who has the Royal Horticultural Society National Collection of Sir Cedric Morris Irises
When I retired in 2004 I returned to Hadleigh and started collecting together Sir Cedric Morris’s Irises. Fortunately his Irises are relatively well documented with 55 registered with the American Iris Society and about 45 more described in catalogues, books, and articles. Sir Cedric sold his irises through both Wallace and Orpington Nurseries and they have also been sold South Africa and by Austin in the USA.
His irises are extremely varied, encompassing every colour and type. There is the long line of ‘Pinks’ starting with ‘Edward Windsor’, then ‘Strathmore’ and finally ‘Clasmont’ the last Iris he registered, in1960. One of his earliest interests was in plicatas, succeeding in breeding good yellows, pinks and mauves. In addition to these there are bicolour’s such as Benton Petunia’, and self’s, ranging from whites (Benton Pearl) through yellows (Benton Hebe) reds and purples. Most have the suffix ‘Benton’ in their name, but there are about 12 others, including ‘Black Michael’, ‘Emma Hamilton’ and ‘Storrington’.
I currently have about 20 of the cultivars he bred in the collection. I am keen to find any of the remaining 70 cultivars which Sir Cedric Morris named, of these, at least 7 were sold in the USA by Austin’s in the 1950’s, including ‘Benton Oberon’, Benton ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Benton Rubeo’, it would be a thrill to find any of these, but especially ‘Rubeo’ which was the name of Cedric’s pet macaw!
The collections contains the following cultivars of which I am reasonably confident are correctly named although not all of them have yet flowered in the collection:Benton Ankaret, Benton Arundel, Benton Blue John, Benton Caramel, Benton Cordelia, Benton Daphne, Benton Duff, Benton Evora, Benton Judith, Benton Farewell, Benton Lorna, Benton Menace, Benton Nigel, Benton olive, Benton Opal, Benton Pearl, Benton Primrose, Benton Susan and Edward of Windsor.
I also possibly have ‘Craithe’, however the group of iris from which I was given the rhizome had two labels ‘Craithe’ and ‘Spindrift’ so if anyone has a picture of ‘Spindrift’ I would love to see it.I have had considerable help in making my collection , some of the irises have been given to me by friends of Sir Cedric Morris but I have also been given rhizomes from Botanic Gardens in Basel, and Prague and also from Bruce Filardi’s collection in the USA. I must also acknowledge the help and encouragement given to me by members of HIPS and by Terry Johnson.
Sarah Cook, Hullwood Barn, Ipswich. 2009