Monday, April 1, 2019

A Preview of the 2019 American Iris Society Convention

by Jean Richter

In late April the American Iris Society will hold its annual convention. This year the convention returns to the San Francisco Bay area for the first time in quite a few years. The convention hotel is the San Ramon Marriott, and garden tours will feature five excellent gardens in a variety of microclimates throughout the greater Bay Area. Here is a preview of what you will see at the convention - for even more information, see the convention web site.

The first day of garden tours will feature two gardens in the greater Sacramento area. Frannie's Iris Garden is located in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, and is tended by Fran and Russ Shields. All the iris beds are flat with wide, smooth grassy pathways. If a little rest is needed there is a huge gazebo at the edge of the garden, and cold drinks are close by. The guest beds are laid out for perfect photo shots. Fran has added a few pieces of garden art here and there. Russ and Fran are members of the Sacramento Iris Society. Don't be surprised if, in addition to many beautiful iris, you encounter a llama or friendly papillon!

The patchwork quilt garden of Mary Ann and Ed Horton is spread over several acres of irises. This commercial garden is spotless. You will get a lot of walking done in this garden - walk quickly as this is a huge garden. There are vintage automobiles on the property that have been restored to original, working condition. Feel free to have your photo taken with them. AIS guest irises are on top of a slight hill. Mary Ann and Ed are members of Sacramento and Sierra Foothills Iris Societies.

The second day of garden tours takes you to the Sonoma Valley wine country to the C&L Vineyard Garden. This garden is owned by Joe Lawrence and Rudy Ciuca. The grapes will not be ripe but the vines are there, as well as 70 olive trees. This garden holds several hundred irises in addition to the guest irises. Rudy is a gourmet cook with a gourmet kitchen, so the possibility is good that he will whip up something good to nibble. Joe and Rudy are members of Santa Rosa Iris Society.

'Jade Moon' (O'Brien 1997) C&L Vineyard Garden has all of local hybridizer Lois O'Brien's introductions in their permanent collection.

On this day of the tour we will also be visiting Sonoma Plaza, located in downtown Sonoma in the heart of the Somona Valley wine country. There are a wide variety of things to see and do in the Plaza, including historic buildings (among them the northernmost California mission), over 30 wine tasting rooms, plenty of shops, and world-renowned restaurants. More information is available at the Sonoma Plaza Visitor's Guide.

The final day of garden tours will visit two gardens. The garden of Jim and Irene Cummins is located in Scotts Valley, not far from Santa Cruz, on a gently sloping hill overlooking a small valley. The Cummins' personal garden has hundreds of irises.Guest irises are well marked in a bed away from other irises. A very fun and interesting yard is filled with hundreds of pieces of whimsical garden art. With luck a flock of turkeys may be seen. The Cummins are Monterey Bay Iris Society members.


The convention's master planting is the Dry Creek Garden, an historic cottage garden managed by the East Bay Regional Park District, the largest urban park district in the United States. In addition to the large convention planting, you will have many other plants to enjoy over the garden's acreage. The convention planting is overseen by Jeff Bennett, a member of Sydney B. Mitchell and Mt. Diablo Iris Societies. The convention planting will remain a permanent iris planting in perpetuity with new plants added yearly and the historic garden expanded yearly. Any iris planted in this garden hopefully will still be somewhere on the grounds 100 years from now.

 'Cascade Trails' (L. Miller 2016) MTB

 'Crystal Ship' Lauer 2006 SDB

"Perry Dyer' Black 2017 arilbred

'Top Down' (H. Nichols 2015) novelty iris

If you'd like to join us at the convention, registrations are still being taken through April 15. You can register for the full convention, or for single events or tour dates. Price breakdowns and the registration form is available on the registration page. Lots of information and the latest updates are available at the convention web site. We hope to see you at the convention!

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