Monday, August 1, 2011

New Zealand Tall bearded Iris "POLAR CAP"

Just the other day completely out of the blue an Iris friend and colleague in America, Carlos Ayento, sent an email “Here are some photographs of two Jean Stevens introductions: ‘FINEST HOUR’ and ‘POLAR CAP’ that bloomed for me this year. Feel free if you wish to use them on your blog”.
Such generosity!!!!!

The photo shows the falls being a much paler colouration than I would have expected when compared with the cover of the Stevens Bros. Catalogue, but these are the advantages of seeing the real thing!!
It is not an Iris I have seen to date growing in NZ, (and in the NZ Iris season I travel extensively throughout both Islands, searching for Historic Irises) so without hesitation it is a privilege to feature “Polar Cap”, and it is with many thanks to Carlos, for the generous use of the above photo.

Stevens Bros. Bastia Hill Wanganui 1956-1957 Catalogue.
Polar Cap
This is the beautiful flower illustrated on our cover. (See below) We chose the name Polar Cap as eminently suitable for this Iris with its huge domed standards of snowy white and circular, almost convex falls of softly cool, pale lavender-blue. It took many years of breeding to develop this combination, a combination which is entirely new to the Iris world. It was therefore with some pride that we heard from America just as this catalogue went to press that Polar Cap was this year given the H.M. of the American Iris society. The flowers are large, of massive substance, and have an exceptionally long individual life, retaining their form to the last. When the bloom first opens the colour in the falls is a soft lavender blue which lightens gradually to a pedestal time which holds throughout the life of the flower, even in strong sunshine. The standards are a real snowy white no hint of cream or blue to mar the purity and form an opulent rigid dome, virgin, cool, and sparkling. H.M A.I.S 1956 2½ ft. 42/-

Schreiners Iris Lover’s Catalog, 1956
POLAR CAP (Stevens 1956) M 36”
This is one of the most original creations that is been our privilege to offer. It is an Iris of vibrant personality, albeit exquisite delicacy- of one of Mrs Stevens best. Pale Iris look washed out if they lack substance and sheen, but this is an Iris of heavy crystalline substance and abundant frosty sparkle. The delicate lavender-blue falls afford a clean, shimmering contrast to the frost-carved standards, like the shadows of winter twilight across new-fallen snow. All this is done in a copiously formed flower of generous proportions with ideal stems and branching and rigid carriage. The classically formed blooms are carried in lavish profusion making this a splendid garden subject. Here with Mrs Stevens the originator of Pinnacle, the first noteworthy the yellow amoena adds another FIRST. $25

D’Arcy Blackburn, Clifford Street, Gisborne.
Bearded Iris Catalogue,1950-1960
Polar Cap (Stevens)
Unique in its colour scheme and fresh and sparkling throughout the life of each flower and with beautiful form and carriage, Polar Cap, delights with its snowy white standards and delicate lavender falls. It is something new in its colouring and altogether an Iris of high quality. H.M.1956 36 inches 21/-

Varietal Notes from America, BIS Yearbook 1956. P;104

Clark Cosgrove and Ben Hager
Mrs Stevens’s, ‘ALPINE MEADOW’ is an interesting new pastel amoena, with white standards and light violet falls similar and colouring and form to ‘STEP UP’ (Muhlestein) but possessing more finish and a taller, better branched stalk. ‘POLAR CAP’ (Stevens) also a pastel amoena, has a much better form than the two above, but the colour in the falls is too pale to be effective as we saw it.

Varietal Notes from America, BIS Yearbook 1956. P;109
Notes from region 13 (Oregon and Washington)
J.H.Hoage, Regional Vice-President.
POLAR CAP (Stevens). From the creator of fine yellow amoena’s comes the sparkling white and light Lavender-blue addition to an already illustrious line. Smooth with good substance and branching. Similar to ‘Step Up’ and ‘Alpine Meadow’, but superior in texture, colour and branching. Many blooms on 36 inch stalks.

New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist
POLAR CAP Mrs J. Stevens, Reg., 1955. Sdlg. 4/X444. TB, 33″, M, W4L. S. white; F. pale lavender-blue. Lilac Arbor X (Magnolia x Wabash) x Southern Alps. Schreiner 1956. 'Novelties' Stevens Bros 1955-56. HM 1956 A.I.S

Once again I would like to give a large hat tip to Carlos Ayento, the Web-master of the brilliant Web Site “Brighton Park Iris”, he is also the Historical Iris Preservation Society, Databank Chair.

One thing I will always strive to do when putting articles for this blog together, is to allow all New Zealander's to see the introductions of Jean Stevens, some I have not yet seen growing in New Zealand, but hopefully they are still been grown with lost ID (the later is my much preferred option). Fortunately for New Zealander's some of these Irises are still growing in collections in International gardens, so we get to see what we are missing or what to be on the look out for.

There is also a forlorn possibility that photos of ‘Polar Cap’ and other New Zealand bred irises are in a collection of the New Zealand Iris group and possibly have been there for years,but are only for members viewing which is a pity.


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