INDIANA DAYLILY-IRIS SOCIETY (IDIS)
Non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of daylilies and iris
On our site you will find our calendar of events for this year, links to our national and regional societies, links to local growers. We will be adding more links and information as they develop. So please check out our site from time to time to see what's new.
August 2, 2016
Speaker is Bonnie and Hooker Nichols (see bio below)
Pitch-in and plant exchange is being held at First Friends Church, 3030 Kessler Blvd, East Drive, Indianapolis, 46220.
Banquet lunch will begin at 11:30 (not 12:00) and the presentation at 12:15 (not 1:00) so the speaker can catch his afternoon plane
Bio for Bonnie and Hooker Nichols
Each spring, there are more than a thousand irises in glorious bloom in Bonnie and Hooker Nichols’ North Dallas backyard. ‘Black Magic Woman’ is near ‘Pebee and Jay,’ which is next to ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ ‘Orange King’ and ‘Bev’s Babe’ are down the row. Dianthus plants border the beds and a few bluebonnets, daylilies, tomatoes and herbs are mixed in for variety. This is my Bonnie’s garden, Hooker says with pride. His garden, on 2 1/2 acres in Mesquite, is an iris farm with another 5,000 plants in neat rows, like a crop. Irises are more than a hobby for the Nicholses. They sell plants to help support their passion for more varieties. New, award-winning hybrids are expensive, compared with the garden varieties sold at garden centers. The frothy blooms are the core of the couple’s 20-year marriage. They met in a class he was teaching on judging irises in the 1980s, then saw each other off and on at iris events for several years. Both had grown up in families that grew many flowers, particularly irises. Then this friend in Tulsa said, ‘You and Bonnie are exactly the same. You should get married,’ Hooker says. The courtship was difficult because he lived in northwestern Oklahoma and she in Dallas, but they persevered, married in 1992 and moved his iris garden to North Texas. Both work in their home garden, officially named Hillcrest Gardens after his old place in Oklahoma, every day. While they are united in their delight in irises, their tastes are not the same. I like anything that’s new, she says. The newer varieties are just spectacular. They have multiple frilly blooms in astounding colors, she says. Hooker creates some of these new varieties in Mesquite with his own hybrids. He particularly works with Louisiana iris varieties, which do well in the Dallas area whether planted in water, boggy soil or landscape beds. The couple also is interested in hybridizing daylilies. One bearded iris that Hooker created, ‘Dorothy Davenport,’ honors his wife’s late mother. Its flowers are peach with a darker peach beard; the plant has won numerous awards. Mother didn’t get to travel much, Bonnie says. But now Mother is everywhere. Mother is in Italy, Mother is in Australia. In addition to their own plants, the Nicholses, along with several other North Texas iris growers, are hosting about 4,000 new varieties in preparation for the national American Iris Society conventions in Dallas in 2013 and 2014. This is the first time the society will hold back-to-back conventions in the same city, she says. About 600 growers from around the world are expected to attend the convention, hosted both years by the Iris Society of Dallas. The hosted plants are hybrids developed by other iris lovers and planted in gardens near the convention city. The mature plants, in bloom, are then judged for various awards, Hooker says. The national convention of the Society for Louisiana Irises also will also be in Dallas next year, and Hillcrest Gardens will be one of its tour sites. After the conventions, most of the hosted plants will be dug up and replaced by newer types. The Nicholses say irises are a good choice for home gardens because of relatively easy maintenance and beautiful blooms. They will bloom practically every year with a little care, Hooker says. Bearded irises are sorted into several groups and range in height from 8 inches to 27 inches and taller. Louisiana irises tend to be tall plants and quickly develop into thick clumps if they are happy where planted. Dwarf miniature bearded irises bloom earlier than others. The tall bearded group, which flower before many other spring-blooming garden plants, are best planted at the back of a bed, Hooker says. They need space, too, to multiply; situate them 2 to 3 feet apart. After they finish blooming, don’t trim them, he says. The leaves provide food for future blooms. If you go to the Iris Society of Dallas’ annual sale Saturday, club members will show you how to plant the young rhizomes in clumps of three to five to have a showy bloom the following spring. As those individuals mature and expand, they need to be dug up and divided every three to four years. The Nicholses switch out 300 to 400 plants a year in their backyard garden. And fertilize on Halloween and in the spring after the last freeze has passed, he says. While irises remain the Nicholses’ passion, they are worried about the future. At 58, they are some of the youngest members of the local iris society, they say. Younger families do not seem to have the time for flower gardens. That’s a shame, Bonnie says. Gardening really takes a lot of stress and tension out of everyday life. We all work real hard at our jobs. We all need a little relaxation.