“I have styled this an ‘Iris Lover’s Catalog’ because it is the outcome of a compelling enthusiasm for this flower of mysterious charm.” Thus Franz Xavier Schreiner opened the introduction to his very first price list from his then three-year old Iris nursery located at his St. Paul, Minnesota home. Our grandfather, F. X. Schreiner, began in earnest in 1925 to grow a quality selection of the best Bearded Iris cultivars of the day. Between 1925 and 1927 F. X. set about to creating a classification system, that ultimately formed the basis of the arrangement for his 1928 Price List.
From the early days of the American Iris Society, F. X. Schreiner worked with the board to establish a more workable color classification and rating system for Iris. In his 1928 Price List, F. X. explained, “once we have our Iris arranged in such [color] groups, it is clear we can more intelligently appraise their value, because we compare each one to all similar ones of its own group, and consider all competing members rather than consider it as an isolated example out of the whole field…We arrive at its relative value among others of its color group.” He continues, “after thirty-six years of city business with its incessant competitive strife I find myself on the way towards realizing one of life’s visions, — working in Nature’s beauty garden. After three years of preliminary work, I feel safe in offering the world this beginning of a working plan that will make it more interesting and less vexatious to follow this inspiring avocation or hobby.”
F. X. shared his love for Iris and plants with his three children, Robert, Connie and Bernard (Gus). In 1931, after F.X.’s untimely passing, these three would carry forth their father’s dream “– working in Nature’s beauty garden” and establishing a sound Iris nursery.
In the decades following the establishment of this elemental foundation of Iris classification, the Iris world has blossomed with the myriad cultivars we enjoy today. As Robert Schreiner wrote in the January 1970 issue of the Bulletin of the AIS, from the years 1920 to 1925, “many new breeders came to the fore. Iris history was being made. The founding of the American Iris Society in 1920 became the pivotal point for information. A gardener in Maine or California, Georgia or Washington State, could hear or read about the experiences of other iris personalities and learn of new varieties. Without the invaluable function of the iris society in handling registration of iris names [and a classification of the cultivars], chaos would have become the rule.”
This early April morning in 2015, Salem, Oregon, we survey our fields and Display Garden and wonder at the sight of Dwarf Iris blooming among tulips and daffodils, Intermediate Iris already sending up bloom stalks, Tall Bearded Iris foliage, thick and strong, awaiting the fullness of bloom. We send a silent prayer to our grandfather, thanking him for the work he achieved to lay the foundation of Schreiner’s Iris Gardens. And we thank the countless breeders and enthusiasts who have helped to make the Iris world what it is today.
Click here to view the complete 1928 Schreiner Price List.
~ The Schreiner Family
P.S. Curious about the American Iris Society and the upcoming Annual AIS Convention in Portland, Oregon? Click here.