Heritage Irises

Bearded, beautiful, and full of grace and style.

By Beth Botts

Photography by Rob Cardillo


Heritage Iris—Lorely.Gesine Lohr treasures an iris with blooms the rose-and-orange colors of an autumn sunset. In the 1930s, it grew in her grandmother's garden in New Jersey. Today, 'Indian Chief' lives on in pots in Lohr's garden in Alameda, California, and in the gardens of all those to whom she has passed it on. Lohr and other historic-iris devotees aim to save and identify as many as possible of the thousands of varieties that have come and almost gone since the 19th century.