Updated: May 28
This is the year of the iris, at least in the eyes of the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the iris, the symbolic flower of a 25-year anniversary, has appropriately been chosen to highlight this landmark. Several events centering on iris have been planned for the year, the first of which took place on May 15 in Somis, Ventura County, California. Here, BAGSC members gathered at Greenwood Daylily Gardens (https://www.greenwoodgarden.com) to see and learn about bearded iris, sometimes called German iris. Although the name of the nursery may seem to be misleading, Greenwood specializes in iris, as well as daylilies.
Owners Cynthia (a BAGSC member) and John Schoustra welcomed our group to their 39-acre property where they grow, not only daylilies and iris, but also pelargoniums (commonly called geraniums), lilacs bred for our warm, California winters, and an assortment of other perennials suited to our unique climate. They have adopted sustainable growing practices, where recycled, plastic pots are used, as well as composted plant material and “waste” sand from other businesses for the growing medium. Parts of the property have been recontoured to reduce water runoff and to allow excess water to percolate into the ground, recharging the water table. Much of the property is hilly and is not suitable for perennial production. It is here that they organically grow several acres of Lamb Haas avocados, a high-quality variety that was bred at UC Riverside and is starting to gain in popularity.
John gave us lots of good information on the plants and how they are grown, followed by a short walking tour of some of the production areas. Unfortunately, the iris blooming season started early this year so bloom was past peak, but there were still quite a few varieties in flower, and many of the daylilies were spectacular! Two notable iris were ‘Superstition’, with velvety, extremely dark purple flowers that appeared to be almost black, and ‘Persian Berry’, with very ruffled, lavender and light mulberry-colored flowers. These two were favorites of many BAGSC members.
We had a wonderful lunch on the shady, back patio of the Schoustra’s hilltop home which afforded a fantastic 360⁰ view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Following lunch, we made our way back down the hill to the sales area where we started the day. Most of us were looking for, and ended up taking home, blooming iris plants to paint for Carol Woodin’s interactive Zoom workshop the following Saturday on painting iris (which was wonderful!), and for the 25th Anniversary iris exhibition this fall at the Huntington. It turned out to be a very fun and worthwhile day.
Click on the large image below to be able to click through a full-size slide show of the photo gallery from the day.