Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Iris Re-Christened SUNSET, The Garden 1922.

Below is the story of the Iris Re-Christened Iris Sunset. It is as relevant today as when first published in 1922.

June 17, 1922.
Iris ochracea-coerulea. A very delightful Iris. The standards are copper coloured and the falls have brown reticulations with a yellow base.
The blade is bluish, shading to copper. Award of Merit. This variety was raised by Mr. Denis of Balaruc-les-Bains and shown by Mr. W. R. Dykes.

June 24, 1922.
The richly if somberly tinted Sunset, also illustrated, also marks a notable advance. It received a well deserved award of merit at the recent Iris Show under the clumsy name I. ochracea-coerulea. Very free flowering and an excellent grower, its good form the picture will attest. It is, we understand, to be distributed this autumn by Messrs. G. G. Whitelegg and Co.

July 8, 1922.
AT the Iris Conference held at the R.H.S meeting on June 7 one of the points raised was the desirability of the regulation of Iris names. This was emphatically advocated by almost every speaker. Mr. Dykes, Mr.Wister, M. Mottet and others agreed that the duplication of names was to be strongly deprecated, and various suggestions were made for the purpose of ensuring that in the future no new Iris should be sent out under a name that has already been used. The American Iris Society have compiled a list of names under which Irises have been distributed from time to time, and it was proposed that the English and French raisers should so far as possible consult this list and make it a basis of a permanent record, so that duplication should not occur in the future. On opening The Garden for June 24 the necessity for some such arrangement becomes very apparent.
In 1914 we received at Colchester some plants from M. Denis of Balaruc-les-Bains under the name Iris Ochracea-coerulea. This variety was shown by Mr. W. R. Dykes on June 7 and received the award of merit. According to 'The Garden', someone has now decided to rechristen this variety " Sunset." In the first place, has anyone other than the raiser any authority for altering the name given by him to one of his productions ? Secondly, if it was considered necessary to alter the name, surely some suggestion would be made by the Floral Committee of the R.H.S. when considering the flower for award, and the natural course would be for them to certificate the plant on its merits with the suggestion that the raiser be consulted regarding the alteration of the name. As far as one can gather, no suggestion of this sort was made. Thirdly, on referring to the Check List published by the American Iris Society, I find there is already an Iris registered by the Society under the name of Sunset. If therefore this Iris, after having been in existence in English gardens for eight years as Ochracea-coerulea and having been certificated by the R.H.S. under that name, is now to have this name changed in such a casual manner, nothing but confusion can be the result, especially if the substituted name is that of another Iris already in cultivation. It is certain that some firms will adhere to the only name to which it is at present entitled, and we shall therefore have this variety being distributed to the public under two distinct names, one of which is already borne by another variety.
There is also a slightly misleading statement in the same issue of The Garden, namely, that it is " to be distributed this autumn." As it was in cultivation in England in 1914 and registered by the American Iris Society as having been distributed in 1919, this statement is a little misleading.
Certainly Ochracea-coerulea is cumbersome and somewhat misleading. The first thought it conveys to one hearing the name for the first time without seeing the plant is that it may have something to do with two species or varieties that have nothing to do with the section to which it belongs. For instance, Baker gives the variety Ochracea of Regel as a form of I. iberica. I notice even the American Iris Society seems to have lost sight of this fact, as it has registered the name of this tall bearded variety in its " standardised plant names " as Ochracea. It may be that in the effort of the Society to eliminate double-barrelled names it has unconsciously erred in the duplication of varieties under the same name.
Certainly something definite and authoritative would seem to be necessary, and if the name is to be altered it should be done in such a way that the new name can be universally accepted as correct. In the meantime we have only one authoritative name for it, and that is the one under which it was certificated by the R.H.S. and introduced by the raiser. 

George Dillistone.

