(1919) Beardless Irises That We Can Have by Wilder
The Garden Magazine p. 17, August 1919
Beardless Irises That We Can Have.
THERE has been in my garden this summer an unusually fine display of some of the Beardless Irises. Just why they should have been incited to a more than ordinary floriferousness I do not know; unless the generous rainfall that has been vouchsafed my section of the country may have had something to do with it. At any rate I am moved to say that this class of Irises does not receive the recognition that it deserves. I took a few stalks of I. aurea and I. spuria to the garden club to which I belong and which is composed of women of considerably more than elementary garden knowledge, and only one knew what they were beyond the fact that they were some sort of Iris.
My favorite is I. aurea not to be confounded with the good yellow Iris of the variegata section of the Flag Irises with stout bright green narrow foliage and a strong stem rising well clear of the foliage and bright golden-yellow blossoms, large, well poised and with the segments daintily crimped. It has proved with me a fine border plant, not dependent upon the damp situation generally claimed for it, but enjoying a rather stiff, retentive soil. It blooms late,: about the time of the Japanese Irises and just before I. ochroleuca, also a tall, strong growing plant of the Beardless group bearing ivory white blossoms, yellow at the throat and of heavy texture. This plant with me has never flowered as freely as Iris aurea or some of the others but it is well worth growing.
The various forms of I. spuria and I. Gueldenstaedtiana closely allied to it are also delightful and with me very free flowering in ordinary rather heavy loam. The flowers are closely crowded on the tall stems and delightfully fashioned. There is a charming form called A. W. Tate, soft lavender, a lovely pure white with a yellow throat and several others. The type is rather dark blue in color. I. Wilsoni is a new yellow-flowered Iris belonging to this group that is said to be much like the slender growing sibericas. I have a thrifty plant of it but it has not yet flowered. Then there is Sir Michael Foster's fine group, monspur, Monnieri and monaurea. They are all tall and strong growing, giving their blossoms after the Flag Irises are past. Monspur is an Iris of unusual gaiety of coloring bright blue and bright yellow and with me has always bloomed with the utmost freedom.
Our own gay little Meadow Iris belongs to this beardless group and while it is a bit too free for garden purposes it is lovely enough in the moist meadows where it forms great cloud-like masses. And there are other fine American species also belonging to it that we Americans should know more about. There is Iris fulva, the blossoms of which are a rich mahogany, and small and delicate and poised as some strange butterfly; there is Iris prismatica, said to be like a small versicolor, Iris hexagona, Iris missouriensis from the Northwest and others.
In our preoccupation with the steadily rising tide of beauty in the Flag Irises, let us not forget these others. They are so different in form from the Flag Irises that they in no way compete with them, they thrive in situations that are not suited to the former and knowledge of them will, I think, in all cases make for a deeper love and admiration of this most entrancing of flower families.
For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at