Monday, March 14, 2022

Smokin Heights Top 10 Bearded Iris Varieties for 2022

 by Mel and Bailey Schiller

This past season has seen many downs compared to the ups in our life.  We are having "first anniversaries" of my son and Bailey's brother Braiden's passing in late September, 2021. Iris season will never be the same again. On March 5th, we celebrated what would of been Braiden's 26th birthday. As a family we are on an emotional roller coaster, yet life must go on.

Bailey and I have had the irises to occupy our minds for the season. We have done our very best to cope. However, photos are lacking, information is lacking .... Some days it is just too much. The ground is extremely dry and dusty. Autumn weather suggests that winter won't be too far away. We're having extremely cool to mild days with cool evenings. Daylight-saving time will be coming to an end in April. We have started to re-plant the seedlings and will push on to finish before it gets too cold.

As in prior years, we produced a record number of irises which were our best sellers from this past season. We concluded sales as Bailey is back at university and we need all the time we have available to replant our seedlings and our main field.

The following are the top ten bearded irises from our sales list for season 2021/2022.  I must say we were shocked to see the increased sales of border bearded and intermediate bearded irises in the listing! As Australian iris growers and hybridizers, we advise our customers in selecting plants well suited to their growing conditions. Some parts of our beautiful country get hit with extreme wind, and the median-sized border and intermediate irises are perfect for spring colour in these adverse conditions. Some gardeners do not have a protected garden where everything can be successfully planted and thrive. Each of us must find the right plants and work with what we have to create our little piece of heaven at home. 

We shall begin at number ten and work our way to the top-selling iris at number one:

Number 10 - 'Coralina' is a delectable tall bearded iris bred by Thomas Johnson and registered in 2014. We love this peach-toned iris with all its gorgeous ruffling. It produces stunning clumps of bloom in spring.

Number 9 - Tall bearded iris 'Celtic Tartan' is a pretty luminata introduced by Keith Keppel in 2015 This pretty iris is an easy grower; and for those who love the luminata pattern, it is a favourite!

Number 8 - 'But Darling is a beautifully formed tall bearded iris introduced by Schreiners in 2016. It performs beautifully in our garden and makes a statement. Visitors to the garden comment regularly on the beauty of this iris.

Number 7 - Border bearded iris 'Boy Genius' was introduced by Joe Ghio in 2012. This would have to be a favourite amongst our collection of border bearded irises at Smokin Heights. We think this iris is stunning!

Number 6 -  In 2003, Barry Blyth put forth intermediate iris 'Romeo's Passion.' This little beauty is our  favourite red IB. The silkiness of the bloom draws your eye. In a large clump it is stunning!

Number 5 - 'Kissed By Fire' (Mel Schiller 2019) is a easy grower that puts on a gorgeous display! Bailey and I were unsure when I introduced this iris, purely because the breeding was a little older than the others I had bred. We are glad we went with our gut instincts and introduced it. It has proven to win gardeners' hearts over and over!  

Number 4 -  We love the banding on the falls of  tall bearded 'Trill Ride' (M. Sutton 2015). The great depth of colour shines through. It has proven to be a fantastic growing variety that produces large rhizomes quickly. 

Number 3 - The unusual smokiness of this blue orchid-pink 'Dragon Kiss' (Barry Blyth 2013/14) wins gardeners over every time. Oh, and we have discovered people love collecting irises purely for the names. People who collect dragon-themed things add this one to their collections time and time again!

Number 2 - Tall bearded 'Beside Myself' (Barry Blyth 2016/17) is a pretty plicata with large blooms. It has wormed its way into gardeners' hearts. Gardeners don't always want a solid-coloured iris. Plicatas are definitely a top choice to add variety to the garden colour scheme. 

Number 1 - 'A Certain Girl' was the most popular iris sold at Smokin Heights for season 2021/2022 . This exquisite iris was introduced by Barry Blyth in 2018. A tall bearded, it has gorgeous yummy colouring for the romantic cottage garden look. In our garden it gets extremely windy and as it is a tall stemmed variety it can topple easily.  This past season it put on a wonderful early display with plenty of growth.  

We would like to thank our followers, customers, friends, and most of all the gardeners of Australia for trusting and believing in Smokin Heights to deliver our product throughout Australia. We thank those who have lifted our spirits in times of despair, who have messaged, phoned or emailed, sending uplifting powerful messages, and those who have given warm hugs and just been there for us this past season. 

We thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. We look forward to enjoying photos of irises blooming in the Northern Hemisphere and to one day returning to the U.S.A for iris season!  


  1. Beautiful irises! I love the reds and the peachy toned ones.

  2. My first time learning about these irises. They are all gorgeous. Thank you Australia. Sharon in USA

  3. Beautiful Mel, a story of beautiful iris and a strength you didn’t know you had. Keep moving forward.💜💜💜

  4. Thank you for your beautiful comments! XX


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