Celebrating significant birthdays

By Margie Habraken
on June 23, 2019

Celebrating significant birthdays

We have some special tall bearded irises celebrating significant birthdays at Sunshine iris Nursery this year.

Flaming Banner

Flaming Banner turns 40!   Described as having rich orange standards with a violet flush and red falls edged orange, and sporting a tangerine beard, it grows to a height of 86cm making it a smaller ‘tall’.  This vintage iris was registered by Edgar Sellman in 1979.  It is a mid to late bloomer. 

Also celebrating is Vibrations who turns 30  – just making it into our exclusive ‘vintage’club..  It has a plicata pattern with burgundy rose standards and a lighter heart at the base.  Deep burgundy red falls have a large white area below the tannish coloured beard. Striking white lines radiate towards the edge. It grows to a height of 86cm and is a mid-season bloomer. Vibrations was registered in 1989 by Mary Dunn and has been awarded two medals – an Honorable Mention in 1992 and an Award of Merit in 1996. 

Many other vintage irises can be found at Sunshine Iris Nursery.  Just search for ‘vintage’ at www.sunshineiris.com.au to see what is available at the moment.

Pick Pack Post - by Kerry Anderson

By Elissa Strong
on February 04, 2019

Pick Pack Post - by Kerry Anderson

Usually it is the children that are encouraged to take on the family business, but in the case of Sunshine Iris Nursery near Lockhart in New South Wales, it was the opposite. What started as a logical step into the business world for agronomist trained Elissa Strong became problematic when she went back to study in 2017 leaving her mother Mandy to pick pack and post.

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A lifelong passion for irises

By Margie Habraken
on May 24, 2018

A lifelong passion for irises

On a cold, wet day in May, I recently had the pleasure of visiting one of our special iris breeders of Australia.

Margaret Summerill lives in Bombala in southern NSW.  She has been breeding irises for over 30 years, after her first iris was given to her in 1983.  Margaret was inspired to try her hand at breeding after reading an article by renowned breeder, Barry Blyth.  In 1986 she tried to pollinate her first flower ‘just for fun’ and made contact with Graeme Grosvener for some extra advice.

It wasn’t until 10 years after that first introduction to irises  that Margaret had one she thought was spectacular enough to register.  Proudly Mine was listed in 1993, and was followed by over 25 different flowers. Margaret says she finds it hard to pick favourites but some of her best include Fanciful Thoughts, Boys in Blue, and the more recent Spirit of Bombala.

I asked Margaret how she chose the names for her irises – something that has always intrigued me.  She related that she is inspired by places, events or people.  One iris , Mother’s Bessie, reminded her of the colour of her mother’s cow!  She also added that she had used the dictionary at times – Wily Glow meaning inquisitive or artful.

As Margaret became more adept at breeding, collecting many accolades for her irises along the way, she decided to learn more about showing the flowers.  After attending a judges’ school six times, she became an accredited Trial Garden and Show Bench Judge further increasing her already extensive knowledge of irises.

When asked for her best tips for growing strong irises, Margaret confided that she liked to use a good fertiliser such as Osmocote when she first plants out her irises and then again in August before the bloom period.

At Sunshine Iris Nursery we are proud to offer some of Margaret’s irises.  Pictured alongside is Ruby Rover, one she bred in 2012 which is available for purchase now.  We will also have Spirit of Bombala, Mother’s Bessie, Inglewood, Moselle Moon, Fanciful Charm, Fanciful Thoughts, Wily Glow, Rowes, Winsome Annie and Windana available next year. 

Check out some of our other blogs:

Vintage or Historic Irises

Different Types of Irises

Keeping Your Irises Happy Over Summer

Vintage or historic irises

By Margie Habraken
on April 05, 2018

Vintage or historic irises

At Sunshine Iris Nursery we recognise vintage or historic irises as those that were bred 30 or more  years ago.  But why would you choose a vintage iris over a modern one?   As a whole they perform better in areas of vigour, disease resistance, heat and cold tolerance and durability.

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Different types of iris

By Margie Habraken
on March 06, 2018

Different types of iris

At Sunshine Iris Nursery we sell bearded iris but there is sometimes confusion about other types of irises grown.

  Iris types

Here is a diagram of different types of irises from the Iris Society of Australia.  As is shown on the diagram, irises come as two different types – those that grow as bulbs and those that have a rhizome. 

Bulbs are usually more rounded and have layers like an onion.  They are usually dormant for part of the year and may lose their leaves. The most common bulb iris is the Dutch iris.

 Rhizomes grow horizontally under the ground and reproduce by sending out new nodes after the plant has flowered.  They can be beardless, bearded or crested.

 Beardless irises attract bees by displaying a bright colour at the top of the falls, often called a signal. Varieties of beardless irises include Louisiana, Spuria, Siberian, Japanese, and Pacific Coast irises.  

Bearded irises have a fuzzy caterpillar like shoot at the top of the falls which can come in many colours and entices bees into the flower.  Bearded irises are sold as Tall - usually over 70 cm tall, flowering from early September to late November;  Median - usually between 40 and 70 cm tall, flowering from mid September to late November or  Dwarf - usually below 40cm tall, flowering from early September to mid October.  Bearded irises can also be an Aril variety.

Crested irises are a much smaller group and they have a small raised area called a crest instead of a signal or beard.

The Secrets of Irises

By Margie Habraken
on September 07, 2017

Ancient iris depiction

Not just a beautiful flower...

The word Iris comes from the Greek language meaning rainbow.  Some believe that irises are the rainbow flowers because of the amazing variety of colours they exhibit.  But to the ancient Greeks, Iris was also a Greek goddess who relayed messages from the underworld to the gods.  She used rainbows to travel to the heavens to deliver her messages and would provide an escort to heaven for the dearly departed.  The ancients Greeks would often plant iris on the graves of their loved ones to signal to the goddess Iris that they were ready for the journey to the heavens.

Irises are exceptional in other cultures around the world.  Japanese believe the plants have purifying qualities and wear images of iris on their kimonos to ward off evil.  In Chinese culture, irises are often depicted in drawings, with the fluttering of the iris flowers likened to butterflies.  The iris flower is also the emblem of France and the inspiration for the Fleur-de-lis, a symbol from the French monarchy depicted on many coats of arms and buildings.  

Whatever the history of iris, we love them for their unique efflorescence and astonishing ‘rainbow’ of colours.

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Tall bearded iris

  • Swerti - Tall Bearded Iris
    Swerti - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Star Of The Morn - Tall Bearded Iris
    Star Of The Morn - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Lady Vera - Tall Bearded Iris
    Lady Vera - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Koala - Tall Bearded Iris
    Koala - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Silverado - Tall Bearded Iris
    Silverado - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Knighted - Tall Bearded Iris
    Knighted - Tall Bearded Iris

Can we help you?

Looking for more information or a certain plant?  Want to buy wholesale?  Can't decide which iris?  Contact Mandy on 0429 857 085 or email us

From the Blog

Celebrating significant birthdays

Celebrating significant birthdays

June 23, 2019

We have some special tall bearded irises celebrating significant birthdays at Sunshine iris Nursery this year. Flaming Banner turns 40! ...

Read more →

Visitors to Sunshine Iris Nursery

Visitors to Sunshine Iris Nursery

May 19, 2019

Do you belong to a garden club? Have you considered visiting an iris nursery? We were very excited to welcome...

Read more →