CORRESPONDENCE, July 22, 1922.
OUR attention has been drawn to a letter appearing in your issue of July 8 over the signature " George Dillistone," criticising our action in giving "the supplementary name " Sunset " to M. Denis' beautiful Iris Ochracea-coerulea.
We think it is desirable to state that Mr. George  Dillistone is a member -we believe a director - of the firm of R. Wallace and Co., Limited, of Tunbridge Wells. A few of your readers may he aware of this, but the majority probably are not, and we draw attention to the fact because we will not be drawn into a controversy with a trade competitor in the – columns of the amateur gardening press ; it would be neither interesting nor edifying to your readers.
We wish to say that those of your readers who are interested in this matter will, we think, be quite satisfied with the manner in which we have dealt with Iris Ochracea-coerulea in our Iris catalogue if they will be good enough to refer to this publication.
We must also add that, so far as we are aware, "this Iris has never been offered to the public in any Iris catalogue hitherto published in this country, on the Continent, or in America, and that if we should have stated at any time that we are distributing it this season, we should have been perfectly justified in doing so. Further, the name " Sunset " has not previously been appropriated for any other variety in any Iris catalogue with which we are familiar, nor does it appear in the American Iris Society's List of Irises (at any rate, not in our copy), as stated by Mr. Dillistone, and we have every right to use it as a supplementary name. Our reasons for doing so are sufficiently obvious and well founded.
We have never willingly misled our customers with regard to any matter in connection with the plants we sell, and we are not doing so in this case.
G. G. Whitelegg & Co.

CORRESPONDENCE, July 29, 1922.
WHY Messrs. G. G. Whitelegg and Co. should consider it necessary to " broadcast " the news that I am associated with the firm of R. Wallace and Co., Limited, I do not know, after fifteen years connexion with that firm it would be hopeless for me to prove an alibi, even if that association were a crime. In any case, if it is a crime, I am proud to be able to plead guilty.
With reference to the remark about the manner in which they have dealt with Iris Ochracea-coerulea in their Iris catalogue, I have no doubt that this is quite satisfactory. In any case it is a matter of indifference to me. Reference to my notes on this question must convince everyone interested that nothing that I have written was intended to cast an aspersion on either their commercial integrity or business procedure. I have the highest opinion of both.
One point, however, in the letter that does concern me is the accusation of my lack of veracity,and this I am compelled to deal with.
They say : " This Iris has never been offered in any Iris catalogue hitherto published in this country, on the Continent, or in America." One example will be sufficient. I have before me two successive editions of the catalogue of Messrs. Millet et Fils, a French firm of some considerable standing, and in both I find the following ; in the second edition the page is 13 :

"OCHRACEA-COERULEA (Denis) très tàrdif, jaune citron et mauve lilacè, violet cobée, coloris original " (followed by price).

The next statement made in their letter is that " the name Sunset has not previously been appropriated for any other variety in any Iris catalogue with which we are familiar, nor does it appear in the American Iris Society's List of Irises," etc. I do not know which edition of the Iris Check List they possess, but in the copy that I have before me, on page 34, in the second column, the thirteenth name down the list is Sunset T. B.
With reference to their concluding remark in this paragraph. They have the indisputable right to name any number of different plants with the name " Sunset " if they wish to do so ; whether it is wise or conducive to the avoidance of complications is another matter.
  I might point out that, in addition to being registered in America among the varieties in commerce in 1919, see Iris Check List, page 18, column I, thirteenth name down the list (curious how this 13 recurs), and having been certificated in London, it has also been certificated by the Society Nationale Horticole de France under the name Ochracea-coerulea. This latter award had escaped my notice when writing previously.
Thanking you in anticipation for your courtesy. -
George Dillistone (of R. Wallace and Co., Limited, Tunbridge Wells)


A blue Iris with a orange beard was sold in America as 'SUNSET' as well. 

AIS Checklist 1939 listed the many versions of SUNSET as follows ;

SUNSET Span-S6L ; Barr, 1898.
SUNSET TB ; W.J. Cararne, 1901.
SUNSET Eng. B9L ; J. Backhouse,1902.
SUNSET TB ; A. Bliss
SUNSET Jap-Dbl-7RD ; Elliot Nursery, Pittsburgh,1926.

