Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Zealand Iris History



The above and below scans are from H C Gibbons & Co.1904 Seed, Trees, and Plant catalogue kindly loaned to me by Gareth Winter. The catalogue is 184 pages of early New Zealand gardening plant and equipment history also includes a truly amazing list of sprays that if used today commercially on fruit and vegetables recommended, the grower concerned would be in breach of Health and Safety laws. Can you imagine a food label stating fruit sprayed with Asenate of Lead.

The popularity of Japanese Irises in early New Zealand gardening history is really surprising, and were sold as plants and seeds by several distributors of the time.
Japanese irises where only introduced into England after 1774,but it was not until about 1859 that the cultivar's became very fashionable internationally in gardens, unfortunately this trend became like a short lived Mexican wave .
It should be noted in the bulb catalogue (H C Gibbons & Co.), 30 named Japanese varieties and 40 named German Iris in 1904 is a substantial and impressive listing for that era. To emphasis the point some twenty years later, the A.H. Burgess 1924-26 Catalogue lists 61 Bearded Iris (German Iris)

Big hat tip to Gareth Winter for the use of the catalogues

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tall Bearded Iris "SCENE STEALER"

SCENE STEALER by Hooker Nichols is an aptly named and very attractive amoena white standards infused with pale violet at their base, reddish purple falls with a large white zone under the bright orange beards. Almost horizontal falls with a very thin and laced white border. Scene Stealer is a sib to Boogie Woogie, a very elegant Amoena Plicata

Hooker Nichols writes about 'Scene Stealer' in a recently received email, "The parentage is (Taj Rani x In Tempo) X Song of Spring. It combines the hybridizing lines of Barry Blyth and Melba Hamblen. It is one of the last iris to bloom in the garden and makes a wonderful way to exit the spring bloom season. It also has a delightful fragrance. There were only three seeds in the pod that produced Boogie Woogie and Scene Stealer. Your picture is absolutely wonderful. I am still hybridizing bearded and have started introducing Louisiana's last year. This year have several pods from Louisiana's crossed to Iris Tectorum. The pods are full of seeds. Will have to wait to see if indeed this is a new inter-species endeavour or selfs of the Louisianas. We had a fantastic season this year. My 2009 introduction pictures have been posted as of last week at Hillcrest Iris"

AIS Checklist 1990

SCENE STEALER (Hooker Nichols, R. 1990) Sdlg. 8897C. TB, 36" (91 cm), ML ; S. laced white, violet midrib and base; F. purple, edged white, large white zonal area; beards orange yellow and white; ruffled; pronounced fragrance. Diddler X Song of Spring. Hillcrest 1998. HM 2001.

Scene Stealer is available in New Zealand from Amazing Iris Garden, in France from Cayeaux Iris, there are several stockist in The USA.

Photo credit and Copyright Irishunter

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

'A Blooming Business' Movie Review

Last Friday I went to the much anticipated Wellington Film Festival screening of the documentary 'A Blooming Business' which according to the advance publicity, hoopla, and ballyhoo is supposed to be a hard hitting documentary on the Dutch owned flower growing industry in Kenya. This movie goes nowhere near documenting reality and is more of a casual interview with people that are reported to be involved in the industry in one form or another, sprinkled with 'hearsay'.  Fluctuating between occasionally being interesting, to the repetitiveness of a worker walking past some greenhouses, chatting about what goes on in the industry, other people catching buses at dawn or dusk or queuing outside some farm gates. The only view of the real workings of the industry is when a worker risking his job smuggles a video camera into one of the farms but the footage regrettably lasts only for minutes. 

The Director called this a poetic documentary, yet in the end credits there is a dedication to the people who became unemployed because they cooperated with the making of this film, now you would have to agree that is a hell of a price to pay for participating in something that did not change the lot of the workers involved in the Kenya Flower industry.

The subject matter does have a lot of going for it, and whilst I am certain that the implied problems do exist within the Flower growing industry in Africa, the problems deserve to be tackled hard and highlighted and when so many other documentaries are making the same point about the poor conditions of workers in Africa a great deal better, 'A Blooming Business" just doesn't make the cut and is best described as just plain clumsy.

  Definitely gets my pick as the winner of the "2009 RETURN TO THE DIRECTOR AWARD"

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tall Bearded Iris "GOLDEN PANTHER"


GOLDEN PANTHER (Tasco 2000) TB 34" (86 cm), M, Heavily ruffled gold, overlaid bronze, highlighted with darker bronze at the edge, bright golden orange beard. Guadalajara X 90-02-03: (Marsh Light x Dazzling Gold) AIS HM 2002, AIS AM 2004, #1 Favorite Guest Iris at Memphis 2002 American Iris Society National Convention. Winner of the Presidents Cup award at the 2004 AIS Convention, Fresno, California.Wister Medal 2006, Dykes Medal winner 2009.

