March 21, 2019

Dear Iris Friends:

Happy Spring 2019

The rains have finally abated and the website should be fully loaded and ready for your purchases on Sunday, March 24. Thank you for your patience.

Our plans to reduce our plantings were accelerated by two years of incredible continuous rains. So far, 2019 has been a winter of endless mud and very cold temperatures. Recent spring seasons have brought us late freezes so you will note that we are adjusting our new acquisitions by avoiding those early blooming varieties.

Most irises today are bred and selected for introduction in climates with low annual rainfall; there are but a handful of breeders living in the interior states and outside the west and southwest. Genetics of any living plant determine its ultimate behavior and performance. When planted outside its home of origin, a plant can be unpredictable. Please note that the state or country of origin is at the beginning of each description. It may be helpful in what you ultimately choose for your own garden.

All photos of available varieties this year are already placed in the A-M and N-Z stores. The prices will be added and the “sold out’ icon will disappear once the site is open for business about March 15. Stay tuned as we are waiting for the hard freezes predicted for next week to pass, making a final inspection of all plants before opening sales.

We have hundreds of other varieties under observations—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 seeking a variety we have previously offered, we may have a few rhizomes we can share. We always enjoy hearing from you.

As I write this in mid February, the very hard freezes with no snow cover continue. The daffodils are trying to bloom; some are kissing the ground with damaged stems. The irises appear to be more dormant than in many years, many rhizomes 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!

A special thanks to all the hybridizers who willingly share photos of their beautiful introductions for us to share. If you have never made a cross, harvested seed, stored 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 a few more 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 past orders and your many kind notes and conversations. We hope to have the website open in late March….if the heavy rains will stop so we can make a final check of our plant inventories for any possible winter damage.

Sending an email will get you the quickest response. We also welcome your phone calls and there is someone in the office daily to take your messages. When the sun is shining, I need to be outdoors!!!

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