Monday, January 13, 2020

On the Road Again: Lauer’s Flowers

By Bryce Williamson

The saga of visiting iris gardens in Oregon and Washington continues. When I arrived at Kevin Vaughn’s, we made the executive decision to both go to see Larry and Marcy Lauer in Independence, basically just a hop and a skip away from Kevin’s. I needed directions, of course, since I had always approached their garden along the river.

'King of the Road'
Larry and Marcy lived in Wilton, California for many years and there they met Jim McWhirter and Larry starting hybridizing. On his retirement from the United States Post Office, they headed north and ended up with an acre in Independence 10 miles south-east of Salem. 

The town is charming with many of the turn of the 20th Century buildings being renovated. It has become a bedroom community for Salem as gentrification in Salem has forced many people to live miles from the Oregon capital. From my first visit to this garden to my last, the changes in the town are striking—where there was open space around the garden, new housing is almost to the property line. You will see the change in the next picture taken last year and the image below it taken the year before.

Larry has had many awarding winning irises, but his most widely grown iris is the Dykes winning ‘Stairway to Heaven’. More recently, Larry has become increasing interested in reblooming irises and is focusing his current projects on that area. Larry has also been working a line for red amoenas, an interest of Kevin too, so they had much to talk about.

Larry Lauer with Kevin Vaughn in the seedling patch
In the last several years, I have greatly admired Larry’s ‘King of the Road’, but it seems to have slipped through the cracks of the American Iris Society awards. A warm, satisfying color combination, it also attracted the attention of Schreiner’s and they have it listed in their catalog. I had to look for it for two years to find plants to buy, but it is now happily growing in my garden.
The image is from two years ago before the two story homes went up next door.
Another Lauer introduction that is happily growing here is ‘Blinded by the Light’, a very bright and very early orange. Oddly orange colored tall bearded irises don’t seem to be in fashion these days.

'Blinded by the Light'
While I visiting mainly to see Larry's seedling and introductions, he grows many new irises and some of them that impressed me included the following three. 

'Dark Storm'--Rick Tasco
'Ocean Liner'--Keith Keppel
'Jungle Mist'--Paul Black
The last iris looks quite green in the garden and when I had a commercial nursery, I always found "green" irises sold well and were in high demand.

Among Larry's introductions and seedlings, I took pictures of the following; the first two remind me of Gaulter colors and patterns.

Lauer B-10-31
Lauer B-44-1
Lauer B-76-31
Lauer E-53-2
Lauer F-17-4
'Higher Ground'---Lauer 2019
After a too short visit to the garden, it was back on the road again. I needed a good nights sleep since I had caught an early flight from San Jose to Portland and I knew tomorrow with visits to Schreiner's and Mid America would be a long day.

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