Garden of delights


Greg and Margaret Hall claim they were never much into gardening when they were first married, but take a look at their rows of thousands of irises these days and you would think otherwise.

It all started about 35 years ago with just one purple iris. The couple then when on to buy a yellow iris and by the time Greg bought their third iris - a pink one - they were hooked on the blooms.

"We then started collecting them. We lived in Perth and we ended up with a backyard full of irises," Greg said. "We started with those three colours and now we've got thousands of different colours."

And Greg's not exaggerating. At their last count, they had more than 4000 colours of bearded irises, 400 colours of water irises and 400 colours of Californian irises.

Their McAlinden property, located near Collie, is evidence of the couple's love of all things iris.

After moving to their retreat block in the late 1990s, the number of irises at Halcyon Steppe Iris and Daylily Farm has exploded from around 100 different colours to the thousands they now boast.

"The fence lines slowly keep moving to encompass the ever expanding iris collection," Greg said.

"We've moved it three times already but we're not moving it again. We've still got a bit of room."

For 22 years, Greg and Margaret have been hosting open days where the public can see first hand the fruits of their labour. The first of the shy blooms emerge in late September and by late October and November the garden is an explosion of colour.

Greg said it was the breeding of new colours of irises that kept them hooked, with it taking two years before the seed emerges into a flowering plant and revealing the colour of the bloom.

"Its quite exciting when they get to the point where they start to come up and you think, gee that looks unusual," Greg said.

"You don't know what you're going to get - when you breed them, the colours are so different.

"There are people like us that breed them for different colours and it's always good when you do a cross and they come out with something different."

The couple travel the State selling and showing their irises and have no plans to curb their iris habit.

"I guess in the short term we do want more," Greg said. "There are no plans not to keep doing what we're doing now - it keeps you busy. When they're out, all the work you do during the year is worth it."

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