Trophy Irises

A bonus study in color and form

Spuria iris on Debra Prinzing's mantel
Spuria iris on Debra Prinzing’s mantel

Shiny brass trophy vase with spuria irises, golden roses, and cotinus blooms
Shiny brass trophy vase with spuria irises, golden roses, and cotinus blooms

These stunning and moody Spuria iris came as a gift from Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm, but I first heard about the evocative petal palette of this iris form from Slow Flowers member Hannah Morgan of Fortunate Orchard a few weeks ago. She said the irises and their mocha-raisin-mustard tones were a surprise hit at a recent floral design workshop — and that many of her students bypassed peonies and roses to select these dark uncommon gems.

(c) @gardenercook

I split the bucket of six bunches from Jello Mold Farm with Lorene Edwards Forkner of @gardenercook. See how she extracted the alluring range of this flower’s pigments in her color study this week. Lorene grows Spuria irises; she describes the iris variety as a ‘total workhorse’ that is drought-tolerant and a prolific bloomer (and lucky for me, in need of occasional dividing!) Lorene promised me some divisions this fall!

Spuria irises, garden roses, cotinus blooms in vintage trophy
Spuria irises, garden roses, cotinus blooms in vintage trophy

I stared at the colors yesterday morning, still recovering from the exhilarating but exhausting Slow Flowers Summit. I had a free hour to arrange flowers and I tried to lose myself in the experience. I chose two tall, vertical vessels — one shiny; one tarnished and trophy-shaped. One is literally a trophy! Read the story of its past here.

Spuria iris detail
Spuria iris detail

What to pair with the irises? Yellow seemed to be ideal and I have three very healthy and productive yellow-blooming roses (‘Julia Child’ from Weeks Roses and ‘The Poet’s Wife’ from David Austin). They echo the irises’ golden streaks quite nicely. The fluffy blooms of my cotinus (purple smoke bush) lent their texture and harmonized with the eggplant-grape hues of the irises.

The smaller trophy actually has blooms from my golden cotinus (I removed most of the foliage to keep things uncluttered in the vase).

Both arrangements feature baptisia — maybe it was unnecessary but the leaf shape and stem length works well with these designs.

Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and leading advocate for American-grown flowers. Through her many Slow Flowers-branded projects, she has convened a national conversation that encourages consumers and professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases. Debra is the producer of, the weekly "Slow Flowers Podcast" and the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) campaign. Debra is author of 11 books, including Slow Flowers (2013), The 50 Mile Bouquet (2012) and Slow Flowers Journal (2020). She is the co-founder of BLOOM Imprint, the boutique publishing arm of Slow Flowers.

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Slow Flowers Journal is brought to you by Slow Flowers is an award-winning online directory created to help consumers find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers that supply American grown flowers. Founded in 2014, the site has grown to 850 members across the U.S.


Media Contact:

For more information, please contact Debra Prinzing
at 206-769-8211 or 844-SLOWFLO (844-756-9356); debra(at)