April 18th, 2008
Iris ‘Champagne Elegance’

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

Garden History

Dateline: 1997-09-06

Yesterday the three bearded irises that I ordered from White Flower Farms arrived. I planted them next to the tuberoses in the upper stone bed. I dug in 3 inches of Revitalizer and sprinkled a handful Dutch bulb mix.

Dateline: 1998-05-13.

First flower. The standards are pure white, the falls a buff beige with a bit of gold at the throat. It is much flouncier and frillier than my pale yellow ones. Although the shape is attention getting, the color is a supporting color. It will be a good mixer.

Dateline: 1999-03-23

First flower. Last year the first flower was May 10th [13th?], but it didn’t bloom again in the fall. Maybe this year it will. (Flower lasted until Friday: about 3 days.)
photo: iris Champagne Elegance
1999-03-31. Bearded iris ‘Champagne Elegance’.

Dateline: 1999-04-13

Two blooms on a 3-foot scape that has 3 buds. Cut it and bring it into work. I think it is just as lovely as anything in last Sunday’s flower show.

Dateline: 2001-08-01

Replanted the four rhizomes dug from iris bed 2 in front square 1 (the east square) after dipping them in bleach solution. They are all quite small and the ones that are larger have already bloomed. So whether they can survive to ever bloom again is doubtful. I wonder if it is just ‘Champagne Elegance’ or whether all the hybrid bearded irises will eventually fade away. Could I have fed it more? watered it more?

I’m disappointed that the soil in square 1 isn’t better, given that it has been topped with Revitalizer. But it is very dusty, with big clay clods. I water and turn it, add peat moss, superphosphate, bone meal, and compost.

Dateline: 2002-04-09.

Well. These irises have not only survived but bloomed beautifully. The first flower (two actually) opened today. The stalk is only 24 inches tall, but very thick and supporting 5 flower buds. If it had waited until the iris show on the 20th, I think it would have won something.

Dateline: 2002-04-16

photo: iris Champagne Elegance
2002-04-15. Bearded iris ‘Champagne Elegance’.
The first tall bearded iris I bought was ‘Champagne Elegance’. I’ve had it since 1997 and have divided it twice. It has bloomed each year that I’ve had it. Although not as floriferous as ‘Mystic’s Muse’ or as vigorous as ‘Seakist’, it has come back every year.

Dateline: 2004-04-28

photo: iris Champagne Elegance
2004-04-28. Bearded iris ‘Champagne Elegance’. (Until I looked at this post I didn’t realize how similar these two photos are, taken two years apart and with different cameras.)
I’m glad to see my old friend, ‘Champagne Elegance’ again. I had to rescue her from a smothering oregano. She sent up two wan shoots which have produced several small flowers. Even though she’s not as vigorous as she once was, I still think she’s lovely. I’m going to try moving her again to a more hospitable spot.

Dateline: 2006-09-28

One rhizome has made it through our worst August on record and is putting out new leaves.

by M Sinclair Stevens

16 Responses to post “Iris ‘Champagne Elegance’”

  1. From Robin at Bumblebee:

    My bit of unexpected joy were the tulips that I planted in, ahem, January. Yes, some of them sat neglected in my cold garage until until an unseasonably warm day drove me outside to plant them to ease my guilt.

    Guess what? Those silly tulips are even more beautiful and healthy than the ones I planted in the fall!

    Go figure.

    I’d love to see your tulips. Tulips aren’t very happy in Texas and I don’t like to mess with flowers that don’t come back every year. (Just answering these comments made me realize how important that is to me.) — mss

  2. From Esther Montgomery Southern England:

    If I had a Champagne Elegance, I’d hoop for joy!

    More than the beauty of the flower, I think, it’s the completion of the cycle that thrills me. — mss

  3. From Jane Marie:

    Champagne Elegance is too elegant for words.

    I never knew I loved buff-colored flowers until ‘Champagne Elegance’ bloomed. — mss

  4. From Jan @ Always Growing:

    I’ve planted bearded irises and either they have rotted or died. I would love to have them, but I have finally given up. Yours are beautiful.

