While out photographing my garden yesterday, I had a short chat with Joe and Sandy, our new neighbors. After exchanging conversation about the unusual weather we’e been having, Joe asked me about one of my iris that is blooming along the property line near their backyard gate.
Joe was referring to ‘Cinderella’s Coach’, a tall bearded iris that I’ve grown for two years now in the border between the narrow strips of turf that lead between our front and back yards. It is one of the first iris to bloom in my garden, opening just after I. ‘Immortality’ and I. pallida.
According to the American Iris Society, ‘Cinderella’s Coach’ was introduced by hybridizer Ben Hager in 1985. Its standards and falls are considered to be pumpkin-colored with a tangerine beard.  When I told Joe the variety name, he nodded in agreement, “Ah, pumpkin.”
I proceeded to tell Joe and Sandy the story of how I acquired ‘Cinderella’s Coach’ in the fall of 2009. Gardening friends in Tolono, IL had a large, overcrowded patch of bearded iris growing along the side of their garage. As gardeners are apt to do, they offered divisions to a number of people, me included. When I went to pick them up, they were labeled “White”, “Blue” and “White/Blue Bicolor” with marker right on the foliage fans.
When I planted them at home, I paid close attention to the labels to ensure good-size clumps of the same variety. Last spring, when the buds started to rise rapidly as spring progressed, I noticed that a single bud — in what I thought was a white clump — had an orange tip. Partly confused, partly intrigued, I waited for the iris to open into the beauty I now know as ‘Cinderella’s Coach’.
This spring, this pumpkin-orange delight has spread slightly, with at least three additional flower stalks compared to 2010. It makes a great complement next to ‘Immortality’, the pure white Iris that came from the same friend’s garden in 2009. Later in the summer after ‘Cinderella’s Coach’ is spent, the orange theme will continue in this border as Hemerocallis ‘Kwanso’ takes the stage for its weeks-long engagement of contorted double flowers.
As ‘Cinderella’s Coach’ continues to spread, I hope to move some divisions closer to the street for more passersby to enjoy. Perhaps they’ll stop and start a conversation, much like Joe and Sandy, and learn the story behind this aptly-named iris.