"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Iris pallida ‘variegata’

Iris pallida ‘variegata’

From “Over the Rainbow: Bearded Irises and Your Garden” in A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts by Kelly Norris:

“Pileated, variegated, and broken-colored are all adjectives used to describe the splashed and streaked flowers of bearded irises under the likely influence of a transposon (a jumping gene). Though the genetic history remains a little foggy, what matters most is that this phenomenally novel genre has rightly taken the bearded iris world by storm.

“Scandalous-looking, no doubt, these irises have graced the gardens of avant-garde iris lovers since the 1970s. But like many new trends seized upon by stylish people, broken-colored irises have been around longer than most realize. A ‘Zebra’, in commerce in the 1890s, reportedly had white flowers with blue stripes throughout the standards and falls, but that name is now reserved for the familiar cultivar of
Iris pallida and its variegated foliage.”

From “Sea Iris” by H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) in The Ecopoetry Anthology, edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street:

Band of iris-flowers
above the waves,
you are painted blue,
painted like a fresh prow
stained among the salt weeds.


Iris pallida ‘variegata’ is known by several common names, including Sweet Iris, Dalmatian Iris, Zebra Iris, and simply Striped Iris. “Variegata” refers to the variation that produces bi-color leaves — which may be white and green, or yellow and green — and the leaves are quite striking on their own.

There’s one large batch of these irises at Oakland Cemetery’s gardens, and I try to visit with them every spring. For many of the photos below, I pulled my lens back to produce wider-angled images — because the leaves seemed to demand as much attention as the iris blooms themselves. There are so many leaves — a multitude more leaves per plant than most other irises — that they can easily be positioned as background or foreground elements, or kept at the same focal plane as the flower. I tried a few at each of these positions — and I think my favorites below are actually those where the flower and the surrounding leaves are both in focus.

My previous iris posts for this season are:

Yellow and White Bearded Irises (2 of 2)

Yellow and White Bearded Irises (1 of 2)

Purple and Violet Iris Mix (2 of 2)

Purple and Violet Iris Mix (1 of 2)

Irises in Pink, Peach, and Splashes of Orange (2 of 2)

Irises in Pink, Peach, and Splashes of Orange (1 of 2)

Irises in Blue and Purple Hues (2 of 2)

Irises in Blue and Purple Hues (1 of 2)

Black Iris Variations (and Hallucinations)

Thanks for taking a look!

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