Monday, October 25, 2010

Pacific Coast Iris

Fashions in Iris breeding and the end result, the blossom's are constantly changing. Pacific Coast Irises are little known Irises,outside Iris circles. Flowering well ahead of the Tall Bearded Irises,the evergreen, tough plants, and could become a landscape designers dream plant should they ever become available commercially.

Paid a visit to a good friend and Iris colleague Gareth Winters and his fantastic collection of Pacific Coast Iris seedling, mostly all his own crosses. Totally amazing how these Irises have advanced in colour and form over the past decade.
Gareth is a great writer on all things horticulture which is very evident in his blog 'Irises and Archives', he is the Editor of the biannual journal 'ALMANAC' for the Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris, Writes a weekly garden page for the local Newspaper 'The Wairarapa Times Age' , and the Archivist for the Wairarapa Archive.

Clicking the image's will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Will post some more photos from this collection soon.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Freesia alba Burtonii

Freesia alba Burtonii

This plant is a New Zealand classic garden icon, blooms with an amazing perfume that for me heralds the start of spring.
It is a sport of Freesia refracta alba, is much improved and is a very fragrant white flower of outstanding quality and size.
A bulb flower that is almost a pure creamy-white with yellow lower lip which is quite free from outer purple markings, and is twice the size of Freesia refracta alba.
It appeared by chance in the private Nelson gardens of Mrs Burton in the 1930's and the owner conferred a benefit on posterity by segregating and propagating it.
The flowers are generally sterile and seed is very seldom seen, so stock must be increased by divisions which is helped by its vigorous growth creating large bulbs.
Great for mass plantings and for picking as flowers are produced abundantly for two months from early spring.
A bulb variety that got lost in the clamour of 'big box' garden centres to sell the latest and greatest using the 'one plant fits all' criteria, which inevitably created a lack of retail demand for this variety so it was taken off commercial growers catalogues. Freesia alba Burtonii can now can only generally be found on garden groups sales tables, so if you can find it, get it, I guarantee you will enjoy it!

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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Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Zealand Native "Clematis paniculata"

New Zealand Native Clematis paniculata (syn. C. indivisa)

Our beautiful native Clematis which the Maoris call 'puawhananga' apparently meaning the 'The Sacred Flower' is a stand out spring feature dotted on the Hills of Bush I drive over each day on my journey to work. The starry white, lightly scented blossoms that herald the Spring, are up to four inches across, and on mass in the native bush look like small patches of snow on the tops of trees. All of the nine species of Clematis native to New Zealand are evergreen, and of these C. paniculata is the largest flowered and most spectacular. In Autumn it again features a grand display with its fluffy silvery seed heads.
Simply grown up the side of a tree as in its native habitat, and as with almost all clematis keep its root run cool, I give it a feed annually in the Autumn with some good quality leaf mould, then all that is required is 'Do not disturb'.

It is a pity that this native species is not more widely grown in New Zealand gardens, as it can be easily propagated by cuttings or seed.
Photo taken in the early morning sun in the garden this morning.

Clicking the above image will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris 'PROUD TRADITION'

'Proud Tradition' is in my opinion the best 'Neglecta' when it comes to the "classic modern form". It has wide and lightly ruffled deep Hyacinth blue falls with light blue standards which are displayed on fine stems that yield eight to ten buds. Matching blue beards that are lightly tipped yellow, which contribute to the overall good effect. Better than great health, with average vigour and increase. A respected variety that has a prominent place growing in our garden at home.

 CONTEMPORARY VIEWS Perry Dyer —1994/1995
The SUN BELT AWARD is given to the Best Proven Variety, i.e., one that has been on the market long enough to be thoroughly tested in the Midwest (at least 4 years): PROUD TRADITION (Schreiner 1990) has developed into the finest neglecta, for overall performance, in the Heartland. It is a very masculine flower, with a rich velvet texture, broad parts with virtually no ruffling. The color saturation is complete, with heaviest of substance, allowing the flower to retain all its pigmentation through the life of the flower. The stalks are husky and tall, holding up the large flowers with dignity.The plant habits are impeccable, with huge thick plants with strong increase. A total vision of health, head to toe.

Schreiners 75th Diamond Anniversary 2000 Iris Lovers Catalog
PROUD TRADITION (Schreiner 1990) EM, 36"
This blue Bi-tone boasts impeccable colouration coupled with classic form. Held with stately flare, the wide ruffled falls boasts a uniformed deep hyacinth blue while the arched silver blue add an impeccable finishing touch. Proud Tradition's excellent stems yield 8-10 double socketed buds per stalk HM 1992, AM 1994

AIS Checklist 1999
'Proud Tradition' (Schreiner, R.1990). Seedling W 164-A. TB, height 36" (91 cm), early to mid season bloom. Standards light blue (RHS 91C); falls ruffled medium blue (93A); beards blue, tipped yellow. J 50-G: (D 241-1: ((First Violet x King's Choice) x (Allegiance x ((Pierre Menard x Blue Ensign) x Harbor Blue)) x ((First Violet x Arabi Pasha) x (Salem x Bluebird Blue))) x Navy Strut) X Royal Crusader. Schreiner 1990.

Still been sold ($12.50) by Schreiners 20 years after its introduction from their web site (Listed in the Iris Links on this page.)
For such a stand out Iris it is somewhat bewildering to find that this iris is not sold by any commercial grower in New Zealand!!!!
Its a real privilege to feature this variety on my return to writing for the blog.
Clicking the above image will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heirloom Tall Bearded Iris "CATERINA"

Perhaps one of my great finds in New Zealand this year is an Heirloom Iris of significant historical importance growing in an Auckland garden.

Sir Michael Foster is justly looked up to as the pioneer and founder of the modern cult and cultivation of the Iris, and in 1888 he crossed I. pallida with I. cypriana, both of these irises at the time being considered collected wild species. The result, a selected seedling 'Caterina' (named after the Queen of Cyprus) was introduced. It was one of the first tetraploid hybrids, and proved to be invaluable for introducing plant size, vigour, plants with taller well-branched stems, and larger flowers to the world of tall bearded iris breeding. The hybrid vigour of this hand-cross produced seedlings that in comparison to the predominant diploids of the day were spectacular. Many of the early pioneers of tall bearded iris breeding, including Amos Perry, Geoffrey Pilkington, Sir Arthur Hort, George Yeld, Louis Dennis, Grace Sturtevant, B. Y Morrison, William H Mohr, the Sass Brothers, Edward Essig used 'Caterina' in their breeding, making it an ancestor of some of the best irises. As an example, William Mohr used 'Caterina' in a cross with I. mesopotamica to raise a seedling he named 'Argentina' (1923) which he then crossed to 'Conquistador', (1923) (Juniata X I. mesopotamica) to produce 'Purissima' (1927) . This was considered to be one of the all time greats in the colour white and was used extensively in hybridising. When 'Purissima' was crossed with 'Thais' it passed on its genetics plus its pure white colour to the outstanding tall bearded iris 'Snow Flurry', (1939). Seventy years ago this must have seemed like a miracle in outstanding hybridisation. When I sent the above photo to Phil Edinger for conformation of its identity, his informative reply was , “CATERINA! And a very nice shot of her, too!! One almost-diagnostic feature is the stalk. Often, as it elongates, the upper part will bend over. Sometimes it remains that way to some extent, with the terminal blossom at an odd angle. More frequently, though, the stalk will recover from the bend and grow upright but leave a bend or "crook" in the stem. The "official" description in AIS Bulletin 6 notes "stalk apt to be flexuous."

