From the 1955 Schreiner's Iris Catalog: Technically a plicata, this fantastic "believe it or not" Iris looks like an Oncocyculus hybrid. The heavy silvery falls with perky horizontal flare are not only veined like a butterfly's wing but bizzarrely stippled and dappled chocolate and purple to match the feathery standards. Exotic, sophisticated, never to be forgotten, its weird beauty makes garden visitors exclaim."
Photo enhancement on the left courtesy Schriener's Iris Lovers catalog 1956.
HARLEQUIN Stevens Bros Catalogue 1949-50
A strange iris with a dark gypsy personality which, though strictly defined as a plicata, is very different from those usually light coloured flowers. Harlequin has more in common with oncocyclus irises in its appearance than with most bearded irises. The falls are widely flared, of heavy starched substance, and well ruffled and waved, of a deep purple-toned chocolate. The stiffly held standards are nearly as dark as the falls and the whole flower has a most exotic and lovely air of sophistication. 2’ 6”
Another two fantastic photo's from Sarah Cook taken recently in Merian Park, Botanical Garden, Brüglingen, Switzerland.
Last week I had the privilege to speak to one of New Zealand's senior Iris Hybridiser's Ron Busch who when telling him about Jean Stevens exploits in Plicata breeding lines he expressed surprised that Jean Stevens in the late forties was doing so many marvelous things in this field. I have recently received a start of Harlequin from the official "Jean Stevens Collection" but as it has not flowered yet I cannot be certain if it is true to label. My understanding is that Harlequin has been in the collection for many years and I received conformation of this fact by email in 2002 yet there has never been any recent photos of this iris in any NZ publications, so today you could be viewing it for the first time!!
The 1949 check list entry reads HARLEQUIN (Mrs J. Stevens, R. 1947). Sdlg. 3/T147. TB, M, W8D. (Sdlg. X Tiffany). Had there been a system to edit entries when more information came to light it could have been adjusted to read as follows HARLEQUIN (Mrs J. Stevens, R. 1947). Sdlg. 3/T147. TB, M, W8D. 3/T147. Manchuria x Tiffany. As my judgment has been questioned in this matter recently, I have included copy of the hand written entry from Jean Stevens Stud book 1943 Crosses.
2/P74 is of course the iris MANCHURIA registered by Jean Stevens in 1944.
Perhaps the most intriguing are the notes Jean Stevens made for the first bloom of seedling 3/T147 in 1944 S. Maroon flushed on cream.F. Cream heavily stippled maroon to margin.Large. No tuck on fall. Not sure how the colour can be creatively changed to a deep purple-toned chocolate. IH