Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Historic 'Dursley Gardens"



I made a visit today to the Historic Dursley Garden in Bideford and was shown around the by the gardens owner, the very effervescent Judith Callaghan.
Sadly the the iris in the Del are a few days away from pea
k bloom.

The Gardens were originally designed by Alfred Buxton
in 1916 when the property was known as Te Rangi Pai. The name changed to Dursley in the 1930's.
The 300 roses and original plantings of trees growing throughout the gardens, the views to the hills allow a visitor to see Buxtons vision still t

Car Park Greetings

Driveway view

Judith informed me that when the Callaghans took over the garden in 1972 they removed seven truckloads of debris before beginning to recover the garden area around the flowing driveway

Iris vistas

Solomon's Seal

The other visitor at the Iris Del

If you are in the Wairarapa Region give this garden for all seasons a visit, you will not be disappointed. Hopefully the large Iris Del will be in bloom when I return.
Thanks Judith for an amazing morning

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Monday, October 27, 2008


Siberian Irises are my first interest in Irises and always give me much joy.My season this year looks to be about 10 days earlier than normal and no I do not think this has to do with climate change!! In 2007 'BANISH MISFORTUN which bloom's continuously for the full siberian season won 'The Award of Merit' which is an award for Irises proven of value over at least five years since introduction and this sum's up this iris nicely.

Joe Pye Weed's Gardens 2008 Catalog
BANISH MISFORTUNE - '99, E-L, 45". Standards and falls are mid-lavender-blue with large smooth yellow to cream signals, veined deep purple. An outstanding clump with tall strong stalks each with 6 to 7 buds. AM’07

2006 Cumulative Checklist of Siberian Irises
BANISH MISFORTUNE Schafer, Marty and Sacks, Jan. Reg. 1999 Sdlg S92-85-12. SIB (dip.) (45" 114 cm) EML S. medium light bluebird-blue (RHS 94C), veined darker (94B); style arms lighter, with dark midrib; F. lobelia-blue (91B) on lower portion, veined darker, remainder covered by large signal, haft darker mimosa-yellow (8A), paling (9D) on blade, with deep purple (93A/B) veins; slight fragrance. S89-6-6: (Star Cluster x Ruffled Velvet) x Isabelle) X Snow Prince. Joe Pye Weed's Garden 1999. HM 2003 AM 2007

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tall Bearded New Zealand Iris 'FOAMING SEAS'

Waterson Irises
, Wanganui.  1959-60 Catalogue.

Rarely has a new iris in this country received such high acclaim before its introduction as has this lovely and sensational silver-blue, which we are introducing for its raiser, Mrs. Stevens, this year. During the flowering season last November, there was always a small crowd around Foaming Seas, photographing, examining, or just standing drinking in the beauty of its crystalline blossoms. It is being introduced in America later this season by Schreiner’s Iris Gardens of Oregon, and it is due to the courtesy of Mr. Robert Schreiner that we are able to offer it this summer, a few months prior to its American d├ębut. The very large flowers, beautifully frilled and ruffled, are lightest silvery blue, deepening softly to an intense silver blue towards the hafts of both standards and falls. A white beard, tipped silver blue where it extends on to the fall, and a clear tracery of blue on the hafts, add to its distinctive individuality. The standards, like the falls, are heavily ruffled and remain firmly upright throughout the life of the flower. 3 ft.

Above Picture courtesy of Schreiner's Iris Lover's catalog 1964

 Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, Iris Lovers Catalog, 1960.
FOAMING SEAS (Stevens 1960)
Mrs Stevens New Zealand's well known iris hybridizer Combines with her iris hybridising talents a flare for aptness of nomenclature as well exemplified here. This novel frothy light blue suggests the dynamic quality of churning foam-capped seas. An unusual garden iris with an irresistible appeal in the clump. Foaming seas does not carry oncocyclus blood despite its appearance. It is an easy grower and copious bloomer-as well as a natural conversation piece in any garden.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, January 1962, Number 164.
Honors Review and Preview, by Melba Hamlen.
Jean Stevens latest creation, is in my opinion her most beautiful iris. The blossoms are large with wide ruffled petals. Light blue with a matching beard, it has subtle purple haft markings that set it apart from others of similar coloring.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1962, Number 167.
Irises From North Carolina s Coastal Plains to the Foot of Pikes Peak, Ralph and Helen Lewis.
FOAMING SEAS (Stevens 1960). This is a big, stylish light blue, notable for purity of color, excellence of form, and a profusion of ruffles.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 1964.
FOAMING SEAS (Stevens, '60)  A frothy, ruffly light blue with deeper veins, suggestive of the churning surf against a rocky shore. The beard is blue-white. Massive flowers, widely spreading in form and freely produced on 3-foot stalks. 