The Dean lris Gardens, Growers and Importers of Choice Iris, 1914 Catalog, Moneta, California.
THE late Sir Michael Foster, of England, devoted many years to the study of the Iris, collecting from all parts of the world wherever they are to be found-and also produced a large number of hybrids. Had he been trying to produce an Iris among his hybrids, particularly adapted to our climate, he could not have done better than when he gave us Caterina. It is a queen among Irises beautiful for any climate.

'We quote from two of the leading Iris growers of England regarding this Iris.'

"A lovely hybrid raised by the late Sir Michael Foster, from I.Cypriana and I. Pallida; the flowers are of great size and borne on long, stout branching stems, standards light clear blue, falls soft lilac-blue, delicately fragrant, 4½ feet. Award of Merit R.H.S."

"A very pretty hybrid, one of the very best of the late Sir Michael Foster's pets; a cross between Cypriana X Pallida, having large, conspicuous pale mauve flowers, with a brownish marking at base and a very conspicuous yellow beard. A.M., R.H.S."

The foliage being persistent throughout the year, the plant is ornamental at all times, with its broad leaves some two feet tall. The growth of the plant being checked a part of the year in colder climates, no doubt the blooming period is not as long as it is with us. It comes into bloom here about the 6th of April, and with proper care remains in bloom for two months and more. Our own stock, although divided last year, has not been without bloom for three months and is still making new flowering stems at this writing. The flowers are borne on branching stems, some four feet tall; most of the stems produce from fifteen to twenty blossoms, often five flowers being open on a stem at a time. The flowers measure 5½ inches from top of standards to bottom of falls. The plants do not throw up a quantity of flowering stems simultaneously, as many Irises of this class do, but instead seem to court our attention and admiration, by modestly extending their blooming period over such a long season.
We can confidently recommend it to those who have room for but a few plants and want something choice, and also that will give increased pleasure from year to year, as well as to those with more ample space, and who can perhaps afford to plant more liberally of it. Our stock is guaranteed true to name. The price at which this Iris is held, both in Europe and by the growers in the Eastern States who list it, proves that its worth is appreciated. The grower from whom we secured our stock in England writes us that this plant is getting very scarce, and many forms are being sold, both in England and elsewhere, as Caterina. For this reason, and the fact that the stock does not multiply as rapidly as that of some of the more common bearded varieties, the price will not be much reduced for some time to come.

AIS Bulletin #6 October 1922, Description of Varieties Part 1
CATERINA 8.9 (19)
Self, V. (1). Foster, 1909
Brief. Bluish lavender the falls slightly flushed lavender violet; S. fluted, tips touching; F. drooping; stalk low and well-branched; growth very variable; to 4 ft.
Details. Haft reticulations broad, widely spaced, brownish; beard white.yellow tip; stalk apt to be flexuous.
Remarks. A. M. R. H. S., 1907. Very fine in California but in the North it requires the most thoro drainage as it is subject to rot and winter killing.

The Iris Society (BIS) Bulletin No.2 May, 1925 'Sir Michael Foster and his Irises'.
 Sir Arthur Hort discussed his good friend’s work, and wrote “Foster gave me a bit of his original plant of Cypriana a name to which there are several pretenders. It has if I remember right (for I fear it is no more) as a rather weak stem and a large floppy red-purple flower; like Mesopotamica its best use is perhaps for hybridising. From it Foster raised several fine things. The finest and the best known are Caterina and Lady Foster, the later named I think by Mr Wallace after Sir Michaels death; Mr Wallace and I both I believe, first saw it at Shelford the same day. Caterina well illustrates the wisdom of seeding from a good hybrid.”
Sir Arthur Hort also made the following observation in the same article in regards to I. pallida , “Foster's collected pallida forms are very numerous ; he showed me once a bed of thirty arranged in order of stature and exhibiting what he called, 'The degeneration of pallida.'”

W R Dykes 'Handbook of Garden Irises' published 1924 page 226
'Caterina (48ins., Foster, 1909), pale lavender, flowers large but a weak stem, often unable to hold itself erect;” and from page 232, 'In this country little had been done before 1900 to raise garden hybrids on a large scale. Foster had made a few experiments with new introductions and obtained such good hybrids as Caterina and Miss Willmott but they were produced rather as the result of other enquiries and not as an end in themselves'.

A H Burgess and Son Waikanae Wellington 1926 catalogue.
CATERINA Large blue self, veined dark brown at the throat. Rather floppy. Must be staked. Early 1 shilling

CORNELL MEMOIR 100, Study of Pogoniris Varieties, Austin W.W. Sand, July 1926.
Color effect a bluish lavender to soft lilac, olive veined self: size large; form long, compact, rounded; flowering habit free ; tall bearded class; height 24-48 ins.; branching fastigate, low to high, two laterals; A flower of good substance; firm texture; smooth surface; good fragrance; good lasting quality. Its delicately colored, large sized blooms make excellent cut flowers and build up well in mass or specimen clumps. A most fragrant variety.
S. light lavender, reticulated with olive on the yellowish claw, carriage ad-pressed to arching; blade obovate, notched, undulate, ruffled, revolute, slightly cockled; size 2 in. wide, 3 in. long. F. lavender-violet, with whitish outer haft, widely reticulated with olive, becoming brown on the yellowed haft; carriage widely drooping; wedge shaped convex, oblong ; size 1⅞ in. wide. 3⅛ in. long. Minor parts; beard coarse, sparse, projecting, white tipped with yellow; haft very broad channelled; reticulations broad, close to widely spaced; style-branches medium broad overarching; crest small fringed; pollen plentiful; spathe-valves scarious. Growth moderate; increase slow to rapid; habit compact; foliage stiff, leaves broad, deep glaucous green; 2 blooms open at once, floriferous; stalk angular, slightly flexuous, with six or more buds. An I. trojana or I. cypriana X I. pallida hybrid. Requires a well drained situation.

The Dean lris Gardens 1916 Catalog

AIS Checklist 1929
CATERINA TB-B1M, Foster 1909 (cypriana X pallida)
Received Award of Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1907

A Major Hat Tip to Audrey McCarrison for growing an iris she loves, and also to Phil Edinger for the interaction of thoughts and discussions concerning 'Caterina'. Perhaps one of the great outcomes when finding historic irises is the sharing of information and the friendships that are formed with those genuinely interested in historic Irises. As referred to above the merits and all the exciting contributions that Snow Flurry" made to the world of modern tall bearded irises will be elaborated in a separate post at a later date.

Clicking the above image will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Top photo credit and copyright Audrey McCarrison
Article copyright Iris Hunter.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris 'TOUCH OF MAHOGANY'

Barry Blyth's, 'Touch of Mahogany' is a totally different look with its varying tones of russets, browns, and ruby red burgundy. Ruffling in the falls inherited no doubt from its very famous brown pollen parent 'Copatonic'. Certainly a surprise I like!!!

Tempo Two Catalogue 2005-2006
Touch of Mahogany Blyth 99 ML 36" Standards are coffee-brown with slight gold infusion. Falls coffee-brown overlaid soft lavender with striking burgundy hafts rouged down each side of the old gold beards setting the whole flower alive. Good branching, show stems, and a fine parent. Chestnut Avenue X Copatonic.

