Now Online: A Paradise of Historic Iris Catalogs

If you enjoy paging through the latest garden catalogs and daydreaming about all the plants you’d like to add to your garden, how about trying it with catalogs that are 50, 100, or even 200 years old?

Thanks to several dedicated members of the Historic Iris Preservation Society, catalogs in the HIPS archives are being scanned and posted online along with others from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

The oldest catalog in the Hager-DuBose Memorial Library is the 1807 list of the pioneering American botanists John and William Bartram. Although irises are only a small part of its offerings, it includes several North American native iris as well as “exotic” varieties such as Florentina and Germanica. (Although we won’t offer these two again until next year, 11 other fabulous old iris are available now for delivery next month.)

The library’s oldest iris-only catalog is the 1915 catalog of Dean Iris Gardens and it also includes several of the earliest catalogs of Bertrand Farr such as the one from 1910 pictured here. Farr was America’s first important iris breeder and the person who did more than anyone else to popularize iris (and daylilies) in the US.

Scores of other iris catalogs follow, all organized by date, and many are richly illustrated. It’s a garden-daydreamers paradise. Enjoy!