For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens


6 Comments

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.

 

 


Leave a comment

Proving Iris by Carlos Ayento

CarlosAyento_May2015_web

Carlos Ayento visits Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, May 2015

Mr. Carlos Ayento has been collecting and proving Iris in his hometown Chicago for a good long while. We enjoy his company and feedback here in our Display Gardens at Bloom Season when he’s able to visit. This brief report of his trials and tribulations in his home garden should prove helpful to our readers. Thank you, Carlos!

 

 

By Carlos Ayento

I have been involved with irises since seventh grade. That was back in 1992 when I planted eight tall bearded irises from a collection offered from Burpee’s Seed catalog. Seven of those irises I would later find out were introduced by Schreiner’s. These were Invitation (1982), Grand Waltz (1970), Stepping Out (1964), Gay…

 

via From West to East…the Iris Grower’s Struggle — World of Irises


Leave a comment

Tall ones. Short ones. Pretty in-between ones.

cutstemstonytruckwb

Collecting Field-Fresh Bearded Iris Cut Stems

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, sacrifice and a love of what you do.” – Pele

Greetings fellow Iris enthusiasts,

At Schreiner’s Gardens we strive to put a smile on your face when you open a box and see large, healthy rhizomes, every one you ordered. Whether buying a car or a box of iris, the product garners the attention. Usually one barely gives a thought to the workers who make it happen.

In spite of our best efforts, our iris refuse to jump out of the ground on their own and sort themselves, on the way to their destination. Talented and dedicated employees are necessary. Every organization has to have people to be depended upon. Schreiner’s Gardens is fortunate to have top quality employees, men and women, who have worked decades here. They do anything and everything: answer phones and the mail, provide the best customer service, dig and ship iris rhizomes, prepare and maintain our beautiful display gardens, transplant our crop, and service our vehicles and machinery. Pictured in our print catalog are the friends and employees whom we entrust with the most vital tasks.

Just as it’s a thing of beauty to see an orchestra perform in concert, an onlooker can come away with a similar reaction watching our crew. They are very good at what they do. There’s little doubt that they care. Even in extremes of weather, there’s a ready smile. So the next time you open that box of iris, remember our staff behind the scenes, whose mission is to satisfy YOU.

Our catalog features our new introductions for 2017, as well as 30 additional varieties from outstanding hybridizers. Iris offer tremendous variety of incredible color, from the early-blooming dwarf to the late-blooming tall bearded, to the slender elegance of the beardless iris. Within the narrow confines of a city lot, or stretched along an entire side yard, colorful iris lift your spirits each spring.

Finally, 2017 heralds a new chapter for Schreiner’s Gardens. We have accepted the opportunity to offer renowned hybridizer Mr. Bill  Maryott’s beautiful, modern Daylilies to our customers – another hardy and easy to grow perennial Look for more information on our website. As always, we thank you for choosing Schreiner’s Iris  Gardens.

Yours in gardening,
Ray, Ben, Steve and Liz
mulitfield_barnweb

Schreiner’s Farm Full of Bloom in May


2 Comments

Forest-Fresh Evergreen Holiday Wreaths

wreath-webThe Iris are planted. The sheds are quiet. The equipment has been cleaned and stored away for a long winter’s rest. And now, we turn toward the holidays. You see, we like to stay busy. And we love, love, love the holidays. And we love fresh. A perfect opportunity presented itself for us to combine these three elements: Oregon Evergreen Holiday Wreaths. All components of these wreaths are fresh from the forests above Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Up in the Silverton hills, not far from our farm actually, an evergreen nursery constructs the wreaths from their own harvest. (The sweet evergreen scent is intoxicating!)  We ship them to you fresh in time for the holidays. Each wreath comes with three darling, fresh pine cones.

But we can only offer these for a limited time. We will accept orders through noon (Pacific) on November 28th. wreath-detail-web-sm

Happy holiday preparations to all!


8 Comments

“Dusky Challenger” Turns 30: Nothin’ to it!

Dark Purple Iris|Dusky Challenger

Dusky Challenger, Schreiner 1986

A blast from the past… It’s springtime 1986. Schreiner’s Iris Gardens’ Iris Lover’s Catalog has a new seedling to announce.

A knockout! Dusky Challenger has caught the eye of many garden visitors. We have been frequently asked when Seedling #1953-AA would be ready for introduction. And with good reason. This silky rich purple gem combines an absolutely gigantic flower with impeccable ruffled form on a beautifully branched stem opening four blooms as once. See for yourself what has caused this commotion in our photograph… This wonder raises the standards for dark Iris to a new level. Destined to challenge all comers and bound for glory. Order early. AIS Highly Commended Award, 1984.”

Thus was Dusky Challenger introduced to the Iris world in 1986 in our 61st Iris Lovers Catalog. Since that time it has gone on to prove itself a champion, winning the Dykes Medal in 1992.

Like a dark knight rising from an obscure past to the heights of glory, Dusky Challenger continues to glorify gardens far and wide (despite its unknown parentage — a little mishap that occurs from time to time in the Iris world). Bernard (Gus) Schreiner would have made the initial hybrid cross in the early 80’s and was duly impressed in subsequent bloom seasons with the seedling’s blossoms. Gus likely consulted with his brother Robert and the two agreed it would be a good introduction for the 1986 season. Gus’ son, Ray Schreiner, impressed with the rich color and fantastic stature of the seedling, christened it Dusky Challenger. Our very knowledgeable colleague from down the road, Mr. Keith Keppel, has theorized that Titan’s Glory must certainly be in the parentage.

Dusky Challenger has appeared on the American Iris Society’s (AIS) annual popularity poll numerous times, including landing first place more than a dozen years. Iris judges have reported to us that Dusky Challenger and Silverado (Schreiner, 1987) are two Iris that judges consider to be “perfect”. The popularity Dusky Challenger has enjoyed is a clear indication of its vigor and success in gardens in all regions of the United States. Dawn Mumford, contributor to the AIS blog “World of Irises”, included Dusky Challenger in her “super achiever” list. She writes, “My husband and I like to recognize those irises that can always be counted on to bloom well, resist disease, provide beautiful blossoms, make big clumps…” Enjoy the fun read in her April 25, 2016 post on the AIS World of Iris blog.

Steve_DuskyChallenger_TheRedDouglas-051716In a May 21st interview with Garden Time TV host William McClenathan, Steve Schreiner compared Dusky Challenger with another high-achiever from eight decades prior, The Red Douglas (introduced by J. Sass in 1934). See in the photo here the contrast of the two (Dusky Challenger on the left), representing the progress made in Iris hybridizing over 80+ years. As the photo illustrates, the flowers are large, with excellent substance. The color is a deep dark purple. The form is the epitome of excellence, with standards shaped ideally, not open too much or closed too much. The falls are equally admirable in form, with slight ruffling, wide hafts. And no sign of fading even in the warm spring weather we experienced this year. The plant is a healthy one, the stalks are thick, and again, it grows well for everyone as far as we know. One online review exclaims, “I would not want to have a garden without it!” (found on Dave’s Garden).

So, Happy Birthday Dusky Challenger! May you continue to amaze and delight garden visitors for many a decade more.


6 Comments

The Reds, Whites, and Blues of Bearded Iris

Reds

catseye_web1

“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.

SeaPower_in_Gardenweb1

“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


6 Comments

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.

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.