Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Zealand Heirloom Tall Bearded Iris 'DESTINY'

Happy New Year to you all and a great way to start the new decade is with the Jean Stevens (nee Burgess) heirloom and historic tall bearded iris "Destiny". In 1928 using the rich purple blue iris with a heavy gold beard that Ferdinand Denis had named 'Aurelle', and crossing it with a iris Jean referred to at the time as ' The finest in our collection' the 1925 Arthur Bliss introduction 'Mrs Valerie West' It was a most successful cross and labeled E53 it produced a bumper crop of seeds totaling 88. From the planted seeds, seven Irises where selected for registration by Jean in 1934, the seedling registered as 'Destiny' having the most success.
Her notes on the blooming in 1931 records the seedling 1/E53 as, S. deep fawn purple; F. rich dark purple nearly black, velvety; Substance exceptional; Shape good; L. 4 ft.
Although it was registered in 1934, 'Destiny' was introduced to New Zealand gardeners commercially in 1932 and was first listed in the Waikanae Irises Catalogue 1932 for the princely price of forty two shillings with the following description: DESTINY, This is an exceptionally fine variety of our own raising and has been much admired in our own gardens. Standards deep purple, shaded fawn; Falls rich dark purple, almost black. this is a flower of great substance and good form 4ft.

Orpington Nurseries Co Ltd, Kent, England. 1934

Destiny (Burgess 1934)
Mr Pilkington told us about this handsome and distinct iris, and when we saw it in bloom, we strongly confirmed the good opinion his enthusiasm had created. The standards are deep purple suffused bronze, and the falls are purple-black very velvety and of great substance. this is a hybrid of Mrs Valerie West and is the darkest iris we have seen yet. Height 4 ft.

In 1934 The Iris Society (BIS) awarded Destiny a Bronze Medal and was selected for trial at Wisley. Waikanae Irises catalogue reflected this new status of 'Destiny' 

Waikanae Irises, A.H. Burgess & Son, Irises 1935.
DESTINY This iris a seedling of our own raising was shown at a Royal Horticultural Show in London in June 1934 where it created a sensation. It was awarded a Bronze Medal by the Iris Society and was selected for trial at Wisley, the first award made to an Iris raised in the Southern Hemisphere.S. deep purple suffused bronze. F.purple-black very velvety and of great substance Late 21 shillings.
  (After just 3 years growing at The Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley Trials, 'Destiny' in 1938 with 79 points was awarded a Award of Merit (AM) just missing a First Class Certificate by one point.)
The Iris Society Year Book 1938, Visit to Wisley. 10th June 1938', Geoffrey Pilkington.
 "I was interested to see Mrs Stevens (nee Burgess) DESTINY a Wisley carrying two very fine spikes of bloom. this is a superb Iris dark yet rich and attracts the immediate attention of the visitors. It does not seen to have acclimatised well in this country as yet, and the Wisley flower spikes where much better than any I ever grew of this variety. The judges will "Stop" when they see it next week."

At the request of Robert Schreiner the Iris was exported from New Zealand to America and in 1940, Schreiner's, at time located in St.Paul, Minnesota listed Destiny in their catalogue with the following description;
DESTINY Burgess 1934 M. 38" The antipodean origination which has made quite a name for itself in England; is a rich somber toned iris with exceedingly velvety broad falls of black plum purple coloring, deep purple standards and a rich gold beard. Destiny is especially effective in a garden when planted with 'Beowulf ' a complimentary color in maroon.

Cooley's Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris for 1949
DESTINY (Burgess 1934)
A great heavy flower of deepish blackish bronze purple, the beard a rich golden bronze. From New Zealand and credit is due to its originator for having made it possible for American gardens to enjoy such an outstanding iris. It has all good points- excellent form- tall stems and succeeds everywhere.

Stevens Bros, Bastia Hill, Wanganui. Irises 1957-58.
DESTINY (Burgess)
This majestic iris possesses a real dignity all of its own. The standards are a deep purple, shaded bronze, whilst the falls are purple black. A deep golden beard produced well down the velvet black, entirely unveined fall, enhances the depth of the colour. A superb and well-finished variety in every respect. Late. 4’

New Zealand Iris Hybridiser's Cumulative Checklist, 2010.
DESTINY Miss E.J. Burgess, R.1934. Sdlg. 1/E53 TB, 48″, M-L, S9D. S. deep fawn purple; F. rich dark purple nearly black, velvety; Substance exceptional; Shape good; Description E.J Burgess Studbook notes,‘1928 flowering’; Aurelle x Mrs Valerie West; Waikanae Irises 1932; Orpington.1934;1938. Bronze Medal, I.S.(E.) 1934; Yr. Bk., I.S.(E.) 29. 1934; A.M., Reg., R.H.S. 1938; Yr. Bk., I.S. (E.) 44. 1938; 10A. 434.

What is amazing about this Iris is that it is widely grown correctly labeled overseas.' Destiny' is still catalogued as growing in R.H.S garden collections in Ireland and England which has been confirmed, but only a few grow or know they are growing this iris in New Zealand.

The above photo was sent to me by Phil Edinger who has proudly grown 'Destiny' in his California gardens for many years. Phil is the Historic Iris Societies I.D. Chair which removes any likely-hood of the Iris been incorrectly named by others.
A big hat tip to Phil, you are a legend

Clicking the above image will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Phil Edinger


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