Who better than nurserywoman Claire Austin, specialist iris grower, to write this definitive work on bearded irises? With nearly two decades experience in their cultivation, she gives a clear, knowledgeable picture of this ancient genus and shows how to choose and grow the myriad of varieties currently available. Depicted in Minoan murals, carved on Mogul marble walls and appearing on the sides of Egyptian tombs, their beauty and intrigue have perpetuated through the ages. With today's modern hybridizing their flowering season spans three months or more, justifying them a place in every garden. Renowned as an English country garden plant, their spiky foliage also ensures them a home in more contemporary settings, giving a modern lift to this centuries old genus. After a brief introduction explaining their physiology and history, Claire has selected 70 different varieties, mixed between the tall bearded and the medians, with colours ranging from the deepest maroon and purple to the more traditional lilacs and yellows. Clay Perry's photographs offer a visual feast of varieties: names such as "Oriental Glory", "Champagne Elegance", "Skier's Delight" and "Rosette Wine" conjure up visions that hold true to their names. Such variety in colour, originating from so few original species, displays the power of current breeding techniques and makes one wonder what more the future could possibly hold. Ending on the all-important aspect of planting, cultivation and propagation techniques, this is a fascinating and extraordinarily well-presented look at bearded irises, surely encouraging more people to try them for themselves.