At the start of the year we sent out a call for any and all stories from our readers about their experience and relationship with Schreiner’s Iris Gardens from the past 90 years. We were delighted and touched to receive the emails and letters, and even a 90th birthday card! As a tribute to all who took the time to submit their story, we share them with you here, largely unedited to preserve their original spirit.
Stories shared in celebration of our 90th anniversary
From Ed W. Columbus, OH
Greetings! In regard to request to your 90th year share, well I grew up in Grand Rapids, MI. First saw Iris growing in the yard of a man who got me ‘turned on to Iris’, a Mr. Bob Mallory. This was while I was still in high school, way back in the mid 70’s. To make short, through the 70s I had a 2-acre Iris garden, sold them to help pay for the first two years of college. I joined the Grand Valley Iris Society and was one of the host gardens for the yearly national garden tour in 1976 — maybe you were at my home?? Our bloom time was early June. Had to stop growing Iris for a long time, moved to college etc. My wife and I now live in Columbus, Ohio. Had to down size our yard but always had a few Iris growing in our yard. Now my daughter got the Iris bug, so when we get our catalog they go nuts over all the beautiful color combinations, and so little by little we are adding more Iris to our collection. I remember winning my first “queen of the show ” with Stepping Out. Thank you
From Tricia A. Wichita, Ks
I have so many wonderful memories of Schreiner’s; we visited your gardens in 2009. It was wonderful to be there, where so many of my beautiful Iris are grown. Now a very good memory. My husband and I were there together, our last long trip, as he passed away the next year. I have grown Iris since I was five. And after we were married, he was my Iris helper. We spent many years together growing Iris, I will never forget the good times we had together, growing the most beautiful flower there is. Thank you so much for all what you do for the Iris flower.
From Matt M. Tokyo, Japan
Congratulations on your 90th anniversary!
It was in 1964 when I saw the Schreiner’s catalog for the first time, which showed a beautiful Iris garden. Since then, I wanted to visit the garden and actually I visited there in 2003 with my wife and daughter. It was very nice trip!
I wish you all the best toward your centennial anniversary. Best regards.
1964 Schreiner’s Iris Gardens Catalog Cover
From Linda A., Illinois
I started gardening as a very young child and I have had this passion since I was seven. I am now in my sixties and still love gardening. I got my first Iris from my mother when my husband and I bought our first home in 1971. With the purchase of our second home, a move to the country and two and a half acres, I found Schreiner’s Iris catalog. I had a huge Iris bed placed where I could see it first thing in the morning. It was so peaceful to look out and see it at any time of the day. A third move took me to into a bigger town where I took some of my Iris with me. In my present home I have a larger yard and have purchased many more Iris. I have them around the house, a large bed where I can again see it from the window of my sewing room. It is part of an oriental garden, and the south side has a more Victorian feel to it. But always with the Iris. Two years ago I planted orange Iris on the south side of the house for my neighbor to enjoy also, as orange is her favorite color. I added more Iris last year and now I’m trying to hurry spring along so I can enjoy the new Iris.
I have, as my mother did, passed some of my Iris to my daughter and gave her a Schreiner’s catalog. Iris has been a close connection for the women in our family passed from mother to daughter for many generations. Now my daughter has instilled a love of gardening in her sons. Our son has the daughters in our family and he has passed his love on to them. Perhaps this love will go on with future generations. I have even given your Iris to my mother who tells everyone they are the most beautiful Iris and the healthiest she has ever owned.
Thanks for your beautiful Iris and the peace and happiness you have given to my family.
2015 Schreiner Introduction, “Makin’ Good Time”
From Lynnel L.
My Grandmother worked all her life as a Horticultural ID specialist for the CA Dept. of Agriculture. She grew Iris. My mother grew Iris. We all moved to the Rogue Valley in 1966. We brought Iris with us from CA, and my mother’s favorite was one she called ‘Grand Canyon’ (Russet shading to orange-yellow standards, deep purple to burnt orange falls). Just after my Grandma passed, mama and I discovered Schreiner’s – just up the road!!
