The Ugly Iris

My mother instantly loved it. My grandmother instantly dubbed it “The Ugly Iris.” And when I saw it all I could think about was grabbing my camera and documenting it, because I have never seen an iris like this before.

Instead of the violet or royal shades of purple I’m used to seeing, it’s a dusky dark purple, and depending on the light can look almost like a dark dusky pink. And instead of the bright yellow accent parts, the part of the flower called the beard is bright orange, and the lower petals, known as falls, start out purple, then go to ivory, then a light orange, and then purple again. It’s so different than any other iris I’ve ever seen! And it’s the only one, and it didn’t bloom last year – it was a total surprise when it came up in my front yard – since all the other irises are either the traditional violet shade of purple, or a bright yellow.

I googled and it appears it’s a Tall Bearded Iris, known as Raspberry Fudge. Interesting. But I can see the raspberry moniker – since the color seems to shift between dark dusky pink and purple, depending on the light.

Raspberry Fudge Tall Bearded Iris // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Raspberry Fudge Iris // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Tall Bearded Iris // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsPurple and Orange Iris // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

So what do you think? Is it truly The Ugly Iris? Or is it beautiful? Or something in between? At first, I thought it was interesting, but I wasn’t sure if I would have actually chosen it. But the more I look at it, the more I like it. It’s growing on me. And as you can see by the images, there are two more buds on that stem, so I’ll get two more chances to figure it out!

Spring Flowers, April Showers

One of the best parts about moving into a new house is seeing what happens in the yard over the course of the first year. Sometimes the tree you sort of, kind of don’t really like all that much, breaks out in blossoms, and you’re in love. Sometimes a neglected corner starts to fill in with new growth, and then explodes in riotous blooms. I’ve heard it said that you should live in a house for a year, before tearing out any plants, because you never know what those existing plants may do – and if you tear them out too soon, you may miss some great potential.

I moved last summer, so this is my first spring in this house, and evidently the previous owners were big on flowers – because the yard is full of blooming plants. It’s very cool!

We’ve been told that some of the trees are black walnut, and when I Google them, the leaves do look right – but I didn’t find any images of the blooms that were as magnificent as the ones here. We have pink blooms on one tree, and white blooms on two other trees. They look just like wisteria blossoms – and the leaves look similar to wisteria as well, but the rest of the tree, and the nuts that form later are definitely not wisteria!

ETA: Ooops! I’ve been told that the trees are actually Black Locust, and Googling proves that to be true!

Black Locust // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsBlack Locust // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Black Locust // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsBlack Locust // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Black Locust // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Black Locust with White Blooms

There are lot of different kinds of bulbs and some primroses…

TulipsPurple Flowers


There are probably too many iris in the yard – if that’s possible.

Purple Iris

Purple Iris

During the Victorian Era, they were big lovers of fruit and flowers together – and it’s one of my favorite looks. There’s only one fruit tree in the yard – a lemon tree – but hopefully someday there will also be oranges and tangerines and apricots – all things that grow well in Hemet!

Lemon TreeBlack Tulip

And I’ll end with a black tulip. Have you ever seen a flower that elegant? It’s definitely a statement blossom!

On a technical note, all of these were shot between 4:09 and 4:30PM this afternoon – so a few hours before sunset – and the wind was blowing hard for most of those twenty minutes. I used a 70-200mm lens, at f/4.0, ISO 320, and as high of a shutter setting as was possible. Part of the challenge was in shooting flowers that were blowing and moving – and still trying to get a perfect image, that looks like the world was perfectly still when it was taken. The 70-200mm is my least favorite and least used lens, but sometimes it’s fun to shake things up and force yourself to do things in a slightly different way than you may be used to.

Shaking up your art – especially when you’re doing something as trite as shooting flowers? It’s a good thing! So grab an unfamiliar lens, shoot in a windstorm, whatever! Just shake it up and see what magic happens…

And as I sign off, raindrops are starting to hit the roof again… Hopefully the very last storm this season!


Just a pretty little image of some pretty little carrots…

And a link to a great post on food as fuel

And finally, a wish for today! It’s March 1st, which in my world is the true start of Spring. The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue with fluffy white clouds, and the birds are singing. It’s perfect! And my wish is that today is is the start of something new and wonderful for everyone who reads this.

Here’s to the Spring of 2011!


Tangerines may be my favorite fruit. Maybe. They’re tangy and sweet, and you really only find the good ones right now, at this time of year – so find a Farmer’s Market quick, make the most of it! I know I am!


Tangerines and Blueberries

Wildflowers in Menifee

Purple Wildflowers in Menifee // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsYellow Wildflowers in Menifee // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

I’ve heard the wildflowers in the desert are really magnificent this year – we got a lot of rain in January and February! But even if you don’t get out into the true desert, you can find patches of really pretty wildflowers just off the freeway, all over Riverside County. These images were taken this afternoon, eleven minutes apart on McCall Road in Menifee, on the corner of Encanto for the first image, and on the corner of Sherman Road for the second – in other words, less than a block from the freeway.

Merry Christmas, 2009

Christmas AngelHope everyone is having a joy filled Christmas! With loads of homemade cookies, a Christmas ham with all the trimmings, and maybe a candy cane or two…

See you next year!