Just one of the stand-out irises I will look forward to this blooming season. Lets face it there has to be some payback to make all the weeding worthwhile. Ben Hager's "Snow Spoon" is a visual treat and several clumps grow at home among 'Graham Thomas' the Yellow David Austin roses. Irises with unusual decorative extensions to the beards are known as 'Space Age Irises'. Extensions to the beards range from horns (points) to spoons and flounces, and are so called because the ends of the horns expand to a larger petaloid, spoon or flounce like addition.
I have always enjoyed the opinion's of Ben Hager and his published thoughts on Space Age Irises.
"The word 'Novelty' which once meant a newly introduced iris, has recently been drafted to describe irises that are basically divergent in pattern, form or habit from the mainstream of iris development.
Among the first publications to mention these iris types was the report Les Iris Cultivès from the first international conference in Paris 1922 [Ref 1]
Breeders of today should further the advancement of the irises of the future by working for the miracle of combining beauty with novelty. Even without such a miracle,there is a place in our lives for the curious and the frivolous.Without diversion from the routine, life is dull. Consider these nonconformists of the iris world, for narrow is the path that leads to boredom" [Ref 2]
Its would be fair to say that there is still a large number of Irisarians that still think of these irises as a spectacle of deformity and should have been sent to the compost, I would have to disagree, but that's no big surprise.
The Space Age Iris have come to be accepted by even the conservative American Iris Society and have awarded the varieties 'Thornbird'(1997), 'Conjuration'(1998), and 'Mesmerizer'(2002), all hybridised by the late Monty Byers, a California breeder, the Dykes Medal. Space Age Irises are the non-conformist of the Iris world and long may they live.
|Photo shows mature spoons|
AIS Checklist 1989
SNOW SPOON (Ben Hager, R. 1982). Sdlg. SP3453Wh. TB 38" (97 cm) M. White; yellow beard, white spoons. SP3228Wh: (D. Meek cream sdlg. x Lamia) X SP3094YSp: ((SP2638Hr: Spooned Blaze x Caro Nome) x (SP2635Hr: Kingdom x Spooned Blaze))., Melrose Gardens 1982.
As always clicking on any of the above image's will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credits and copyright Iris Hunter
[Ref 1] 'LES MONSTRUOSITÉS CHEZ LES IRIS' page 197 of the report 'Les Iris Cultivès'.
[Ref 2] Edited extracts from 'The World of Irises' chapter 20 Novelty Irises