Today the AIS Irisregister E Database states
SUNSET No description available for most 1939 & 1949 registrations.

As you can see above  incorrect listings of Irises are an age old problem and today you can still find Irises being sold with names like 'Kerry's Red', 'Dulldoug' or 'Junes Pink' which can lead to problems in later years. At times to ID irises can seem like beating a dead snake.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Siberian Iris SNOW QUEEN

Not sure how the Siberian Iris Society came up with the 18 inches (46cm) height of Snow Queen as it grows 6-8 inches taller than their checklist height and small flowers are reported by HIP in their photo galleries, which most other catalogue listings would indicate small is not a great bloom size description. The 1939 Checklist show a listing for 'Snow Queen' as a Illustration in 'The Garden'  28th July, 1917, page 298, so I have taken this opportunity to show the image as referred, it accompanied an article written by Robert Wallace of Robert W. Wallace & Co. nurserymen, specialist in Irises for many years. I will see if I can dig out the Wallace catalogue of 1902 and look up the listing and see what it says, (I will post this at a latter date).
'Snow Queen' a natural hybrid of  I. sanguinea and is an exceptionally nice example of a historic Siberian Iris. Clumps up quickly, and becomes a welcome addition to any classic or modern garden.

Courtesy 'The Garden', 28th July, 1917.

 The Garden, 28th July, 1917.
June in a Devon Garden, A Garden of Little-Known Shrubs and Hardy Plants, Robert W. Wallace.
COVERING about an acre, the interesting garden of Mr. Eden Phillpotts, the famous Devon novelist, contains within its walls an unusually fine collection of little-known trees, flowering shrubs and plants........................................................
On a slightly lower level a new pond has been prepared, into which, with great care and interest has been placed the greatest of all Water Lilies — the glorious ruby 'Escarboucle' — and as a companion 'Mrs. Richmond', with its magnificent flowers of soft pink. I do not think there are any two finer Water Lilies than these. Again, beyond these in the surmounting beds are masses of Iris orientalis and Snow Queen in a happy contrast, while Primulas and a host of other moisture-loving subjects are planted in close proximity, including the new golden yellow Marsh Primrose.

Robert Wayman, Bayside, New York. Irises 193
SNOW QUEEN Collected By Peter Barr 1900) this is a very handsome snowy white flower, with rich yellow markings at the throat. It is large enough to be mistaken for a Japanese Iris and is very free flowering. The flower is of a firm waxy texture. It is the best white and should be in every collection.
50c each ; 3 for $1.25 ; 6 for $2.00 ; 100 for $25.00.

The Society for Siberian Irises.
Cumulative Check List of Siberian Irises, 2006.
SNOW QUEEN Collected By Peter Barr Listed 1900 Collected in Japan SIB (dip.) (18" 46 cm) M & re White form of  I. sanguinea.   Peter Barr 1900 AM: RHS: 1902

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, December 15, 2013

Iris Evansia, Iris Japonica, Crested Iris, FAIRYLAND

Dainty white speckled florets smother this plant making a truly welcome display that starts in late winter and continues until the Tall Bearded Iris. Flowers are listed as in the checklist as B7 (Pink to Red toned self) which is just so completely wide of the mark. This plant has smaller growing sword like glossy green leaves, has no canes but sheathed stolons spread from plants traveling close to the surface quickly establish new plants that lead to form a large clump. In New Zealand  'Fairyland' grows best in semi shade as our harsh sun tends to badly burn the leaves. Registered by James C. Stevens of New York and introduced by Samuel Berry of Redlands, Southern California, who specialised in species Iris. My 'Fairyland' plant was gifted to me by Mary Richardson of Upper Hutt, whose garden is just full of New Zealand Iris History and also pleasantly packed with Iridaceae bulbs that put on a bold complementary display in the spring and early summer.

IRISES, A Gardener's Encyclopedia, Claire Austin.
Iris japonica
This short, spreading plant bears white flowers on upright stems. Height 30cm (12in.) Parentage I. Uwodu X (an American form) X  I. confusa.

