Siberian iris as you've never seen them

Exciting new iris from America's top breeders make it to Britain

Many interesting new varieties of that dependable old favourite Iris sibirica are being developed in North America, although many are slow to across the Atlantic.

Iris sibirica 'Penny Whistle', 'Charming Billy' and 'Unbuttoned Zippers'But this autumn sees the arrival of three recent introductions, all with striking veining to the flowers, and all developed near Boston, Massachusetts, by specialist iris breeders Marty Schafer and Jan Sacks. Marty and Jan have been breeding new irises since 1985 and have introduced literally hundreds of new varieties.

‘Charming Billy’ (upper inset) has deep reddish violet falls (the outer petals) shading to yellow at the base and veined in dark violet, plus paler standards (the inner petals) which are flared outwards and pale blue petal-like style arms standing up in the centre.

‘Penny Whistle’ (main picture) as bluish violet falls with a striking yellow zone at the base, all prettily networked in deep blue veins, plus violet standards and pale blue style arms.

‘Unbuttoned Zippers’ (lower inset) is altogether paler with a soft blend of yellow and pale violet tones on the falls, a more delicate paler rosy violet on the standards, all intricately veined, and with apricot tones in the style arms.

Marketed as the Peacock Butterfly collection, all three varieties are fragrant and very prettily veined and all feature the target features that Marty and Jan always keep in mind: well-branched stems carrying more buds for a longer display; flowers in proportion to the size of the plant and held above the foliage for maximum visibility; foliage that looks good after the flowers are over. Combine all this with the well known robustness of these long-lived plants and their value is obvious.
You can order Iris ‘Charming Billy’, ‘Penny Whistle’ and ‘Unbuttoned Zippers’ from Hayloft Plants. You can also order a collection of all three.
*Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.