And how profound was Perry Dyer writing in his 'CONTEMPORARY VIEWS'– 2005/2006.
'I continue to be impressed with GOLDEN PANTHER (Tasco 2000), back to the first time I saw it as a reselect at Superstition. It receives A+ ratings in every category – branching is consistent, with strong stalks displaying well-spaced modified candelabra branching; plants are healthy and vigorous with excellent increase; form is impeccable, rounded with a finished look to its ruffling. The true test, especially for this color range, is its sun-resistance. It never burns, even in the hot dry climate of Oklahoma or central California. It retains its clarity of color even in a wet spring, a significant accomplishment in this color class, when this type of weather conditions tend to “muddy up” the picture. It has been consistent in every part of the country it has appeared, a true testament to its worthiness for consideration of the Dykes Medal.'

Big hat tip to Rick Tasco and Rodger Duncan of Superstition Gardens who took the time out from their very busy order filling season, to send the above photo. Many Thanks guy's and Congratulations Rick on your very fine win.

Photo credit and copyright, Rick Tasco, Superstition Garden

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 American Iris Society Awards



GOLDEN PANTHER (Richard Tasco)

PAUL BLACK (Thomas Johnson)
DRAMA QUEEN (Keith Keppel)
ITALIAN ICE (Anna & David Cadd)

BORDER CONTROL (Thomas Johnson)



PUDDY TAT (Paul Black)

TINY TITAN (J. T. Aitken)


SUE BEE (Susie Kammer by Tim Stanek, selector)

PETIT LION (Lowell Baumunk)

DOLCE (Paul Black)

MENDOCINO BLUE (Robert & Janet Canning)


RUFFLES AND FLOURISHES (Robert Hollingworth)


LITTLE BOW PINK (Donald Delmez)
Runners Up:

WALTHER CUP (Most HM votes in any category)

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just who was New Zealand's Pioneer Iris Breeder?

"Inquiry is fatal to certainty" Will Durant

Just who was New Zealand's inaugural pioneer Iris Breeder??
'Henry Budden, Nelson, 1842-1902' would have to be the front runner based on validated research to date, but I must qualify my answer by stating that at the present time there can be no definitive answer, its just that New Zealand's Early Iris breeding history is becoming a moving landscape.
From information to date it's known that he raised, selected and introduced into commerce at least two Japanese Irises MINNIE and CHARLES SAYWELL before 1887.

Notes referring to plates 27.,28. IRIS KAEMPFERI. This is of a comparatively recent introduction, and is perhaps the most stately and beautiful of the genera. Both single and duplex are equally grand; they have been cultivated here for some time and have seeded, from which have been raised several seedlings that have been pronounced by competent judges in other parts of the colony to compare very favourably with any of the imported varieties, being in each case very distinct. Of Nelson varieties Charles Saywell is a single densely reticulated with lavender. Nelson Weekly News (1886-87)

plate 27; Charles Saywell

The two illustrations displayed are from the Book 'Bulbous flowers: A colonial nurseryman's catalogue', by H Budden and are courtesy of the Oxford University Press, Wellington. The book is a reproduction of 40 small paintings, with the artist's comments, which were originally privately printed in one volume in the 1880s. Included in the 1979 edition, is an Introduction from his great-granddaughter Janice Kennedy, the Preface and Notes on the illustrations are by Barbara Mathews.

TOWN EDITION Nelson Evening Mail. SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 1889

Mr H. Budden, the well known seeds man of Bridge Street, who has opened a branch business in Cuba street, Wellington, has favoured us with an inspection of an illustrated catalogue of a number of the bulbous flowers he grows at his nursery at Riwaka. The word " catalogue" certainly conveys very inadequately the exceedingly artistic manner in which it has been produced. The volume is handsomely bound in leather, and contains rather more than one hundred pages, one half of which are devoted to letter press, giving the botanical names of the bulbs, their habitat, together with a short description of each flower and the nature of the soil to which it is best adapted. The chief charm, however, of the volume is comprised in the pages which alternate with the descriptive matter every other leaf in the book being " the like presentment" of different bulbous flowers. The varieties depicted are very numerous, and each picture presents a flower totally distinct in form and colour to the one preceding it. The blossoms have been hand painted from nature by Mr Budden, some being drawn to full size, the remainder, on account of their dimensions, being reduced to half size. The colours of the flowers and their leaves have been faithfully reproduced, and these " Bulbous Flowers, " by which title the work is known, cannot fail to prove a valuable guide to amateur gardeners in their selection, The catalogue has been prepared by Mr Budden, on whom it reflects infinite credit, for his branch establishment in Wellington.

