Featured Flower: Douglas Iris
A native to our coastal region, the Douglas Iris is found along the coast in open fields and pastures, and edging the redwoods. Ranging in color from deep purple to plum, and pale varieties which can be white or yellow, the majority are shades of amethyst. Like ornate origami jewels dotting the hill side, they are often found in a graceful gathering, and upon closer inspection one wonders at the delicate white paintings on each petal.
In my childhood I remember going to Wishing Well Nursery in Freestone with my aunt, where they sold many variations of the Douglas Iris, each with its own unique color fingerprint. The days of Wishing Well and its great old status from San Francisco’s World’s Fair are gone (as it is no longer open to the public), but another West County nursery treasure which deals in native plants is reopening! Western Hills, a nursery located above Occidental on ColemanValley road is reopening to the public on Saturdays. (Harmony Farms may also carry California native hybrid iris, pictured below.)
If you just want to go out and enjoy the stately blooms in nature, I would suggest taking the scenic drive to Bodega from the nursery or visiting the hills above Armstrong Woods in Guerneville.
For more information on Native Wildflowers of the region, check out the book, Wildflower of Northern California’s Wine Country and North Coast Ranges by Reny Parker. And I would like to invite readers to suggest other locations which sell Douglas Irises and other native species in Sonoma County.