Magazine article Sunset

Pacific Treasure

Magazine article Sunset

Pacific Treasure

Article excerpt

Crown jewel of the West, Pacific Coast iris (PCI) is rapidly gaining admirers as plant breeders develop a profusion of new hybrids from Iris douglasiana and other species. In recent years, specialists like Joe Ghio of Bay View Gardens in Santa Cruz, California, and hobbyists such as Lois Belardi, also of Santa Cruz, have created stunning introductions like Ghio's 'Clincher' and Belardi's 'Sea Gal', which won top honors from the American Iris Society.

Although the plants are shorter than many other irises, reaching only 10 to 18 inches tall, they bear showy flowers up to 4 inches across in a wide range of colors and patterns. Some varieties can bloom for as long as six weeks. Tuck them in rock gardens or use them to edge woodland borders. For more about native or wild PCI and garden hybrids, visit the website of the Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris (www.pacificcoaitiris.org).

-LAUREN BONAR SWEZEY

SOURCES: For 'Clincher' and many others, Bay View Gardens (catalog $3; 1201 Bay St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060); for 74 varieties, including 'Sea Gal' (available in fall), the Iris Gallery (www. …

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