'Sopra Il Vulcano' featured in the previous post was introduced in 1998. So just let’s fast forward a few years after this bright and colourful event to when Paul Black crossed the seedling labelled 12A ('Apricot Topping' (1997) x 'Romantic Evening' (1994)) with pollen of 'Sopra Il Vulcano'. The result was a Tall Bearded Iris Paul registered as 'Some like it Hot' in 2007 and just last year its pure class was recognised by an Award of Merit. The point? Just this - all the irises that Paul has used in this cross are not the latest but do contain greatness. If a New Zealander were to choose to cross two irises from the 1990s (twenty year or under average) there is a choice of over 500 irises to choose from the current commercial listings. Actually, if you wanted to emulate the Paul Black cross, all the Irises he used to get 'Some Like it Hot' are freely available in New Zealand so there is no barrier to producing a 'Modern Iris'.
Sometimes there are thoughts I have relating to Irises that seem to be out of left field. You know what it is like – you sometimes feel like you're the only one who thinks that way. Maybe you're best to keep them to yourself!! Or... you can always stand up, have your say - and see how it is received. So to gauge just how far out of left field I was, I wrote to Paul Black specifically outlining my opinions on hybridising in New Zealand and soliciting his frank opinions which I have always valued. Paul has kindly given me permission to publish his reply below for all to read.
"Here is an individual shot of ‘Some Like it Hot’ and also a clump shot. I hope you're able to convince hybridizers there to move forward with what they have. With all the recent hybrids that were imported to New Zealand prior to the change in regulations, they have everything we have except the latest things incorporating some of the mixed chromosome hybrids being explored by myself and others via the small flowered TB breeding program. The TB gene pool has really been relatively static for a lot of years. No new species have been added so we're all in effect stirring the same gene pool round and round. Take a look at the parentage of my 2012 introduction 'Fire and Ice'. 'Bliss Bomb' is 2001 intro and 'Cloud Berry' is 1996. 'Fire and Ice' is as nice as anything else currently being marketed. Once a person has several parents that breed form, substance, branching, buds and vigor, he/she can then do the fun work of adding color and pattern while always being mindful and selecting for the other good traits. Actually the hybridizers there have the potential to create better hybrids than we in the U.S. do. Because of the awards system here, hybridizers pay too much attention to "fluff" rather than plant habit. New Zealand hybridizers can be more concerned with gardenability which is far more important than color, pattern or fluffy form. Weak standards are a trait that has crept into modern hybrids and is getting worse with each year. Also some hybridizers don't worry to much whether their hybrids have poor branching and buds. I am very unforgiving of such traits while AIS judges seem willing to forgive them to have new colors and patterns. I figured out early in my hybridizing program that if you allow major faults in your hybridizing then it comes back to haunt you when you finally get that great color or pattern break. There are times when I have a selected seedling that it takes me 5 or so years to finally figure out how I want to use it and ditto some named varieties. Take a look at my 2012 intro, 'Yield'. It isn't exactly new breeding.
I did take a look at the collections of several of the commercial growers in New Zealand. Based on what I saw, I wouldn't be unhappy with what was available. For those wanting to hybridize with plicatas, I'd for sure use ‘Master Plan’. It has some great genes that weren't exploited much at all. Match it with 'Epicenter' or 'I've Got Rhythm' and someone should be able to make rapid progress. 'Sea Power' has been a good parent for a lot of people. Someone could pair it with ‘About Town’ and probably create some interesting advanced generations. If you have any of these, they are also still very much worth using, 'Goldkist', 'Fogbound', any of the 'Ring Around Rosie' kids which goes back to 'Wild Jasmine'. 'Wild Jasmine' is a very interesting parent and if someone has it, it is worth exploring further even though it is quite old now.
I think it is that old classic: "Is the glass half full or half empty?".
Mid-America Gardens Catalogue
If you like hot, sizzling, vivid colors, then SOME LIKE IT HOT is for you. It positively glows. Even with its shorter stature, it will still attract a long line of admirers. Standards are dark, rich apricot heavily infused rose up their midribs. Strongly flared falls are velvety black-cherry with precise ⅛inch bands of iridescent red. Burnt orange beards complement both standards and falls. Heavily ruffled flowers are wide and blocky giving them a very masculine feeling. 32" (81 cm) Sdlg. L104A: (Apricot Topping x Romantic Evening) X Sopra il Vulcano. HM 2009, AM 2011.
SOME LIKE IT HOT Paul Black, Reg. 2007 Sdlg. L104A. TB, 32" (81 cm), ML Standards buff peach infused medium purple up midrib; style arms buff peach; Falls dark wine, thin paler rim, dark wine veins over buff ground around dark orange beards, velvety; ruffled; pronounced sweet fragrance. I2A: (Apricot Topping x Romantic Evening) X Sopra il Vulcano. Mid-America 2007. HM 2009.
Pod and Pollen Parents
APRICOT TOPPING Paul Black, Reg. 1997 Sdlg. 8924A. BB, 25" (64 cm), M; S. apricot orange, slight violet midrib infusion; style arms apricot orange; F. blended wine red darkest in center, apricot to white rays around orange beard, apricot rim and petal reverse; ruffled, lightly laced; slight sweet fragrance. Spiced Cider X Glitz 'n Glitter. Mid-America 1997. HM 1999, AM 2001.
ROMANTIC EVENING Joseph Ghio, Reg. 1994 Sdlg. 90-56W. TB, 36" (91 cm), ML; S. lilac blue; F. smooth blackish red purple; beards deep brick. 88-14: ((83-73-J2: (Success Story x (Fancy Tales x Alpine Castle)) x ((Persian Smoke x Entourage) x ((Strawberry Sensation x (Artiste x Tupelo Honey)) x Borderline sib))) x Costa Rica) X 88-215: (Witch's Wand x 86-3, Costa Rica sib). Roris 1996. HM 1998, AM 2000
SOPRA IL VULCANO Augusto Bianco, Reg. 1998 Sdlg. 390-A. BB, 27" (69 cm), M ; S. and style arms blended rose, buff and copper; F. velvety red wine, border slightly lighter, distinct white striations on shoulders and around smoky carrot beard; ruffled; slight spicy fragrance. Love Chant X (Sunrise Sunset x Shenanigan). Contemporary, Iride 1998.
As always clicking on the above images will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and heartfelt thanks to Paul Black and be sure to visit his website at Mid-America Garden