A Palmerton couple took top honors at the Delaware Valley Iris Show receiving three American Iris Society Rosettes and the American Iris Society's Silver Medal for the most blue ribbons at the show.

George and Carol Boyce, who grow hybrid lilacs, daylilies and Siberian and Japanese irises at their 3-year-old seven-acre Glenara Gardens, entered 25 varieties of irises and received 24 ribbons.

Over 500 varieties of irises are grown at Glenara Gardens.

"We did very well," George Boyce said. "We received everything short of Best in Show." They received American Iris Society rosettes for the section winner and for runner-up to Best in Show a dark blue and purple iris with variegated white-striped leaves of the variety called Silverband.

In the Japanese Iris category, the Boyce's Pink Puffer variety won Best in Show. Their entry was over nine inches in diameter, with six variegated pink and purple pedals called falls and sported yellow blazes inside purple stamens. This variety was hybridized in Michigan.

The Japanese Iris was the Japanese Emperors' personal flower for centuries. It was introduced to the United States in the 1960s. It is a beardless variety, larger than domestic irises and is available in colors from light blue to dark blue to purple to pink to white.

Although the Boyces made an excellent showing, because of the wet spring, some of their varieties did not bloom until after the event, and were not available for the show.

At Glenara Gardens, the Boyces raise lilacs, Siberian Iris and Japanese iris, and daylilies. Their irises flower from mid-May until the end of June, usually peaking around June 18 although because of the wet spring, they were still blooming at the end of June.

The Boyces were introduced to irises in the 1960s when they were living in Maine. Their neighbor was Dr. Currier McEwen.

"He was the man who literally wrote the book on the Japanese and Siberian Iris," Boyce said. "From there, it just mushroomed along."

Eight years ago, George retired, deciding to focus his energies on gardening. He enjoys creating new varieties by cross-pollinating different varieties and then patiently waiting for their seed germination, plant growth, and blossoming which typically leads to hundreds of failures before discovering a successful hybrid.

"Glenara Gardens is my crowning achievement and it will get better every year," Boyce noted.

The next public event is Daylily Sunday on July 10. Visitors are invited to tour the grounds. There is no need to check into the house.

Glenara Gardens is located at 520 Dairy Road in Palmerton. For information, see: www.glenara.net, email info@glena.net, or call (607) 857-8732.