I was given this iris from the owner of a large Estate which has magnificent gardens in the year 2006 as an 'Iris of Antiquity' and was first recorded as growing in these gardens in 1896.
The 1904 H C Gibbons Bulb Catalogue, Hutt Valley Nurseries, Upper Hutt, is the earliest cataloguing I could find in a New Zealand plant nursery and the iris was listed as HAMLET which is a synonym for Gypsy Queen. (See 1939 Checklist description below) Adding to this the first time 'Gypsy Queen' bloomed at home in 2007, identification was complicated as 'The Historic Iris Society' had a completely different variety of an iris displayed on their web site as 'Gypsy Queen', the 1929 AIS Checklist listed Gypsy Queen as a Tall Bearded, then the 1939 AIS Checklist changed its classification to a Intermediate Bearded Iris. Now for an Iris that flower height is 76-91 cm (30"-36") and its bloom period is toward the end of the Tall Bearded Iris season and these two facts took 'Gypsy Queen' well outside the Intermediate Iris classification. Today it would most likely be classified as a Miniature Tall Bearded Iris or 'Table Iris' as I still like to call them. Then to really throw a spanner in the works a New Zealander in 2005 recklessly renamed 'Gypsy Queen' (At the time a iris with lost label) and registered it as 'Braemar Station'. One of the great evils of antique irising is the application of entirely new names to existing cultivars.
All of the above led to confusion with many people, making 'Gypsy Queen' one of the most complicated conformation of an Iris ID I have ever been involved in.
Gypsy Queen standards are open and coloured old gold that has been airbrushed with a smoky rose tone, inside the bottom of the standards colours are lemon lime with purple maroon veining. Style arms yellow with greyed centres. Falls are white tinged yellow at haft and edges, heavily veined deep red-purple confluent to solid black; beards white deepening to old gold, mild citrus fragrance. Nice clean foliage with a nice level of Purple bottom foliage. This iris was one of the parents Fryer used in his hybridising, and its imprint is seen in W. J. Fryer and Kathryn Fryer.
GERMAN FLAG IRIS
Hamlet Standards and Falls straw and peuce, dark veins.
Biltmore Nursery, Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, The Iris Catalog, 1911
Gypsy Queen. Still another unusual and welcome blending of rich colors is found in this meritorious variety. Standards are of golden hue shaded with smoked pearl, and the falls are dark maroon with delicate tracings of pale yellow. It blooms late.
Cornell Extension Bulletin 112, Austin W. Sand, 1925.
Gypsy Queen (Salter before 1859)
Color effect an old gold, velvety maroon veined bicolor.Standards honey yellow to old gold much undulated. Falls velvety maroon-brown to blackish brown , distinctly veined to a point one-half inch from the end of the blade. The edge blends yellow to old gold on the haft. Occasional lavender or cream white flecks occur on the blade. This plant is a vigorous grower, and has stiff, slender, deep green foliage, tinged purple at the base. The flower spikes are tall and well and widely branched.It is very late bloom, its dull color combinations like those found in the Cypripedium orchid and its early history,being a parent of the variegata groups, make it still worthy of selection.
A.B. Katkamier, Macedon, New York. Hints to Pleasure and to Profit in Growing the Iris, 1931.
Gypsie Queen; Honey yellow : Black maroon. Tall. Strong.
1939 AIS Checklist
GYPSY QUEEN IB-MLa-S6M John Salter before 1859 Floricultural Cabinet and Florist Magazine 29 172 June 1859: L'Illustration Horticole 40: tab 182 1893%%. The Garden Chronicle 14th July 1899; Farr, 1912; Francis 1920; Bonnnewitz, 1920; A.B. Katkamier 1939; Journal Royal Horticultural Society January 1928 page 146 Trials; germanica gypsea; Hamlet; La Prestigieuse; Queen of Gipsies; Reine des Fees; Reine des Pays; Virgil (Lovett); Gypsie Queen;
Note: The above checklist notation L'Illustration Horticole 40: tab 182 1893 %% is another of the early checklist anomalies as the L'Illustration Horticole published full page colour plate image of Iris Germanica var. Gypsea which shows a white coloured Iris that has all the appearances of a Florentina hybrid of sorts. The percent sign (%) is the symbol used in the 1929 and 1939 Checklist to indicate % -Illustrated and %%- Colour Plate.
Perhaps the very, very small group of people within 'The Historic Iris Preservation Society' who are currently embarking on a campaign to 'call out' iris growers who are growing and displaying images of what is now known as 'The fake Gypsy Queen' should take into account that these gardeners most likely identified their Iris using HIPS photos which at the time was also stating the so called 'The fake Gypsy Queen' was the real deal!!!
As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.