We made bi-yearly pilgrimages, and after my dad passed, and she moved to Lincoln City, we would meet there, and I would follow her home and spend a few days. Mama passed 2 years ago, and I am feeling the need for a visit this season.
From Kim D., Oregon
My Mom’s favorite flower was the Iris. I sent her some from Schreiner’s. My Dad, who loved to garden, planted them outside their bedroom window. My Dad passed away unexpectedly in June. When my Mom looked outside her bedroom window on her birthday, December 20th, of that year, one variety of Iris was in bloom. My Mom felt that Dad was wishing her a Happy Birthday!!!!
From Judy G., Oregon
Three years ago I brought my father and his sister (both in their 90’s) down to view the Iris in bloom over Memorial Day. They were enthralled! They couldn’t stop exclaiming about the colors, the layout of the beds and all the different types of Iris. It was a wonderful day for all. Thanks so much for a really good memory.
Visitors to our Display Gardens during Bloom Season in May
From Carrie, California
As a young girl I would admire my Grandmother Helen’s blooming Iris in San Diego. As a teenager I would help her weed through her Iris plot on the hillside next to her home. One particular Iris caught my attention, Purple with orange beards. Later years my mother was growing the same around her home, I gathered a few rhizomes producing beautiful Iris in the Sierra foothills. I started to notice pods would develop after the flowers faded and asked about the pods and what to do with them. Amazing, I was able to actually grow a blossoming flower from a seed! Very exciting and a lot of patience and daily care!!!
I just wanted to tell how I became familiar with your Iris. In the 1980’s my mother was a real Iris lover. She must have had at least 100 varieties of your Iris. She had them all cataloged and tagged. Her gardens were just beautiful in the spring when they were in bloom. She even put them all over the hill that was in back of their place. Then in 1995 they moved to Walla Walla because of my father’s health problems. She brought starts of a few of her favorites but really didn’t have the space for only a few, so she had to quit buying them. I have the same love for your gorgeous Iris, but have the same problem she had, where to put them! So, this summer I am trying to make a space to put them, hopefully I will be purchasing later on.
Hope that you found this story interesting. Wish you could have seen her gardens.
Respectfully, Sharon D.
FJulie H., Pennsylvania
I am a perennial gardener, living in the mountains of central PA. After a few false starts buying Iris from other companies, I began ordering tall bearded Iris plants from Schreiner’s about 10 years ago. Now my southeast facing hillside garden holds 37 glorious varieties in a rainbow of colors. Every May is a delight!
I can’t thank Schreiner’s enough for the quality and variety of their Iris, and the excellence of their customer service. Thank you, and congratulations on your 90th anniversary!
From Penny V., Oregon
Almost Every year since we moved to Oregon in 1994 I’ve set aside a day to make the “pilgrimage” to Schreiner’s, even in the rain. Always an uplifting experience without fail. I’d built up a huge selection of my own and sold plants at the local farmer’s market for years, but alas, I’m too old and infirm to do that anymore. I’ve really gained an appreciation of the hard work your crew does to present acres and acres of lovely plants. We’ll be up this year too! Many thanks for creating such a wonderful and rewarding garden!
Celebrating 90 years with a bit of cake!
From Reba P-W., Georgia
I am now 60 years, and I have fond memories of working with my paternal spinster aunt on her grounds planting various garden rooms. She had a stressful job, and every afternoon on her way home, Aunt Martha Taylor would drive by my house and we would work on the grounds for an hour or two depending on the time of year and the weather. She only bought from Schreiner’s and was especially proud of her Iris. I can’t tell you how many times, I was admonished, “Only buy Iris from Schreiner’s; they will reward you for years.” Her home and beautiful grounds were sold; however, the new owner allowed me to pluck some of the established Iris for floral displays in a community project. There were many “oohs and ahhs”. I hope to resume my heritage with the Iris, but I have learned they are rather particular, down here in the South, about where they are planted. Meanwhile, I look at your catalog and dream and remember.