AIS Checklist 1999
TOUCH OF MAHOGANY (Barry Blyth, R. 1999) Sdlg. E123-2. TB, 36" (91 cm), ML; S. coffee brown, slight gold infusion; F. coffee brown, overlaid soft lavender around old gold beard, 1" burgundy hafts; pronounced sweet fragrance. Chestnut Avenue X Copatonic. Tempo Two 1999/2000.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris 'BREAKERS'

A delightful self of medium-blue colour 'Breakers' flowers on well-branched stems. Blooms late spring and sometimes early autumn. For me the rebloom is a intermittent bonus, but should not be relied on, but that aside its still one of our favorite blue irises. Generally speaking 'Breakers' was readily available a few years ago from a lot of commercial growers but for the life of me I cannot find a listing with a grower in New Zealand that I can recommend. Not sure why this is as it is a very good grower.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 75th Diamond Anniversary, 2000 Iris Lovers Catalog.
BREAKERS (Schreiner 1986) ML & RE 37"
Here is a bubbly and effervescent Iris whose undulating petals create a remarkable billowing effect. The superb blue color is applied with a clean uniformity. Fine size flowers are displayed on four branched stems with 8-10 buds.

AIS Checklist 1989

BREAKERS (Schreiner's, R. 1986). Sdlg. M 39-C. TB 37" (94 cm) M. Fluted and heavily ruffled true blue; dull blue beard tipped yellow ln throat. Victoria Falls X I 43-C: (Shipshape x Sailor's Dance)., Schreiner's 1986. HM 1988, AM 1990

Clicking the above image will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris "ORANGE EMPIRE"

'Orange Empire' is one of the great orange Irises from the 70's which was widely used as a parent in the 80's. Thirty seven years have past since its registration date and its still an amazing looker.This variety is fertile both ways. The Maerz and Paul, Dictionary of Color, 1st edition colour determination of Saturn Red is a bang on description for this iris beard colour. Was not what I had imagined the colour to be, but thanks to colour charts and hybridisers references to colour names in the checklist all helps a lot.

'Cross Country Comments' Bulletin of the American Iris Society, No.223, October 1976.
ORANGE EMPIRE (Hamner 1974)
A vibrant orange of rather large size. It is a vigorous grower which is a quality welcome in this color class. Also it is a tireless bloomer and for me leaves more than ample increase for the next season. (Reviewed Francesca Thoolen)

AIS Checklist 1979
ORANGE EMPIRE (B. Hamner, R. 1973). Sdlg. 69-40. TB 37" (94 cm) M-L. Brilliant orange self; Saturn red beard; ruffled. (Sexton sdlg. x China Gate) X (China Gate sdlg. x Ole)., Hamner 1974.

Not commercially listed in New Zealand but still widely available in America from Angel Iris Farm, Blue J Iris, Bluebird Haven Iris Garden, Daylily Haven Iris Gardens, Exline Iris Gardens, Newport Naturals, Wanda Rezac Iris, and Wild Iris Rows.

Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris 'CARNIVAL TIME'

A well named solid performer from Schreiners that is a welcome sight in the garden. Brown toned Irises otherwise known as blends can be susceptible to regional difference when it comes to colour tone and difference in colour can be due to mineral content in the soil. 'Carnival Time' is a 34 year old veteran yet its form is current. Fertile both ways.

Schreiner's Iris Lovers Catalog 1982
 CARNIVAL TIME (Schreiner 1976) E.36"
This buoyantly rich shaded blend presents a pageant of color. It's animated rich shade of burnt sugar brown is embellished by a crispness of texture. An air of exuberant ruffling accentuates this happy mood.An ideal stem and branching habit. Flowers are fully rounded and broad ; a lavish colorful blend of quality. HM '79

AIS Checklist 1979
CARNIVAL TIME (Schreiner's, R. 1976). Sdlg. F 187-G. TB 36" (91 cm) E. Ruffled deep burnt sugar brown, finely etched with deeper brown to orange texture veining; deep brown to orange beard. B 533-2: (Wild Ginger x Taste of Honey) X Dutch Chocolate., Schreiner's 1976.

It is an appropriate named Iris to celebrate Heritage Irises completing it's 2nd year publishing milestone in the world of digital media. Started as a database for Irises growing at home, and I still consider it as my Digital Iris diary.

Clicking the above image will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

iRis on iPad

Today there is a new species in the Iris world I.pad which iPredict will have a major effect the way we view the iRis world digitally. The Apple iPad has been launched today and you may ask what does that have to do with Heritage Irises, Well we are already on it, Blogger as a platform works particularly well on Apple Safari so we are off to a good start.Marketed as a device for watching video, listening to music, surfing the web and playing games, as well as an e-reader for books, magazines and newspapers.
Some Iris Societies web sites are unable to work properly on any browser platform other than older versions of IE, so it is inevitable these slow adopters of new technology will be left behind.
The more innovated Iris Societies like, Species Iris Group of North America whose Bulletin is already in a A4 loose leaf format should now be seriously considering the concept of an Electronic membership. These members could download their newsletters and Bulletins in many formats and colour print their own hard copy saving considerable costs to both the society and its membership. I am reliably informed that The British Iris Society Group for Beardless Irises has already seriously discussed the concept of E-Membership. The Tall Bearded Iris Society Membership is without doubt the most expensive Iris society for international members to join and all this additional expense is attributed to the cost of International mail. Should any editor consider the iBooks application, which displays documents using the ePub-format required for iPad, then a whole new concept of reading and searching Iris information will be born in living colour.

Well there are hundreds of thousands of people who have already bought iPads -- and there are millions more who are seriously interested in it so its off to a brilliant start,
and I see no good reason why the Iris world cannot go for the exciting ride as well.

In retrospect, I have read a lot in this past 12 months in various iris publications, regarding a general theme doing the rounds that,"If an Iris society embraces the digital revolution then the General Gardening public will better understand the working's of an Iris Society" . Hello!! surely the advocates don't believe this do they?? The Gardening public don't need to 'better understand Iris Societies', but the reality check is that there is a pressing need for Iris societies 'to better understand the gardening public'.!!

Image courtesy Apple iPad

"Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow" Rupert Murdoch

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris "SILVERADO"

'Silverado' winner of the Dykes Medal in 1994, grows in a clump of three in the garden is one of the best if not 'thee best' in a cool silvery blue colour tone . It has strong, clean and vigorous foliage.The stalks are thick and strong to support the weight of the large flowers and it form is faultless. Colour tone sometime described as crystalline silvery white with self beards tipped yellow in the heart. Good branching. Still widely catalogued internationally and still sold by the originator Schreiners some 24 years after its registration.

Tempo Two Iris & Daylilies Catalogue 1994-95
SILVERADO (Schreiner 87USA ) M 38" This is as near perfection in an iris we have.Colour is cool blue white to silvery blue with lavish ruffling. Stunning form and finish. Will win lots of awards and worth a Dykes Medal. (Royal Satin sib X Carriage Trade) HM 89 AM 91

Schreiner's 75th Diamond Anniversary Catalog 2000
SILVERADO (Schreiner,1987) M 38"
This cool blue-white self dances with artistic flare. Silverado's broad and heavily substanced petals are lavishly ruffled. Tall sturdy stems superbly display 8-9 buds on two nicely spaced branches. HM '89 AM '91, Wister '93, Dykes Medal '94

AIS checklist 1989
SILVERADO (Schreiner's, R. 1986). Sdlg. S92-D. TB 38" (97 cm) M. Ruffled butterfly blue (HCC 645/3); self beard. K 440-5: (Starina x Navy Strut) X Carriage Trade., Schreiner's 1987. AM 1991, Wister 1993, Dykes 1994

Sold in New Zealand by Amazing Iris Gardens and Richmond Iris Garden, as for the rest of the Iris universe this Iris is still widely available.

