Saturday, April 12, 2014

Historic Tall bearded Iris SHAH JEHAN

An exotic looking iris bred in Canada of all places, who would of thought? If ever there was an iris that reinforces the fact that historic irises have a natural yet bold elegance then this iris is it. Makes one think of Persian rugs, Oriental tapestry and palaces, this is an iris that begs the company of other white flowers, to set off it's rich tapestry of colours . Named after that lavish Mughal emperor 'Shah Jahan' famous for building the Taj Mahal, he was also believed to have had a very refined taste in the arts and is credited with having commissioned over 900 gardens in Kashmir. An iris that one could maybe expect to see at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, or perhaps 'The Manor' at Hemingford Grey.
These irises are once again becoming available for purchase from commercial growers, and I'm sure they will create a renewed interest in classic irises and be wildly popular with gardeners who appreciate real class. 

A H. Burgess and Son, Iris Specialists, Waikanae, Wellington. 1936 Irises.
SHAH JEHAN- This glorious novelty of rich Oriental colouring was raised in British Columbia, and shown in England last year when it received the Bronze Medal of the Iris Society. The standards are very erect and pointed, and are buff, suffused smoke grey, fading to yellow as the flower ages. The fall are plum red, with an intense reddish-brown flush at the haft; margined lavender-buff. 4ft.; Late.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1936, Number 63.
Iris Notes of 1936, J. Marion Shull.
A couple varieties that stood pretty much alone Over-the-Garden-Wall were Shah Jehan and Williamson's Amigo. The latter is of B. Y. Morrison type but much more intense in color and a better formed flower. It is seen to greatest advantage in shade. Shah Jehan is a very striking thing of the same variegata-derived color group, except that in Amigo all yellow has been left out whereas in Shah Jehan there is enough yellow above to present the strange anomaly of warm-toned standards with falls definitely cool in tone, such as would result from converting a yellow-white bicolor into a typical variegata blend of the falls type of Lodestar or Maori Princess. Beautiful form and exceptionally fine placement accompany the very unusual color scheme. I like it very much in a single stem. How it will wear when grown in mass and seen more frequently can only be left for later judgment.

The Longfield Iris Farm, Bluffton, Indiana. 1936 Catalog.
Shah Jenah (Neel, 1932.) English Bronze Medal (1933). A glorious Iris of rich Oriental coloring. S. buff suffused grey fading to yellow as the flower ages. F. rich plum red with intense reddish brown flush at haft. Margined lavender buff. Very late.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, September 1937, Number 66.
Along the Iris Coast, Julius Dornblut, Jr.
In my own garden Shah Jehan was eagerly awaited as I had read the glowing reports of it in the BULLETINS. It is royally splendid, looks ,veIl even in the rain, but somehow I was disappointed. Perhaps it was too well advertised. Its pinched falls will surely be criticised.

Stevens Bros. Bulls. Catalogue of Irises 1937-1938.
This glorious variety is truly Oriental in its blending of rich colours. It is too decided in its colour effect to be classed as a "blend," though many colours go to its make-up. It has been called a variegata, but it is so entirely different from all other variegatas, or indeed from all other irises, that it has been well termed sensational. The whole flower is an extravaganza of colour difficult to describe or visualise. The standards are buff, suffused with smoke grey, changing as the flower ages to yellow. The falls are a rich and lustrous velvety purple, with an intense reddish-brown flush at the haft, very distinctly margined lavender-buff. A rich orange beard completes this glorious ensemble. 4ft.....................................................12/6

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 1937.
SHAH JEHAN Each $2.00
Said to contain more colors than any other iris in commerce, this serenely beautiful flower in oriental smoky shades almost eludes any attempt to describe it accurately. Standards are creamy buff faintly edged lavender, the falls very rich velvety chestnut merging into purple, thence gradually fading out to a margin that repeats the color in the standards. Beard is very rich orange. A very late variety, tall,of large size.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, September 1937, Number 66.
Impressions of a California Iris Season, Harold I Johnson.
Shah Jehan is a most vivid flower. There is the faintest element of the absurd about it, and I find its colors rather reminding me of Santa Claus and Christmas chimneys. Something so unusual should, however, be treasured. It is a true amoena, as will be markedly shown by comparing it with Mildred Presby.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1938.Visit to Wisley. 10th June, 1938, G. L Pilkington.
SHAH JEHAN (Neel) was hardly out- it is a late flowerer- but was thick with flower spikes and doing well. This is another iris for richness of colour.

