For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens


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“Summer Olympics” in your yard?

So, you’re not a world-class gymnast, or the world’s fastest sprinter, or even a sun-tanned beach volleyball player,but still you might be dreaming of an “Afternoon in Rio”, or of someday joining the Summer Olympics….We all have dreams, don’t we? Well, we’re excited for the summer games even still. Opening August 5th in Rio de Janeiro, the games inspire us all the world over. And right here in Oregon (home of several Olympic athletes, incidentally), we’re inspired to have some fun with Iris names while we await the lighting of the cauldron.

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Summer Olympics, R.G. Smith 1980

Top of the list “Summer Olympics“: Aptly named for its bright golden color that often will come around in the summer or late fall in addition to the spring bloom, as it is a reblooming Iris.

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Dream Ticket, Larry Lauer 2006

The US Olympic Dream Team has got the “Dream Ticket“to bring home that “Pure As Gold” hunk o’metal draped around their necks this summer.

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Pure As Gold, William Maryott 1993

One for all of you aspirational types, here’s to “Dreaming of Rio“. And why not? If athletes can dream big, why not the rest of arm-chair contenders?

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Dreaming of Rio, Schreiner 2008

And for all the athletes whose dreams have come true, spending the “Afternoon in Rio“, we send our joyous congratulations! Dream big, win big, and go for the gold!

The rest of us can enjoy the games, in the afternoon, on the patio, gazing at our summer gardens.

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Afternoon in Rio, Schreiner 2005


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The Reds, Whites, and Blues of Bearded Iris

Reds

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“Cat’s Eye” (Black, 2002)

“..There are irises billed as red, but they veer toward shades of wine, brick or reddish brown.

What started as an informal race among growers to create a truly red iris has developed into a decades-long marathon. It persists despite advancements in science, and efforts to modify the flower genetically by Richard Ernst of Cooley’s Gardens outside Salem, Ore., in conjunction with researchers at Oregon State University.

In 2004, Mr. Ernst — a well-known hybridizer who for decades pursued the red iris the old-fashioned way, crossing varieties with characteristics deemed logical to produce a red — predicted that the genetic retooling efforts would be successful in time to show off a red iris at the national conference of the American Iris Society in May…” Read more in the NY Times article >>>>

Whites

White Iris|Immortality

“Immortality” (Zurbrigg, 1982)

White Iris serve a tremendous, grounding purpose in the garden. Their presence give rest to the eyes among the array of colors. They provide contrast to a group of darker blossoms. They pair beautifully with the green foliage surrounding throughout the garden. “White [iris] today have come a long way since the days of their famous ancestors. Ruffles, lace, and a sun-catching characteristic of the flower’s cells, colloquially called diamond dusting, top the list of adjectives used to describe white irises.” (Kelly Norris, “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts”, pg 38)

 

 

Blues
Iris lovers heart blue. Actually, I think people heart blue. We’ve been long lost on a quest for true blue in nature, and when we do encounter it, it holds us in deep rapture. Fortunately for iris lovers that rapturous experience storms the garden each spring, laden with ruffles and sassy, audacious flowers.

Like yellow, blue covers a lot of ground, describing the world from the ocean to the sky. Color experts would distinguish true spectrum blue (105C on the RHS Colour Chart) from the violet-blue group of colors we register as wisteria blue, cornflower, bluebird, medium blue, and so on. Looking over the cumulative list of Dykes Medal winners, you can easily pick up on the judging electorate’s bias toward blue bearded irises.

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“Se Power” (Keppel, 1999)

Starting with ‘Sierra Blue’ (Essig 1932) in 1935, more than 18 irises of bluish colors (approximately 25 percent) have won the American Iris Society’s top honor, including some of the world’s most familiar and most often grown bearded irises: the light blue ‘Babbling Brook’ (Keppel 1969), the cold ocean water ‘Shipshape’ (Babson 1969), the waterfall-esque ‘Victoria Falls’ (Schreiner 1977), the bay-reflecting ‘Yaquina Blue’ (Schreiner 1992), and the tempestuous medium blue ‘Sea Power’ (Keppel 1999). The bearded iris world sports thousands of blue irises throughout the range just described, but spectrum blue bearded irises are inexplicably rare, with only one confirmed report in the Bulletin of the American Iris Society, from Virginia hybridizer Don Spoon, of its turning up in a seedling patch.  Almost as rare are the blends with green – mainly turquoise. The SDB ‘Tu Tu Turquoise’ (Black 1989), the most famous turquoise iris, has given risen to other popular dwarfs of similar color, including ‘Miss Meredith’ (Spoon 2002) and ‘Bombay Sapphire’ (Black 2007) .

