EAGLE, Idaho — There’s an explosion of color going on around the valley with flowers blooming everywhere. And have you seen the irises? If you have irises growing in your yard, then you know what a showy flower that can be.

Garden master Jim Duthie takes us to a local iris garden where you can enjoy those gorgeous blooms now, and pick out the irises that you want to grow in your own garden next spring.

In a rural neighborhood of Eagle, Idaho, there’s a garden that doesn’t grow vegetables. Instead, it grows irises. And right now, they’re blooming in all the colors of the rainbow.

In fact, iris is the Greek word for rainbow, and these flowers really live up to their name, with colors from white to yellow, pink and purple, and everything in between. and there are multi-colored varieties that are real show-stoppers.

“We’re a little late this year. Usually we’re blooming into late April into May, but this year Mother Nature’s decided to delay it,” said JoAnn Burrell.

JoAnn Burrell has been growing and selling irises here for 23 years.

“We have about 350 varieties. And every year I have to buy new ones, so some I take out and I bring in new ones. But last year I planted about 24 new varieties.”

JoAnn loves all the colors of her irises, especially the bright yellows and the serene pastels. But one variety tops her list.

“And then I have Starship Enterprise… always been my favorite.”

And no wonder. This iris is stunning -- bright white turning to brilliant gold, with bands of rosy magenta around the lower petals.

Irises bloom on tall stems shooting up from a cluster of sword-shaped leaves. The foliage is pretty plain, but there’s one variegated leaf variety that’s prized more for its leaves than its flowers.

“They don’t typically purchase it for the blossom. And most of the variegated, I believe, are purple. But they’re going for the foliage, so that when it’s done blooming, that’s very attractive.”

Irises have three upward-turned petals called standards, and three downward-turned petals called falls. Some of the petals have straight edges, while others are more frilly or lacy.

Most of the irises here in JoAnn’s garden are bearded irises. The beard refers to a fuzzy, caterpillar-like feature on the falls. It gives pollinating insects something to hold onto while they’re looking for nectar.

This variety of iris, called space age, even has an interesting long, spear-like appendage called a horn, or flounce, that extends from the end of the beard.

But the really dark colors seem to be most popular with Joann’s customers.

“Yeah, the blacks are huge sellers. It’s very popular. I have to buy three or four new black ones every year.”

Like this one, called Dracula’s kiss.

“It’s something different. You don’t see many black flowers. And so for people to come to the garden and see really a dark purple, or black almost color, is, they just gravitate.”

If you find an iris you want to grow at home, simply fill out an order form. Later in the summer, when the blooms are gone, the plants are dug up, packaged, and are ready for pick up.

“And that’s when you want to plant them, is the hottest time of year.”

Irises are easy to grow, and the heat doesn’t bother them.

“There’s not much work to taking care of an iris, and that’s what people like.”

But to JoAnn, her garden is more than just a business.

“I like to sell the irises. That helps pay for things. But it’s not just about the sale of irises. So many people come to just look at the beauty. To sit, we have benches, and places for them to hang out, and people will stay an hour, hour-and-a-half, just visiting and enjoying the beauty. So it’s a community, a destination, for the City of Eagle.”

Irises are some of the most spectacular flowers around, and they’re really making a show right now. How long will it last? Well, that’s kind of up to Mother Nature. But if you want to see them while they’re blooming, now’s the time.

JoAnn’s Iris Garden is located on Hesse Lane in Eagle, west of Eagle Middle School, and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. as long as the irises are in bloom. Admission to the garden is free. The public, as well as artists, photographers and garden clubs are always welcome. 

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