For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens


Building History with the Help of Friends

Back in the spring of 2015, as we geared up for the celebration of the 90th anniversary of Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, and to welcome the Annual AIS Convention-goers, we received a message from Cathy Egerer of the Historic Iris Preservation Society. She proposed we plant an historic Schreiner Iris bed in our Display Gardens to commemorate our golden anniversary. While our 10-acre display garden contains beds filled with hundreds of Iris cultivars, seedling tests, guest Iris, Dyke’s Medal winners and more, surprisingly we had not yet dedicated a single bed to our own legacy of 90 years of Iris breeding.

We agreed that this would be a tremendous addition to the garden. Ms. Egerer then enlisted the help of dedicated Iris enthusiasts across the country. These generous individuals donated and shipped the historic Iris rhizomes from their own gardens to us here in Oregon. We received several dozen specimens of older Schreiner hybrids, dating back to 1936. Once cataloged and arranged, Ben Schreiner (4th generation owner) planted the “newcomers” and tended to them throughout that first winter.

Thus, our official Historic Schreiner Iris bed was conceived of and built. We would like to very sincerely thank Cathy and all of the folks who donated Iris and time and postage to this project (please forgive us if we have forgotten to list anyone by name): Carlos Ayento, Nancy McDonald, Linda Baumgartner, Judy Schneider, Arlyn Madsen, Lani Shooks, Patty Del Negro, Wanda Rezac, Charles Pickett.  We are grateful to you all for helping to restore these historic Iris to their roots.

Do you grow historic Schreiner Iris in your garden? We would love to know.



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Hollingsworth Siberian Receives Award

By Susanne Holland SpickerPlease join with us in congratulating Robert Hollingworth for outstanding Siberian Iris ‘Judy, Judy, Judy,’ the winner of The Morgan-Wood Medal, The American Iris Society 2017 Awards.’JUDY, JUDY, JUDY’ (Robert Hollingworth 2010) Photo by Robert HollingworthThis exceptional Siberian iris is described by the AIS Wiki as follows:’Judy, Judy, Judy’ (Robert Hollingworth 2010)…

via American Iris Society 2017 Awards ‘Judy, Judy, Judy’ The Morgan-Wood Medal — World of Irises


Annual Iris Naming Contest 2016



B857-C is nice, but I need a proper name!

Each October we select one of our seedlings, never before introduced, to be named by you, our fellow Iris enthusiasts. This year’s candidate is a purple and white seedling, very logically (although unimaginatively) named B857-C. This purple-bearded delight stands 33 inches tall and blooms mid-to-late season. CONTEST NOW CLOSED. Thank you for your interest. Look for next year’s contest in October 2017.

Contest open to US residents only. Entry deadline is 9:00 p.m. Pacific, Wednesday, October 26, 2016.  The winner will receive one plant of the named Iris (shipped summer 2017) and a $25 gift certificate to Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (mailed with a copy of the 2017 catalog in the spring of 2017).

The contest winner will be notified via email in early November.

Sharing our passion for Iris,
The Schreiner Family

Images in this blog are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of the copyright holders Schreiner’s Iris Gardens.



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.

Intermediate Iris|Schreiner's Iris Gardens

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.






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… more on our site.


The Winner of the 2015 American Iris Society’s Dyke’s Medal Is …

The American Iris Society annually awards its highest distinction to one outstanding Iris. This year our close friend and Iris breeding associate, Mr. Keith Keppel of Salem, Oregon, is the esteemed recipient of the 2015 Dyke’s Medal for his dynamic and debonair, “Gypsy Lord”.

Tall Bearded Iris|Gypsy Lord

“Gypsy Lord”, Keith Keppel, 2006

Learn more about the American Iris Society and the annual Iris judging at their website

Congratulations Keith from all of us here at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens!

Shop our End-of-Summer Clearance on Tall Bearded Iris!


“Stepping Out” Celebrates 50th Birthday!

