Over a year ago Nicolette and I started planning a trip to Oregon to visit Schreiners Iris Farm. Located 45 minutes south of Portland in Salem, Schreiners is the motherland of the bearded iris. It was a career highlight for both of us.
With over 200 acres of planted bearded iris, the farm stops traffic on nearby highway in peak season. Tourists flock to the Schreiners display gardens and cut flower show to bask in the beauty of this short seasoned goddess of flowers. Much was learned from the Schreiner brothers (third generation iris farmers) and we left with lists of coveted species to plant and future plans for more visits to the farm.
The farm sells mostly iris tubers, both retail to enthusiastic gardeners and also wholesale to nurseries and flower farms. In season you can pick from their charming bucket displays of cuts from the field; at $7.50 a dozen it's hard not to leave with armloads of these fragrant queens.
One of the highlights of our visit was spending time with Ray Schriener in the new varieties field. As Ray explained, each year they cross existing iris to create brand new hybrids. They grow these crosses out in the field and then choose the best ones to introduce to the world in the following years catalog.
Ray explained that naming new hybrids presents quite a challenge -- the names have to be original, and clear the thousands and thousands of names given to both current and formerly bred iris. In fact, one of the Schreiners sisters utilized a nail polish catalog recently to come up with new names.
Nicolette and I were like kids in a candy store. We maxed out the storage on our iphones and drained our camera batteries taking pictures. I wish we could do justice here for how much beauty we took in that week.
As always, half the joy is sharing the beauty with the students who came out to learn about iris and how to arrange with them. (The other half is hoarding flowers for ourselves.)
Now is the time to plan your fall planting of iris tubers!! If you are curious about growing beards or want to spend an hour down the rabbit hole of iris, I encourage you to peruse the Schreiners catalog: http://www.schreinersgardens.com
Many many thanks to Dyna, Liz, Ray, Steve and everyone at Schreiners for being SO accommodating and making our class such as success. We hope to see you in coming bloom seasons!
NEW CLASSES are coming soon! Nicolette and I are on our way to Italy tomorrow to work on a wedding -- in between hustling flowers and wine drinking we'll be planning two new late summer/fall classes. As always, we usually announce these classes first via our newsletter, so if your waiting for a class, make sure you are signed up with your email (the sign up is at the bottom of our CONTACT page here.)