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Iris: Lost Forever?

From America’s Expert Source for Heirloom Flower Bulbs
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Though preservation is our mission, bulbs drop out of our catalog every year.

Sometimes it’s because the harvest was too small. Sometimes it’s because they’re widely available elsewhere and don’t need our help. And sometimes it’s because we’ve lost our only known source due to severe weather (cold, drought, etc.), health problems (a debilitating stroke), or economic woes (small farmers are always at risk).

The good news is that, in time, we’re often able to return these bulbs to our catalog. So here’s a list of many we’ve offered in the past. For an alert the moment they’re available again, subscribe to our free email newsletter. Or to find a similar bulb, try our easy Advanced Bulb Search.


Fall-planted:     Crocus       Daffodils       Hyacinths       Lilies       Peonies       Tulips       Diverse

Spring-planted:     Cannas       Dahlias       Daylilies       Gladiolus       Iris       Diverse


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SMALL IS BEAUTIFULSampler

We’re big fans of smaller iris. They’re graceful, charming, and – at about two feet tall – combine beautifully with other perennials near the front of a sunny border. We’ll send you 3 of our favorites (a few possibilities are pictured here), all different, labeled, freshly dug from our Ann Arbor micro-farms, and great for zones 3a-8a(10aWC). Last offered in spring 2016. We’re building up stock and will offer it again sometime in the future. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


BLUE RHYTHM, 1945

Born in Mapleton, Iowa, this handsome farmboy went on to win the iris world’s highest honors, including the Dykes Medal in 1950. A silvery blue-purple that’s usually described as “cornflower,” it looks especially good with silver-leaved perennials such as lavender and Russian sage. And it’s deliciously lemon scented! 38-40”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from Ann Arbor. Last offered in 2018 and we hope to offer again in 2021. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


BLUE SHIMMER, 1941

Richly “peppered” with tiny lavender-blue spots, this dazzling update on the classic plicata has a look of “utmost originality” (Schreiner’s, 1946). Vita grew it at Sissinghurst and it’s still widely offered in the UK – though not, alas, here in its native land. Nebraska-bred, delightfully fragrant, 30-36”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Last offered in 2018 and we don't expect to offer it again.


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(10bWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Last offered in 2018 and we hope to offer again in 2021. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


COLONEL CANDELOT, 1907

With velvety falls of deep oxblood to burgundy, this small-flowered French iris was the “reddest” of its era, and it’s still a knockout today. Strong-growing and floriferous with a light fragrance that’s been compared to honey locust, it’s an iris that, as Lee Bonnewitz wrote in his 1926 catalog, “I believe all American iris lovers will be glad to own.” 30-32”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from Ann Arbor. Last offered in 2015 and we hope to offer again in 2021. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


DAUNTLESS, 1929

With velvety petals of burgundy and rose, ‘Dauntless’ is one of the oldest and best of the so-called “red” irises. It was introduced by Nashville’s Clarence Connell in 1929, beating out ‘Indian Chief’ to win the Dykes Medal as the year’s finest iris. On “tall heavy stems,” its luxurious blooms “last over a long season” (Cooley’s, 1937). 34-38”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from Ann Arbor. Last offered in 2018 and we hope to offer again in 2021. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


EDWARD OF WINDSOR, 1945

$223,000 – that’s how much a painting by English artist Cedric Morris sold for recently, but you can own this incredible iris he created for just a few bucks. It’s famous for being the first British pink, but it’s officially described by the AIS as orange. In truth its mesmerizing color is a bit of both, highlighted by pale purple and gold veining in the falls and vibrant tangerine beards. 34-36”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from Ann Arbor. Last offered in 2018 and we don't expect to offer it again.


FLAVESCENS, 1813

Lauren Springer in Passionate Gardening tells of collecting a bit of this incredibly tough, moonlight yellow iris from “two shimmering clumps” at an abandoned homesite in Wyoming, way out in the middle of nowhere. “Perhaps someday,” she muses, “it will be all that remains of my house and garden.” (See a triumphant swath of it gone wild in Kansas.) Lemon fragrance, 30”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), Ann Arbor. Last offered in 2018 and we hope to offer again in 2021. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


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(10bWC), from Ann Arbor. Last offered in 2018 and we hope to offer again in 2021. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


FLUTTER-BY, 1924

With its lower petals held out at a jaunty angle, this profusely blooming little iris really does have the look of a host of butterflies. It was bred by the remarkable Grace Sturtevant of Massachusetts, a trained artist and “the world’s first woman plant hybridizer” (Mahan, 2007). Unfortunately, due to our very limited growing space we may not offer this little charmer again, so get it while you can! 24-26”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Last offered in 2016 and we hope to offer again in 2021. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


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