We have 16 clumps of the heirloom iris 'Magnolia' in one garden bed at home, which indicates the high regard I have for this iris and it's magnificent display. A high health, and vigorous grower and I always have requests for plants from people who visit the garden. Magnolia as most will know is the pod parent of Jean's most famous introduction "Pinnacle".
In the year 1950, D'Arcy Blackburn, a Gisborne commercial grower of Irises, and a founding member of the NZIS, had this to say about Magnolia.
"In the creams, although there are some good varieties coming through to us shortly, most of us have had to content ourselves with Magnolia one of the few of this colour we have seen. Magnolia, however, has many excellent qualities, being reliable blooming, of rapid increase, and with nicely formed flower on a good stalk.. We could do with more irises like it. It does not rot or show spot and the rhizomes planted one season unfailingly make their show the next. Alas, I have seen too many much heralded new varieties in irises take two to three years to make a worthwhile show in the garden. It will be a good iris that will supersede 'Magnolia'."
Stevens Bros Catalogue 1939-1940
One of the finest seedlings we have yet introduced. Very large flower's of classic form and parchment-like substance, carried on four foot well branched stems. The colour is a warm creamy white reminiscent of Magnolia grandiflora. A light yellow beard adds character to a charming flower. An extremely vigorous grower 4 ft. seven shillings and sixpence.
Fair Chance Farm Beloit, Kansas. 1948 Catalog
MAGNOLIA 48 inches. M. Parchment substance, creamy white. Very fine.
White irises are not yet generally popular, and in this regard the average grower of irises in this country is stubbornly conservative. Only one white iris, WINTER CARNIVAL could be called popular at this date. Strangely enough a light cream, MAGNOLIA, though an old variety, remains universally popular.
2011 New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist
MAGNOLIA Mrs J. Stevens, Reg., 1939. Sdlg.1/K34 TB, 48″, M, W4; E. Standards and Falls creamy white, soft reticulated gold at throat, light yellow beard. Good shape and substance but lacks branching. Description J Stevens Studbook notes,‘1937 flowering’; (Shasta X Mrs Valerie West). Stevens Bros Catalogue 1939-40.
This heirloom iris is available in New Zealand from the Amazing Iris Gardens
As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.