Heritage Irises

Bearded, beautiful, and full of grace and style.

By Beth Botts

Photography by Rob Cardillo


Heritage Iris—Barbara Walther.Most of these are bearded irises, with a complex ancestry that includes an early hybrid, Iris 5 germanica, as well as various European species. What makes them "bearded" is the fuzz (actually a landing pad for pollinating insects) on the falls, the three sepals that drape gracefully down beneath the "standards," the three petals that stand up. Newer cultivars are ever more ornate, with elaborate ruffles and intricate patterns of color all across the rainbow.