Friday, May 18, 2012

Iris Germanica



July 14th 1894

IRIS GERMANICA.-- It is now nearly thirty years since I began to collect some of the varieties of Iris germanica, many of which are still the most beautiful, though I have added to their numbers of late years. This year a disease has appeared and killed several of my most thriving plants. One large clump of Aurea, full of bloom, just showing the colour, was struck, as it were, in a night, it having the appearance as though scorched, and so with a few others. I tried several methods to save them, but none availed, and they are dead, or very nearly so. I have not seen the disease before, and I hope and trust that I may never do so again. With these exceptions, I have never had such wonderful flowers, both in size, form, and colour. In some instances they consisted of four standards, and four falls. In another there were seven standards and four falls. While one, the old ‘Rose Queen’, now called ‘Queen of the May’, a lovely bright light pink "beauty," produced one flower with five standards, five falls, and five petaloids, and yet in all these respects was well proportioned. This form being new to me, I made a drawing for the Gardeners' Chronicle, thinking possibly it might prove of interest to some of its readers.

While on the subject, I wish to remark that I know of but few florists’ flowers where so many different names are given to apparently the same flower. I commenced the culture of Iris by buying about fifty sorts or varieties of Mr. Salter, of Hammersmith, years ago, and I now find several of these have another name, and some more than one, newly bestowed on them.
What I have grown as the Duchess of Buccleuch, a fine purple and white blotched variety, is now called Victorine ; the old Abou Hassan is Louis Van Houtte, et ceterarum, and Goldfinch is Prince of Orange; yet I intend to call them by the names I have known them by, and were given to them by their skilful raiser, Mr. Salter.

As I have had a long experience, perhaps I should not be considered trespassing too much on your space if I give the names of a few of the most distinct. Among the dark purples, I have thought subbiflora, nepalense, Crimson King, and germanica major the best; Of whites, ‘Mrs. H. Darwin’ is the most beautiful, then the ‘Princess of Wales,’ ‘Innocenza, and ‘Florentina,’ the last has been grand this year.
Of white with blue and lilac edgings, Celestine is delicate in form and colour, but both Madame Cherian (Mme. Chereau) and Saladin are excellent - in fact, it is difficult to decide which is the best.
Othello is more than a good dark one, the standards being a bright blue, and the falls nearly black. In this way is the Emperor of Morocco, but lighter. Of the white striped with blue, Zebra is the most singular, the standards, falls, and petaloids all being striped ; next is Salter's Zebrina, the standards being soft lilac, spotted at the base, and the falls striped ; the last variety of this is a seedling, with the standards white, and the falls striped with deep blue- purple - this is very telling, and is named J. Jenner Weir.
Of the yellows, flavescens as a light colour still holds its own, while ‘Aurea’ is unsurpassable as a bright yellow. A new one of mine, named ‘Gold Crest’, is very good, the standards and falls being chromey-white, edged with deep yellow, with a few light purple blotches on the latter.
Salter's Gipsy Queen is peculiar, the standards being a yellowish- grey, the falls deep blue-purple, reticulated, white. His Jacquiana’ is lovely, the standards are of a light orange, shaded with carmine, and the falls a deep carmine- purple, the beard cream. I raised a seedling from this about fifteen years ago, the standards being light crimson-sulphur suffused with blue, the falls a deep bluish-purple, reticulated with white at the base, with orange beard ; the flower is large and fine in form, and is called Harrison Weir by Mr. Barr. I have two very beautiful veined varieties, raised by Mr. Salter, of the squalens type; one is Venus, the other Venosa. I have raised a third; this is a soft fawn colour, the falls being slightly suffused with pink, named Fallow Deer. Goldfinch is lovely, standards and falls deep yellow, the latter reticulated with bright red. Lady Jane is a reddish-pink, well worth growing, as is Miralbs, of a similar colour. Cordelia is one of the most beautiful, and is remarkably rich in colouring of the red-purple type, with reddish-lavender standards. Darius is fine, as is De Bergii. Iris pallida is a large light blue, while pallida dalmatica is grand in size, colour and form, being one of if not the largest of all; it is also sweet-scented. All these are good, and will well repay the grower for any time or trouble he may take or expense he may incur, and not only be a delight to himself but to his friends also.

Harrison Weir, Sevenoaks, June 23 1894.


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