AIS Checklist 1939
FAIRYLAND James C. Stevens, Reg 1936  Evansia. Ev.-E-B7 L  I. uwodu X I. confusa. J C Stevens 1936.

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

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bearded Historic Iris GYPSY QUEEN

I was given this iris from the owner of a large Estate which has magnificent gardens in the year 2006 as an 'Iris of Antiquity' and was first recorded as growing in these gardens in 1896.
The 1904 H C Gibbons Bulb Catalogue, Hutt Valley Nurseries, Upper Hutt, is the earliest cataloguing I could find in a New Zealand plant nursery and the iris was listed as HAMLET which is a synonym for Gypsy Queen. (See 1939 Checklist description below) Adding to this the first time 'Gypsy Queen' bloomed at home in 2007, identification was complicated as  'The Historic Iris Society' had a completely different variety of an iris displayed on their web site as 'Gypsy Queen', the 1929 AIS Checklist listed Gypsy Queen as a Tall Bearded, then the 1939 AIS Checklist changed its classification to a Intermediate Bearded Iris. Now for an Iris that flower height is 76-91 cm (30"-36") and its bloom period is toward the end of the Tall Bearded Iris season and these two facts took 'Gypsy Queen' well outside the Intermediate Iris classification. Today it would most likely
be classified as a Miniature Tall Bearded Iris or 'Table Iris' as I still like to call them. Then to really throw a spanner in the works a New Zealander in 2005 recklessly renamed 'Gypsy Queen' (At the time a iris with lost label) and registered it as 'Braemar Station'. One of the great evils of antique irising is the application of entirely new names to existing cultivars.
 All of the above led to confusion with many people, making 'Gypsy Queen' one of the most complicated
conformation of an Iris ID I have ever been involved in. 

Gypsy Queen standards are open and coloured old gold that has been airbrushed with a smoky rose tone, inside the bottom of the standards colours are lemon lime with purple maroon veining. Style arms yellow with greyed centres.  Falls are white tinged yellow at haft and edges, heavily veined deep red-purple confluent to solid black; beards white deepening to old gold, mild citrus fragrance. Nice clean foliage with a nice level of Purple bottom foliage. This iris was one of the parents Fryer used in his hybridising, and its imprint is seen in W. J. Fryer and Kathryn Fryer.

 H. C. Gibbons & Co.,Hutt Valley Nurseries,Upper Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Bulb Catalogue 1904.
amlet Standards and Falls straw and peuce, dark veins.

Biltmore Nursery, Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, The Iris Catalog, 1911
Gypsy Queen. Still another unusual and welcome blending of rich colors is found in this meritorious variety. Standards are of golden hue shaded with smoked pearl, and the falls are dark maroon with delicate tracings of pale yellow. It blooms late.

The Dean lris Gardens, Moneta, California.The Iris 1916.
SQUALENS GROUP The standards are clouded shades of copper,bronze and fawn.
Gypsy Queen (syn. La Prestigieuse). S. old gold, shaded smoked pearl; F. black-maroon, reticulated light yellow. Each, 25c.

Farr's Hardy Plant Specialities, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.Seventh Edition 1922.
SQUALENS GROUP The standards are clouded shades of copper,bronze and fawn.
GYPSY QUEEN (syn. La Prestigieuse). S. old gold, shaded smoked-pearl; F. black-maroon, reticulated light yellow; late bloomer. 2 ft.

A.B. Katkamier, Macedon, New York. Hints to Pleasure and to Profit in Growing the Iris, 1931.
Gypsie Queen; Honey yellow : Black maroon. Tall. Strong.

Cornell Extension Bulletin 112, Austin W. Sand, 1925.
Gypsy Queen (Salter before 1859) 
Color effect an old gold, velvety maroon veined bicolor.Standards honey yellow to old gold much undulated. Falls velvety maroon-brown to blackish brown , distinctly  veined to a point one-half inch from the end of the blade. The edge blends yellow to old gold on the haft. Occasional lavender or cream white flecks occur on the blade. This plant is a vigorous grower, and has stiff, slender, deep green  foliage, tinged purple at the base. The flower spikes are tall and well and widely branched.It is very late bloom, its dull color combinations like those found in the Cypripedium orchid and its early history,being a parent of the variegata groups, make it still worthy of selection.

