The Oregon grape may have been anointed the state flower in 1899, but it really should be the tall, proud Iris since Schreiner’s Gardens, the United States’ most prolific and extraordinary flower farm for this bloom, has been operating in Salem near the Willamette Valley since 1947. 

For four generations now, the Schreiner family has been cultivating the land, expanding their output, and creating a laboratory of over 10,000 seedling beds to explore new color patterns and possibilities. 

“Every year, we have 14 new varieties,” says Liz Schreiner-Schmidt, who, along with her nephew Ben runs this 150-acre farm. What are the most popular flowers that dazzle and delight? “Autumn Riesling, Oui Madame, Open Ocean, Immortality and Dracula’s Kiss,” says Ben Schreiner, who is known as the farm’s on-site scientist, always on the hunt for hues with unexpected designs and shapes.

Their family journey to becoming the most famous iris breeder in the United States began not in Oregon but in Minnesota. An avid gardener, F.X. Schreiner worked in a department in Minnesota when he went east on a routine business trip in 1920. There he met John C. Wister, the first president of the American Iris Society. The chance encounter sparked “a love affair” with the flower, and soon Schreiner became a world-renowned iris collector. Amassing over 500 cultivars and starting a catalog service, he shared his passion with his children, Bob, Connie, and Bernard (Gus), who then managed the reins of the burgeoning business after he died. 

However, they soon realized to expand the business, they needed a more hospitable climate and soil and moved to Oregon in 1947.

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