From Mary B., Georgia
My maternal grandmother had a small flower business in the 1940s to mid-1960s that encompassed her yard. My mother and I stayed with her after WWII while my father completed his education under the GI Bill. I enjoyed being outside with her while she planted, watered, weeded, etc. She would tell me the name of the plants, Iris, dahlia, jonquils, etc. Then when they bloomed she would tell me – that’s my Blue Shimmer, Firecracker, Ola Kala, Sable. My favorite was the purple & white Wabash. When they bloomed, I loved the colors and the delicate scent of the Iris. She also had Siberian Iris and the native Iris cristata. I was allowed to look through her Schreiner’s catalogs full of beautiful Iris to find what she had and what she lacked. I truly believe that I learned to read from your catalogs. Being able to peruse them on-line brings back memories of a simpler life.
From Caron G., Missouri
Mother passed away 12 years ago with pancreatic cancer. She ordered an Iris collection prior to becoming ill. When they came she gave them to me. I planted them and over the years they have multiplied and spread. I have shared and shared those flowers with family and friends. We call them her flowers. Happy anniversary. Your flowers have given our family a connection to mother we all appreciate.
From Molly S., Colorado
Boy do I have some stories to tell! This is pretty cool that you guys are doing this. I am guessing not many former employees or family members will participate but here I am!
I remember hanging out in the label room before I worked there and thinking it was the best place in the world. I remember starting to work and realizing it was not as much fun as I thought it would be. I remember being a carrier and always messing up the numbers. I remember Uncle Steve’s motivational talks and having my stomach drop just a little bit every time I saw my dad walk by, especially if I had been talking! I remember thinking that sometimes the clock must have stopped because time was going so slow. I remember that 4pm on Saturday was the best hour of the entire week. I remember working with so many great people. And I remember the excelsior.
Bob, Connie and Gus at the new property in Salem, Oregon (1950’s)
From Sylvia R., Washington
I have been a Schreiner fan for at least 40 years. Even visited about 5 years ago. Very impressed with quality and variety of plants ordered and received. The beds were neat and well-marked. Now at 82 I will probably not return. But the beauty will stay with me forever. This last catalog is beautiful. Keep up making this corner of the state beautiful. The best to all of you. Iris forever.
Third Generation: Liz (Schreiner) Schmidt, with brothers Ray and Steve Schreiner Photo courtesy Stacey Griffin Photography
From Joanne M., Texas
I live in Southeast Texas and have not ever traveled to Oregon to see Schreiner’s Iris Gardens. But, in 2003, I discovered Schreiner’s on the internet and ordered my first Iris rhizomes. That began my “love affair” with Iris. I have ordered Iris every year since then and wish I could share all the beautiful pictures I have of them over the last 12 years. My computer is full of Iris pictures and I have copies of all them in albums. I cannot resist ordering at least 3 or 4 EVERY year. I have run out of room in my yard. I have also lost a few over the years, shared with friends, etc., and still have beautiful blooms every year. I know I will order a few, but I am now 78 years old and can’t work in the heat anymore.
I’m sure that when I receive the Iris catalog for 2015, I will not be able to resist ordering a few and putting them somewhere. I enjoy receiving correspondence from you all and see all the beautiful Iris pictures you share.
Someday I hope to see the Schreiner’s Iris Gardens in full bloom.
