Continuing the Ss we start with ‘Silverado’ which is a totally lovely flower. The name is strangely embedded in my consciousness and I am not quite sure why. And I am not sure why the iris has this name. My slight obsession with the name may be because I once visited the former mining town in Orange County, California, or, strangely, because every time I think of the name I start head-singing ‘Desperado’, and the Carpenters version rather than the Eagles. I am sure it is not because of the Chevy Silverado which was introduced after the iris, nor the Simpson’s Canyonero, though that is another ear worm!
Anyway, the iris was introduced in 1986 by Schreiners and it was awarded the Dykes Medal in 1994. It is tall and has 8-10 large blooms per stem. The colour is clean and the flowers nicely ruffled. Some say it is Schreiner’s finest introduction and it is still popular and doesn’t look out of place among modern varieties even though it is 35 years old. In the 2010 poll of the most popular iris it came in at No 9.
‘Song of Norway’
This cool, glacial blue was raised by California’s Walter Luihn, who also produced ‘Dusky Dancer’. It was introduced in 1979 and is exceptional for its deep blue beards, tipped with white. There is something very special and classic about the slightly ruffled flowers and it was awarded the Dykes Medal in 1986 and came in at 73 in the popularity poll.
Iris can produce astounding colour combinations that are rarely possible in other flowers. One of the most striking is rich, dark falls and pale standards and many breeders have achieved the look. ‘Secret Service’ has flowers with an amazing combination of colours and could look a bit muddled if it were not for that huge orange beard that lifts the flower. It was raised by Keith Keppel and introduced in 2002.
This has similar colouring but with more stripes on the haft and a paler beard and the falls are more purple than aubergine, if that makes any sense. It was bred by Slovakian Anton Mego and introduced in the same year as ‘Secret Service’. His varieties often have intriguing colours or are Space Age. It reached No 45 in the popularity poll of 2010.
Everyone loves plicata iris and that contrasting dark blue or purple with white is impossible to ignore. Schreiner’s ‘Stepping Out’ is a classic that may be getting old (introduced in 1964) but sometimes the classics just don’t need improving. Others have larger blooms, more ruffling, or different colours. But after you have tired of raspberry iced lattes, skinny soya caramel frappes and pumpkin-spiced coconut cappuccinos there is nothing better than a double espresso and a biscotti. Not surprisingly this great iris was awarded the Dykes Medal in 1968, and it came in at No 18 in the popularity poll.