May 6th, 2008
Iris ‘Silverado’

bearded iris Silverado
2004-05-06. Bearded iris ‘Silverado’ on a cloudy day.

Two small stems of the bearded iris ‘Silverado’ bloomed for May Day. I want to say that ‘Silverado’ has never been very vigorous in my garden but photographic evidence contradicts me. Apparently I had quite a good stand of it in 2003 before I divided it and moved it. The three large rhizomes I’d bought from Schreiner’s Iris in 1999 had multiplied to 12 crowded small ones.

Schreiner’s bred ‘Silverado’ and introduced it to the iris world in 1987 where it took award after award, winning the highest honor, the Dykes Medal, in 1994. The color is the palest silvery blue with the slightest hint of lavender. The color glimmers in the mist or moonlight but washes out in glaring sunlight. The blooms are full and ruffled without the over-the-top frilliness of some modern irises. The standards and the falls are proportionately balanced.

Garden History

Thursday April 8, 1999
Finalized my Schreiner’s Iris order. After much deliberation, settled on 3 ‘Incantation’ ($7.50 ea) and 3 ‘Silverado’ ($6.00 ea).

Wednesday August 11, 1999
I continue reworking the iris bed southeast of the bean teepee where the heirloom yellow irises were planted. Peat moss definitely makes a difference in the tilth of the soil. I dig three wheelbarrows of it in, after wetting each down. Then I water it in. It absorbs an amazing amount of water without running off or getting soggy. I intend to put in the new ‘Silverado’ and ‘Incantation” irises here, and move the ‘Champagne Elegance’. Then I will fill in with the largest rhizomes of the heirloom yellow irises I divided.

Monday August 23, 1999
The Schreiner order arrives. Included a bonus iris, ‘Lenten Prayer’.

Tuesday August 24, 1999
Plant bearded iris ‘Silverado’ (1999-3).

  • 2001-04-23. These did not bloom the first dry spring of 2000, but bloomed the second wet spring of 2001 while I was in Las Vegas (so I didn’t see them).
  • 2002-05-01. First flower.
  • 2003-04-22. First flower.
  • 2003-08-12. Dug these up to move to the east square. 6 medium and 6 small rhizomes.

In 2003, the ‘Silverado’ and heirloom yellow irises created just the effect I dreamed of.
bearded iris Silverado
2003-04-25. Bearded iris ‘Silverado’.
However, they needed dividing and this bed was now getting too much shade so I moved them to the front yard.

Thursday August 14, 2003
Plant bearded iris ‘Silverado’ (2003a-6), the 6 largest in the northwest corner of the east square bed.

  • 2004-04-17. First flower.
  • 2004-05-06. Another non-consecutive bloom (per photograph).
  • 2005-05-05. First flower (per photograph).
  • 2005-05-11. Blooming (per photograph).
  • 2008-05-01. First flower.

Thursday August 14, 2003
Plant bearded iris ‘Silverado’ (2003b-6), 6 very small Silverado in the east square bed. Yellow heirloom irises might be mixed in.

bearded iris Silverado
2005-05-05. Bearded iris ‘Silverado’ in bright sunlight.

by M Sinclair Stevens

17 Responses to post “Iris ‘Silverado’”

  1. From Rose at Prairie Rose's Garden:

    What a beautiful photo! I had some large irises at our old house, but unfortunately didn’t think to transplant them when we moved. I have planted some other pass-alongs here, so far no luck with blooming. I’m hoping this will be the year.

    I have very mixed luck with bearded iris myself. — mss

  2. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    I like that Silverado very much, such a delicate colouring and lovely frilly petals. Such a pity that irises flower only for a short time. BTW I’m impressed by all the records you keep about your garden.

    Perhaps if I spent less time writing about the garden I could spend more time gardening. But I’m really am a writer first and a gardener second. — mss

  3. From Gail:

    Lovely photographs, mss, Silverado is beautiful. Like Yolanda Elizabet, I am impressed with your record keeping. You have triggered a memory of my first daylily order; how I poured over the pages and chose everything then whittled the order down to “let’s be reasonable”. Thank you!

    Giving myself permission to buy irises was difficult. They can be so expensive. It took a very long time to come to a decision. I still have that first catalog–with all the pages marked. — mss

  4. From David:


    Coming from you, that’s quite a compliment. Hey, thanks for “picking” this post on Blotanical today. — mss

  5. From vertie:

    Beautiful photo! Is that with your new camera?

