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Wednesday 27 May 2020

Visiting Boulder's Iris Farm

The first official week of Summer Break and we had our first official outing of the season - and our first time out exploring in god only knows how long!

Now that the weather has warmed up, things are looking very much like Spring (or Summer) here in the Boulder Valley. Trees that were bare just a month ago are green, lawns and grass areas are lush, and every second garden in our neighborhood is filled with colorful flowers. The two most common flowers here seem to be irises in a range of colors, and vivid orange poppies. And when I say these flowers are common, I mean they are everywhere.

I've never lived in a place where everyone seems to plant the same flowers in their garden so it got me wondering about just why these two flowers are everywhere. Sure, they're pretty, but there are lots of other pretty flowers out there too. They obviously grow well here, but that still wasn't really the answer I was looking for. After digging a little deeper I learned about Boulder's history with irises and a small flower farm right in the city.

Long's Gardens is a small flower farm located on Broadway in a neighborhood full of houses, recreation centers and parks. Not really where you'd expect to find a farm, but it has been there ever since 1905. For much of that time Long's Gardens has been growing a variety of irises, providing beautiful blooming plants to the Boulder Valley.

Long's Gardens is a private property, but they open their farm up to the public during the flowering season, from April to June. Most years, they offer "u-dig" sales during this time, with customers able to choose their own iris plants from the field, dig them up to purchase, and grow them at home. Kind of like the flower equivalent of apple picking! This year, due to COVID, Long's Gardens is not offering their "u-dig" or direct sales from their office. Their iris fields are still open to the public for viewing only, and that's what we did yesterday.

The variety of irises growing at Long's Gardens is amazing. The colors vary from whites and the palest pastels, through yellows and peachy colors, to the most vivid purples you can imagine. Some are so dark they almost look black. The variety doesn't just stop at colors either, There are all sorts of different petal shapes, some frilled and some smooth, as well as different sizes.

With so many different varieties of iris growing, not all of them bloom at the same time. When we visited yesterday there were plenty of flowers in full bloom, some that were already starting to wilt away, and still quite a few buds that were yet to open. In fact, I'm thinking of going back in a few weeks to try and see those.

Remember I mentioned poppies above too? While Long's Gardens is all about irises, there are gorgeous poppies growing on the property too. I love the vivid colors of these and will definitely be planting some in our garden.

The gardens are a gorgeous spot for photos, either with the irises, the poppies or the old farm machinery located around the property. It's such a lovely spot, especially with the mountains in the background. 

Long's Gardens is located at 3240 Broadway, Boulder. If you're planning a visit, please check their web page here for updates before heading out. As of now, their iris fields are open for viewing from 11am to 4pm, and 7pm to 8pm. Visitors must follow social distancing guidelines (outlined on a sign at the entrance) including keeping 6 feet from staff and other visitors, and wearing a mask as necessary. We were the only visitors when we arrived (hence no masks in my pictures), but by the time we left there were two other groups so we had to mask up.

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