Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris SMOKEY BABE

Another pleasant surprise this bloom season!
This iris colouration reminds me of the Intermediate Iris 'Confederate Soldier' both are an odd concoction of colours, but find the right place in the the garden for them to grow and they turn out to be winners.
'Smokey Babe' is a good grower but does have a little trouble getting all its bloom stalks above the foliage in its first year, although I have been informed that it sets itself right in its second year of growing. As you can see it's a smoky lavender plicata,with upright and open standards, moderately ruffled falls and a mysterious but sweet fragrance. Beards are white tipped blue lavender and are certainly a stand-out feature.
'Smokey Babe' has been bred by the late Mrs. Lynette Black who also registered two other Standard Dwarf Irises, 'Plum's & Custard' (registered at the same time as 'Smokey Babe') and 'Kiwi Lass'. Mrs. Black who lived in Heriot a small settlement in West Otago was a Test Garden Director for the NZIS from 1992 until 2000. Now I know where I can purchase 'Kiwi Lass' but as for 'Plum's & Custard' who knows? anyone reading this that does know, drop me a line.

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist 2011

SMOKEY BABE Mrs L. Black, Reg., 1996. Sdlg. 89-54-H. SDB, 10″, (26cm), ML ; Smokey lavender plicata markings on cream white ground; beards blue lavender; ruffled; pronounced sweet fragrance. Muchacha X Court Magician. Netherby Gardens, 1996/97.

This was one of a few Irises I was more than just a wee bit dubious about purchasing and then having to grow this iris at home, the reason for my apprehension, well you would have needed to see the photo used to sell this iris on Trade me was pretty bloody awful, OK lets not beat about the bush the photo was appalling and frankly if the Iris bloomed at home looking like the trade me photo it would of been on the compost heap already. I made the decision to purchase knowing that most New Zealand hybridisers have a good eye, also very few people I assume would register an iris that looked as bad as the Trade Me photo and as you can see my good faith paid dividends! Can someone inform me why does anyone want to make a Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris look like an out of focus Three Prong Frizbee on acid??
As 'Smokey Babe' and several other irises from the same supplier showed once they started growing that they where shipped with fungal infections (I assume as a bonus for no extra cost) they where all subjected to a rigorous spray programme with a systemic fungicide (Taratek 5F) and this also could have had an affect on the bloom height.

Its sad that some clueless commercial growers of irises in New Zealand can't be bothered having a robust spray programme for fungal infections like leaf spot and think it is OK to send you infected plants, but they also want to charge a premium price for doing so. If you do nothing its rapidly becomes like a leaf spot chain letter. The solution? just don't purchase irises from these growers again but make sure you write to them and let them know your displeasure. I do! And they sure as hell don't make it to the New Zealand Iris Growers link list above.

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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