HM AIS,1960.................................Each $3.50

Schliefert Iris Gardens, Murdock, Nebraska, 29th Annual Catalog, 1970

FOAMING SEAS ( Stevens 60)
A well named frothy light blue with pale blue-white beard. Petals wide and well rounded. HM 1960

AIS 1959 checklist

FOAMING SEAS (Stevens, R. 1957). Sdlg #El 94 /4 . TB 46", B1L. Very pale blue self, slightly deeper at hafts; pale blue-white beard. Jane Phillips x ((((Calpurnia x Morocco Rose) x Summit) x (sister of Summit x Tropic Moon) x Chicory Blue)., Waterson 1959; Schreiner 1960. HM 1960.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tall Bearded Iris 'EVERYTHING PLUS'

EVERYTHING PLUS Dave Niswonger  Mid Season bloomer 29" and can on the odd occasion  re-bloom. Soft blue white standards mixed with soft violet broken colour. Falls are white stitched with deep violet and mustard gold beards tipped purple bronze.Very distinct and consistently performs in every garden but it's problem is that it is not overly tall, and the branching begins right at ground level and works its way up through 4 branches, the lower branch is quite long, coming up almost even with the top branch, I call it the menorah candelabra effect. Schreiner's ‘Eagles’ Flight’ does exactly the same thing. If your looking for Show stalks my advice is try something else, I would have to state it is a very good garden iris, but did it deserve a Dykes Medal? well I for one would have to say its doubtful.

AIS Checklist 1989
EVERYTHING PLUS (O. D. Niswonger, R. 1983). Sdlg. 24-80. TB 34" (86 cm) M. S. pale blue white; F. white ground with deep violet plicata markings; purple beard tipped bronze. Focus X Spinning Wheel., Cape Iris 1984. Honourable Mention 1986, Runner up Walther Cup 1986, Dykes Medal 1991.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter


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Monday, October 20, 2008

Tall Bearded Iris 'PARAGON'

Schreiners Catalogue 1952
Paragon (Stevens) 1947. E.M. 36"
Serene lovely rounded flowers of a delicate pearly shell colour or opalescent cool pinks. So cool and morning fresh it is bound to capture your attention and admiration. A hint of copper in a half inch margin around the edge of the petals and the rich mellow throat makes the whole flower glow . Exquisite planted with bright blues or deep violet.

Stevens Bros Catalogue 1949-50
Lovely rounded flowers of delicate pearly shell colour draw the attention and admiration of all. Huge flowers of gracefully flared and rounded form with an opalescent light over the heavy substanced petals. A decided margining of soft copper pink edges the falls which are so finely textured that the creamy pink colour seems to glow and flush in the sunlight. Lovely as a specimen plant it is even more exquisite when planted with light blues or deep violets. We think this iris will long be popular. Early. 3 ft.

AIS Checklist 1949
PARAGON TB-E.M. R7L (Stevens W.R.) 1947 #2/S119. Inspiration x Caribbean Treasure

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter 

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Tall Bearded Iris 'PROPHECY'

Another Iris name that was originally used by Jean Stevens, and then used by Joe Ghio. This also applied to the Iris VANITY originally used by Jean Stevens in 1949.
Still the iris PROPHECY pictured above is a good looking Iris which shows good increase, long bloom season, and gives pleasure in our garden,but in saying that it sure would have been nice to have both.

AIS Checklist 1979
PROPHECY (Joseph Ghio, R. 1970). Sdlg. 67-95A. TB 36" (91 cm) E-L. Light blue with deeper blue-violet spot on F.; blue beard. 65-125: (Commentary x Greenlee sdlg.: (Native Dancer x (pink sdlg. x (Sharkskin x I. balkana)))) X Mystic Mood., Bay View Gardens 1972.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter 

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tall Bearded Iris 'CAYENNE CAPERS'

Just after a shower of rain with the sunshine passing through the bloom just like the catalogue description below it was just to good of an opportunity to miss. Don't forget, Left Click with your mouse on any photo to view a larger image

Cooleys 1961 Catalogue pictured above
New Iris for 1961
CAYENNE CAPERS (Gibson 1961) Each $25.00
Shown on the front cover of this catalogue in precise and accurate detail. Vivid and flashing with the sunshine on it or through it....glowing and alive on a cloudy day or in the pouring rain. For rich, intense color in a plicata, this-red hot eye-catcher has no parallel. Dominant color is fiery burgundy to red pepper but a mirror area on the falls is lit with cream. Beard is orange-bronze. H.C.AIS 1960. 3 feet tall.