    Nope. These are all old photos. I liked them better than any I took this year. The new camera just shipped today. — mss

  6. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    Silverado is a beauty. I don’t imagine you have much trouble with Iris borers in your garden. I got grossed out with them in my mom’s garden, so now I have only an heirloom mystery purple bearded Iris.

    I haven’t had problem with iris borers. My big problem is rot in our hot, humid summers. I have very few of the “bought” irises left–mostly just those yellow heirloom irises. — mss

  7. From deb:

    What a beautiful Iris. On my yearly visit to the Argyle Iris Farm I will look for it.

    I’ve always wanted to visit Argyle Iris Farm. Silverado is still pretty popular so you might find it. But since it was bred in the Pacific northwest, I wonder if it will ever be happy in my central Texas garden. — mss

  8. From Lori, Austin Texas:

    You know what really strikes me about this post? I spent a long time looking through the Schreiner’s catalog after your last iris post, and wow, have their prices gone up since 1999! I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I doubt I could find an iris this gorgeous for $6.50 these days.

    I checked, too. Silverado was $10 this year, which does not seem like an unreasonable mark-up over nine years. (I get sticker shock every time I walk into Gardens.) I haven’t checked to see if they still do it, but they used to have a system where if you ordered more than $50 worth, they cut the price in half. And they were always good about throwing in bonus irises. The trick is not to buy any of the newly introduced varieties. — mss

  9. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    I really like that picture from this year. The flower looks like a grand lady of the garden, dressed perfectly for spring.

    Thanks. One of the larkspur I save for seeds is almost this color. I guess I have a thing for it. — mss

  10. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    Since this iris is so delicately colored and blooms relatively late, I bet you’re glad we’ve had several cloudy days lately, the better to enjoy it.

    I’m always thankful for cloudy days this time of year. Now where is the promised rain? — mss

  11. From linda:

    MSS, that’s a gorgeous iris. I was thinking the same thing as Lori – can’t get plants at those prices anymore!

    I amazed at your detailed record keeping.

    Thanks. As for my record-keeping, I never seem to have written down the one piece of information that I need later. When I review my notes before writing a post, I’m always irritated with myself for failing to note the essentials. — mss

  12. From cindee:

    I love Schreiners. I have ordered many iris from them over the years. Yours is beautiful!!!

    Cool. We can compare notes. Every year I tell myself I’m going to send in a new order. But when I compare the price of irises to the price of roses, I feel I get more bloom-per-buck when I invest in roses. — mss

  13. From Frances:

    Such an elegant color, Silverado has. Your record keeping is so helpful, has it always been on the computer? My records are in a notebook by year, lots of paper shuffling to find something. I used to number the iris and daylilies by the order of their first blooming, then got so many that I couldn’t keep track of them. We almost threw out all the iris after a couple of no bloom years, but this year they seem to have gotten the memo. We have Champagne Elegance also, a wonderful little bloomer.

    I have my main garden diary on the computer in a FrameMaker file. Unfortunately, Adobe won’t port FrameMaker to Mac OS X so its days are numbered. I also have lists, inventories, and maps of the garden plus boxes of receipts, clippings, seed packets and notes, the blog and Twitter. I’m an archivist. — mss

  14. From our friend Ben in Pennsylvania:

    ‘Silverado’ is gorgeous, MSS! Thanks for sharing it with us. I too am a devoted Shreiner’s fan (pardon the pun), but have confined myself to the oldest cultivars so far. But now I might have to make an exception!

    Thanks. I think ‘Silverado’ can be had fairly reasonably–as iris prices go. — mss

  15. From Muum from Utah:

    I have Silverado, too, and Champagne Elegance. Thanks for sharing your records, that is a good idea! Good detail and records to refer back to.

    Interesting that we chose the same irises. As for the record-keeping, that has always been the focus of this blog, collecting and sharing data. — mss

  16. From Layanee:

    Thanks for that link to yet another glorious nursery! Love the pale beauty of ‘Silverado’. On the list!

  17. From Jenny - Las Vegas:

    The thing that strikes me about this beautiful photograph is that the texture of the Silverado, especially in contrast with the slightly out-of-focus background flora, seems to appear fluid in nature. One almost expects to see the gentle undulation and movement common to sea anemone in a coral reef.