Magazine article Sunset

Go for a Look at Iris Farms in San Jose, Stockton, Sebastopol

Magazine article Sunset

Go for a Look at Iris Farms in San Jose, Stockton, Sebastopol

Article excerpt

The number of well-known hybridizers in the greater Bay Area makes it one of the prime iris-breeding regions in the world. Of these specialists, three open their doors to the public this season, when many irises reach peak bloom. During this time, you're welcome to browse through the fields of well-labeled flowers and place orders for delivery at planting time in summer and fall.

The growers we list are located about an hour's drive south, east, and north of San Francisco. The first is in San Jose near Interstate 280, the second is in Stockton, and the third is in Sebastopol a few miles from U.S. 101.

Many people come simply to enjoy the colorful show. But if you're a serious iris shopper, you might want to bring a notebook, good walking shoes, and a camera. In all cases, you can pick up a mail-order catalog or price list near the entrance to use as a guide.

You'll find an intriguing diversity of flower colors and patterns: subtle pastels, intense blues, rusts, and bicolors, and new smoky shades of bronze and gold. At each of the nurseries, owners are happy to help with selections. Before you come, they suggest making a list of colors that work best in your garden.

Maryott's Iris Gardens, 1069 Bird Avenue in San Jose, offers tall bearded irises, remontant (reblooming) varieties, and some spuria irises. The 1-acre garden is open only on weekends, from 10 to 5, during the flowering season. Peak bloom is expected near the end of April, with flowering continuing until mid-May; for exact dates, call (408) 265-2498. …

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