Happy New Year to you all.
I have been happily helping a Commercial grower sort out the names of irises with lost ID's in the last two weeks, and when researching an Iris "Broadway Star" Robert Schreiner had also made the following comments in the 1957 catalogue
A GLIMPSE OF OUR DISPLAY GARDEN. Pictured below is a portion of our display garden photographed in May 1956. The visitors are Mrs Jean Stevens The President of the New Zealand Iris Society and Marion Walker President of the American Iris Society, Mrs Stevens is the noted antipodean Iris hybridizer whose very original creations (such as Pinnacle, Polar Cap, Mystic Melody), it has been our privilege to introduce in recent years. And we are impatiently awaiting the first bloom here in America of her new red and white amoena, 'Finest Hour'.
Last year at iris time Mr. and Mrs. Stevens made their first trip to the United States, where Mrs Stevens was the honoured guest of the American Iris Society at their annual convention in Los Angeles. Later Mr. and Mrs. Stevens spent a fortnight with us. Their penetrating understanding of Iris, broad knowledge of Horticulture and keen humour made their visit as delightful as it was memorable.
Stevens Bros. Catalogue 1958-59
FINEST HOUR (Stevens)Over the years we have raised and introduced many outstanding Irises, but our speciality has been in the breeding of different Amoenas and many of these are grown widely throughout the world. It has been our pride that we introduced the first Yellow amoena "Pinnacle" ; the first white and pastel lavender, "Polar Cap", the first white and Pastel Blue,"Alpine Meadow". We feel very happy therefore to introduce another "first",a red and white amoena, Finest Hour as a swan song to this our last year in commercial iris growing. Until Finest Hour opened its first blossom on a seedling plant an iris with clean white standards and rich plum red falls had flowered only in the imagination of breeders.The firmly closed standards of this new iris are snowy white except down towards the hafts where they are faintly flushed with lemon chartreuse. The falls are rounded and the glowing colour is rich and even. The branching is excellent, and the whole plant is a vigorous grower and an exceptionally fast increaser. Very early flowering, it is one of the first varieties to open but remains in flower over a long season. 3 ½ ft. 50/-
Schreiners Iris Lovers Catalog 1958
FINEST HOUR (Stevens 1958) E. 38"
For years, hybridizers have dreamed of producing a red and white amoena but with scant hope of success since nature produces amoenas only in the violet and white form. However, Mrs. Stevens of New Zealand, whose magic touch produced the first yellow and white amoenas, has now startled the Iris world with the first red and white amoena. FINEST HOUR possess snow white standards faintly brushed lemon-chartreuse at the base of the midribs, together with plum-red falls of sharply flaring form. A nicely branched Iris that will be very distingue in the garden clump and which will, of course, be of unique interest to hybridizers. $20.00
AIS Checklist 1959
FINEST HOUR (Jean Stevens, R. 1955). Sdlg. 1/cu. TB 36" EM. W4. S. white, F. deep even red; some haft venations. ((Naranja x Redmayne) x (Lagos x (Gudrun x (Lady Morvyth x Rangitira)))) x (Russet Mantle x Three Sisters)., Schreiner, Stevens 1958.
Major hat tip, the first for the New Year to Carlos Ayento of Brighton Park Irises for the 1958 Schreiners Catalog Image and information.