From Emma M., now in Utah
Commuting has its benefits! I remember one spring morning while heading northward on I-5, watching the familiar murky haze blanket the Salem-Keizer exit. As I reached for my wake-up coffee, cloudy colors towards the east caught my eye. More and more grooves of painted ribbons unfolded abruptly disappearing into dark, dramatic hedgerows of conifers and shrubs. The fog lifted and moved, continuing to hide and reveal botanical contours of color. I had no idea I had just experienced ‘Iris country’. Since then, I have often stopped along that I-5 corridor mesmerized at the Oregon fog and the announcement of spring from your dramatic, stunning landscapes of Iris. Thank you for this simple pleasure and the very best for another 90 years of Iris growing and sharing.
Bob, Connie and Gus Schreiner in the early days at our Salem, Oregon Iris farm
From Consuelo S., Washington
I planted some Schreiner’s Irises in my flower beds and they were so beautiful that I built a huge circular bed in the front yard and filled it with Irises. Schreiner’s sells large healthy rhizomes that bloom the first season I plant them. The colors are so unique and wonderful that they amaze my neighbors.
From Cindy R., Missouri
Dear Schreiner’s Gardens,
When I was a new member of our local Iris club in the mid-1990s, the high sellers of our auction were almost always a Schreiner pink or blue Iris. I didn’t have much to spend on Irises in those days, with a family to raise, but I had saved for some time and was ready for action on one pink Schreiner’s bred Iris and one blue Schreiner’s bred Iris. I was seated in the second row and directly in front of me was an older gentleman. He was known to be shrewd and conservative, but he was interested in the same Irises I was. Halfway through the bidding, this gentleman turned in his chair, looked me right in the eye and said, “You are spending money like water.” Undeterred, I replied, “If I had wanted to hear that, I would have brought my husband.”
Just something I have always remembered and chuckled over. I have particularly used your blue Irises in my own hybridizing program and have gotten some very lovely seedlings with pretty coloring, fragrance, substance and vigor. Thanks for the great work you have done all these years. May you enjoy many more years of hybridizing happiness.
Sincerely Yours, Cindy R.
From Kathy F.- Oregon
This is in response of your request for stories:
My mom died of Alzheimer’s just before Thanksgiving, but the summer of 2013 brought us both joy as we toured your Iris gardens. She did not know who I was, but she really enjoyed the beautiful flowers on that gorgeous sunny day. I will remember it all fondly for the rest of my life.
From Evalyn C., Louisiana
When I was a young teenager, my mother grew beautiful hybrid Iris. Naturally as a teenager I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. It was just another flower. But now that I’m older I truly appreciate their great beauty. I started my own Iris beds about three years ago. Each year I order a new group from Schreiner’s to add to my collection. And I have never been disappointed in their quality and toughness. Each Spring they reward me with gorgeous blooms. They lift my spirits and I go out every day to see which new bloom will greet me. Of course I would be negligent if I didn’t mention that they bring back many wonderful memories of my mother.
Last spring our yard was on our local Master Gardener garden tour. So many of the folks that toured, marveled at the gorgeous, delicate blooms of my Schreiner’s Irises. Thank you for helping to renew my love of these beautiful flowers.
From Jan B., California
Over the years, I have ordered Iris from Schreiner’s. I planted these Iris in a bed which grew each year. The bed extended about 50′ down a hill in front of my house toward the main road which ran in front of my property. I enjoyed sitting on the deck and taking in the beauty of the Iris when they were in bloom. At one point I was giving a dispatcher directions to my house, which she was relaying to a repair man. As she described the house to him over the radio, I heard him reply “Oh that’s the house with the beautiful flowers in front.” It was then that I realized people driving down our country road were enjoying my Iris beds just as much as I did.