    I always SAY that I’ve given up on bearded iris…that their short bloom season is worth the trouble. And then they start blooming and I fall in love all over again and start planning another Schreiner’s Iris order. — mss

  5. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    If you get another wet summer, you should put some of that Iris in pots. My mom divided some of her bearded Iris several years ago & just stuffed them into those black nursery pots until she had time to replant them. She never found the time, then she forgot about them. The silly things went through the winter in Chicago like that & the next summer too until she finally got them into the ground the following fall. Some even bloomed in the pots. I hope your bubbly Iris makes a big comeback.

    Good idea. I actually had the same experience. (You would think I’d learn from it.) A reader traded me some bearded iris for some oxblood lily bulbs and I never managed to find a sunny spot to plant the iris. They lived a year in black nursery pots and even bloomed before I finally got them in the ground. — mss

  6. From deb:

    Beautiful, glad it survived out floods last summer.

    Me, too. — mss

  7. From Libby:

    Omigosh, that’s the most beautiful iris I’ve ever seen. I wanted to let you know that by some miracle, two of the California poppy seedlings you gave me are still alive, albeit 1/4 inch tall. Still, amazing given the bizarre weather and nonstop parching wind. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

    Thanks. And I’m glad to hear about the California poppies They seem to be tough. I’ve had them almost die completely back and save one little leaf that keeps going. — mss

  8. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    That is a beautiful iris. I have just one in my garden but they’ll start blooming all around town in a few weeks and then I’ll want a whole bunch more.

    Your record keeping inconsistent? Hardly! Even though one or two things might be missed you have the most impressive records of a garden that I know of.

    Finally, in answer to your question, what in the garden makes me whoop for joy and show anyone who’ll stop by? Generally the first vegetable harvests. Green beans, squash, radishes, and of course, tomatoes!

    I consider my record-keeping is inconsistent because I always seem to neglect to write down the one piece of information that I want to know later. –mss

  9. From Diana - Austin:

    That is a stunning iris. She looks like a damsel in a ball gown about to go out for a night on the town. She’d make me whoop, for sure. As it is, I think it’s the daffodils, and now the quince. Oh, and the veggies, like Carol. We ate our first radish yesterday. Yummy.

    Yes, veggies bring delight. I was pretty excited by my first strawberry and looking forward to the season’s first tomato. — mss

  10. From kate:

    Champagne Elegance lives up to its name and I’d be doing a dance if it came up in my garden. It’s beautiful.

    Thanks. — mss

  11. From Jenny - Las Vegas:

    Oh my goodness! That is one of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. What an amazing photograph – truly a beauty.

  12. From M2 in Bothell:

    It’s funny, when I saw that particular iris, I just smiled. It looks joyful.

  13. From Ki:

    Understated elegance indeed. One of the nicest iris I’ve ever seen. I especially like the first photo.

  14. From N Z Iris Hunter:

    Champagne Elegance amazingly two different hemispheres, two opposing seasons, same Iris blooming SNAP. Two different hemispheres two different seasons same iris blooming I linked your site.

    I tried to leave the following comment on your blog but you only have comments turned on for Blogger users. “I bought ‘Champagne Elegance’ initially because it was reported to be a repeat bloomer. I’ve had spotty luck with it although I’m pleased that it has survived in my garden for ten years.” — mss

  15. From Beka in Austin:

    Strange. My beardeds were DONE blooming by last week, ie mid April. Mmmmm. My garden is at Koenig and Link. Backyard iris are in morning to mid-afternoon sun, then shade for heat of day, lastly a bit of setting sun as rays pass under tall hackberry. I was cutting the spent stalks back last week. Yes wet last year, but all my iris survived. They are on a slight slope, so water probably ran off sufficiently.

    Amazing how differently plants can behave even in gardens fairly close to each other, isn’t it? — mss

  16. From Muum from Utah:

    I have this one, too, and love my irises more every year. I enjoyed hearing about your Champagne Elegance, and am in admiration of your recordkeeping!