March 24, 2019

Dear Iris Friends:

Welcome to our 2019 iris offerings!

Our plans here to reduce our plantings were accelerated by two years of incredible, continuous rains and 2019 has been a winter of endless mud and very cold temperatures. The first signs of spring are appearing and we are ready for sunshine and beautiful flowers! The irises appear to be more dormant than in many years .. most barely showing signs of spring growth. This desirable plant habit will typically be a plant that is not damaged by late spring frosts and freezes!

Most irises today are bred and selected for introduction in climates with low annual rainfall and mild winter temperatures. There are but a hand full of breeders remaining in the interior states and the eastern and northern United States. Genetics of any living plant determine its ultimate behavior and performance. When planted outside its home of origin, a plant can be unpredictable.

We are learning to avoid planting the very early varieties which can often be nipped by late spring freezes here; for the same reason, we are on the search for varieties that BEGIN their bloom later in the season. If you want an iris variety that remains in bloom for an extended period, look for one with good bud count and the unappreciated habit of opening only one blossom on the stalk at a time. All these factors are most important if you love iris flowers “in the garden”!

We have introductions from new hybridizers in 2019! There will be three from Lionell Austell who lives 75 miles north of us in Clarksville. Kent Pfeiffer in Iowa has his first introduction this year and there are many more quality seedlings under observation. Steve Kelly from New Mexico and Steve Poole of Illinois will also have more offerings this year.

We have hundreds of other varieties under observation--some in sufficient quantities to list. We have intentionally avoided offering these for sale until they prove their worth as hardy, reliable perennial plants. If you are a collector and are desperately seeking a variety we have previously offered, we may have a few rhizomes that we can share. We always enjoy hearing from you.

Shipments are made after July 4th and through August, shipped by Priority Mail unless you request otherwise. Bonus plants are included with every order and we will make selections based on the size of your order and what we have in ample supply. A very special thanks to all the iris hybridizers who willingly allow us to share photos of their beautiful introductions on this site!

If you have never made a cross, harvested seed, stored the seed and planted the seed... the wait for germination can be painful. Breeders then lift the baby plants, separate the fragile roots, line them out by hand, keep them watered until they begin strong growth, weed them all summer … then wait for spring bloom. The beauties that eventually make it into our gardens are then ”tagged for observation” for additional seasons (more weeding, separating and lining out) until there is stock enough to introduce. Iris hybridizers are strong and disciplined mortals!!

Thank you for your many emails, letters and phone calls. We are a small nursery with an intent to remain so and share our experiences with you. Here's wishing you a wonderful bloom season in your corner of the world!

With all good wishes,

Phil Williams

 email: phil@rockytopgardens.com (or) rtgphil@gmail.com

phone: 615-­274­-6426

fax: 615-­274-­6634


A very special thanks to the diligent and skilled iris hybridziers who labor and produce the amazing iris creations that we offer for sale. They provide their photos for your inspection and we are grateful to each of them. Their skills as both plant breeders and photographers make this web offering possible.

…….. Brad Collins, Bob Van Liere, Catherine Gates, Dave Niswonger, Jeanette Graham, Keith Keppel, Leslie &John Painter, Liz Schmidt, Nancy Price, Rick Tasco, Roger Duncan, Thomas Johnson and Tom Burseen