Thursday, August 16, 2012

My very first contest! Wooo Hooo!! : Iris RULE!

 Iris x germanica 'Many Mahaloes'

I have heard them called (ever so cruelly) "poor men's orchids". A certain "Jim" from Kansas City once wittily (and even more cruelly) quipped "they're just hankies on a stick".  To the first comment I simply say that I have found sumptuous TRUE orchids for sale at Whole Foods recently for under ten dollars, but try and buy the latest awesome tall bearded for less than three figures and I say good luck! Orchids are now the poor man's iris!

And when have you seen a hanky with such silky texture, shot with highlights and shimmering in the moment? Never, I say! NEVER! No hankies these! And the names! 'Many Mahaloes'! 'Batik'! Reading through a list of tall bearded iris is as evocative for some of us as reciting Lolita's class list was for Humbert Humbert.

 Iris x germanica 'Batik'

Isn't this one amazing? I wish that that all bearded iris in my home garden:(note to self: better order one soon)
 Iris x germanica 'Honey Glazed'

What about this contest I promised you? Well here's how it goes! My buddy and true plant phenomenon Kelly Norris has just published a wonderful book called A Guide to Bearded Irises. I recommend clicking on both these hyperlinks for more info! Then go to the bottom of the page for the scoop...
CONTEST! (This is SO cool--my blog has really joined the BIG time when it can step up to contests, don't you think? What's next? American Idol? The Blog Olympics? I can dream?

Oh yes.. the contest: you have TWO ways to win (either one would be fun and both have pretty good odds--this is not Lotto).

If you just respond to my blog (the way you so often do)--preferably with a charming comment about stand a good chance of winning a FREE (and I repeat Free!) copy of A Guide to Bearded Irises...I have pre-selected a number and if you are that number in the sequence of responders, I shall mail you a copy of the book)....My contest goes from April 15 to the end of this month (then I will announce the winner at the bottom of this blog column) and inform them....

At the same time, Kelly is running his own contest: click on this URL and he will explain the whole process to you: it involves putting ten pix of irises from his book on your Pinterest page (I am playing the contest myself--you can't have enough bearded irises when you have a half acre like I do!):

I would love it if one of MY blogging community won the book and the iris collection---so do give it a try. We should all have our own Pinterest page (apparently), and I (for one) have never had enough of irises...

I shall end on two notes: first of all, Kelly Norris is someone you want to play with. He is an enormously talented plantsman in all facets of the word, and positively oozes charm, charisma and has an energy level that could power a nuclear facility (one that is totally safe, however). He is worth engaging! And irises are quite simply the loveliest flowers on the planet. I grow hundreds of species and cultivars, and I never have enough: I probably had several thousand iris flowers in my personal garden this year, and I never come close to sating on them. The first iris blooms in February for me (sometimes January--one of hte reticulatas) and there is hardly a day subsequently until well into summer when I do not have bevies of iris blossoms to better my spirits and lift my soul. There are still irises blooming (the old Vesper iris "Pardanthopsis dichotoma" is now an iris again---hurray!)

That last picture I posted was photographed at Denver Botanic Gardens last May: the garden was created by Ann Montague--one of my many extraordinarily talented colleagues: the TB's bloom for weeks there, and I find myself returning, day after day, like a very hungry and rather over-large bee, buzzing over their scintillating flowers and realizing that yes, Virginia, there is a Heaven. And irises grow there for sure!


  1. My first garden memory is of a huge deep purple bearded iris, so fragrant, and my dad puttering around the garden. These two, and Dad's roses, were some of the things that nudged me toward my career in gardens. Later I managed a cut flower garden that included dozens of bearded iris. It was such a joy have so many iris to add to the usual cut flowers!

  2. 'Batik' is my favorite! The second I saw the photo in your blog, my heart skipped a beat. I've grown orchids for 30 years, the real ones. Iris, however, have been a delight since long before I laid eyes on my first orchid. They are absolutely exquisite. Thank you for featuring them!

  3. I have only 1 iris in my community garden plot this year: a "Smokey Blue & Lavender" pumila from LaPorte that smells like baby powder, I swear. Howeve, I'm drooling over catalog pix and ordering gorgeous, gorgeous cultivars for work right now. There's one spidery one called, I think, 'Indian Sky' that just knocks my socks off. The collection that I design for work still feels like it's mine: I'm a proud parent to every bloom that goes out the door.

  4. I'm trying iris for the first time in my SW New Mexico foothills (of Gila Wilderness) garden. Such excitement!

  5. I love iris. I think it runs in the family. My grandmother and mother both grew them and collected as many colors from friends and neighbors as possible. I'm not so lucky! My mom sent me many colors, but they somehow disappeared from my garden. There was a brown one that I really loved. I lust after the beautiful irises in my client's yards, but have refrained from digging them up and bringing them home.

  6. Bearded iris do so well here in Colorado that they can make anyone feel like an accomplished gardener. They almost do too well--dividing irises is not my favorite job and it always seems to be on the to-do list.

    Dwarf bearded iris are my new favorites because they integrate so well with other garden plants.

  7. One Sunday morning in the late 1960's we hear my mother's screams from outside. We all rush outside to see what the problem is. She is standing in the garden screaming: "My white iris is blooming!, My white iris is blooming!"
    Gotta love the enthusiasm.

  8. Iris have obviously touched a nerve! Bravo! Thank you all for commenting: I shall have to do a picture album of the fantastic display of tall beardeds we had at DBG this have inspired me!


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