Open days 2020 - Bring on the spring bling

By Margie Habraken
on September 08, 2020

Open days 2020 - Bring on the spring bling

t Sunshine Iris Nursery the buds are forming!  As the weather warms up small bulges can be found on the stems of some of our irises, particularly the medians and dwarves which always flower before the tall irises.  We're looking forward to seeing some of our new varieties for the first time, and although stocks are low, there should still be a colourful display for our Open Day.
We are planning to open the nursery to visitors on the weekend of 17th and 18th October, from 9am until 4pm for our open weekend.  This is a change from our former open days as previously we  connected with the Lockhart Spirit of the Land Festival earlier in the month.  Unfortunately, there is no festival for Lockhart this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but there is still plenty to see in the small township should you wish to come for an extended stay.  
Lockhart boasts an excellent museum and also hosts a renowned wool portrait exhibition - both well worth a visit.  The town has many wonderful farm art sculptures scattered throughout the streets and the recently painted water tower is a real eye-catcher!  There's plenty to see and do, making the drive to Sunshine Iris Nursery even more worthwhile.
The timing of our Open Day has been chosen to historically show the most number of irises in bloom.  We will have special promotions and orders for irises can be placed for delivery from mid November when the flowering will have finished for most of the irises.  A COVID-19 Action Plan is prepared and all restrictions will be adhered to.   We look forward to sharing our passion with you.  

Caring for your bearded irises over the winter months

By Margie Habraken
on July 01, 2020

Caring for your bearded irises over the winter months

Generally speaking, bearded irises will look after themselves over the winter, unless of course there’s jobs you didn’t get done in the autumn.

Irises can be divided in the autumn.  If you didn’t get to them then, they can still be done now, but you may lessen the chances of a bloom this season.  If dividing now, trim your leaves back by about two thirds for tall irises.  Once split and replanted, the roots will die back and new roots will quickly form. 

During the winter months you may notice some of the leaves dying back, going brown or developing some ‘rust’ spots.  This is quite normal and it is not necessary to remove the spent leaves – the irises will discard them as they make new growth.  The leaves can of course be gently removed and discarded if you want to do a general tidy-up.  This may also reduce the spread of any fungal diseases.  If you are particularly concerned about the rust spots, you can purchase a fungal spray which contains Mancozeb.

Michael Barnes, from the NSW Iris Society, has some great tips regarding fertilizing your irises.  He suggests-

If you’re going to fertilize, remember it’s the months starting with A in which you do so.  In August, I’ll be spreading a custom blend with an NPK of 13-14-12.  …. Keep nitrogen levels down for your irises or you’ll end up with super foliage but less bloom spikes.

Happy gardening over the winter months – bring on spring and the blooms!

Planting iris for impact

By Margie Habraken
on March 11, 2019

Planting iris for impact

I was fortunate enough to visit some open gardens last spring around the Tumut area, and was very impressed with the thought that went into the layout of the gardens and choices of plants. 

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Stepping into spring - Preparing your irises for spring

By Margie Habraken
on August 26, 2018

Stepping into spring - Preparing your irises for spring

We are all undoubtably looking forward to our irises blooming, so with the warmer weather not too far away, we thought it might be a good time to offer some suggestions to maximise your spring flowering.
During this unseasonably drier weather many of us are experiencing, its important to keep the water up to your irises.  Be careful not to overwater as the rhizome will rot if it stays too wet.  It might be a good time to add a light mulch to your irises.  This will not only lessen evaporation, but will assist in weed control as the weather warms.  
Our irises are looking quite scraggy at the moment.  Gently pulling off the dead leaves and carefully trimming spent flowers will enhance their appearance, ready to show off their blooms in the coming months.  The old leaves can even be used to create other works of art if you're that way inclined!
It's good time to fertilise your irises now to get the best spring show.  We recommend using a fertiliser which is lower in nitrogen to make the most of the blooms.  Yates suggest one called Thrive Natural Roses and Flowers.  They advertise it as a special combination of organic ingredients boosted with fast-acting fertilisers, designed to enhance the growth and development of flowers. 
Follow the instructions on the pack and don't forget to water well after applying to get the maximum uptake.
Read more here;

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.

Keeping your irises happy over the summer

By Elissa Strong
on January 22, 2018

Keeping your irises happy over the summer

Summer seems to be really heating up over these last few weeks, with more to follow for us here at Sunshine Iris Nursery.  To ensure our irises are not too stressed over these hot days, and to maintain our high standards, we follow a few simple processes that may help your irises in the garden also.

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Why grow median and dwarf irises?

By Margie Habraken
on December 11, 2017

Why grow median and dwarf irises?

Medians are less prone to wind damage and are easier to display in vases. They will provide a spring feature amongst shrubs and mixed perennial gardens.

Dwarf irises are excellent edge plants and require little maintenance. They are very resilient, handle dry summers well and are easy to move around the garden when clumps increase in size.

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Life cycle of an iris plant – or why we don’t pick during flowering!

By Margie Habraken
on November 14, 2017

Life cycle of an iris plant – or why we don’t pick during flowering!

Like all plants, irises grow and change throughout their life cycle.  In an attempt to explain an iris life cycle, I will hopefully shed some light on why you have not received your irises yet if you have recently ordered form us.

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Tall bearded iris

  • Anthology - Tall Bearded Iris
    Anthology - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Arabian Story - Tall Bearded Iris
    Arabian Story - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Avalon Sunset - Tall Bearded Iris
    Avalon Sunset - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Azure Angel - Tall Bearded Iris
    Azure Angel - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Barbara My Love - Tall Bearded Iris
    Barbara My Love - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Beau Zam - Tall Bearded Iris
    Beau Zam - 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 Margie on 0422 672 112 or Mandy on 0429 857 085 or email us

From the Blog

Open days 2020 - Bring on the spring bling

Open days 2020 - Bring on the spring bling

September 08, 2020

t Sunshine Iris Nursery the buds are forming!  As the weather warms up small bulges can be found on the stems...

Read more →

Low stock alert

Low stock alert

August 22, 2020

But there’s hardly anything available on the website!This year has faced us with many challenges which we never would have...

Read more →