Clicking the above image will automagically take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Irises "Live at the Forum"



There is a new kid on the block in the Iris forum segment on the internet. Founded by Polly Kinsman of Siberian Iris Gardens and Dee Stewart of Snowpeak Iris. "It's in the beginning stages, but what we are attempting to create is a forum where iris lovers can go to chat, and learn, similar to Dave's Garden, but with no charge for membership. It is on the new website Cubits, and is simply named 'Irises', Polly says. "We currently have over 100 members and are growing every day, and it is our hopes to have not only forums to discuss irises, but articles about irises, and some informational pages. So, please, if you get a chance, stop by and see what it's all about. We welcome iris lovers regardless of expertise, and all visitors will find it a very friendly site. Hope to see you soon."she added.

Readers can visit the web site via or click the above photo.

Give it a go sounds like a lot of fun

Just signed up myself and found the joining process very easy and hassle free. Only had to answer a couple of questions and "voila" I am now a member!! ; The Iris Hunter

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "GAY LIGHTS"

Gay Lights is an Iris that is reported to be uncommon in the Country of its registration (USA) yet this outstanding reverse bi tone, which is an unusual color tone is still available from three small commercial Iris growers in New Zealand who generally seem to be the home for back catalogue Irises (Long may they exist). This iris grows well in our garden, strong growth with good increase, blooming in a bed amongst the older browns like 'Inca Chief' and 'Frontier Marshall'. Can't say I liked it at first but growing with the browns and reds it certainly stands out. It was because the Jean Stevens introduction 'Watchfire' is in its parentage that originally kindled my interest in this variety.

Schreiner's Iris Lover's Catalog 1965
Superlative New Iris for 1965
GAY LIGHTS (Schreiner, 1965). M 34"
Here is an iris with a much higher novelty rating than our picture is able to depict. The standards are a silky, translucent coppery brown with a pronounced crepy, lacy frill at the tips. The falls are a glistening opaque yellow-gold of startling richness, attracting attention from 30 feet away. Lacy tips of copper and ad note of harmony to the golden falls. Iris are normally lighter in the standards and deeper in the falls, but Gay Lights reverses the customary contrast with striking effect. As a garden iris the popularity of Gay Lights seems assured. A clump of this gleaming novelty seems struck by shafts of sunlight.Sdlg.No. R-955-A

Photo enhancement courtesy
Schreiner's Iris Lover's catalog 1965

AIS Checklist 1969
GAY LIGHTS (Schreiner's, R. 1964). Sdlg. R-955-A. TB 35" ML. Y5. S blended copper-bronze; F lighter, rich molten-yellow without orange. ((Watchfire x Argus Pheasant) x Inca Chief) X Spellbound., Schreiner's 1965. HM 1966.

Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris "LOCAL COLOR"

Fantastic increase and always gives that little bit extra by been a consistent bloomer over a long period.' Local Color', has as its pollen parent the mysterious and aptly named 'Gallant Rogue' bred by Barry Blyth yet named by Keith Keppel. 'Witches Sabbath' Bill Maryott's heavily ruffled purple black is the pod parent. With the same parents Keith also produce another stand out later blooming iris "Night Game".

Schreiners 2002 Iris Lovers Catalog
LOCAL COLOR (Keppel 1996)M. 40"
This extraordinary dark violet-black bi-tone displays the stunning color combination of its Blyth antecedents, (Magic Man,Tomorrow's Child and Gallant Rogue). The luxurious rich violet of the arched and domed standards is repeated as a narrow band on the blackish red falls. Bright tangerine beards provide a spectacular contrast. HM'98, AM'00

AIS Checklist 1999
Keith Keppel (R 1995) Sdlg. 91-86H TB 40"(107cm) M S. Roman Purple (M&P 44-K-10); style arms slightly lighter (42-K-9); F. Dark purple (47-L-12), narrow violet (42-JK-8) edge, slight white patterning near beard; beards orange vermilion (2-G-12) Witches Sabbath X Gallant Rogue. Keppel 1996 HM 1998

Sold in New Zealand by Amazing Iris Gardens and The Iris Garden, as for the rest of the universe this Iris is widely available

Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Be sure to visit Keith Keppel's new web site listed in the Iris Links

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Zealand Arilbred Median Iris 'GREEN DELIGHT'

Arilbred Median 'Green Delight', a New Zealand historic iris.
The registered description of 'Green self ' is somewhat simplistic and lacking in detail. In the Maerz and Paul Dictionary of Color, Citronelle across all the range (98, 99,101,102) is a better colour match for this iris.White beard tipped Spanish yellow. An easy Iris to grow with no problems apart from slow increase. Blooms with the intermediate irises mid-season.

The Aril Society International 2009 Illustrated Official Checklist
GREEN DELIGHT OGB- (Mrs. Frances Love, R. 1977). AB-MED, 24” (61 cm), L. Green self. Yellow SDB seedling X Kalifa Gulnare. Hauauru Gardens, 1978. [APTT]
(Note APTT denotes Aril Bred Mediums with very limited fertility)

Sold in New Zealand from Kingswood Irises link on the left and is listed as an Intermediate (just so you know where to look in the catalogue when you get it)

If you have got a moment to spare Check out The Aril Society International web site.

Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris "ABOUT LAST NIGHT"

A cross of two 1980 irises, Bill Maryott's 'Witches' Sabbath' and Paul Blacks 'Oklahoma Crude' both purple blacks Irises with mustard beards, gave Paul Black a Deep Black Iris with yellow beards and a glowing red heart. A very attractive fragrant iris with the ability to rebloom an unusual trait in black irises so if you only have room for one Black Iris in your garden why settle for a solo performance when 'About Last Night' could give you an encore in Autumn.I have not tried it yet but it is reported to be fertile. I grow a clump of three plants and the above photo shows Jean Steven's 'Watchfire' in the background so it grows with some classy company.

AIS Checklist 1999
ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Paul Black, R. 1999). Seedling B137A . TB, height 30" (76 cm), Mid bloom season. Standards purplish black; style arms deep purplish black, black midline and tan edges; falls black, hafts veined cream; beards bright yellow gold, wide; pronounced sweet fragrance. 'Witches' Sabbath' X 'Oklahoma Crude'. Mid-America Garden

Available in New Zealand from Julie Mays 'The Iris Garden' (see link on left-hand side of blog) In America you could try Williamson Farm Flowers

Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "MARY RANDALL"

Growing at home this heirloom iris is a real visual treat and is a true pioneer in the colour tone Rose Pink. Clean and strong foliage and clumps up well. Mid season bloom.Considered to be one of the aristocrats of tall bearded hybridisation. Fertile both ways. 

Fays Gardens, Wilmette, Illinois. Iris and Hemerocallis 1952.
No. T48-3 SOLD OUT New Horizon X F2 Pink Seedling
This deep rose pink self, with a bright tangerine red beard, is a new color in Iris- "Bengal Rose" in the R. H. S. Color Charts. The flowers are large and have a thickness of petal seen in few Iris. The haft is very wide; free from markings. Falls are round and flaring with a rippled edge. Standards are well formed and hold together firmly. The form of this flower is near perfection.Flowers are well spaced on a strong nicely branched 36- inch stalk. Plants are large and vigorous, with good foliage. The pollen is fertile, and seeds are produced in abundance. Mid-season . H.C.1950. H.M.1951. 

