Monday, July 21, 2014

Show time for grand ladies of the garden

From page B1 | April 30, 2014 |


THE IRISES at High Sierra Iris and Wedding Gardens are blooming at 3170 Hassler Road in Camino. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

With cheeky abandon, the “grand ladies of the garden” are in full flower and only await your taking them home to star in your garden.

Yes, it’s that time of the year again when irises show their stuff. And there’s no better place to select them than at High Sierra Iris & Wedding Gardens.

Owned by Mike and Nancy Visman, the Camino based garden has 15,000 to 20,000 irises for sale with 800 varieties to choose from.

All their varieties are recognized by the Iris Society and many are top prize winners. They also come with often whimsical names like Dracula’s kiss, no bikini atoll, twist of fate, baboon bottom, gnu again and spice tiger.

“I have all of the medal winners,” said Nancy. “Those that have won the most prestigious awards. Usually I buy 10 new ones every year.”


Spectacular colors

With a seeming infinite number of varieties to choose from, different shades of purple jump to the top as favorites often in combination with yellow, white or scarlet edgings. But other color schemes are available such as peach, champagne, white, coral, rust or blue. Just about any color combination you can think of they have.

One of the most beautiful irises they carry this year is called Montmartre. Ostentatious and stately, the iris combines a reddish-purple fall with tan edging and a yellow beard.

They also carry 40 different varieties of black irises, often with an underlying shade of another color, that gives it added depth and richness.

“These are spectacular flowers,” said Nancy, “and there’s nothing like them. Most people can’t imagine that irises come in every color but red. There’s not another flower that puts on this kind of show.”

More than just spring bloomers, some varieties also bloom in the fall. And as perennials they come back year after year and propagate, so your garden of beautiful ladies can expand as time goes by.

“They are easy to grow, really forgiving and a hardy, hardy plant,” said Nancy.

Iris season has already begun and goes through the first week of June depending on the temperature, as heat forces the flowers to open sooner. The average price per plant is $6.

A limited number of plants are in pots and can be taken on the spot. But most buyers will have to wait until July through September to either pick up their orders or have them shipped.


Beautiful event setting

Aside from selling irises, High Sierra Iris and Wedding Gardens is also an ideal venue for events, especially weddings, which can be scheduled from May through October.

The wedding staging area includes a stately rock lined staircase that provides a dramatic entrance for the bride. From there, a walkway leads down to a romantic rose-covered wedding arch overlooking a small pond partly covered in lily pads. Off to one side of the luxurious lawn is a deck for the guests with a separate area to barbecue and serve food. The area is surrounded by flowers and lush vegetation with the fragrance of lilac and mockorange blossoms in the air.

Serenading the guests are birds and the occasional frog but there are fleeting glances of other wildlife in the area from red-tailed hawks, butterflies, ducks, deer, quail and wild turkeys to a small band of alien musicians on the hillside.

All in all, a magical experience that will have the wedding party and guests reminiscing about for years.

The Vismans invite people to bring a lunch and pick a spot to sit and enjoy the gorgeous natural beauty of their property even if you aren’t there to buy flowers. Photographers are also welcomed.

The business is open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week, during the month of May only, or by appointment. Prearranged garden tours are available for groups. Call for peak bloom information.

High Sierra Iris and Wedding Gardens is located at 3170 Hassler Road, Camino. Call them at 530-642-1222 for all the details. The Website is at

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.





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