; however, when it bloomed for me the next year with light violet lines and speckles on the falls, I did not know what to think. In a day, the lines and speckles disappear. For anyone starting to hybridize, this has produced some very unusual seedling for Barry Blyth in Australia.

Sun Chic--image by Napa Iris

Sun Chic (L. Painter, R. 2010). A bitone effect in this lemon yellow with darker falls; good growth and plants that are reliable for bloom each year.

That's All Folks--image by Brock Heilman

That’s All Folks (Maryott by Ghio, 2005). Standards are brilliant gold; falls white with gold blending to wide, muted gold band; beards gold. People I know in Texas assure me that when well grown, stalks of That’s All Folks can get as tall as five feet. But I must point out everything in Texas is bigger. This bright iris stands out in the early garden from afar and demands attention.

Your My Sunshine--image from Rockytop Gardens

You’re My Sunshine (Fan, 2010). I have yet to bloom this variety, but this gold self, except for a small white flash at the end of gold beards, has come highly recommended to me for wonderful growth habits, sturdy plants, and stalks that stand up under adverse conditions. I am looking forward to its bloom in 2018.


I hope that this blog has reminded you of the value of yellow to gold irises in your garden. When it is time to add to your collection, bring some of these fine irises into your yard and you will be reward with a blaze of sunshine even on the coldest, wettest, and dreariest day by letting the sun shine in.

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