Irises, Harry Randall, Chapter 9, Famous Tall bearded Parents.
This Bengal-Rose Iris, raised by Orville Fay of Illinois, first flowered in 1948; and the fact that it was named after my daughter has done little to rescue me from complete obscurity. My wife and I live in a kind of reflected glory! Apart from its attractive colour, which was at first new to the bearded family, it had good substance and breath of petal, and completely free of the virus which had previously affected so many pink or pinkish irises. Expert Iris growers are always quick to experiment with new cultivars of exceptional colouring to test their value as parents, and it soon became obvious that Mary Randall was something out of the ordinary. Hybridizers made extensive use of it, and nurseries at first had difficulty in meeting the demand for it. In my family circle the two brothers of the real May Randall were thus able to quote catalogues which proved, so they said, that their sister had tough substance, was broad in the haft, had a red beard and was good for breeding!
The international body for the registration of Iris names is the American Iris Society, which issues annual lists of all new Iris registrations. Those lists show the extent to which Mary Randall has been used and has widened the range of iris colours and shades. Brother Charles Reckamp crossed it with the yellow Techny Chimes and produced one of the earliest 'orange' irises, Celestial Glory which, in its turn, produced Mission Sunset in the same colour range. Orville Fay himself raised hundreds of excellent seedlings from it, including Fleeta, which has also been a great parent; and in subsequent generations he has raised the deep pinks Flaming Heart and Flaming Dragon. By using it with other parents he has raised Rippling Waters, winner of the Dykes Medal 1966, Morning Breeze, Spring and other attractive irises with Orchid blue colouring, and these, in my opinion, have great garden value. In the hands of hybridisers elsewhere Mary Randall, either as the seed or pollen parent, has helped to produce Pretty Carol (rose-orchid) Firenze (Violet with red beard), Golden Masterpeice, Imperial Amethyst, Melbreak (rose-opal), Idaho Cream, and many others of equal merit. Before leaving this iris I would mention that Orville Fay kindly sent a root to me in the early days and generously allowed my friends and me to use the plant and the pollen for hybridising. Seedlings resulted, different from any previously raised in Britain, and the growers had a satisfaction which was not entirely unjustified.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1951, Number 123.Varietal Comment, Region 6, Don Waters, Ohio.
The pinks are becoming more bewildering and yet more beautiful as they progress, however the intensity of color. differs little in those which I have seen. Mary Randall is a very beautiful iris and very pink with a rosy shading throughout-a fine iris indeed.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, January 1952, Number 124. Random Comments Harry J Randall, C.B.E.
Mary RandalL I ought not to comment on this, perhaps, but as I did not raise it I might be forgiven for describing it as a splendid break in colour and one of the best of all irises. Its pollen is amazingly fertile.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1952, Number 127.Varietal Comments from Region 13, Mrs Joseph Hunt, Tacoma, Washington.
Schmelzer's Gardens, Walla Walla
Mary Randall-nominated as the iris of the year by a lot of iris fans, has everything; clean, heavily textured, broad, wonderful form and stands up in all kinds of weather; very long lasting blooms. Really superb.

Photo enhancement courtesy
Longs Garden's Summer and Fall 1958 catalog

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1953,"Report from America in 1953", page 76, Catherine Hemingway Smith.MARY RANDALL (Fay) Award of Merit 1953, the iris to receive the largest number of votes for A.M. this year.Large, full, shapely blooms; classed as pink, the general colour is ashes of roses, highlighted by the luxuriant tangerine beard.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1956,"A Decade of Progress", page 146, H.F.R.Miller.
We are now seeing some superb irises of other pink tones. MARY RANDALL (Fay 1951), the Dykes medal winner in America in 1954, is a deep rose-pink and is a lovely flower.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 1955
This deep rose-pink self with bright tangerine-red beard is a new color in iris. The flowers are large and have a thickness of petal seen in few other varieties. Haft is very wide, free from markings. The form of this iris is near perfection and the flowers are well spaced along a nicely branched 36-inch stem. Produces wonderful seedlings. Dykes Medal 1954.

Region 14 Northern California, Nevada,Regional Bulletin, Fall 1957.
Iris New and Old, Hazel Stewart, San Jose, California.
MARY RANDALL Fay 1951 is a most satisfying iris. I consider it a must. It blooms over a long period. The deep rose, a much needed color, stands out and the blossoms last a long time.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, Iris Lovers Catalog, 1957.
MARY RANDALL (Fay, 1951) M.36"
One of the most sort after irises.It is a deep rose-pink self with a brilliant tangerine red beard. This particular shade of rose, arising from the intercrossing of flamingo pink varieties, has been popularly called the "raspberry pink" of the iris patch. Very fine form. HM '51. AM'53. Dykes Medal 1955.

Stevens Bros. Bastia Hill, Wanganui, 1958-59 Catalogue.
This iris is one of the landmarks in modern iris breeding and created a veritable sensation on its introduction in the States. It is a deep rose pink self with a brilliant tangerine beard, and the lovely ruffled form is flawless. This particular shade of rose, arising out of the intercrossing of flamingo pink varieties, has been popularly called "raspberry pink" but it is much richer and warmer than the earlier raspberry pinks. Although a good grower when once established, Mary Randall took longer than normal to become acclimatised when imported which is the reason why we have not been able to list it previously. It won the Dykes Medal in the States in 1954. 2½ ft. 50/-

Longs Garden's Summer and Fall 1958 Catalog.
MARY RANDALL Fay 1951 M 36" A Smooth self of bengal rose with a full tangerine beard. Broad petals and excellent form. HM51 AM 53 DM 54

AIS Checklist 1959
MARY RANDALL (Fay, R. 1950). Sdlg. T48-3. TB 36" M. R1L. Self of Bengal rose (Wilson), with red beard. New Horizon x (Fay sdlg.: Pink Cameo x Cherie)., Fay 1951. HM 1951; AM 1953; Dykes Medal 1954.

As always clicking on the above images 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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Friday, March 12, 2010

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "GOLDEN MAJESTY"

Possibly one of the best heirloom irises in class for its deep, clean yellow colouration that came out of the late 1930's with W.R.Dykes (the Iris) included in the parentage. Grows well at home, increase plus and the bright yellow blooms resists fade, the form is classic, now growing among some historic blues and variegata classed Irises and its gleaming with a plus.

Stevens Bros, Bulls New Zealand, Novelties 1943-44 Catalogue
This iris ranks as one of the finest of its kind. An iris of gleaming gold!! Striking is this lovely rich yellow for its broad form and well branched stem; a fine colour, very even and rich. A deep yellow. Its rounded dome form is majestic, heavily substanced. 3½ ft 21/-

Schreiner's Iris Lover's catalog 1947:
One of the fine golden yellows, it is glistening smooth and does not fade. Of gleaming gold the good sized blooms with splendid dome form are majestic and classic looking. One of the finest iris of its color in its price class."

From the above 1939 Carl Salbach Berkeley, California, German or Bearded Iris Catalog.

Of course there are many yellows been introduced these days, but we point out that those we have selected have been so careful choice from actually thousands of fine upstanding yellows in the garden of Sydney B Mitchell, E O Essig, and ourselves. Our past yellows such as Naranja, California Gold, Happy Days, Alta California, Song of Gold, Sunburst, and Golden Bear have all been distinct, and each one has proved itself to be of the same championship rank that we predicted when it was introduced. Despite these past achievements, we consider Golden Majesty to be the finest of all - a truly “five-star” Iris. As to hardiness the half Dykes introductions have done reasonably well, some perfectly so. Golden Majesty is one quarter Dykes and its other three grandparents are among the hardiest Iris of all.

