A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow, by Kelly D. Norris. Timber Press, 2012
From Timber Press comes another informative and lavishly illustrated gardening book. Norris has been obsessed with iris since a very young age; as a boy, his idea of a great time was to go and buy fancy iris rhizomes. That passion has led him to breeding his own iris, and buying and moving an existing iris nursery that was going out of business to the family farm in Iowa (it’s now run by the Norris family). This child prodigy of horticulture is the youngest person to win Iowa State Horticulture Society’s Presidential Citation, Award of Merit and Honor Award. He has ten years experience running a nursery, and he’s only 25. He knows his stuff, and I was happy to find he’d shared that knowledge in this book.
The Guide describes the various types of bearded iris, tells you how to grow them, tells you what pests and diseases afflict them (which doesn’t happen very often), and even how to hybridize your own iris. The back half of the book is an encyclopedia of his recommendations of the best of the six classes of bearded iris. Many of these iris I had never heard of; some are very new and exciting. The pictures are stunning; this book has the beautiful photos of a coffee table book but in a regular book size that makes reading it a lot easier. While this is a beginner’s guide, there will be things in it to inspire even long time iris growers.