TODAY'S NEWS - March 18, 2015 - still under the snow.  Although this site is now very out of date, we hope you'll enjoy looking through it.  It is current through 2012.  The links on this page are still good, except the Historic Iris Preservation Society site has moved.  The new site is still very much under construction, but you can still enjoy the photo gallery.  The new site is here: <http://historiciris.org/wordpress/>.  Enjoy!

Welcome to our website!

Here we tell about the Historic Iris Preservation Society Display Garden on the grounds of the landmark Pickle Barrel House in Grand Marais, Michigan.  Most of the irises and other plants we grow may be found at the tabs above.  The Resources page will help you learn more about historic irises and find places to buy plants.  Our little garden is open to the public, free of charge.  There is plenty to enjoy, even when the irises are not in bloom.  Use the Donations tab to find out how to help us grow.

This article tells about the founding of the Pickle Barrel garden:  http://www.gardeninggonewild.com/?p=10949

There's also a good article about the Pickle Barrel House itself on Wikipedia.

Any collection of historic plants needs definition, or it quickly outgrows its space.  As of 2012, our garden has already done so.  Therefore, we need to impose some introduction date restriction on our irises.  The Pickle Barrel House was moved to Grand Marais in 1936, so 1935 seems a logical cut-off date for our irises. 

However, somehow many other irises have snuck in, which makes us very happy, but also uses a lot of space.  Starting in 2013, we'll move the irises introduced after 1935 to another garden.  We'll let you know where these more recent oldies can be visited when we have secured a spot for them.  The exception to this rule will always be our local heirlooms.  Any iris in the local heirloom collection has a dispensation to stay in the Pickle Barrel garden.  That's why we started it, and our local treasures will always have first dibs on space.

Interested in learning more about historic irises and what makes them unique?  You might enjoy the slideshow How to Look at Historic Iris.  It's a PDF file and might take a minute or two to download, but it's worth the wait!

Here's an idea:  Plant a Memories Iris Garden at home.  Plant an iris that was introduced in the birth year of each of your family members and friends, and other years you want to remember: births; anniversaries; graduations.  Label each iris carefully with its name, breeder, and date of introduction.  When the kids leave home and settle down, give them each a piece of their own birth-year iris with their very own name tag.  It's something special to commemorate a wonderful year, and it helps save old irises.  Get people started doing this in your community; offer to help them find the irises they seek.

IF YOU LOVE OLD IRISES, check out the Historic Iris Preservation Society (HIPS).  Visit their website at
<a href="http://www.hips-roots.com/">http://www.hips-roots.com/</a>.  This fascinating and helpful group of people are working to save the old irises they love.  You can play, too.  It's fun!

TIMELINE:  At the end of the list of identified irises is a brief timeline, with history digested from the Macrohistory website, http://www.fsmitha.com/index.html and other sources.  This helps put introduction dates of the irises in historical context.  Much of it is very sad.  Did you know that in 1898, a bubonic plague started in China and India that would eventually kill three million people?  Wow.  In every single year, there is unrest in the Middle East.  Wow again.  At the risk of being trivial in the face of such tragedies, I'll also include some less depressing facts, like the year frozen foods became available in the US, and the year Buck Rogers first came on the radio.  Through all these tumultuous decades, irises have been a joy and a solace.  I am astonished that from 1900 through 1935, we're only missing two years.  We did not set out to collect an iris for every year, but they seem to have accumulated.

Photos on this page:  Top left is 'Elsinore', one of the beautiful irises bred by C. H. Hall (1925; thanks to Mike Unser for the photo).  At bottom left is the noid we call "Austin Healey" - a study name only; it's similar to, but not quite the same as 'Neglecta'.  Learn more about it under our IRISES - UNIDENTIFIED tab, above.  At right is the Pickle Barrel House.