AIS Checklist 1959
CAYENNE CAPERS (Gibson, R. 1959). Sdlg. 8-6-PA. TB 36" M. R2. S. brownish red, F. brown-red on white. From two sdlgs.,

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Tall Bearded Iris 'JESSE'S SONG'

Jesse's Song Awarded Honorable Mention 1985, Award of Merit 1987, Dykes Medal 1990. One of the first modern plicata irises to bloom at home and a consistent Rebloomer. Strong straight stems.

Pacific Coast Hybridizers, Campbell, California. Three for 1983 from Bryce Williamson
JESSE'S SONG A white ground plicata that has wide, sanded borders of methyl violet, deeply ruffled form, double buds and show stalks that will open three wellplaced flowers. See the January Bulletin for our color ad. American Heritage sib X Iris Nelson's 34·73A: (Smoke Rings x Decolletage) . $25.00

IRISES A Gardener's Encyclopedia, Claire Austin.
Iris 'Jesse's Song' (B. Williamson 1979)
This plicata is consistently the first tall bearded Iris to flower in my nursery. The white petals are beautifully speckled with violet. The beads are soft violet, and the neatly ruffled flowers are borne on strong, straight stem. Height; 91 cm (36½in.) Bloom; early to mid season. Parentage; (Charmed Circle x Kiss) X (Smoke Rings x Decolletage).Dykes Medal Winner USA 1990.

IRIS Flowers of the Rainbow, Graeme Grosvenor.
'Jesse's Song' (Williamson 1983) is one of the all-time great Iris, an American Dykes Medal winner and a garden and show Iris without peer. Base colour is white with standards and falls stitched and dotted methyl-violet. Flower form is very attractive with wide ruffled blooms produced throughout the season from early to late on 90 cm or taller spikes that carry from 10 to 12 quality blooms.'Jesse's Song' is healthy, vigorous, and a very quick increaser to provide a garden spectacle in all climates where its versatility and consistency ensure success. On the show bench 'Jesse's Song' is superb and I have taken grand champion with it at the NSW region of the ISA show in Sydney in the year when the two best spikes at the show were both of 'Jesse's Song'. Breeding is (Charmed Circle x Kiss) X (Smoke Rings x Decolletage) and I cannot recommend or praise this Iris highly enough.

Schreiner's, Salem, Oregon, 74th Collectors Edition, 1999 Iris Lovers Catalog.
JESSE'S SONG (Williamson 1983) EM 35"
With a prominent accent on its generous ruffled form, this plicata is well known for its fine garden growth. The centers of the flowers are solid white, the plicata patterns are actually bands of violet peppering around the falls. The standards are more solidly colored. An exceptionally fine branched stem with 7 to 8 buds.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 2002
JESSE'S SONG (Williamson 1983) EM 35"
A white center on the falls is framed by a striking violet plicata border.The standards too, have a clean white ground with a substantial plicata band. The beard is lemon, tipped blue white. HM '85; AM '87; Dykes '90.

AIS Checklist 1979
JESSE'S SONG (B. Williamson, R. 1979). Sdlg. 65773. TB 36" (91 cm) M. S. white center, sanded into a solid methyl violet band; F. white plicata edge of methyl violet, sanded into a clean white ground; lemon beard tipped blue-white. 474-1: (Charmed Circle x Kiss) X Iris Nelson 34-74A: (Smoke Rings x Decolletage)., AM 1987. Dykes 1990

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris 'PHANTOM GOLD'


Fragrant Phantom Gold flowers early,
and it is often confused with its sister seedling Random Harvest which is exceptionally late flowering and taller. Argosy, the pod parent of Phantom Gold has also been mis-labeled as Random Harvest and Phantom Gold. I will endeavor to post all of these varieties this season,which may help clear up the confusion.

Above photo part of a planting on a property in the Wairarapa which only has the variety Phantom Gold probably numbering 200 plants and is for
period of 2-3 weeks a riot of Golden colour.

