These irises may be obvious, or this topic meaningless (because irises come down in price so quickly, and one can easily search the AIS or garden.org databases for the various winners), but because I am bored, but also think this may be of some use to newbies, especially those with limited garden budgets...
Many years ago, shortly after I joined the AHS (now the ADS
), there were one or two articles in the Daylily Journal that were titled "The Best for Less". At a time when new tetraploid introductions were going for $100, these articles showcased a few older but still very good daylilies, which could be had for a relative pittance, at $15 or less. The daylilies all had to have something good about them that made them still garden worthy, as compared to the newest (and supposedly latest-and-greatest) daylily introductions.
On the basis of those articles, I bought a few plants for my daylily garden. After more than 20 years, I still have one of them, MARY'S GOLD, because of the garden impact of its large eye-zorching gold blooms. (Indeed, MARY'S GOLD is still widely grown for just that reason, although honestly I would love to seem some improvements in it. It is still available at a few nurseries; 2018 prices ran from $9 to $16 for a double fan.)
In that vein, what, comparably, would be the iris world's equivalents of "The Best for Less"? With new bearded intros typically going for $50, I would put the price at $7.00 or less. These must be garden do-ers performance-wise, and in terms of bloom beauty (color, form, patterns, substance - the whole bloom package) they should be competitive (or nearly so) with the latest bearded intros.
I'll throw out a few:
Space-Ager and 2002 Dykes Medal Winner; At that time (two seasons ago, mid-season), this was the only iris in my garden which held its own against THAT'S ALL FOLKS. 2018 price at Iris4u: $6.50
2010 Dykes Medal Winner; tall grower, purple blue self with beautifully contrasting orange beard, to-die-for carnation-like fragrance. 2018 price at Iris4u: $7.00
THAT'S ALL FOLKS
Bill Maryott's last iris registration and the 2013 Dykes Medal Winner; This one simply demands your attention. 2018 price at Suttons: $6.00