Nelson Evening Mail, 1 December 1898, Page 2, HORTICULTURAL SHOW , MOTUEKA
From Budden and Son came a large collection of the new strain of Chinese peony. These are exceedingly attractive, fine in form, and brilliant in colour; also new double Chinese peonies, fine in colour and size. The very large collection of German iris (from the same firm), which are so quaint in colour and form, drew great attention.

plate 28; Minnie

The AIS 1929 Checklist clearly states in the Introduction 'In 1922 and 1923 the American Iris Society published abbreviated check lists (Bulletins 4 and 8) of Irises considered to be in commerce but omitting, for reasons of expense of printing, several thousand older Irises that were believed to be obsolete. Research, however, has been continued and this present work attempts to publish all that is know about Iris names that have appeared in gardening literature during the last hundred or more years. The officers have felt that this information which had been compiled by much hard work was of great value for students and ought to be placed in permanent and available form.'
It should also be noted that prior to 1920 a Iris registry did not exist so Irises bred prior to that date could not be registered by the hybridiser. Checklists from 1929-1949 were titled AIS Alphabetical Iris Check List and it was not until the 1959 Check List did the title change to Iris Check List of Registered Cultivar Names, the change in title was not retrospective and is decade specific.
Both of these Japanese Irises more than met all of the criteria set by the AIS for inclusion in the 1929 and 1939 checklists.
1.They were grown from seed produced on the property in New Zealand and selected by the Originator
2.They were named and catalogued which included the very fine watercolours of these varieties
3. They were available for sale (Introduced)
4. They were displayed at various Horticultural show's and discussed favourably by competent judges.
5.They both come with proven provenance.
All of this would lead one to kindly conclude that the omission of these two cultivars was only because they were not known about, but this should not be a reason to ignore this credible and important part of New Zealand Iris breeding history, and is certainly not a reason to omit these Irises from any Check-list. Readers also need to take on board that there is no proof of these irises been obsolete and their current status could be as labeled a NOID.
I am sure there will be interest from the very progressive Japanese Iris Society and its cumulative Check List editor concerning these irises.
As historical research is an continuum I will post more on the subject of Henry Budden, when more information comes to hand that can be confirmed. T.J.

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.
Image credit and copyright Oxford University Press, Wellington. ©.  

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "CRAFTSMAN "

Strong rich yellow standards and white falls with a well defined band around the falls of the standards colour. An iris that is just a big sunny smile.
Its a great garden Iris that was still sold in New Zealand until recently. Good size blooms, a yellow which does not fade and plant with good health. I mean lets face it, a 1960 iris that is not a great performer would not of survived 50 years and would have made the compost heap years ago if had being anything other than better than good. Awarded by the American Iris Society a Honorable Mention 1965, Judges Choice 1966, and Award of Merit 1967 can give a good indication of the merits this Iris brings to a garden

Region 14 Northern California, Nevada,Regional Bulletin, Spring 1965.
Varietal Comments, Hazel Stewart, San Jose, California.

CRAFTSMAN, Knopf 1964; One of the best liked of the new introductions viewed at our 1964 regional in San Jose. It has deep yellow standards nicely ruffled and domed. The falls are wide and flaring with a wide band of deep yellow trim.. It is tall well branched and a glowing orange beard adds to its good qualities, and I have never seen such heavy substance.

 AIS Checklist 1969
CRAFTSMAN (M. Knopf, R. 1963). Sdlg. 62-12. TB 38" M-L. Y4W. S deep yellow; F white, yellow border; orange beard. Golden Garland X Mission Trails., Tell, Knopf 1964. HM 1965, JC 1966, AM 1967.

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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Friday, July 3, 2009

'Book Day Afternoon'

My Bigger than Ben-Hur Book Day today. Spent a good percentage of the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon at the National Library, Wellington. (Making good progress with the Iris known as or perhaps its better put, grown as I. Swerti.)
Walking back to the car park I stopped by Pegasus Books, in the Left Bank, Cuba Mall, where I purchased a pre-loved book titled 'PLANT' for twenty five dollars which is amazing buying for a 515 page large book that can only be described as encyclopedic and I must say it wasn't pre-loved for long as its in mint condition.
The Book description from the dust cover.
From cultivating plants that are on the international endangered list or already extinct in the wild, to avoiding invasive species, gardeners can play a vital role in conservation. A ground breaking reference for both plant enthusiasts and gardeners, 'Plant' is a new-generation designed to provide environmental and horticultural information so that gardeners can make the right decisions about what to grow in their gardens.
The Author, Janet Marinelli is the Director of Publishing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and editor of the BBG's internationally-respected series of gardening handbooks. Endorsed by the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew this superbly illustrated book features an extensive encyclopaedia of threatened plants covering every conceivable type. I found it interesting to read that a few Irises have made it to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species .
All and all a very enjoyable day.

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