Stevens Bros. catalogue 1946-47:
PHANTOM GOLD A lovely new type of gold iris that is exceptionally vivid in effect. It flowers early, giving the iris garden its first note of exciting colour. The standards are a pure opaque gold, smooth and heavy textured, whilst the falls of the same depth of gold, have an enchanting overlay of russet brown. very distinct. 3ft. 30/-

AIS Checklist 1949
PHANTOM GOLD TB-E-Y6D (Stevens W.R. N.) R; 1946 (Argosy(Stevens W.R.)) x ((Y sdlg x King Midas) x (Lady Morvyth x Rangatira)). #1/S91

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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The Blue Brothers


Two Blue Border Bearded irises in the garden today. As the definition of an Historic Iris is Thirty years from the date of its registration one of these irises is Historic and one is not. Not that this makes any difference as both are worthy of a space in your garden. This blog has the name Heritage Irises and it is my determination that all irises growing in New Zealand are part of our iris heritage and all will eventually become Historic so why not start early? Give them a good home

AM I BLUE (D. Denney, R. 1977). Sdlg. 0 72-134-1. BB 20" (51 cm) E. S. pale blue with intense navy blue infusion through midribs and styles; F. pale blue; deep navy blue beard. Strange Magic X Sapphire Hills., Cottage Gardens 1977.

BLACKBEARD (J. Weiler, R. 1988). Sdlg. 82-114-1. BB 25" (64 cm) M-VL. Tailored pale steel blue; blackish violet beard. 78-56-1A: ((Goodnight Irene x Blue Luster) x (Matinata x Style Master)) X 76-64-1: ((Matinata x Style Master) x (Regalaire x Nobleman))., Rialto Gardens 1989. HM 1991, AM 1993

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Historic Irises Flowering Today



Just playing around with the camera. Good to see the Historic Iris have arrived and showing plenty of bloom stalks


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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Intermediate Bearded Iris 'CHEERS'

If you want a dainty flowering Intermediate Iris that's White with a bit of a surprise then 'CHEERS' is for your garden. Its a tough and strong grower with bloom size comparing well with the Table Irises.Looks good with 'Spring Night' (Same size of bloom) Interesting parentage!! 'Cheers' has lots of bloom and colour with a bloom period and also in stature between the Dwarfs and Tall Bearded (41 to 70 cm 16 - 27½ inches)
If you don't own this Iris it's high time you did and soon. Hybridised by the Late Ben Hager a Notable of the modern Iris World.

Melrose Gardens, Stockton, California, The Connoisseurs Catalog, 1981
CHEERS (Hager '75) Clean white with mandarin red beards. Floriferous in a clump AM 1978

1979 AIS Checklist
CHEERS (Ben Hager, R. 1974). Sdlg. IB2709TW. IB 18" (46 cm) EM. White self; mandarin red beard. (((Norah x Thisbe) x Glittering Amber) x ((((Hall 4405 x Craig 7669) x Happy Birthday) x apricot sdlg.) x Glittering Amber)) X Pink Cushion., Melrose Gardens 1975. HM 1976, AM 1978.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter
Don't forget, Click on any photo to view a larger image

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Bearded Iris Bulletin Wisley Trial

Have you seen the new brochure about the Bearded Trials published by the Royal Horticultural Society ?
This bulletin follows the completion of a trial of 151 Median Bearded Irises and 112 Tall Bearded Irises at RHS Garden Wisley. The bulletin gives details of 90 AGM award-winning bearded irises in this group. It contains pictures and descriptions of each AGM cultivar, plus advice on cultivation and Bearded Iris classification.
Great presentation, informative,and a future benchmark for Iris trial reporting. My Congratulations go to the Joint Iris Committee, and the RHS for a very professional publication
Available from the Trials Office, RHS Garden, Wisley, Woking GU23 6QB - please send a large (A4) stamped addressed envelope and a donation of £2. Further details and downloads can be found here

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Border Bearded Iris 'WHOOP 'EM UP'

First Border Bearded Iris flowering for the season and its good to see it starting with a Historic Variegata one of my favourite colourations
In 1981 WHOOP 'EM UP was awarded The Knowlton Medal ,the highest award reserved exclusively for Border Bearded Irises within the American Iris Society.
With this in mind and the picture not much more needs to be said.

