blue iris
Unidentified bearded iris.

December 15th, 2009
GBBD 200912: Dec 2009

Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites us to tell her what’s blooming in our gardens on the 15th of each month.

December 2009

The last couple of Decembers, I managed to sneak in a flowery GBBD before winter’s first hard freeze. This December the hard freeze came first to Austin and so there is very little blooming in the garden today.

New for December

Only two plants began flowering since November’s GBBD: one passalong blue bearded iris and the winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima. That’s a long name for an insignificant flower. It’s power is in its scent. Both began blooming yesterday (12/14).

Lonicera fragrantissima
Winter honeysuckle.

I also bought a tray of yellow snapdragons. They hardly seem like real flowers since I bought them in bloom and they look more or less the same weeks later. I usually buy violas but I couldn’t find a color I liked this year.

The white marigold ‘Kilimanjaro’ bloomed just days before the freeze and then died. The paperwhite narcissus, the first of all the narcissus to bloom, are usually flowering in my garden by now. They are flowering elsewhere in Austin but not here. Mine need dividing, I think.

Hanging on

Pacific chrysanthemum caught the fancy of several garden bloggers during our field trip to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. I picked up a plant at the Antique Rose Emporium that same trip. The flowers are a pretty gold but I’m more attracted to the foliage.
Ajania pacifica
Pacific chrysanthemum.

Snow fell in Austin since November’s GBBD but it didn’t stick. The closest I have to a carpet of snow is a little clump of sweet alyssum which survived the heat of summer.
Lobularia maritima
Sweet alyssum.

The roses ‘Ducher’ and ‘Red Cascade’ which were in full bloom before the freeze have survived. Some of the smallest buds froze and never opened but the larger flowers still look pretty from a distance. On closer inspection you can see they were nipped by the cold but unlike so many other flowers, they didn’t turn to much and go brown.

December 15, 2009

The list of all plants flowering today, December 15, 2009, at Zanthan Gardens.

  • Ajania pacifica (2009)
  • Antirrhinum majus (2009)
  • Aster ericoides (2007, 2009)
  • Commelinantia anomala (2009) a few flowers, most froze
  • Galphimia gracilis, indoors (2009)
  • iris, unidentified blue bearded (2009)
  • Lobularia maritima ‘Tiny Tim’ (2007, 2009) survived the summer
  • Lonicera fragrantissima (2009)
  • parsnips (2009)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (2007, 2009)
  • rose ‘Red Cascade’ (2009)
  • rosemary (2007, 2008, 2009)
  • Setcreasea (2007, 2009) green
  • Tagetes lucida (2009)

bearded iris Incantation
Bearded iris ‘Incantation’. April 29, 2009.

April 30th, 2009
Iris ‘Incantation’

A lavender blue bearded iris opened this week and I had to go through my files of photographs to identify it. Everyone is under the misconception that I keep great records. In contrast, I feel like I never write down the precise bit of information that I want to know later. When did I transplant this iris? Where did I move it from? What is it? Why didn’t I label it or jot down a few notes?

In my files I found several photos of ‘Incantation’. Some taken with my digital video recorder in on April 21, 2002. Another set taken with my first digital camera on April 24, 2005. These showed the distinct veining on the falls and the bit of bright orange on the throat of the otherwise white beard.

bearded iris Incantation
Bearded iris ‘Incantation’. April 24, 2005.

This year ‘Incantation’ opened on April 25th. I have only one rhizome left which has sent up one stalk with three flowers. I originally bought three rhizomes from Schreiner’s in 1999 for $7.50 a piece (not factoring in the discount). They bloomed in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, and now 2009. I thought I’d lost them to rot completely. I transplanted them again last fall and only one survived. It has been smothered by bluebonnets most of the spring and I was completely surprised when the flower stalk popped up last week.

Here’s my original impression from April 20, 2000.

First flower. Well-proportioned with standards the periwinkle blue of some of the larkspur. It blends very well with the larkspur but what I really need is contrast. This is the trouble with liking one color and buying every flower that is that color.

I think I was wrong. I look at the photo at the top of this post and now I think that’s just perfect.

bearded iris Strictly Ballroom
2009-04-05. Bearded iris ‘Strictly Ballroom’.

April 5th, 2009
Iris ‘Strictly Ballroom’

Today ‘Strictly Ballroom’ is the lone reminder of my former obsession with bearded irises.


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

May 6th, 2008
Iris ‘Silverado’

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.

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photo: iris Champagne Elegance
2008-04-17. Bearded iris ‘Champagne Elegance’.