GOLDEN MAJESTY (Salbach 1938) ((DAUNTLESS x W.R. DYKES) X the variety Natoma which is Alta California X King Midas. We very definitely regard this Iris as the best all-purpose yellow ever introduced for it has “everything”. First it has color - softer, yet richer than we had dared to hope for and an Iris; then add perfect form, branching, substance, and you have Golden Majesty. The flowers are very large and of perfect, well domed form; it does not fade; the finish is smooth and glistening; the substance is good; the branching perfect; it is a free bloomer with many blooms (usually nine) to each stalk; and its height brings its rich beauty to a spotlight position - an Iris of gleaming gold, standing out as a alone even among the other finest Iris.
No other Iris can be of deep yellow and still be “yellow”, and the tone is so rich and glistening that we have found no colour on the chart that can match it. The entire stalk is perfectly balanced to give the Iris great poise as well as beauty, and in addition it is deliciously fragrant and stands up perfectly against both wind and rain.
One of four iris that we have ever adjudged as demanding a higher introductory price than our customary price ($25.00), and in such great demand that all rhizomes for last season were sold out before the end of July. It is we feel the “ultimate” in yellow Iris. Stock limited ; not more than one to a customer. Late. 42-inch $25.00

AIS Checklist 1939

Available in the USA from, Argyle Acres, Newport Naturals.

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, March 7, 2010

Tall Bearded Iris "QUEEN IN CALICO"

'QUEEN IN CALICO' in my opinion is Jim Gibson's queen of the pink and purple plicata's and for its specific colouration has never been superseded. It is very appropriate that it appears in the pedigree of Keith Keppels 1999 introduction 'Tangled Web'. Still used in breeding today and equally impressive is the list of Hybridisers that have used this Iris in their breeding programs.It's the pod parent of Anton Mego's very fine tall bearded iris 'Slovak Prince' that was recently featured on this blog. Gardeners who "Only Grow Modern" irises should not be put off by 'Queen in Calico's" 21 years of age. Its consistent quality bloom, a variety of high plant health, and the very best part is its reasonable price, which gives all gardener's the opportunity to grow a impressive clump.

Gibson's Iris Garden, 146 South Villa Street, Porterville, California. 1980 Tall Bearded Introductions.
QUEEN IN CALICO ('80) M, 87cm,#65-4D, Plicata
A bright, cheerful fancy in violet and light orange, enhanced further by its ruffled, laced, fluted and serrated edges. An appropriate combination for a calico dress fit for a queen. The orange beard adds much to this unusual color combination. It is a vigorous grower and much admired in the garden for this and the unusual color pattern............................................................................$25.00

Bay View Gardens, 1201 Bay Street, Santa Cruz, California. 1982 Catalog
QUEEN IN CALICO (Gibson '80) Strikingly different pink plicata..........................................................$18.00

AIS Checklist 1979
QUEEN IN CALICO (J. Gibson, R. 1979). Sdlg. 65-4D. TB 34" (87 cm) M. Ruffled and laced light orange ground plicata, marked violet; orange beard. (Orange Plush x Anon) X (Orange Plush x 14-9A)., Gibson 1980.

The Iris 'Queen in Calico' with its correct label is sold in New Zealand by Julie May at The Iris Gardens. In North America its is still widely available and is listed with the following growers, Black Ridge Iris Gardens,Blue J Iris, Echo Iris Garden, Exline Iris Gardens, Hornbaker Gardens, Matthews Iris Garden, My Wild Iris Rows, Newport Naturals, Stanton Iris Gardens, Tennessee State Iris Gardens, The Iris Farm, The Iris Patch, Wanda Rezac Iris, Williamson Farm Flowers. In the United Kingdom try Seagate Irises. The above information thanks to Carlos Ayento of Brighton Park Iris and his incredible " MASTER HISTORIC IRIS LIST 2010"
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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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "MONTAGE"

“It is wiser to find out than to suppose” Mark Twain

This iris has had nearly more names than a member of Mossad. Originally when it first bloomed at a distance it did look a lot like Jim Gibson's 1980 reblooming iris 'Spyglass Hill' but it turned out regretfully to be another of my spur of the moment purchases from a Commercial Iris Grower in Gisborne and was wrongly labelled as Keith Keppel's 'Diplomacy' which was the Iris that I ordered. Readers should understand that this purchase is not a case of a genuine mix up, it is an iris catalogued as 'Diplomacy Keppel 1966' with the following dubious description recently added to the listing,"Maroon yellow standards.White falls with deep maroon edges". I mean how does the Iris 'Diplomacy' (a neglecta) get to be confused with a plicata that does not even look remotely like it. I recently politely informed the seller of this Iris status and the misunderstanding with the plants name, but her enlightened reply was that she had purchased the iris labelled as such from a reputable grower (at the time her next door neighbour) so the name stands.Working with the grower and changing the name would have been the best outcome but if a grower is not interested in selling correctly named Irises, New Zealand Gardeners deserve to know. The iris correct name is the Keith Keppel introduction 'Montage' see below. Anyway you look at it, it's another of 'Keith's Keeper's!!'

AIS Bulletin April 1972
NEW FOR 1972, Keith Keppel, Stockton, California.

MONTAGE (Keppel) EML 34" ((Gene Wild x Majorette) x Rococo) X Mexicali sib.
Smoky buff standards, faintly blended lavender. White falls with a wide solid plicata border of greyed lavender to plum. Swirled standards, strongly flaring falls, ruffled. Medium size with branching and buds to spare. BUT-it under-increases and over-blooms. Sold out for 72 reservations been taken for 73 H.C.'70. It was....................................................$25.00

Brown’s Sunnyhill Gardens, Milton-Freewater, Oregon, 1974 Iris.
MONTAGE (Keppel '72) Swirled standards smoky buff and lavender; flaring falls white with plicata border of greyed lavender-plum. Really quite different. H.C. 1970.......$20.00

J & J Iris Garden, Cashmere, Washington, 1975 Catalog.
MONTAGE (K. Keppel '72) (inv. parentage) Standards buff yellow blended light lavender on midribs. Falls white with wide almost solid plicata border of grayed lavender with rosy plum hafts, beard white tipped bronze-yellow. H.C. 1970 ...........Nett $15.00

Recently (2011) in an email to me Keith had the following to say with regards to 'Montage'

 "And on the subject of plicata -- while I was on line, I checked out your blog site more extensively than before. Was amazed to see Montage...the fact that it even exists, let alone in New Zealand! Montage was one of the key elements in developing my bicolor plicata lines, way back when...but it was never, itself, a success. It had growth problems, for in California's long growing season, virtually all the increase would bloom without replenishing. I gave up trying to list it after a year or so, as in the field rows where it was pampered it would tend to bloom to death. Only after I gave up, but stuck a sprig in the mixed herbaceous border, did I ever get it to grow as I'd hoped. Being half-smothered by chrysanthemums and such, it did not grow so did not initiate bloom buds so readily and actually increased!"

AIS Checklist 1979
MONTAGE (Keith Keppel, R. 1970). Sdlg. 65-6F. TB 34" (86 cm) E-L. S. buff yellow (near M&P 10-F-1) blended light lavender (42-B-4) on midrib; F. white with wide almost solid plicata border of greyed lavender (44-E-5) with rosy plum haft; white beard tipped bronze-yellow. ((Gene Wild x Majorette) x Rococo) X sib to Mexicali., Keppel 1972.

