discovering irises

by Sharon Santoni

It’s pretty busy here right now.  This may sound strange at a time when we are all in lockdown, but I am juggling my work on the magazine and the box, and also tending the garden at this, the most intense moment on the gardening calendar.

It appears that nature is smiling at us during the confinement period.  So far the plants have been particularly generous, and I’m hoping that will continue to be true as we head towards the rose season.


But for now I am slightly obsessed with my irises.

I never used to pay much attention to irises, but that has changed.  I simply love their perfume, their intense colours, and the huge variety of size and hue.  Irises are easy to grow here.  Once the first rhizomes are planted, they will self propagate each year, until you find them too invasive and they need to be split and relocated, which only happens every 5 or 6 years.

flowers picked and laid on table

I put together this arrangement today.  With a few days of rain forecast, I had no qualms in bringing inside the first crimson peonies, and decided to go for a dark powerful bouquet, mixing rich mauves, reds and deep purple.  I also used some rhododendron, which is a first for me.  To my surprise they are surviving quite happily in the vase.

Besides the rhodoendron you can also see hawthorn branches, bronze hazelnut, peonies, aquilegia and of course irises.

I hope you like these flowers.   I’d love to know if you have irises in your garden too, and how you like to associate them with other plants.


Gaynor Roberts May 5, 2020 - 8:25 pm

Beautiful photos and what gorgeous colours. I’m a fan of irises too. I love their intense colours and heady perfume. I have them in my front garden in a semi-circle border next to box topiary and backed by a purple and a white lilac for height and scent

Judy May 5, 2020 - 8:51 pm

Your flower arrangement is beautiful, Sharon! Thank you for the inspiration. Weather is heating up here is Los Angeles and gardens are all in bloom.

MARLA STURGES May 5, 2020 - 9:05 pm

Sharon, stunning as usual!

PAMELA BEDELL May 5, 2020 - 9:10 pm

Thank You for filling us with beauty which so many of us so appreciate….

Susan Carter May 5, 2020 - 9:10 pm

Absolutely stunning and I love Iris.

Lisa May 5, 2020 - 10:05 pm

Absolutely adore your arrangement, especially against the color wall or whatever you have them placed in front of. Dark and moody but also vibrant and invigorating! Simply stunning. The irises I own we’re my mom’s at home. When she passed away I dug a bit of everything I wanted and have carried with me on my moves, a bit of mom, a bit of home. I’ve never really cut and brought in, don’t know why!

Cindy May 5, 2020 - 10:41 pm

The key word everyone is saying Sharon about your irises, Stunning, can’t say it enough. I particular like that photo where you have them laying sideways, usually straight up is how we see them. That last arrangement is simply gorgeous, makes me feel cool on this hot day in Orange County, Ca.

Bonnie Wood May 5, 2020 - 10:55 pm

My sister gave me some of her iris plants last year. They’re in the ground, but don’t know if they’ll grow .It’s been chilly here, so things are going a little slow. Can’t wait for the new magazine to be out!!!

Hope May 5, 2020 - 11:07 pm

Hi Sharon! You mentioned the rhododendron is “surviving happily”, do you have a trick for keeping the iris healthy in a vase? I’ve never had much luck bringing them inside.

Sharon Santoni May 6, 2020 - 8:35 am

Hi Hope, No I’m afraid I can’t help with that; I find they last 3 days at the most, but it’s still worhtwhile! 🙂


Alice Genzlinger May 5, 2020 - 11:41 pm

Stunning arrangement. Looks like painting.

Teddee Grace May 5, 2020 - 11:51 pm

Love, love, love these moody colors, especially those bronze leaves, which I guess must be the hazelnut, and the aquilegia, which we call columbine and is the state flower here in Colorado. A beautiful arrangement. Thank you!

Nettie May 6, 2020 - 12:15 am

Beautiful Sharon!

Emm May 6, 2020 - 1:58 am

Just a gorgeous series of pictures, thank you. I had some glorious irises in my front garden, and several years ago they just didn’t come up in the spring. No idea what happened, whether they got tired or eaten by critters or what, but zip. You inspire me to try again.

Care Winscott May 6, 2020 - 3:50 am

Care Winscott May 5, 2020,
I have Yellow iris now, purple last year. My plants must be 20 years old bringing to Northwest AR from Texas!
I regret not seeing Sharon when she came to Nell Hill’s,

Sallie May 6, 2020 - 2:57 am


Kay May 6, 2020 - 4:28 am

Gorgeous colours, as usual.

Joyce Davis May 6, 2020 - 5:28 am

Your arrangement was like gazing at a fine Dutch oil painting. The color choices, textures, and balance made my eyes more with such interest and excitement. A true treat for the day.

Inge May 6, 2020 - 4:11 pm

Dear Sharon,
love your irises.

Dear Sharon,
love your irises. They are “daughters of the rainbow”. If you need more – just have a look at It is almost incredible how many beautiful species our “German iris-queen” has to offer. Look at the peonias and papavers too.
Greetings from Bavaria, Inge

Marianne C Whitman May 6, 2020 - 8:19 pm

Sharon, there is an error sonewhere because I ordered a single copy issue of your May June magazine, paid for it by charge card, months ago, and no where do I see any information that my copy is in the mail. I do not understand this as was so looking forward for it to be released and mailed. Please look into this for me. Marianne C. Whitman, 1095 Tompkins Avenue, Staten Island . New York 10305

Sharon Santoni May 7, 2020 - 9:29 am

Hi Marianne, So sorry to hear this, I checked our records and your copy was posted on 30 March. All the copies within the USA are shipped by USPS, and we gather from what our clients are telling us that during the lockdown the service has been much slower than usual.
We’ll be writing to you directly by email today, and hopefully your copy will arrive very soon.
Kind wishes

Barbara Melendez-Rapp May 7, 2020 - 5:21 pm

I love this post. I have recently discovered Irises. You see my mother’s name was Iris. She recently passed away at the age of 93. I was fortunate enough to be able to care for her and we would often talk about her name. As dementia ravaged her memory there were often times when she couldn’t recall what her name was. I would show her pictures of the flowers. She loved that. So now I am working on planting an Iris garden in her name. Thank you for your post. It has been a source of comfort and inspiration.

Steven May 7, 2020 - 6:28 pm

I also love iris. But, I made the mistake of purchasing a pot of what is called here (Atlanta) ‘walking iris’. I thought they were a small Japanese variety. They have run rampant, to the point of being a nuisance. The plants are small and the little blooms are pretty but inconsequential as they are low to the ground. Maybe as a ground cover they would be OK. As a border plant I’ve regretted the choice – I can dig up and dispose of a patch and new ones pop up 10 feet away! Anyway, beautiful arrangement and, as always, a lovely post. Cheers!

Sharon Santoni May 8, 2020 - 2:40 pm

Thank you Steven, I never heard of Walking Irises, although the name itself does sounds like a warning!

Take care

pralinek September 15, 2022 - 3:18 pm

With an old table with plates and fruits, and the flowers here. You can recreate old master style photos.


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