1979 AIS Checklist
WHOOP 'EM UP (D. Brady, R. 1973). Sdlg. B-BP-67-93. BB 27" (69 cm) E-L.
S. golden yellow; F. maroon with golden yellow on reverse side extending to top as all around edge; yellow beard. (Bang x Plunder) X Extravaganza., Skyline Iris 1974.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter 

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Monday, October 13, 2008


Arilbred Irises are starting to strut their stuff and today we have blooming, Paul Blacks first Arilbred introduction, PRAIRIE THUNDER, which went on to win the William Mohr Medal in 1998.Not sure who you can buy it from in New Zealand but it is still available from Mid-America Iris Gardens in the States

Aril Society International Illustrated Official Checklist 2006
PRAIRIE THUNDER OB- (Paul Black, R. 1990). Sdlg. 86407A. AB (¼), 25” (64 cm), M. S. violet blue; olive tan styles; F. pale violet shading to tan edge; dark burgundy spot around beard; blue white beard tipped brown black; slight spicy fragrance. 83158C: (Cindy Mitchell x Silver Finery) X Welcome Reward. Mid-America Iris Gardens, 1990.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Intermediate Bearded Iris 'SPRING NIGHT'

Another Black and fragrant Intermediate Iris (Starting to see a trend?)

AIS Checklist 1979

SPRING NIGHT (W. Peck, R. 1974). Sdlg. 6726. IB 23" (58 cm) M. Very dark violet self; light violet beard. Inky X Jet Black., Old Brook 1975.

Don't forget, Click on any photo to view a larger image

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter 


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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Intermediate Arilbred Iris 'BIRD DANCER'


'Bird Dancer' another Stand out New Zealand Hybridised Iris by Hilmary Catton which is in full bloom today. What gives this intermediate iris its stunningly exotic look is partly due to its aril parentage.
Purchased for the princely sum of $5.00 (For that price I recommend you purchase two) from Kingswood Irises 15 Railway Road Woodlands R D 1 Invercargill. Write to Marion Rutherford for their Catalogue which is on CD with some of the best Iris photos around. As I have said before This iris nursery I highly recommend!

1989 AIS Checklist
BIRD DANCER (Mrs. Hilmary Catton, R. 1982). Sdlg. C75-5-1. AB (OGB), 25½" (65cm), E. S. lavender blue, green gold midrib; F. green gold blend, blue flash beneath beard; white beard tipped bronze. Moon Spinner X King Henry. Wyuna Iris Gardens, 1982/3.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter 

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Intermediate Bearded Historic Irises 'ARCTIC MYST' and 'BLACK WATCH'

Two Recent Historic Intermediate Irises Out today Will Just give you the checklist details and fill in a bit more information later.

ARCTIC MYST (A. Brown, R. 1964). Sdlg. M-358-4. IB 20" E, B1. Wisteria blue self, tan at haft; light yellow beard. (Snow Elf x blue sib) X Flyaway., Brown's Iris Gardens 1964. HM 1966.
Quick Note Very Fragrant

BLACK WATCH (R. Rosenfels, R. 1972). Sdlg. 684-S. IB 23" (58 cm) M. Very deep, velvety purple self; matching beard. First Night X Sable Robe., Rosenfels 1972.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Standard Dwarf Iris "AMBER TIPS"

ther outstanding New Zealand Bred Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris. Just recently purchased last growing season this iris has certainly made itself at home rather quickly. Showing good increase and good plant health.
New Zealand bred irises are generally poorly promoted and marketed so there is not much past information about this iris available for me to share with you. This is the first time I have seen this iris flowering and I am mighty glad I purchased it. Surprisingly no awards have been registered for this iris
I have assumed that the Iris was named as a play on the brand 'Amber Tips Tea' a product that has been New Zealand households for over a 100 years.
Registered in 1978 makes the iris one of the newest Historic Irises!!

AIS Checklist 1979
AMBER TIPS (Mrs H. Catton, R. 1978). Sdlg. CB2/10. SDB, 10" (25cm), EM. S. pale coffee; F. deep chestnut, edged amber; pale violet beard. Knotty Pine X Cherry Garden. Wyuna Gardens 1982.

While I am on the subject of Dwarf Irises I would like to pose a question I have been meaning to ask for some time, "Why do some commercial catalogue display Dwarf Irises with those unflattering overhead shots?" I personally think they are not a good method for selling or promoting these types of Irises.(Or any other iris type)

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