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.
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.
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.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.