Monday, September 29, 2008

Historic Iris 'ZUA'

ZUA, in my opinion one of the great lookers in historic irises . Bred by Mrs William Crawford, (Anna Boyd), La Porte, Indiana. In 1890 Mrs. Crawford began cultivating peonies, eventually specializing in the growing of Peonies and Irises at Crawford Gardens, publishing her first Iris catalogue in 1920.
The iris is classified as an Intermediate. Shows good increase, great fragrance, flowers handle moderate wet weather well, and is a definite talking point in our garden. A hardy plant that can handle neglect which is perhaps one of the reasons that the Iris has survived and is still growing in discerning gardens today. The 1929 and, 1939 checklist has 'ZUA' as a sport of FLORENTINA

"Zua and Sports" Jean Stevens
My attention has recently been drawn to a statement that the strange little crisped, ice-blue Iris 'Zua' is a sport of the collected iris known as I.florentina . This statement is based on the fact that the origin of Zua as given in the Checklist of all iris varieties, is that it was recorded in 1919 as a sport of I.florentina. Apparently there had been much discussion on and interest taken in 'Zua' at the time as a number of Horticultural publications referred to it, some of these being used as references to Zua's origin in the 1929 Checklist
A "sport" is a horticultural term denoting a change in the plant or part of a plant, a change of habit. growth, colour, form or what you will, that takes place vegetatively. This means that the change has taken place during cell division while the plant is in growth- not through the seeding process. The effect of sporting can be seen in the occasional familiar four standard- four fall freak which most of us have seen or the equally familiar phenomenon of a petal or part of a petal being a different colour. These sports, since they have occurred in the flower itself and not in the growth fan are lost when the flower fades.
Most kinds of flowers produce occasional sports, and some of these sports occur in the growth buds or shoots or in the case of irises in the side fans. When this happens the growth bud sport can be propagated and so the sport kept and perpetuated. Camellias, Chrysanthemums, Roses, Carnations, and a number of other flowers quite frequently produce these growth bud sports, all of which can be propagated and saved. The iris produces growth bud sports only rarely, and over the many years I have been growing irises I have seen only one instance of such sporting. This was when a yellow flowered seedling produced a fan which sent up a spike of all white flowers.

Image courtesy Mrs Crawford's Catalogue 1921

Mrs William Crawford,1602 Indiana Avenue La Porte, Indiana. Peonies, Irises and Perennials, 1921
ZUA-- Standards and Falls dainty lavender ; Standards and Falls of texture like heavy frosted crepe. Very Distinct. Fragrant .Early...............$2.00 

Lee R. Bonnewitz,Van Wert, Ohio, Peonies and Irises,1926.
ZUA (Crawford). A light colored Iris whose standards and falls are more like silk crepe than any other variety we know. The standards are white with a delicate lilac tint and the falls have a slightly deeper lilac tint with olive-cream markings at the base. Large size blooms for the 18 inch stalk which carries it..................$0.35.

Iris Fields, West La Fayette, Indiana. Iris of Quality. Surplus stock from Private Collection,1926. 
 75  ZUA  (Crawford, 1914). White self, slightly tinged lilac, crimped and crinkled like crepe paper. Absolutely different and in a class by itself. 

18 inches ............................. .50

Indian Springs Farms, Baldwinsville, New York. Iris Catalog 1926
ZUA (Crawford 1914) 7.5. An early-flowering, dwarf-growing variety with large blooms of clear white, slightly tinted lilac. S. and F. have a curiously crinkled texture like crepe paper. 12 to 18 inches. The flower is similar in color to Florentina alba but with more crinkled texture and dwarfer habits. 50 cts. each; $1.25 for 3; $4.00 per doz. 

F.X. Schreiner, St. Paul, Minnesota. An Iris Lover's Catalog with Iris map, 1930. 
A Group of Iris With Personality
Zua-One of the most interesting early Iris, lascinated, a pearly white with a lavender overlay. The whole has a crepe paper appearance.

Robert Wayman, Bayside, Long Island, New York, 1930 Catalog and also John Scheepers, 522 Fifth Ave, New York,"Beauty From Bulbs", Catalog 1931,
'ZUA' (Crawford 1914) 18 inches FRAGRANT. this variety is in a class by itself, both on account of its color, which is a uniform soft pearl grey and also on account of its creped and crinkled petals. It looks like an artificial flower made out of crepe paper. the flowers are fragrant and of good size.

Carl Salbach, Berkley, California, German or Bearded Iris Catalog 1939
Most unusual, this pale porcelain blue iris, so light in color it approaches white,is most enchanting. The petals are crinkled like crepe paper. Not well known because it it blooms before the bulk of the iris flower, but delightful. Would be most fitting in a rockery. Very early. 14-inch.

R.E.Harrison & Co., Palmerston North, Harrisons Autumn Bulb Catalogue 1962
Bearded Iris, Named Varieties.
ZUA. Different in form and texture to any other bearded iris we have seen. The petals are heavily crinkled and of almost leathery texture. The colour is a light blue self frosty in appearance......2/6

AIS Checklist 1939
ZUA IB-E-W1 (Craw 1914) Sport of FLORENTINA

Julie May of 'The Iris Garden' fame has 'ZUA' growing in her well manicured Canterbury gardens. So anyone who drops in for a cup of tea at her very famous tearooms should be able to see the iris in full bloom this coming season, so stop by early spring and check them out. 'ZUA' is available from the nursery only in bags, not listed in this years catalogue.

Also available in New Zealand from Kingswood Irises 15 Railway Road, Woodlands RD1, Invercargill. Write to Marion Rutherford for their Catalogue which is on CD with some of the best Iris photos around. This iris nursery I also highly recommended!

In America 'ZUA' is available from the following, Bluebird Haven Iris Garden, Chuck Chapman Iris, Irises of Shadowood, and Wanda Rezac Iris.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

1 comment:

  1. I grew this many years ago when i was establishing a collection of historic iris. It always stood out from all the rest to me. Was it a dead end as far as breeding was concerned or did it impart its 'laciness' to other iris. I have always wondered where 'lace' came from and it seems obvious that this cold have been the origin although if it was diploid then maybe it was simply an oddity that had no part in the breeding of other iris.


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