Introduced by the Schreiner family in 1964, Stepping Out quickly became a popular garden Iris. This superb plicata specimen could be found in the Top 10 of the American Iris Society‘s “100 Most Popular Bearded Iris” list year after year. And it’s no surprise why! Stepping Out, a rich violet and white plicata, strikingly picoteed, was awarded the AIS Honorable Mention medal in 1965, the AIS Award of Merit in 1967, and the premium award for a Bearded Iris, the Dykes Medal, in 1968. We are proud to celebrate Stepping Out’s 50th birthday this year!

Stepping Out Schreiner 1964

Stepping Out
Schreiner 1964


Horns, Spoons and Flounces! Say What?

"Wings At Dawn", winner 2013 Iris Naming Contest

“Wings At Dawn”, winner 2013 Iris Naming Contest

We congratulate William Shear of Virginia on his winning entry in this year’s Iris Naming Contest, “Wings At Dawn”. The flounces at the tips of the sunny beards of this all-new introduction for 2014 lift away like birds at daybreak. Mr. Shear will receive a $25 gift certificate to Schreiner’s Iris Gardens and one rhizome of “Wings At Dawn”. We thank all who submitted entries for the 2013 Iris Naming Contest.

Selecting one name from the hundreds of creative and thoughtful suggestions is never an easy task and is truly a group effort. We were drawn to the name that best reflected the perceived motion of the flounces lifting away from the standards. The appendages on this radiant beauty were pure happenstance, according to Ray Schreiner; it was not intentionally bred. The story of the intentional breeding of Iris sporting horns, spoons and flounces reveals a bit of serendipity as well. Read on….

1960 Catalog Cover from Lloyd Austin's Iris Gardens

1960 Catalog Cover from Lloyd Austin’s Iris Gardens

The odd protrusions from the tips of the beards, once decried by some Irisarians as “monstrosities”, were launched into the Iris breeding world and landed themselves a spot in Iris history in the early 1950’s. The late Lloyd Austin (1898-1963) cultivated the Iris oddities, hatching the idea after a fortuitous visit to the gardens of Sydney Mitchell (1878-1951) in Placerville, CA in the late 1940’s. (This is the very same Mitchell after whom the American Iris Society’s “Sydney B. Mitchel Medal” is named.) The story goes that Mitchell  had no interest in these errant traits among his Iris crosses, and willingly offered the seedlings to his friend. Mr. Austin worked with these unique seedlings, crossing them at his gardens, until he achieved the horns, spoons and flounces and even double appendages at the ends of the beards, thus launching the niche of the “Space Age” Iris. Lloyd Austin’s first horned introduction was “Unicorn” in 1954. Throughout the 1960’s, Lloyd Austin promoted the unusually adorned Iris through his colorful catalogs (see image). Check this link for more on the story of Lloyd Austin and his 1954 debut with “Unicorn” on the American Iris Society’s “World of Irises” blog.

Mesmerizer, Monty Byers 1991

Mesmerizer, Monty Byers 1991

Several breeders have carried on the “space” program with great success, despite the opinion still maintained by some Irisarians that these appendages are a distraction or unpleasant. The late Monty Byers, for starters, introduced several award-winning winged, horned or spooned Iris over the years. Take a look at Thornbird (Dykes Medal 1997), Conjuration (Dykes Medal 1998), and Mesmerizer (Dykes Medal 2002) for starters. Lawrence Ransom (“Punk”, 1998; “Three Two One Lift Off”, 2008) and Tom Burseen (“I Wuv Woses”, 2008) also have bred wonderful, fun “space agers”.

Again, thank you to all who submitted entries in this year’s Iris Naming Contest. Try your luck again next year. Look for the contest announcement in the Fall of 2014.

And thank you for choosing Schreiner’s Iris Gardens! We are so very grateful to all of our fans, customers and acquaintances. Happy Thanksgiving!

The above information on the birth of “space age” iris was adapted from passages from the World of Irises, and publications by Kelly Norris (A Guide to Bearded Irises), and William Shear (The Gardener’s Iris Book – out of print).