Bloom Season 2011

Telperion Oasis is a new garden in a new location, and since I had not been growing irises seriously since 2002, I anxiously awaited bloom season. Most plants settled in nicely during the autumn of 2010. The SDBs and MDBs in particular put on phenomenal increase before winter. One arilbred had a little soft rot in the main fan, but it was easily controlled and the increases are doing fine. Winter was quite dry, and we had a very unusual snap of intense cold, with the temperature dropping to -18 Fahrenheit early in February. I did lose 'Veiled Intruder' over the winter, although I think it had as much to do with it being slow to establish in the autumn as with the temperature drop.

Iris danfordiae caught me by surprise coming into bloom in mid-February in a very sheltered bed along the front of the house. Reticulata season continued through mid-March. March was the month of awakening in the garden, with crocuses and daffodils blooming, irises coming out of their winter dormancy, and shrubs budding out. I was particularly delighted with the strong growth on my arils upon breaking dormancy. These are regelias and the RC 'Dunshanbe', and so it is not surprising that they were quite unphased by the winter cold. March was an extremely dry and unseasonably warm month, which raised some concerns about accelerated growth that may be susceptible to later frosts in April of May.

I noted the first bearded iris bud emerge on March 29 - the MDB 'Cradle Blue' (Brown '60), which I received as a gift from Long's Gardens. Interestingly, it started even before the pure Iris pumila plants, although whether this is typical or not I cannot yet say. The first pumila to bloom was I. pumila aequiloba, which I got from Wrightman Alpines in Canada. Very unusual greenish ochre color.

'Cradle Blue' (Alta Brown 1960) MDB
first bearded iris to bloom here this spring
Iris pumila aequiloba

Iris pumila "clausii"

The first week in April saw bloom on 'Alpine Lake', 'Baby Blessed', and 'Aladdin's Gem'. By the middle of April, the SDBs were starting in force: 'Orange Tiger', 'Michael Paul', and 'Sea Monster' all looking nice, although stems were mostly down in the foliage due to the unseasonably warm weather this month.

'Aladdin's Gem' (Thoolen 2002) AB
amphidiploid arilpum
'Orange Tiger' (B. Jones 1988) SDB
'Michael Paul' (W. Jones 1979) SDB
'Snowy River' (Willott 1985) MDB

In the third week of April, the SDBs were in peak bloom, the MDBs were finishing, and the IBs were starting.

'Rain Dance' (B. Jones 1979) SDB
'Shampoo' (Messick 1977) IB
'Rare Edition' (Gatty 1980) IB
'Loudmouth' (Rich 1970) AB
arilbred dwarf

The last week of April saw more IBs ('Hot Fudge' and 'Obligato') and the tall arilbred, 'Honey Not Tonight'. I. pumila "clausii" decided to open two more blooms, although it had bloomed early in April. The historic arilbred 'Butterfly Wings' opened on April 30. I. reichenbachii bloomed on May 5, looking quite cute and perky.

'Hot Fudge' (Hager 1983) IB
Iris pumila "clausii"
'Honey Not Tonight' (McAllister 2007) AB
Iris reichenbachii

The IBs continued to look nice, 'Shampoo' and 'Obligato' kept going strong despite the freeze at the beginning of May. TB 'Azure Whir' opened on May 10, on a short stalk with a frost-damaged bloom. The third week of May saw bloom on the remaining TBs ('Enchanted Mesa' and 'Catchy Name'), stunted and deformed by the freeze. A BB, 'Butterscotch Blush', bloomed nicely; I enjoyed its warm, subtly blended colors.

'Obligato' gets the "grace under pressure" award for hardly skipping a beat through the freeze and desiccating winds of early May. Although we didn't manage to get a photo of a "picture perfect" individual bloom, the clump remained a bright spot in the garden while everything else was severely set back.


'Azure Whir' (Durrance 1992) TB
'Obligato' (Stahly 1989) IB
'Butterscotch Blush' (Miller 2009) BB
'Enchanted Mesa' (Magee 1999) TB

Still blooming during the last week of May: 'Butterscotch Blush', 'Obligato', 'Shampoo', 'Azure Whir', 'Enchanted Mesa', and 'Catchy Name'. Bearded iris season officially ended on June 7, when the last bloom of 'Butterscotch Blush' faded.


'Baby Blessed' rebloomed on September 28. Even though I'd been checking the clump regularly through the month, it managed to surprise me! The first week of October, it had three stalks in bloom. The flowers were small and a little bedgraggled, but welcome nonetheless. Pretty nice for an iris planted just over a year ago!

As of October 29, it is still in bloom with six stalks so far.

 Tom Waters

April 2011

Updated October 2011

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Unless otherwise noted, all text and illustrations copyright Tom Waters and all photographs copyright Tom or Karen Waters. Please do not reproduce without permission.