Heritage Irises

Bearded, beautiful, and full of grace and style.

By Beth Botts

Photography by Rob Cardillo


Heritage Iris—Art of Raphael.There are more than 300 species of irises from all the temperate regions of the world, including North America, and natural hybrids are common. Garden cultivars had appeared in Europe by the 16th century and followed settlers to the New World. A big boom in breeding came after 1830, and by 1939, the American Iris Society (AIS) counted more than 19,000 iris species and hybrids, with more introduced every year.