Iris are blooming late but splendidly within the new iris bed. It is gratifying to assemble various bearded iris within their dedicated garden. #1 and #2 do not inhabit the new iris bed yet, but are tempting because they resemble cultivars that I crave. I purchase no iris. Doing so would be an egregious violation of my very discriminating standards. However, if I ever find it, the one cultivar of bearded iris that I would make an exception for is ‘San Jose’.

1. ‘Los Angeles’ looks just like this, although this is not exactly an exemplary specimen. I should get a copy of it, regardless of its identity. Perhaps an expert could identify it later. It was a few days old, but stayed on tables for a luncheon at Felton Presbyterian Church.

2. ‘San Jose’ looks almost like this, but frillier, with less veining of the purplish falls. This blooms in front of the White Raven coffee shop in Felton. I likely will not request a copy.

3. Purple intermediate iris is still the most abundant in the iris bed. It was recycled from a garden in Santa Cruz, where it was a bit too abundant. To me, it seems to be deep blue.

4. Feral yellow iris may not actually be so feral. Now that it inhabits the iris bed, where it is irrigated regularly, it has grown as tall and performs like the tall bearded iris cultivars.

5. Purple tall iris was a gift from a neighboring residential garden. To me, it seems about as blue as the purple intermediate iris. I have been assured that it truly is purple though.

6. Blue and white tall iris was also a gift from the same neighboring residential garden. I am very confident that this really is blue, rather than purple. This is the frilliest cultivar.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:


13 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Bearded Iris

  1. Lovely Iris, Tony. Have you grown I. ‘Immortality’? It is a pure white re-blooming Iris offered by an Iris breeder in our area. Iris given to me by a neighbors some years ago are the species, I. pallida, brought to our areas by the colonists and grown in historic gardens around Williamsburg. They are a lovely, soft blue. There is a variegated (foliage) cultivar of pallida that I’ve planted and not had much success with. I’m no good at leaving a space for just Iris, and the herbs and perennials I plant nearby tend to crowd them by mid-summer. Some are tough enough to still keep coming back to bloom each spring. Thank you for sharing the beautiful Iris that grow in your area.

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    1. ‘Immortality’ has become the standardized white bearded irs. I have not grown it because I am pleased with my more traditional white bearded iris that bloom only for spring. One that is moderately ruffled is identified, although I can not remember the name at the moment. One that is a bit more ruffled is unidentified. One seems to be feral, and, since I obtained it only a few years ago, had bloomed with unappealingly pallid white color, but may bloom with better color now that it is being cultivated. Because it is the least ruffled, I hope that its color improves. Iris pallida that I got from my maternal maternal great grandmother’s garden is my first iris, and my favorite, even though it is not white. It is the most reliable and prolific. It might be the most fragrant with its distinctive grape pop fragrance. I like the smaller and neater flowers. Strangely, one of my other favorites is completely opposite, with huge and floppy and frilly flowers; ‘Blueberry Ice’! Of all the iris that I grow, there have been only two that I was not so keen on. ‘Before the Storm’ is annoyingly black, but because it was a gift from an iris farm up the road, I can not stop growing it. ‘Beverly Sills’ is the ONLY iris that I ever purchased, only to find that I was less than impressed with it. It is a long story, but I wanted to get a pink iris before Brent did. . I certainly got it, and it grew like a weed, but looked silly with all the orange and yellow in the front garden at my former home. Of course, I told Brent that it was totally awesome so that he would take it. Because it was purchased, I did not mind giving it away. ‘San Jose’ is one that I would purchase if I ever find it to be available. I am not impressed with it in pictures, but I know that with a name like that, it must be one of the greatest iris of all time!

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      1. I ‘Before the Storm’ is one I always admire in catalogs, but haven’t been tempted to grow because of how dark it is. But I do love deep purple and blue Iris. There is a lovely display in front of the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown with a mixed planting of deep purple and pink Iris that is into its third or fourth week of bloom, between the sidewalk and a picket fence. Just lovely! I. ‘Beverly Sills’ never tempted me, but I did purchase I. ‘Rock Star’ which did great for many years. But it grew too shady around it and it tends to grow too tall to bloom without support. I’ll keep an eye out for ‘San Jose’ just to see how beautiful it must be.

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      2. ‘San Jose’ is not exactly beautiful. It is more interesting than visually appealing. I just want it because it is named after the most excellent, although comparably beautiful, big city in the World.

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      3. Oh, this is more than I knew about the species, and I grew up with it.This is an informative article. Hey, it just posted today! More garden writers should provide such information rather than just describe how pretty something is.
        Southern magnolia are popular in the Santa Clara Valley, and even more popular in Los Angeles. (I happen to be in Los Angeles presently.) I was not aware of so many cultivars. I have met only a few. ‘Majestic Beauty’ is the most common, although ‘Little Gem’ has become popular as well. ‘Russett’ was introduced in the early 1990s or so, but has not been available since then. Southern magnolia is another of many species that I would not expect to see in Williamsburg or elsewhere in Virginia. I suppose that if it grows in Portland, it can grow there. It just does not seem to be compliant with what I consider the style of the landscapes to be.


      4. Tony, Dirr mentions a variety specifically bred for the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t mention it in the article since we’re in the opposite corner of the country. I’m a little surprised to hear that they perform well in your area with your dry summers. It just shows how adaptable these trees can be. I added a few photos and switched one I didn’t like for a more current one this morning. The tree on the CP is in full bloom right now and is just stunning.
        I’m still trying to learn from my contacts if anyone knows when M. grandiflora was first cultivated in our area. The earliest documentation I have thus far is around the 1820s, but surely it was grown here previous to that. Washington had it at Mount Vernon, so it was hardy in Northern VA by at least the 1750s and 60s. So much history tied to our native plants! ‘Pretty’ is in the eye of the beholder… But this is one of my favorite trees. It always blooms here in the week or two prior to the end of the school year, so there are happy associations with its fragrance!

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      5. Not only does it do well at home, but it also performs remarkably well in drier and warmer climates. It does need irrigation in such climates though. Brent lived on a portion of Eighth Avenue in Leimert Park in Los Angeles that was outfitted with Southern magnolia to replace Mexican fan palms that needed to be removed for the installation of subterranean utilities just prior to 1970. They exhibit a bit of genetic variability because they were grown from seed, but are very happy nonetheless. Some of the most excellent specimens that I have ever seen inhabit Pasadena. The grandest specimens that I have ever seen were in Santa Clara, Aptos and Watsonville.

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    1. Thank you. I intentionally omitted my own iris. They are not blooming so well this year, but are too numerous to select only six anyway. I might put a few of mine into the iris bed this year. Also, I might move some from the iris bed to my own garden this year. I tried to limit new acquisitions to my garden years ago, while there were only fourteen or so cultivars. Of course, that does not work. I got a few from a client a few years ago, but managed to keep them in a separate bed. I will do the same with those from work. I suppose that as I get older, I do not care if there are too many.

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