Old House Gardens
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At Wave Hill, the legendary Marco Polo Stufano 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
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.
IR31SOLD OUT1/$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
This is the iris of my childhood, and maybe yours — tall, pale lavender, tough as nails, with a Concord grape fragrance that, as Elizabeth Lawrence wrote, “fills the borders and drifts into the house.” In his monumental Herbal of 1597, Gerard called it “the great Floure de-luce of Dalmatia” and praised its tall stalks, “faire large floures,” and “exceedingly sweet” scent. Even its leaves are beautiful! Stately but down-home, it’s a quintessential iris — and somehow makes everything around it look better. (See it farmed in Italy for making perfumes and gin.) 36-38”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart to compare.
IR09Add to basket:1/$10.503/$28.505/$4510/$8425/$189
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
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
SUSAN BLISS, 1922        New
The finest “pink” iris of the early 20th century, this lilac-rose beauty first sold for an unheard-of $75 each. For decades it was widely-praised for its “perfect form” (Wayman), “robust constitution” (Puget Sound), “freedom of flowering” (Hellings), and “appealing creamy pink tone” (Mead) which “blends well with almost any color” (Peckham) — and that’s all still true today. 30-34”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart to compare.
IR33Add to basket:1/$83/$225/$34.5010/$6425/$144
SWERTI, 1612        New
This grape-scented beauty was first pictured 400 years ago in the lavish Florilegium of Emmanuel Sweert, a Dutch artist and nurseryman who was head gardener for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Although it’s often confused with ‘Madame Chereau’ (see them side-by-side here), its curled, pointed falls are distinct — and charming. As for its spelling, although Sweert’s name has two Es, and ‘Sweertii’ would be correct by modern rules, we’re sticking with the historic ‘Swerti’. 30-36”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart to compare.
IR34Add to basket:1/$93/$24.505/$3910/$7225/$162
WABASH, 1936
Simple but stunning, ‘Wabash’ won the iris world’s top prize, the Dykes Medal, in 1940, and it’s still enormously popular today, often topping the annual polls of the Historic Iris Preservation Society. Its pure white standards glow above vibrant purple falls that are intensified by gold beards and a radiant edging of silver. 36”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart to compare.
IR03Add to basket:1/$83/$225/$34.5010/$6425/$144
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