Schreiner's Iris Garden, Riverview Station, St. Paul, Minnesota. 1940 Catalog.
SHAH JEHAN (Neel 1932) L. 38"
This unique new Iris which Schreiner's Iris Gardens have popularized in America has now become one of the dozen of so irises by whose presence the up-to-dateness of an iris collection is judged. In color it is certainly the most sensational of all novelties. Named for that lavish emperor of India who ruled three centuries ago from the famous Peacock Throne, Shah Jehan is itself an extravaganza of color containing no less than seven distinctly different hues. The standards are a delicate creamy-buff faintly edged lavender; the falls are rich and magnificent, quickly blending from a light fawn at the haft to a glowing copper, then to a rich deep chestnut. This in turn changes to a gorgeous tone of lustrous velvety purple- the dominant color of the falls. Imperceptibly this rich purple changes to a softer plum or magenta and this finally to a lavender edge which repeats the margining of the standards. The beard is of the richest orange. The entire effect, for all the extraordinary range of color is subtly harmonious and inveigling. If you have not yet added this outstanding iris to your collection, do not fail to include it this season. 

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1942, Bearded Flag Irises-An Initial Thirty, F.Wynn Hellings.
7. SHAH JEHAN. A glorious Iris. It is not easy to describe the colour scheme, but it may be said that the standards are a smoky-buff which becomes more yellow as the flower ages, while the richly coloured falls are a shade of dark, reddish plum-purple, edged lavender. It has become one of my favourites after a season of doubt while it was establishing itself. Not the least of its attractions is that it comes in late mid-season (third and fourth week of June), and is in fact usually tile last to flower of my 350 varieties (reduced from 500 to make room for vegetables). Extremely rapid increase. Form and proportion excellent. Good stem. Height 3 ft. 9 in.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1947, Irises for the Beginner, N. Leslie Cave.
SHAH JEHAN (2 Votes) (Neel 1932) Buff standards, red purple falls shaded with a rich brown. Rather late flowering. A satisfactory grower and very distinct. Tall.

Cayeux, La Carcaudière - Route de Coullons, France. Iris Lovers Catalogue, 2014.
SHAH JEHAN (Neel 1932) Tall bearded - Mid-season to late - size:85cm - colour: Amoena
Standards are milky white, whilst light lemon coloured at the base. Falls are crimson red with a fine 2mm wide white border. Bright yellow beards. A graceful amoena with a good finish for the time period.

AIS Checklist 1939
SHAH JEHAN TB-MVLa-S9D (Neel 1932)
(Ambassadeur X  . . . ), HC RHS 1934, AM AIS 1937.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Major Hat Tips and "Merci beaucoup" to Richard Cayeux for his photos, his daughter Hortense for collating and formatting the high resolution photos, and to Catherine Adam for her direction and help with the French Language, and catalogue listings.

Reproduction in whole or in part of this photo without the expressed written permission of Richard Cayeux is strictly prohibited.
Photo credit and copyright Richard Cayeux © .

1 comment:

  1. We don't have Shah Jehan in the garden at Sissinghurst now but it is definitely on a list of irises that were grown in the garden in 1948. I'm not sure why we are no longer growing it. I will make some enquiries! It certainly looks like an iris that Vita might have liked. Helen (gardener)


©2008 - 2016 HERITAGE IRISES. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or storage of this website's content is prohibited without prior written permission. Terry Johnson in association with The Iris Hunter,What Have You Productions and 15 out of 7 Design.