NORMAN — Red Foster says he grows irises rather than other flowers because their hardy nature and drought resistant qualities allow them to thrive under Oklahoma weather conditions.
Plus, he said, he just plain loves them.
“They get me up in the morning and keep me going all day,” Foster said.
Foster is a longtime member and current vice president of the Oklahoma Iris Society, whose members participated in the Norman chapter's National Iris Society Show on Sunday at the Norman Public Library.
The name ‘iris' comes from the Greek goddess of rainbows, and all shades of the rainbow were represented at the show.
Silverado irises with pearly-white petals stood alongside sherbet-orange Volunteer Pride irises. Some varieties, like the deep crimson Cranapple and the royal purple Daughter of Stars, represent variations on more traditional colors.
Others, like the chocolate-brown Huckleberry Fudge and translucent gray-green Ozone Alert, are unlike anything seen in a typical garden.
Foster says he has more than 1,000 irises growing at his home in Shawnee. One of his tricks, he says, is watering them with rainwater, spiked with just a pinch of artificial sweetener. The flowers seem to like it, he said.
More than three dozen flowers were submitted for this year's show. Irises were divided into category by variety, and first-, second- and third-place ribbons were awarded. The blue-ribbon winners moved on to what is called the Queen's Court, where they compete for the title of Queen.