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Loomis iris tour blooms this weekend

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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Blooming bearded irises are a sure sign of spring in the Loomis Basin. And nowhere are the blooms more prolific, colorful and diverse than Horton Iris Farm. Irises will be the stars during the 2011 Loomis Basin Iris Tour held at both Horton’s and High Hand Nursery on Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1. The third annual event is free and includes self-guided tours of the iris farm and nursery, coloring contest, flower arranging class, judged iris show, plein air artists and displays of art. Boxed lunches can be pre-ordered from High Hand Conservatory and can be enjoyed at either location. Mary Ann Horton, iris farm owner, expects that many of her antique irises will be in bloom for the show. “Most iris people call them antique if the type is more than 30 years old,” Horton said. One of Horton’s favorite irises grown on the farm is Crimson King, hybridized in 1894. Horton said the 22-inch stalk usually blooms early in the season and re-blooms in milder winter cli-mates. “The color is an intense violet purple with orange beards tipped white. I have called it Grandma’s old Purple, since grandma planted it here on the farm and she died in 1945," Horton said. Another Horton favorite, hybridized in 1909, is Lorely. The flower features yellow over purple with white lines and thin yellow rims, and yellow beards. Horton said sometimes the standards are flecked with the color and pattern of the falls. “There has never been another iris that could be mistaken for Loreley. She is unique,” Horton said. Horton said this year’s unusual weather pattern has delayed her flowers’ blossoming, so that the irises have yet to reach the peak of their bloom. “This is the latest I’ve seen them bloom. Usually, the antiques are blooming by mid-March,” Horton said. Horton said bearded iris won’t grow in the shade and need 7 to 8 hours of sun, and in most areas are deer resistant. Iris growing, Horton said, was a hobby that quickly got out of hand. She said in 1990, she started gathering many historic irises from the surrounding countryside to landscape down the long driveway and around the 95-year-old farm house on the property. During the iris tour, visitors will be able to order irises at Horton’s to be picked up in August. High Hand Nursery will feature potted irises available for immediate purchase. The flower judging contest will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, at High Hand. The flower arranging class will be held at 2 p.m., the same day, at Horton’s. Participants must bring their own container and scissors and should register in advance by calling 652-4351. For more information visit their websites at highhand.com and hortonirisgarden.com or phone 652-2064. Martha Garcia contributed to this story. LOOMIS BASIN IRIS TOUR Horton Iris Farm, 7440 King Rd., and High Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Road What: Free tour, coloring contest, flower arranging class, judged iris show, plein air artists When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 30 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, May 1 Information: 652-2064 \