2015 Celebrations at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens’ Display Garden in Salem, OR
From Matt P., Texas
Hello. Yesterday, I ordered a gift certificate for my sister’s birthday. The reason that I am writing is to tell you how special this gift is to our family. I was thinking of sending my sister some flowers, but I wasn’t too thrilled about the lack of personalization. Then I thought about my sister’s favorite flower, the bearded Iris. I searched for bearded Iris on the Internet and found your site. Then I thought about sending a bouquet (a great idea!), but wanted it to be even more special than that, and what better than a gift certificate to allow her to pick out her very own Iris to plant in her garden. The gift card that we sent mentioned the term, “Netzers” as a synonym for “Irises.” When my sister and I grew up, we had a neighbor who had an enormous garden, and her favorite flower was the Iris. She would spend hours in her garden tending to these favorites. My sister and I would love to visit her, as she would tell us lots of history and stories about her Iris garden, and if we were lucky, she would send us home with several of these amazing flowers. I can still remember the sweetness of their fragrance. Our neighbor’s last name was Netzer, and since that time, nearly 50 years ago, the Iris has always been known as a Netzer to us! I thought that you might enjoy this story, but mostly I wanted to share with you what my sister said when I called her last night to tell her that a gift certificate and 2015 collector’s catalog were on their way to her. She told me that this might be the very best gift that she has ever received. She is looking forward to selecting new Irises from your catalog to add to her other Iris that include some very old specimens transplanted from gardens of our grandmother and from her husband’s mother’s garden in New Jersey. My sister’s new Iris garden in Kansas will continue to bring her many years of special, heartwarming memories thanks to you and your amazing Iris Gardens.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my story with you.
From Sunni L., Oregon
I was blessed with a mother that not only loved the beauty of her garden, but passed that love on to me. She was a frugal woman, having lived through the depression, so our windowsills were full of her “starts” at all times. She would compliment strangers on their gardens, and then slyly ask for a start of something new. When she visited her family in Spokane, she would return with divisions of their Iris and plant them lovingly in her flowerbeds. As frugal as she was, one of her splurges was the yearly Schreiner’s catalog. She would obsess over which she would order and which special border they would adorn. As with many others, she was always hoping for a true black…but settled for the deep purples. She loved “root beer” colored and shied away from pastels. She passed her love of these amazing plants on to me.
My mother passed away several years ago from Alzheimer’s. At times she would forget her children’s names, and yet I could walk with her through the blooming flowers and she could tell me the name and cultivar of each. She would stoop to breathe deeply in the subtle scents and her tired face was so full of happiness. Needless to say we tried to spend a lot of time outdoors.
When I first got my property 30 years ago she was still with me. I, like she had been, am frugal. However I visited the Schreiner’s garden and returned home with my catalog. Those first years I simply ordered a few without much agonizing. Then she was gone. The next year as I sat ordering my Iris I felt her looking over my shoulder. I could see her in her chair with her pencil marking choices and folding pages. My mother walks through my yard with me daily, but never more so then when the Iris are in bloom.
I have divisions from my mother’s garden, from HER mother’s garden and now I have my own that I hope to pass on to my niece.
The Iris from Schreiner’s have connected generations, and I thank you for that. My mother has been gone now for several years. She loved her garden and one of her passions was to study the Schreiner’s catalog each year and pick her favorites for the garden. I feel so close to her when I pick my Iris from the catalog yearly, making a list then narrowing it down. Then I walk through my garden each spring and enjoy the Iris that she passed down to me along with the ones I have planted in her honor. As mother’s day approaches and the Iris are in full bloom, I realize that my mother is still very much alive. Thank you Schreiner’s, for keeping her close to me in such a beautiful way….
P.S. I have shared some pictures here with you.
Photos from Sunni L. in Oregon
From Hal B., Massachusetts
Your 90th anniversary catalog put me to reminiscing. I am now 87 years old and still gardening – with help! I have for many, many years grown about 125 varieties of Iris, the varieties changing, of course. My first order to you came in the late 60s and, if memory serves, I have ordered from you every year since from this same address. In honor of old times, then, I have included in my enclosed order Stepping Out and Dusky Challenger, both of which I grew long ago and like.
Congratulation on your 90 years – and here’s still another order!
Best wishes, Hal B.
Thank you for a wonderful 90 years!
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