Old House Gardens
From America’s Expert Source for Heirloom Flower Bulbs

Order NOW for delivery in APRIL 2015.


ENDURING PERENNIALS — Tough, beautiful, and diverse, heirloom iris thrive without care in old gardens and graveyards across America.

TO BLOOM THIS YEAR — Though iris are usually sold bare-root in summer and don’t bloom till the next, we ship freshly dug plants in April that, with good care and a bit of luck, may well bloom their first summer.

HISTORY & TIPS — Grown here since colonial days, iris became one of the “it” flowers of the Arts and Crafts era. They like full sun and well-drained soil. Learn more here.

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IMMORTAL IRIS        Sampler
Icons of the late-spring/early-summer garden, bearded iris are easy to grow and richly diverse. Give them full sun and average to well-drained soil and they’ll reward you for close to forever. We’ll send you 3 of our favorite heirlooms (a few possibilities are pictured here), all different, labeled, freshly dug from our Ann Arbor micro-farms, and great for zones 4a-8a(9aWC).

For 2, 3, or more of each, order additional samplers.

COS33Add to basket:1/$232/$443/$634/$815/$99
CAPRICE, 1898
“‘I smell ripe grapes!’ cried a freckle-faced boy” in Ella McKinney’s 1927 Iris in the Little Garden — but it was actually this richly fragrant iris he smelled. It’s richly colored, too, a pure, deep, glowing rose that drew me like a beacon when I first saw it at our local Farmers Market many years ago. Just 24-26 inches tall, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart to compare.
IR18Add to basket:1/$93/$24.505/$3910/$7225/$162
FLORENTINA, 1500
If I could grow only one iris, this might be it. Its color is a pale, luminous pewter — unique and ravishing. Its falls are long, like the ears of a basset hound. Its blooms kick off iris season. And its history is deep. Although modern scholars say it’s not the I. florentina or “white iris” of ancient times — now I. albicans — since at least the 1500s its rhizomes have been dried and sold as orris-root, a prized ingredient in herbal medicines and perfumery. Learn more here. Zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart to compare.
IR10Add to basket:1/$8.503/$23.505/$36.5010/$6825/$153
GRACCHUS, 1884
At Wave Hill, the legendary Marco Polo championed hundreds of little-known but fabulous flowers, including this classic iris. Just two feet tall, it melds happily into perennial gardens where its luminous, pale gold standards over a lacework of raisin-purple give it a regal presence. Tough and floriferous, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart to compare.
IR01Add to basket:1/$83/$225/$34.5010/$6425/$144
HONORABILE, 1840
This tough little charmer, carried across the country by the pioneers, flourishes today in thousands of old gardens, cemeteries, and abandoned homesites from Bangor to Santa Barbara. Although our photo may make it look brassy or plain, in the garden here its small, cheery flowers of chestnut and gold have won it many fans. Some experts claim that, due to a mix-up 150 years ago, its real name is ‘San Souci’, but we’re unconvinced — and whatever you call it, this is a richly historic and rewarding iris. 20-24 inches, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart to compare.
IR11Add to basket:1/$7.503/$20.505/$32.5010/$6025/$135
MONSIGNOR, 1907        New
Introduced by Vilmorin-Andrieux et Cie, the famous French seed company, this sumptuous iris features violet standards over deep, velvety, claret purple falls with vivid white reticulations and an orange beard. But popularity and survival depend on more than good looks, and ‘Monsignor’ — like many cherished pass-along plants — grows with great vigor and blooms abundantly. Fragrant, 28-32”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart to compare.
IR31Add to basket:1/$9.753/$26.505/$4210/$7825/$176
MRS. HORACE DARWIN, 1888        New
It’s back! The violet reticulations on this elegant, not-so-big iris make it even more beautiful up close — and great for bouquets. Named for the wife of one of Darwin’s sons, it’s an enduring survivor by Sir Michael Foster “whose name shines more luminously than any other in the early history of garden iris” (Mahan, Classic Iris). Fragrant, 24-26”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart to compare.
IR16Add to basket:1/$83/$225/$34.5010/$6425/$144
PLUMERI, 1888
This fragrant little iris is a fascinating mix of jewel-like colors that photos can only hint at. “Coppery rose” over “velvety claret” is how the legendary Bertrand Farr described it in 1920, while other have called it “rosy mauve with metallic sheen” over “red-violet, edged gold-brown.” Early and free flowering, it’s an iris we look forward to every year. (Please note: Recent research by Anner Whitehead has convinced us that ‘Plumeri’ dates to 1888, not 1830.) 28-32”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart to compare.
IR26Add to basket:1/$7.503/$20.505/$32.5010/$6025/$135
QUAKER LADY, 1909
One of the best-loved American iris of all time, ‘Quaker Lady’ is a “dainty, charming” plant with flowers of “smoky lavender, bronze, purple, fawn, and old gold” (to quote AIS founder John Wister). And though beauty is only skin-deep, ‘Quaker Lady’ is also sturdy and care-free, multiplies quickly, and blooms with abandon. All in all, it’s a worthy monument to its creator, Bertrand Farr, the visionary Pennsylvania nurseryman who did more than anyone else to make iris one of the signature plants of the early 20th-century garden. 27-30”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart to compare.
IR08Add to basket:1/$7.503/$20.505/$32.5010/$6025/$135
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