Monday, July 16, 2018

The AIS Region 14 Spring Regional

by Jean Richter

Every region of the American Iris Society holds a spring meeting, often including garden visits and irises planted specifically for the event. AIS Region 14 (which includes northern California, Nevada, and Hawaii) held its 2018 spring meeting, Butterflies in the Mountains, on May 11-13 of this year. The event was held in and around the town of Mariposa (the Spanish word for butterfly), located in the Sierra Nevada mountain foothills on one of the major routes to Yosemite National Park. As the elevation of the tour gardens was around 3000 feet, the bloom season was a few weeks later than much of the rest of the region, affording irisarians some extra time in which to view their favorite flowers, and avoiding conflicts with other bloomtime events at lower altitudes.

 A butterfly lights atop 'Winter's  Smile' (Black 2016)

There were two tour gardens at this regional; the first we visited was Sky Ranch Gardens owned by Gary and Gail Collings in Oakhurst. The Collings have numerous rows of iris planted into a gently sloping hillside.

The Collings garden

Bill Tyson seedling

'Tropical Fruit Salad' (Kanarowski 2017)

In addition to the guest iris, one aspect of the Collings garden I very much enjoyed was seeing their extensive collection of "recent historic" and "almost historic" iris - varieties from the 1980s and early 1990s, many of which are becoming difficult to find. A number of these were also space age iris (with horns or other appendages on the beards of the flower), another favorite of mine.

'Sky Hooks' (Osborne 1979)

'Gold Speculator' (Williamson 1993)

'Zany' (Dunn 1987)

The second tour garden was the garden of Doug and Diane Kanarowski, located in the hills above Mariposa. In addition to many rows of iris, Doug and Diane have an extensive and beautiful garden around their home, with plantings of a wide variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, water features, a dovecote, and plenty of whimsy.

The Kanarowski garden

Doug is also a hybridizer, and incorporates a fair amount of whimsy into his iris names as well, for example: 'Big Hat No Cows.'

'Big Hat No Cows' (Kanarowski 2016)

The beautiful pastel colors of Kanarowski's 'Baby Duck' won it the Clara B. Rees Cup for best iris introduced prior to the current year by a Region 14 hybridizer.

 'Baby Duck' (Kanarowski 2016)

'Irresistable Charm' (Tasco 2016)

Many thanks to AIS Region 14 for putting on an enjoyable regional! Thanks also to my wife Bonnie Petheram for providing nearly all the pictures for this blog (all except 'Zany,' which was my photo).


  1. I am very happy that I read your post again. Keep the good work going on....

  2. Great report of our Spring Regional Gardens. Thanks Jean and Bonnie. Phyllis Wilburn


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