Saturday, April 19, 2008


Another Jean Stevens iris growing at home.This is a strong and vigorous plant which shows strong Purple bottom foliage.
As the rules of the AIS checklist requires that should a Iris be named after a living person written permission from the person concerned is required. Jean duly wrote to Winston Churchill seeking his permission to name this iris after him, and received a letter back from the Prime Ministers Private secretary on behalf of Winston Churchill giving permission to do so. The reader should take into account that this was just at the time when all the politics that led to the start of World War 2 was happening.
The listing of Winston Churchill on the HIPS web site has a notation that it "only flowers once every three or four years" this will come as a complete surprise to the many people growing this Iris in New Zealand as it is a rather puzzling statement because every year this Iris is covered in blooms, and is my opinion that should it had only flowered once every three years, Jean Stevens would have tossed it on the compost heap and it would never have been introduced such were the standards she set.

Steven's Bros. Catalogue Bulls, Introductions, 1942-43.
Patiently through the years the breeder works, trying to lead nature along the road he desires her to travel. Ruthlessly he destroys their efforts to stray aside from the goal on which he has set his heart. Nature, true to her reputation, as inconstant, and often perverse, but just once or twice in a generation will give a generous and compliant aid in the right direction.
In 18 years of breeding for true red irises we have worked through many generations of varieties, selecting those nearest in colour,discarding all others. Almost imperceptibly the idea was coming nearer and nearer, until at last nature has come to our aid, and we are able to offer this lovely result of hour-long work.
We present this Iris to the Iris lovers of the world with all confidence we possess, that this is no star of a day or a year but a thing of beauty and joy for ever. Glowing and alive with colour like some of the rich crimson's in the priceless paintings of the old Masters, Winston Churchill as a masterpiece of colour and texture. The standards of an effulgent, copper-lit red, enliven the dark pure red, velvet falls. 2½ ft. 42/-

Schreiners Iris Lovers Catalog 1947
WINSTON CHURCHILL (Stevens 1944) ML. 32"
 A striking new red Iris. A solid color close to crimson, it gleams with a jewel-like lustre. Compared with the reeds regrow it is deeper and the color singles out as being different. Color and texture are very fine.the standards are more a glowing copper-lit red, the falls pure crimson velvet with a gold beard. Very impressive and distinctive in a class where many varieties are confused because of their similarities.

Not tall 2½ feet............................ ....................$20.00

From the Steven's Bros. Catalogue Wanganui ,1952-53:
Glowing and alive with colour, like some of the rich crimsons in the priceless paintings of the old masters. Winston Churchill is a masterpiece of colour and texture. The standards of an effulgent, copper-lit red, enliven the dark pure red, velvet falls. This lovely iris has created considerable enthusiasm in America, being of a rich tone of red, and very distinct.

From D'Arcy Blackburn's Catalogue (Gisborne, New Zealand)1952-53
WINSTON CHURCHILL Stevens. For glowing rich colour there is nothing in the Iris world to surpass this truly masterful production. With copper-red standards and dark pure red velvet falls. Winston Churchill is most impressive and distinctive. 30 inches

2011 New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist
WINSTON CHURCHILL  Mrs. J. Stevens, Reg., 1941. Sdlg.1/N44  TB, 30″, M, R9D; S. deep copper red. F. deeper velvety red, deep gold beard. ML. 2½ft.; Description J. Stevens Studbook notes,‘1939 flowering’;  Achilles X Mareschal Ney. 'Introduced' Stevens Bros Catalogue 1942-43

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.

1 comment:

  1. That is a stunning colour - love it. Wonder if it is available in the UK ?

    I shall have to go hunting!


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