Iris, Kansas City’s official flower, in colors of the rainbow

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Iris, Kansas City’s official flower, in colors of the rainbow

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

Iris is the official flower of Kansas City and the premier planting of iris at Powell Gardens is currently in bloom with peak bloom expected this week. Powell Gardens’ iris collection represents one of the finest public displays of iris on the continent. All Award of Merit iris (by the American Iris Society) from 1988-2007 are in view. We can thank the generosity of Dr. Norlan Henderson for this special planting. He contributes not only the Merit-winning cultivars for display each season but also time and energy to see to their care each season. Please note all photographs were taken at mid-day on Sunday (bright light!)

This IS the official iris that appeared on the city sticker: ‘Kansas City’ tall bearded iris. It was one of the first dark iris hybrids and was bred by our local iris expert and donor Dr. Norlan Henderson.

One of the best “blues” currently in bloom is the Merit winner ‘Pacific Destiny.’


Colors and patterns in iris flowers have come a long way in the past several years. Doc doesn’t think there is any limit to the combinations of patterns and colors. This is the tall bearded iris ‘Naples.’


The olive yellow standard (top petals) with indigo falls create quite a sensation in tall bearded iris ‘Jurassic Park’


‘Change of Pace’ tall bearded iris has yellow style arms which cause the flower to have an inner glow of yellow. The falls have a classic plicata pattern edged in purple.


In 2009 the Iris Society of Greater Kansas City will host the National Convention of the American Iris Society. Many of the flowers on display are “guest iris” for show at the convention next spring. This is the guest iris Dragonmaster which is devilishly dark with striking orange beards.


This Aril Bred Iris is one you normally won’t see in this region and is also a guest iris: ‘Sea of Babylon.’ It is a hybrid between a regular tall bearded iris and the Biblical “lilies of the fields,” an iris from Israel and the Middle East that normally won’t tolerate our “wet” climate.

There will be more to share shortly as more and more iris open each day! Please come out and see the iris, visit with Doc (age ninety-something) and his extraordinary knowledge and give him a special thanks for our fine display.