In bearded irises, the quest for the true blue iris has had many fortunate detours. The flood of blue tall bearded irises from the 1930s through the 1950s stems from ‘Great Lakes’ (Cousins 1938), ‘Blue Rhythm’ (Whiting 1945), and ‘Cahokia’ (Faught 1948), which when crossed with other blues of the day and whites like ‘Snow Flurry’ (Rees 1939) and ‘Purissima’ (Mohr-Mitchell 1927) gave rise to a tide of new introductions from breeders across the country, including the Schreiners of Oregon, who still lead the crowd of blue breeders. The same quest led hybridizer Paul Cook to discover the amoena pattern, incorporate new species (namely Iris reichenbachii and I. imbricata) into the genealogy of modern irises, and create a whole new class of irises – the standard dwarf beardeds. His Dykes Medal-winning ‘Whole Cloth’ (1958) and ‘Emma Cook’ (1957), an iris named for his wife, were the grand culminations of his work. But Cook discovered these pearls en route to a dark blue bearded iris free of influence from violet. The best representative of his work in this line was ‘Allegiance’ (1958), “universally recognized as one of the finest iris Mr. Cook has introduced” (Schreiner’s Iris Lovers Catalogue, 1958).

Excerpt from “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts”; Kelly D. Norris; Timber Press, Inc., 2012. Pp: 32-35.

Reds, whites and blues, they can be had. And even though you won’t have these lovely Iris in your garden this time of year, we wish you a very Happy 4th of July!

~ The Schreiner Family


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Consider the Early Blooming Iris

Dwarf Bearded Iris|Heather Carpet

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris, Heather Carpet (Chapman, 1999), hugs  a garden path.

Easy to plant, easy to care for, easy to enjoy! That is the Iris. And such variety too! Variety of size, variety of bloom season, variety of color, variety of style. Isn’t success in life all about the choices we make? That simple maxim can apply to the realm of the flower garden too. The Iris offer such a host of choices, one is surely to find just the right color, or size, etc. Let’s talk about the breadth of bloom time, for example. The Miniature Dwarf Iris and the Standard Dwarf Iris are among the very first Iris to bloom. Weather depending, of course, they open up their diminutive blossoms, just 5 to 15 inches in height, approximately mid-March to early April (in most temperate zones), heralding the launch of another promising Iris season.

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Intermediate and Border Bearded Iris blooming at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Weep not for the fading Dwarf Iris! For the Intermediate, Median, or Border Iris are opening on the garden scene. A bit taller than the tallest Dwarf, yet shorter than the shortest Tall Bearded Iris, they offer brilliant bloom to span the gap between March and May, a beautiful complement to the Cherry blossoms! The earliest blooming Tall Bearded Iris will overlap with the later-blooming Intermediate Iris, to create a seamless floral transition of color. Sprinkle in several mid-season and late-season Tall Bearded Iris around your garden, and the color show continues well into June.

Dwarf Bearded Iris|Gold CanaryLet’s have a few more words about these Dwarf Iris, though. The Hungarian language has a saying, “The pepper corn is small, but mighty.” (Kicsi a bors, de erős.) The same can be said about these Iris of smaller stature. They are no less hardy than their taller, more robust cousins. Dwarf Iris, both Miniature and Standard types, propagate with strength and, once in bloom, stand up to the early spring frosts. There are several wonderful resources available which provide great detail on the origins of these hybrids (quite fascinating, really). The Dwarf Iris Society is a good place to start for further links and leads on exploring the subject. Several Iris breeders today have introduced spectacular Bearded Iris cultivars in miniature.