April 18th, 2008
Iris ‘Champagne Elegance’

Dateline: 2008-04-18

Did I move ‘Champagne Elegance’ as I chided myself to do in 2004? Why is my record-keeping so inconsistent? No, I chopped out the oregano instead. I had already moved her to the east square of the front lawn, a sunny spot where my plan was to plant roses and irises so that I could keep all the demanding plants together. The nearby Texas mountain laurel and oleander grew so quickly that this planned sunny spot was completely in the shade last year. So go my plans. As do my dreams of hundreds of irises multiplying exponentially.

Still ‘Champagne Elegance’ struggles on. Last year, Austin got twice as much rainfall in the summer as normal and I lost many bearded irises to rot. Only one rhizome of ‘Champagne Elegance’ survived. It produced three babies, each of which sent up a stalk and began flowering yesterday. Six small flowers in all. This is not a very impressive showing in the realm of tall beard iris fanciers but it pleases me.

Aren’t there certain flowers in your garden that make you run out when you spot them and whoop for joy? “Look! There’s ‘Champagne Elegance’ again’,” I insist, showing anyone who will stop and look.
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photo: tall bearded iris 'Raspberry Wine'
2003-04-27. Austin, Texas. (zone 8)

April 21st, 2007
Iris ‘Raspberry Wine’

In 2007, ‘Raspberry Wine’ has been the only named bearded iris that I still own that bloomed. Over the years since I first fell in love with bearded iris, my yard has gotten shadier and shadier. Bearded iris are definitely sun-loving plants.

I’d give up on fancy bearded irises except every time one opens, I fall in love all over again. ‘Raspberry Wine’ is no exception. I really like the color and the proportions of this flower. It just needs more sunlight than I can offer it here. Given the poor conditions for irises in my garden the last couple of years, I’m delighted that it flowered at all.

I received ‘Raspberry Wine’ as a bonus iris with my order from Schreiner’s.

Schreiner 2001 M 37″ Claret self. “This vigorous wonder has inherited superb growth habits from its parent Madeira. Seedling BB 326-1”
Madeira X Y682-2: (T453-B, Thriller sib x T449-A: (R183-A, sib to Stardus Memories pod parent, x R208-A: ((Sailor’s Dance x unknown) x Yaquina Blue pollen parent)))

In 2005 ‘Raspberry Wine” won an Honorable Mention award from the American Iris Society. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find ‘Raspberry Wine’ in Schreiner’s Iris Gardens online catalog just now, even though they developed this iris. It is available from Rainbow Iris Farm in Iowa.
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photo: iris Sneezy
Bearded iris ‘Sneezy’

April 16th, 2002
Iris ‘Sneezy’

Sadly, ‘Sneezy’ bloomed in my garden only once and then disappeared. Experiences like this persuade me that I’d be better off just forgetting the garden and buying cut flowers instead.

Description from Schreiner’s Iris Lovers Catalog 1999:

“Altruist’s cool azure shading lightens to a luminescent chalk white along the midrib and around the berd. The ruffled and fluted petals emit a soft effervescence, yet the substance is surprisingly heavy. Two branches and a spur with 8-9 buds. Tall bearded. EM Light blue fall. Light blue standard. Beard white. 1987. HM 1989,AM 1991.

April 14th, 2002
Iris ‘Altruist’

Dateline: 2002
The bearded irises have really begun blooming this week, beginning with ‘Altruist’ on April 8th, then ‘Champagne Elegance’ on April 9th, and ‘Incantation’ today.

Whenever an iris opens, I fall in love with it, forsaking all others.

Zanthan Gardens History

Monday March 19, 2000
Among my Schreiner’s order this year, one ‘Altruist’ ($7.50).

2001-04-11. Second to bloom in this row. It is not very blue, but more lavender. It is more flouncy and more open than “Mystic’s Muse’, matching the description from Schreiner’s quoted above. I brought them both to work today and their colors complement.

First flower of 2002 on ‘Altruist’ and first flower this year of all the bought irises.

Altruist has produced some spectacular stalks, each with many flowers. As for the note above, it only seemed less heavy because it was not fully open.

One of the Altruist rhizomes had rot. Dug up five rhizomes and soaked them in a mild bleach solution, then replanted them in the front square. The one that had rot was one that already bloomed, so it should probably be thrown out. It was small and didn’t have any babies. One other was very small and three were good sized and will probably bloom next year.

Thursday April 10, 2003
First flower of 2003.

Monday April 5, 2004
First Flower. Iris ‘Atruist’ is also the first flower of all the bought irises.

Tuesday August 28, 2018
Schreiner’s no longer carries this iris.