The correctly labelled Iris 'Montage' is sold in New Zealand by Amazing Iris Gardens
Be sure to visit Keith Keppel new web site listed in the Iris Links on this page

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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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Keith Keppel Iris 2010 Catalogue

Two weeks ago Keith Keppel's Iris Catalogue arrived in the post. Each catalogue received becomes part of the truly amazing continuum from one of the hybridising Giant's of the Iris world. It's just to bad Importing Irises to New Zealand is a wee bit tough at the present time, but things could change!! Anyway for those visitors to the blog lucky enough to live in the USA go and buy yourselves some classy Irises and for the rest of us we will just have to enjoy the pic's, and dream of what could of been.
Catalogue also contains a very large listing of Barry Blyth's Irises

Cover Shot feature Border Bearded Iris 'Dance Card'
DANCE CARD L 25" (French Lilacs sib X (In Love Again sib X (Social Graces X Vienna Waltz ))) Ruffled and flounced, faintly laced bitone. Pink lilac pink standards rest on horizontally flared pinkish lavender falls. Beards white, pale ibis pink deep in throat. Lovely lilting form, stem with terminal and three branches, seven buds. Hurry get your name penciled in on her dance card now, so she'll save the last dance for you!! #03-20A

For a catalogue, please send $3 to: Keith Keppel P.O. Box 18154 Salem, OR 97305
Be sure to visit Keith Keppel's new web site listed in the Iris Links on this page

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
And of course a major hat tip to Keith Keppel for sharing the magic

"Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die Life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams for if dreams go Life is a barren field frozen in snow."
Langston Hughes

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Siberian Iris Schafer Sacks Seedling

Just turned up today in a email sent by Marty Schafer its a seedling that Marty has described as "is one of the most exciting seedlings that bloomed last year" Parentage S03-56A-10 X Miss Apple. Joe Pye Weed's Garden is Jan and Marty's mail order plant nursery specializing in Siberian Irises, Versicolors, and Species and Interspecies hybrids

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Of course a major hat tip to Jan and Marty for sharing the magic
Photo credit and copyright Schafer Sacks

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Siberian Iris "CAESAR'S BROTHER"

'CAESAR'S BROTHER' One of the most popular if not thee most popular landscape Siberian Iris variety . The flowers are medium blue with erect standards, very vigorous and easy to grow. I remember a conversation with a commercial grower of Siberians in New Zealand some years ago who stated "Customers visit the gardens and get to see the latest varieties I have imported from America, yet when they return to the shop nine times out of ten its 'Caesars Brother' which wins as the variety they want to take home to grow"
I grow it at home as a hedge of approximately 300 plants down the drive way, and must admit at peak bloom it looks good, bloom height is 36" which gives the garden visitors a greater appreciation of the flowers form. Bred by F. Cleveland Morgan, a pioneer Canadian breeder of Siberian irises. His best known irises are 'Caesar,' 'Caesar's Brother' and ‘Tropic Night', and all are still popular garden plants today. Photo taken in the morning light, and yes its Historic.

2006 Cumulative Check List of Siberian Irises
CAESAR'S BROTHER Morgan, F. Cleveland Reg. 1931 SIB (dip.) (30" 76 cm) ML S. violet, narrow and upright; rich round violet F.; white signals and gold hafts (description from Adamgrove Catalog). Listed in 1939 CL as Caezar's Brother; spelling changed in 1949 CL. Kellogg 1932 HM 1936; MORGAN AWARD 1953

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

To find out more information on Siberian Irises go to The Society for Siberian Irises at

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Siberian Japanese Iris Cross "LEXICON"

Registered as LEXICON, this nicely balanced hybrid is one of the newest additions to the Japanese-Siberian family hybridised by Christy Hensler
I first came into contact with Christy some years ago and I have always admired her "thinking outside the square" when it comes to Japanese and Siberian interseries hybrid breeding, its a difficult thing to do.
Here she relates her thoughts regarding this remarkable iris "LEXICON will make her d├ębut in 2012 at the Michigan Iris Convention. Her leaves don't look like any "Siberian" you have ever seen. She's an aggressive little doll who's never failed to bloom even after being moved in the spring. Barely fertile only with a sibling so far but I've started playing with Adrenaline Rush again, the F1 JI-SIB she came from hoping to pull a few more colors into the type."

Despite inconclusive criticism of her work with Ensiberians Christy Hensler has persevered. Plant breeders with a sense of adventure are a valuable asset in the Iris world for making us think that the Impossible now seems probable, long may they live.

To find out more information on Christy's work go to The Rock Garden web site

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

Photo credit and copyright and a major hat tip to Christy Hensler

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Schafer Sacks 2010 Introductions

POMEGRANATE PUNCH. Schafer/Sacks (Seedling No. S03-77-12), 23", EM. A richly colored iris which is a blend of yellow and red purple with orangey highlights on sunny days. The falls have a felty texture, nicely flaring with soft and rolling ruffles. The styles are ornamented with small ruffles and dark red picotee edges. Medium sized flowers are held just above the wide and erect foliage. Three buds present a nice succession of bloom. (Sunfisher x sib to On Her Toes) X (((((Star Cluster x Ruffled Velvet) x (Creme Chantilly x ((Atoll x Ruffled Velvet) x Butter and Sugar))) x Riverdance) x ((Forrest McCord x Isabelle) x Dawn Waltz)) x (sib to Dawn Waltz x Dandy's Hornpipe))
Just arrived from Jan Sacks two photos of Jan and Marty's 2010 introductions. Joe Pye Weeds Garden web site is updated for 2010 , give it a visit and admire the genius of diploid hybridizing. Revisit this post and I will update it with more information when it comes to hand. Ten years ago who could imagine the kaleidescope of colour's, its just amazing.

CINNAMON SUGAR . Schafer/Sacks (Seedling No. S03-28-3), 24", M. An impossible color to describe without using food analogies - the falls are smooth chocolate pink or sugared cinnamon. The standards and styles are the palest violet to cream, both with a warm glow of yellow at the edges. Signals are deep golden yellow softened by self colored veins. A prolific bloomer with stalks well distributed in the compact clump. Small to medium
flowers, four to six buds per stalk. Strong neat foliage. Tree of Songs X sib to Pretty Polly: (Gentle Lass x (sib to Dawn Waltz x Dandy's Hornpipe))

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

Of course a major hat tip to Jan and Marty for sharing the magic.
Photo credit and copyright Schafer Sacks

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Siberian Iris "LILTING LAURA"

Anna Mae Miller is one of the living treasures of the Siberian Iris world and is a prolific hybridiser of hardy no nonsense high health Siberians
Lilting Laura is one of the most popular Siberians in New Zealand .The flowers are lavender shaded darker in the centre, accented with white styles. It is very vigorous and easy to grow.

2006 Cumulative Check List of Siberian Irises
LILTING LAURA Miller, Anna Mae Reg 1989 Sdlg 85.20.17 SIB (dip.) (37" 94 cm) M & ML S. pale violet (RHS 87D); pale violet style arms, slightly darker (87C) midrib; F. violet (87A). Aqua Whispers X Lavender Bounty. Old Douglas Perennials 1990

Good size plants can be purchased for a very reasonable price in America from Wildwood Gardens who have a very good selection of Siberian Irises.