A few moments spent even casually mapping out the succession of Iris blooms in your garden will yield months of rainbow color from your ankles to above your hips! Dwarf, Intermediate, Tall Bearded, as well as Beardless Iris, are all planted in the summer months. Below is a simple chart, indicating approximate bloom times for Iris ranging from the Miniature Dwarf to the Tall Bearded, and including the Beardless Iris such as Siberian and Louisiana. Bloom time is greatly dependent on weather conditions and gardening practices, however. For example, Reblooming Iris require regular fertilization and dividing.

March

April

May

June

July/Aug/Sept/Oct

Min. Dwf. & Std. Dwf.

(5″ to 15″; 5cm to 28cm)

Intermediates & Border

(16″ to 27″; 40cm to 68cm)

Tall Bearded

(28″ to 48″;70cm to 122cm)

Tall Bearded & Beardless

Reblooming Bearded Iris of all sizes

Music, Keith Keppel 1999

Music, Standard Dwarf Bearded
Keith Keppel, 1999

As Barbara Whitehouse and Bee Warburton write in their chapter entitled “Miniature Dwarf Beardeds”, in The World of Irises, (The American Iris Society, 1986) “…each iris lover should grow at least one or two clumps of them …. However, they are so charming that one or two clumps may ultimately become a whole bed or border.” (pg 145)….

If you are one who can hardly wait for the year’s Iris season to start, you have merely to plant some Dwarf Bearded Iris this summer. You will have Iris blooming with the first inkling of spring warmth. Even if you consider yourself simply a fan, a dabbler, a curious gardening newbie to the world of flowers, give the Dwarf Iris a try!

Do you grow Dwarf Iris? Share your comments below!

What to do in the Iris garden this month…..read more on our site.


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AIS Blog WORLD OF IRISES Five Year Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to the World of Irises blog! We very much enjoy the informative and creative pieces made available to the world via this blog. Looking forward to many more years of reading!

 

Source: AIS Blog WORLD OF IRISES Five Year Anniversary


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Begin at the beginning…if you can remember when it began

Speaking of inspiration and passion and all things Iris, read Vanessa Spady’s passionate tale of her gradual and consuming love affair with THE flower of Inspiration — the Iris.

Thank you, Vanessa, for sharing this with us!

Source: Begin at the beginning…if you can remember when it began


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Dormant Iris: A long winter’s nap

SnowGardenSmallWill the recent mild winter temperatures around the country impact the winter dormancy cycle of the bearded Iris? Hard to say at this point. Iris are tough. However, any heaving of the soil from the hard freezes which might still come could dislodge the rhizomes, which could be disastrous for their survival. We recommend keeping a close watch on the Iris beds should the weather bring hard freezes. A winter protection can help minimize any potential damage typically caused by hard freeze cycles. Straw, evergreen branches or leaves, or even mounding the soil up around the rhizomes are recommended forms of winter protection. The key with winter protection is to remove it when the threat of hard freezes has passed in the spring. If a spring-time freeze is forecast after new shoots have begun to show, be sure to shield these shoots with recommended protection.

So, what do Iris do all winter? They sleep – or rather, they prepare for the springtime show. Bearded Iris grow best in temperate climates because they require a dormant period which is brought on by winter’s low temperatures (consistently below 40° Fahrenheit (below 5° Celsius) for an extended duration). This dormant period allows the rhizome to convert the energy, which it collected all spring and summer through the plant’s foliage, into the production of new foliage and bloom stalks. Should the current warm trend continue in areas that typically see much colder temperatures this time of year, gardeners might see mixed results in the springtime bloom of the Bearded Iris. Unusual weather patterns, such as sudden freezes following periods of mild temperatures can result in bent stems or wavy leaves (known as “pineappling”), for example. Despite the disfigured appearance of the stem and foliage, the plant is healthy. As long as the rhizome remains firm, the plant will continue to grow. Remember, lack of bloom does not necessarily mean that the Iris plant has died.

We hope that you have found this tidbit of information useful. We welcome your questions and comments in the Comments section below.

Here we share a collage of images from our archives of the Display Gardens in winter through the years …

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Display Gardens, Quinaby Road, Dec. 28th, 2015

May you find peace and fulfillment in gardening!

Happy New Year!

The Schreiner Family

 

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