Take crisp medium blue tinted lavender standards, slightly darker violet in the midribs, some ruffled and flaring velvety falls in black violet with white veining on the hafts, add the bushy tangerine beard – and voilà !
With its excellent branching and a sound, vigorous plant which shows quick increase, this child of the seventies, 'Cabaret Royale' is a much loved neglecta and an ancestor to Barry Blyth's highly respected 'In Town'. The outpouring of white veining from the heart of the bloom would have been frowned upon by the Iris Cognoscenti in the seventies but today is now quite the trend.
At 36 years old 'Cabaret Royale', which can re-bloom, puts on a lovely display in the garden. Who would have thought Jean Stevens' 'Sunset Snow' would be in the ancestry? 'Sunset Snows' stars as the pollen parent to the pink amoena 'Twist and Shout'. This classic iris was sold to me in New Zealand many years ago labelled as 'Witch's Wand', surely with a smidgen of research they could of labelled it "One of Witch's Wand grandparents" which would of been a lot more appropriate.
There is a dilemma that 'Cabaret Royale' and many other irises of the seventies have in becoming 'Historic Irises' (because of their thirty years + age). Their form and colouration is not too dissimilar from recently introduced 'Modern Irises'. Let me give you an example; Just how much difference is there between 'Cabaret Royale' and Paul Blacks 1999 introduction ,'Habit' with its simple flower form?(and a child of 'In Town'). Begging the question that the gardening public is asking - just how much of a difference is there between a recently classified Historic Iris and some Modern iris these days????
The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1981, “Varietal comments on Australian T.B. Irises”, page 50, J. E. Venner.
Jack Venner writes how a selection of Australian raised Tall Bearded irises performed in Essex.
Cabaret Royale (Blyth 76) This Iris created a definite impression when first seen in flower, being one of the first neglectas with bushy, tangerine beards. The standards are a light blue, ruffled with lacy edges and flaring falls are purple with a black sheen. It is a good grower and will satisfy most Irisarians who are tolerant of haft markings, but for the purists there is a new variety bred from it named 'Magic Man' (Blyth 79) that is said to be a all-round improvement and may not show so-called haft defects.
The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1982, “Varietal comments on Australian T.B. Irises”, page 60, C.E.C. Bartlett.
Cy Bartlett writes about a similar range of Australian raised Tall Bearded irises and how they performed in Somerset. The garden at Cannington presented a complete contrast with Jack Venner's garden in Essex.
Cabaret Royale (Blyth 76) At the opposite end of the scale from the quite calm of 'Asian Empress,' 'Cabaret Royale' is an Iris people love or hate. I.e. must admit that I find that it shreiks just a little too much for me. A blue and black neglecta, heavily haft marked with white and to crown it all violent, bright tangerine red beards. To add yet more colours this style arms of light blue are tipped and washed with brown. You certainly wouldn't overlook it in the garden! Not a particularly good grow for me either.
AIS 1979 Checklist
CABARET ROYALE (B. Blyth, R. 1975). Sdlg. G104-1. TB 36" (91 cm) M-ML. S. light blue with violet infusion around midribs; light blue style arms tipped brown; F. black violet; coral tangerine beard. Panoramic X Twist and Shout., Tempo Two 1976/77.
As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credits and copyright Iris Hunter