Monday, September 15, 2014

Growing a Goddess: A look at Bearded Irises

Last May, I took a trip down to the Willamette Valley to visit several nurseries that, since I was a little kid, have always DREAMED of visiting! One of those places is Schreiner's Iris in Salem, OR.

Quite possibly the largest growers IN THE WORLD, the variety is outstanding and the quality of plants one gets from Schreiner's is simply top of the class.While it's nearing the end of shipping season for them, there's still time to get a few plants in if you're a Pacific Northwest gardener!

Bearded Iris grow from rhizomes. They are modified stems similar looking to a ginger root you find in the produce department (also a type of rhizome) that sit just above the soil surface with the fleshy roots in the ground.

They have sword-like gray-green foliage and from the center of the fan of foliage will emerge a stalk bearing the buds and eventual flowers.

The trip to Schreiners was absolutely amazing even thought it was past peak bloom. But wow, the incredible show they still put on!

The exquisite display gardens!

Buy a big bundle of fresh cut Irises home with you!

An assortment of cut blooms always on display, always labelled..... you can order exactly which varieties you want to be shipped at the proper planting time for your area!

Rows and rows of phenomenal color out in the fields!

A future introduction??

New stars waiting in the wings

I had a wonderful honor of meeting Ray Schreiner, who leads the breeding work they're famous for!

There are many Iris growers across the country including the infamously young Kelly Norris who owns Rainbow Iris Farm in Iowa. He also wrote an excellent book that covers the wide spectrum of these types of Irises:

Also from the Willamette Valley, actually not far from the Schreiner's fields are my friends, Thomas Johnson, who along with his partner Kurt Hansen, run the wonderful Sebright Gardens specializing in Hostas and shade plants. But also, Thomas runs Mid-America Gardens that feature many of his own Iris breeding work!!

Just passed peak, but the views from his fields are breathtaking especially at sunrise!

Still loads of dramatic color out in the field

Stunning with the Willamette Valley view in the background. I could really live here!

From breeder Paul Black, a fairly new introduction called 'Men are from Mars'  =)

It was a treat to walk with Thomas in his fields and get a first hand lesson in the basics of bearded Iris breeding!

Check out your local nursery or better yet, purchase direct from these sources and have these bountiful blooms in the widest range of colors possible gracing your gardens next spring and every spring after!!