Sunday, May 3, 2015

Historic Tall Bearded Iris CLEMATIS

Is flat form of the Bearded Iris flower the archetype of all Irises?? I think the augment has an enormous amount of validity. 'CLEMATIS' is an interesting Iris which today would be celebrated as a 'Flattie', but created some controversy in the 1920's. John Wister at the time the President of the American Iris Society had very strong views regarding 'Clematis' enough to make a note to himself to "throw it out of his own garden". The American Iris Society had real straitjacket views when it came to irises that did not follow their point of view on what constituted the form and look of a bearded Iris. The publishing of the Discard List in 1931 was a extraordinary low point in the "We Know Best Iris world". 
Arthur Bliss had 35 Irises including 'Clematis' entered on the discard list.
Its not like the form of 'CLEMATIS' flowers was anything new, Peter Barr showed an red coloured form of pallida with a clematis like appearance named 'MANDRALISCAE' (Collected Italy) which was given a certificate of Commendation by the Royal Horticultural Society at Hampton Court flower show in 1903, its plum colour was also noted for crossing.
Bertrand H. Farr in 1922 also registered an Iris of similar form which he named 'JAPANESQUE' and this was also listed on the AIS 1931 Discard List. 

The Iris 'CLEMATIS' is so interesting there is more information in the following post, I have tried to keep my research as comprehensive as possible.

The Gardeners Chronicle June 14th 1919
Nursery Notes
Irises at Colchester
A rather unusual form was seen in the variety Clematis, for instead of having a well-defined standard the segments hang down as in the falls and moreover, the standard segments have beards so that the flower must be regarded as an abnormality. The effect was that of a more regular flower than is usual in Irises, and it is from this fact that the name Clematis was given to it.

Cayeux & Le Clerc, Quai de la Mègisserie, 8, Paris. Catalog 1923.
Clematis (Bliss 1917). Special variety. The shape of the flower is more like and exceptionnally fine I. Kaempferi or a large six petalled Clematis flower. All six segments of the flower are beardless and reflexed horizontally. Colour light violet with variable veining at the base. Strong growing. Has obtained a Certificate of Merit of S.N.H.F.when shown by us on May 1922.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, January 1923, Number 7.
Descriptions of Varieties, Part II.
Self, veined. VR-V. (1). Bliss, 1917
Brief. Light lavender violet, both the falls and the horizontally held standards veined darker at the haft; stalk low and well-branched-;
growth vigorous; 30 in.
Details. Styles and F. flaring; beard white.
Remarks. Not distinctive until the standards open flat forming a clematis, or rosette shaped flower. Cert. S. N. H. F., 1922-.

Treasure Oak Nursery, Mays Landing, New Jersey, Catalog of Select Iris and Peonies, 1923.
The Best and Rarest of the Iris.
7.8 CLEMATIS. (Bliss 1917.) $2.00
Clear light violet. Segments in these blooms reflex horizontally, giving it a clematis-like flower or appearing somewhat like a Japanese Iris, an effect more novel than handsome.

The Dean lris Gardens, Moneta, California. Choice Iris, Price List 1924.
Some of the More Recent Introductions of Tall Bearded Iris
Clematis (Bliss). An open flower of pale violet, base of standards and falls veined darker. Very floriferous.
Each, $2.00.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, January 1924, Number 10.
Practical Points, R. S. Sturtevant
Analogous development occurs in other irises when the beard is transformed into a crest or ridge, when two flowers are closely superimposed or juxtaposed, and when the standards are held horizontally and develop the beards (very rare) and haft markings of the falls. This last occurs commonly in the varieties Clematis, Rosette, and Japanesque and Dorothea, Eldouard Michel, and others tend to this formation, often it is more, a matter of poor substance: rather than actual intention.

Rainbow Iris Gardens, Farmington, Minnesota, 1925.
CLEMATIS Unique. Shaped like an exceptionally fine Japanese iris or a large six-petaled Clematis. All six segments of the flower reflect horizontally. Color light clear violet with variable veining at the base. Strong grower, free flowering and fragrant.

Lee R. Bonnewitz Catalog,Van Wert, Ohio,1926.
S. deep lavender; F. deep lavender-purple with white reticulations at the base. Yellow beard. Strong growing, free flowering and fragrant. This variety has very much the form of the intermediate variety, Dorothea. Although it is an English Iris, it received an Award of Merit at the International Iris Show in Paris three years ago, but I am not altogether sure it deserved this high honor. It does, however, resemble the Clematis after which it is named.

American Iris Society

Discard List 1931.
Compiled by J. E,.Hill and E. A. S. Peckham
Explanatory Note
The varieties of Bearded Irises marked with the sign, $, in the Alphabetical Iris Check List 1929 as extinct or superseded, together with numerous additions, are named in this list.
The order of presentation, i.e., varietal name, class and authority for the name, and the abbreviations, are those used in the Check List to which the reader is referred for more complete information.
The classes in the Bearded group are abbreviated thus:
DB: Dwarf bearded.
IB : Intermediate bearded.
MB : Miscellaneous bearded. Hybrids between the species of the sections Oncocyclus, Regalia, and Evansia, and the species of the group Pogoniris.
TB: Tall bearded.
Care should be used in the application of the list. Of two varieties which have the same name only one may have been discarded. It is for this reason that the authority for the name is given. For example: Princess Beatrice - TB - Barr, is retained, Princess Beatrice - TB - Sal., a white blue feathered variety, is discarded; Fairy - TB - Ken., is retained, Fairy TB - Cap., is discarded, etc. It is hoped that the reasons for the preparation of the list will be respected and that ultimately discarded irises will not be grown.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, April 1932, Number 43.
Irises Raised or Introduced by A. J. Bliss, by E. A. S. Peckham.
CLEMATIS caused much discussion because of its peculiar flat form and Mr. Bliss had to come to its defence as he was criticised for allowing it to be introduced. The color was a very clean, clear blue, much more a real blue than was the case in iris as known then and it made a good mass in the garden and so it had its defender, but the sticklers, for a particular form in irises were irate and said it was a cripple in exactly the same manner as discussion raged over BRANDYWINE, some upholding it for its blueness, others damning it because of its bad habit of having extra parts and trying to "go double." I do not mean that CLEMATIS had a doubling habit but the standards lying flat as they do gave an appearance not unlike the kaempferi hybrids we know as. "Japanese" iris.

A H. Burgess and Son, Iris Specialists, Waikanae, Wellington. 1936 Irises.
CLEMATIS - The shape of the flower is like a six petalled Clematis. Standards and Falls reflex horizontally. Colour, light clear blue, veined at base. Strong growing and fragrant. Mid-season.. 2ft. 

AIS Checklist 1939
CLEMATIS  TB-M-B3M (Bliss, 1917) Wallace 1917, Garden Chronicle 14th June 1919; John Scheepers Inc, 1920; Lee Bonnewitz, 1920; Earl Woodward Sheets, 1928; The Garden 85: 304. 18th June 1921; Novato Nursuries, 1933; Buccleuch Nursuries,1938; AAA Journal Royal Horticultural Society  137;
(CORDELIA X PRINCESS BEATRICE) , C.M., S.N.H.F. 1922; Journal Société Nationale d'Horticulture de France. 23; 218, June 1922; $ 

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Major Hat Tip to Anne Milner for her amazing photo's and catalogue listings.

For more on Arthur Bliss Irises be sure to visit Anne Milner's National Collection of Arthur Bliss Irises web site. Listed in the above 'International Iris Links tab.

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