Iris A-Z: X, Y and Z

It is time to wrap up this series with the last three letters of the alphabet. I had prepared a few in advance because I went to the UK to visit mum and other relatives, the first time for almost two years because of Covid. I didn’t pick the best week, with three storms in a week. Although planes flew (I think because Ryanair don’t like paying out compensation) trains were stopped and the whole trip was a challenge. Winds are still horrific and at times, on Sunday, the rain was lashing horizontally and it felt as though a giant power washer was being fired at the house. I can’t help feeling that Gaia is trying to rid herself of the irritating, annoying creatures infesting her skin.

But enough philosophy, on with the last iris.

‘Xanthippes Halo’

This iris is bred from ‘Brown Lasso’ which was mentioned a long time ago and named after Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates. Her name means ‘yellow horse’ and I am not sure why except that ‘horse names’ were suggestive of aristocratic lineage in ancient Greece. She was allegedly argumentative and that is why Socrates chose to marry her – ‘I know full well, if I can tolerate her spirit, I can with ease attach myself to every human being else.’ – an interesting way to choose a partner.

Missouri-based David Niswonger, who raised iris in all classes, introduced this in 1992 and wrote
Just as Socrates’ wife constantly nagged at him, this iris has been nagging at me for several years for introduction. But, since I am not particularly fond of dark colors (it is a deep red violet with a brown rim), I hesitated to introduce it.’

‘Yaquina Blue’

It would seem to be the easiest thing the world to produce a blue iris but a great many blues are not really blue at all but influenced with purple. This is another of Schreiner’s blues and I wonder about my photo since it should be really blue. As they say themselves, ‘ruffles and rich marine blue color remind us of Oregon’s Yaquina Bay’. It was introduced in 1992, is generally agreed to be a fine, strong iris, and was awarded the Dykes Medal in 2001. It reached no 28 in the popularity poll.

‘Yosemite Star’

This wisteria purple iris was introduced by Idaho’s George Sutton in 2004 and has ‘Yaquina Blue’ in its parentage. It reblooms well and is fragrant.


Raised by Utah’s Donald Nebeker, this beauty is sometimes said to be a slow grower but rewarding for its great colour.

‘Zebra Bluez’

It is no surprise that Brad Kasperek would feature in the Zs with his crazy names for his unusual iris. This one has dark flowers above white-variegated foliage. Like many, the variegation is irregular and not always incredibly decorative and the white areas sometimes die, but they are all interesting.

‘Z Z Zanzibar’

Ironically we are ending in an iris that is not a TB but a Miniature Tall bearded and is a species cross with Iris variegata so shouldn’t be here at all, but we might as well end the Zs with a triple Z. These unusual crosses do hold the key to more exciting iris in the future though so maybe this is a good one to end with. It reblooms and achieved several awards. Raised by Brad Kasperek and introduced in 2005.

Normal service will be resumed soon.

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4 Comments on “Iris A-Z: X, Y and Z”

  1. thelonggardenpath
    February 22, 2022 at 8:25 am #

    Thank you for a great series! They’re all such beautiful, fascinating flowers in such an amazing array of colours. Wish I had more success in growing them (and more space!)

    • thebikinggardener
      February 22, 2022 at 8:38 am #

      Thank you. I am glad you found it interesting. More usual posts for a while now.

  2. Anne Cullen
    February 22, 2022 at 6:37 pm #

    Hello Geoff. Thank you, that was a great series on Iris. Wonderful photos, descriptions & details.

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