Ok.. so I picked ones that I've had several seasons, so that I wouldn't be swayed by just a pretty face.. For me, performance as a garden plant is as important as a beautiful flower. I've got a lot that have pretty flowers that are not strong growers, so I won't include them. I also have some that are growing under difficult circumstances, that I suspect would be better if I moved them.
'Mulled Wine'.. When I saw this in a friend's garden, I had to have it. Just love it... and it's a great color in the garden too.
NOID- tentatively 'Classic Look'- I've got several clumps of this. It never disappoints and looks good with everything.
I. pallida 'Aurea Variegata'- I've had this at least 25 years. Could not have a garden without it. Same goes for 'Argentea Variegata' (can I count these as one?). The foliage is gorgeous when it emerges in the spring.
'Competitive Edge'- I love the way this looks w/ a dwf. red berberis in the garden behind it. I love that it's one of the last to bloom... And I love the color blend.
NOID-when I moved here in '97, a friend brought me several blue iris. She also brought names with them, that got lost along the way. This one never lets me down with it's rebloom in the Autumn, and nice blue/violet color. Flowers are darker in the fall, as in this picture.
'Quaker Lady'- One of my neighbors was active in our local Iris society long before I was. She shared this with me and started my love of historics.
'Indian Chief'- I've spent most of my career in horticulture seeking out the rarest, most unusual, and hard to find plants. As years go by, I've come to appreciate those plants that just deliver the goods. This may be common, and a bit of a weed, but it's still around because it's beautiful, and performs like crazy.
'Confetti'- this one is breaking my rule of being in the ground for a few seasons because it charmed the pants off of me with it's great overall form. It looks like a flower arrangement in the garden.
'Grape Echo'- My most photographed Iris.. the fact that it blooms 4 times a year may have something to do with it. Good scent too.
'Designing Woman' - Ruffled and a delicious lilac color. A beautiful lady in the garden..
Well there you go... You can bet that next year I'm sure to have some different names on the list... I suspect 'Conjuration', 'Paul Black', 'That's All Folks', 'Reckless Abandon', 'Splashacata', 'Spooned Blaze', 'Easter bonnet', 'Orloff', 'Revere', 'Expect Wonders', 'True Delight', 'Edgefield Glow', and a few dozen more will be fighting for the top ten.