In New Zealand Siberian iris are wonderful landscape plants and do very well as cut flowers. The graceful flowers are carried above an elegant clump of grass-like, blue-green foliage which is attractive all season. Siberians bloom just after the bearded iris and just before the Japanese Iris, and can tolerate a wide range of soils, light exposures and moisture levels and are drought tolerant after they are established. They have almost no disease or pest problems. Ideal conditions are a sunny place with moist, rich, slightly acid soil.
They can also grow well next to pools or marshes and after the first frost their foliage turns a rich reddish-brown. Siberians can remain in place for years without division. When necessary, they should be moved and divided in late summer, preferably March- April.

To find out more information on Siberian Iris go to The Society for Siberian Irises at

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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New Zealand Iris Grower "TIKITERE GARDENS"



Tikitere Gardens
104 State Highway 30
RD 4
Phone (07) 345 5036
Email address

Ann and Bill Robinson are the owners of 'Tikitere Gardens' which is located in the North Island's very scenic area of Rotorua. These extensive gardens, developed since 1987 incorporate a natural stream and established trees. Nursery sells trees, Acers, Rhododendrons, Hostas Daylilies. Great service and very good size Siberians.Recent Catalogue received lists over 40 modern varieties. Friendly to deal with and answer emails generally within 24 hours.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010


When I asked if I could use this photo, Sergey's reply was certainly but he could not understand why as he did not like it much but qualified the statement by adding "but its all a matter of taste". I myself think it most certainly is a mighty good looking Siberian and the dark blue veining on the standards and the falls give the bloom another dimension in taste.

The pod parent is "China Bitone" which has the species Iris I.typhifolia on both sides of it's parentage and is registered as a species X. The pollen parent is unknown.

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

Photo credit and copyright and a big hat tip to Sergey Loktev.
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Siberian Iris "WINE WINGS"

Siberian Irises with the so called modern flaring rounded form is so apparent in Wine Wings. A re-bloomer which clumps up well to make a colourful display. Whilst this iris is more than 30 years old and therefore is Historic, Siberian Iris just do not date like the Bearded Iris.

D.Steve Warner, Illini Iris Gardens Catalogue 1977 Introductions
WINE WINGS. Siberian sdlg.1150 EML 32" (Sensenbach #6 X Illini Encore)
This floriferous, long blooming red with a touch of violet received the most vote for HC in 1976 and make a beautiful clump

2006 Cumulative Check List of Siberian Irises
WINE WINGS Varner, D. Steve Reg. 1976 Sdlg 1150 SIB (dip.) (32" 81 cm) EL & re S. light violet-red; F. violet-red. Sensenbach #6 X Illini Encore. Illini Iris 1977

Can be purchased in America from Tranquil Lake Nursery who have a very good eclectic catalogue of Siberians. In saying that, their Historic collection of Siberians make me wish they where just down the road from me.

For good advice on how to grow Siberian Irises visit The Society for Siberian Irises web site. The information can be downloaded as a PDF file

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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Thursday, January 28, 2010

When is a Flower Really New ??

The Picture on the Cover

When is a Flower Really New?

By "Irisarian"

THEY say there is nothing new under the sun. That is a very sweeping statement, and like most sweeping statements, not true. It would be truer to say there is very little new under the sun. And this would be as true of plants as of most things. We often speak of a "new" plant. What we really mean is that the plant is new to us, or to our own horticultural world. But more often than not the plant is centuries—ages —old. In some part of the world it has been growing wild since before the time primitive man walked the earth. It may be new to the gardens of the world, or, what is more usual, to our country's gardens.
I well remember showing a woman gardener around my garden one day, and as she came to any plant she did not know, she asked: "Is that new?" Well, I stood it for awhile, and then, my patience evaporating. I asked her: "What do you mean by 'new'? Do you mean is it new to cultivation, or new to New Zealand, or do you really mean new?" For all the plants at which she was looking were wild plants, collected in other countries, and only cultivated in my garden,
A new plant is one that is new not only to horticulture, but to the world, and these plants may be obtained by an occasional "break" amongst wild plants, or a natural hybrid, by which is meant a plant that is the progeny of a cross occurring amongst wild plants, and resulting accidental cross-pollination between two related plants. Or again a new plant can be obtained by artificial cross pollination. These man-made plants are called garden hybrids, and are quite strictly "new" plants during an indefinite number of years, until, in fact, they have been distributed and grown in other gardens.
We are getting very used to new plants in these days of specialised gardeners, who are frequently offering us new gladioli, new roses, new irises, new pansies, etc., etc. It takes something very novel or very beautiful, to give us a real thrill, but during the last few years I have experienced a real thrill out of seeing two new Bearded Irises. I saw them in Mrs W. R. Stevens garden at Wanganui, and realise they are not yet available to the gardener in New Zealand, but I believe they will become available within the next few years, and since a peep into the future is always intriguing, I should like to tell you about them. In fact I can do even better than that, for this month's "New Zealand Gardener" is illustrating one of them on its cover.
This illustration is from a natural colour photograph. Having seen it I feel I should like to comment briefly on this colour plate. The plate is an extremely good one, but as in all colour plates I have seen the yellow appears to have gained a slightly orange cast. The name of the iris is Pinnacle, and it was raised by Mrs. Stevens. As I saw it the standards of the flower were dead white, and the falls light lemon yellow.
This variety Pinnacle was what is called a planned cross, that is the breeder started out to raise just such an iris. The original parent was a creamy white flower, with faint gold pencilling at the shaft of the fall, and a series of crosses was embarked on with the idea of breeding a white and yellow bicolour iris. Pinnacle is the result of generations of breeding. Its lovely flower has most of the iris virtues in full measure, heavy substance, clean colour, lovely attractive form, and large size. Mrs. Stevens assures me it also has a good constitution, and is a quick increaser.
The other new iris of which I promised to tell was, in fact, rather a new family of Bearded Irises, as there are quite a number now in this group of the ethereally lovely new pale pink irises. American breeders have made the greatest progress in this colour class, though the colour "break" has also occurred amongst the English raisers' seedlings. These new pale pinks bear no resemblance to what we have in the past called pink irises, that is, orchid pinks, or lilac pink with the warming influence of lemon or yellow undertone or blending.
The new pinks all have pink buds, and share another feature also, a bright brick-red, flame, or tangerine beard. Of these pinks, the best are perhaps Dr. Loomis's Sea Shell Pinks, and Mr. Dave Hall's Flamingo pinks.
They vary in the different named varieties, but all are definitely true pale pinks. Last year I saw one of Mr. Hall's unnamed Flamingo Pinks seedlings flowering at Mrs. Stevens. The colour of this was the colour of the flesh of a watermelon, with just that frosted iridescence. The lovely tangerine beard blends most sympathetically with the delicate toning. I understand that Dr. Loomis's, 'Spindthrift' is due to flower in this garden next November. In America it is rated the best of the Sea Shell Pinks.
I believe Mrs. Stevens has embarked on a new line of crossing, combining these two new irises, and hopes in time to obtain a flower with white standards and pale pink falls. Such a combination, particularly if she manages to retain the tangerine beard, will be exquisite.

The above Article is a complete unedited facsimile and is courtesy of New Zealand Gardener September 1947

"Irisarian" is one of the pen names used by Wally Stevens (Jeans husband) who also wrote under another pen name Silver Birch.
The above photo on the cover was in all probability the first published image of "Pinnacle" and the first introduction of the variety to the gardening public published 2 years before its international coordinated sale in 1949 by Stevens Bros. for the New Zealand and Australian market, Schreiners for the North American market , and Orpington Nurseries and Co. for the English market, all of this some 2½ years before the inception of the New Zealand Iris Society.

Big Top hat tip to fellow blogger Gareth Winter for his considered thoughts and help.

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

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