1939 AIS Checklist
GYPSY QUEEN IB-MLa-S6M John Salter before 1859 Floricultural Cabinet and Florist Magazine 29 172 June 1859: L'Illustration Horticole 40: tab 182 1893%%. The Garden Chronicle 14th July 1899; Farr, 1912; Francis 1920; Bonnnewitz, 1920; A.B. Katkamier 1939; Journal Royal Horticultural Society January 1928 page 146 Trials; germanica gypsea; Hamlet; La Prestigieuse; Queen of Gipsies; Reine des Fees; Reine des Pays; Virgil (Lovett); Gypsie Queen; 

Note: The above checklist notation L'Illustration Horticole 40: tab 182 1893 %% is another of the early checklist anomalies as the L'Illustration Horticole published full page colour plate image of Iris Germanica var. Gypsea which shows a white coloured Iris that has all the appearances of a Florentina hybrid of sorts. The percent sign (%) is the symbol used in the 1929 and 1939 Checklist to indicate % -Illustrated and %%- Colour Plate.

Perhaps the very, very small group of people within 'The Historic Iris Preservation Society' who are currently embarking on a campaign to 'call out' iris growers who are growing and displaying images of what is now known as 'The fake Gypsy Queen' should be mindful of the fact that HIPS photos at a time 'not so long ago' were also stating the so called 'The fake Gypsy Queen' was the real deal and at that time 
these gardeners could have used HIPS as an authoritative means to identify their Iris!!! 'Pot calling kettle black'??

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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Saturday, December 7, 2013


The Garden Chronicle November 30th. 1901

This addition to the race of early spring flowering Irises is the result of many years of experiment in hybridising Irises, undertaken, in so far as the plants of this section of Iris is concerned, with a view to the improvement of that very promising little group of dwarf bearded Iris which are the first of all the rhizomatous Irises to bloom in the spring, and are included under the names of biflorus, Chamæiris, Olbiensis, pumila, &c., which have one or two variety names to add to their list, but were still very limited both in number and an the range of colour they presented, having nothing of the gorgeousness that the numerous varieties of tall bearded or " Flag " Irises had accustomed us to connect with the word Iris. 'This lack of variety in colour was a considerable bar to any chance of popularity they otherwise deserved — and that they did deserve it was evident from their many other qualities: their freedom in blooming, their acceptance of and delight in a windy, exposed position, where other plants could not thrive; their hardiness, and power to withstand extremes of weather, flourishing on a dry bank where grass was unhappy, and being withal, at every season of the year, neat and cheerful-looking plants, with a pleasant contrast of character in their foliage to all other plants in the border, looking after themselves for the most part, and satisfied with an occasional clean up of weeds and dead leaves, happy in the privilege of being let alone.
Questions which had to be considered at the outset were : What should be done to impart new colours, and to improve the old? Would Nature herself do it by simple intercrossing? Was the artist's pigment theory one that might be reasonably expected to act? or was the scientist with the spectrum right ? for very queer things arise from the admixture of spectrum colours to the eye of Art, and that Nature herself was perfectly independent of any calculations on the matter was evident from the way she produces brilliant scarlet, as in the Pelargonium, &c., when a pure white opaque ground is covered with a thin skin of dingy, semitransparent material which works the miracle — one could not hope to even remotely follow.

However Art stuck to its colours, and the event proved reliable, the pure whites must be set to the credit of Nature alone, and both the yellows, the purples and blues shaded with these as was expected through Art experience. Crimsons, rich yellows, and bronzes had their rudiments in plants of species which were either wholly new, or had been previously unobtainable ; and to whose aid I was, as must be surmised, entirely dependent upon the liberality, kindness, and interest of Sir Michael Foster. With these new means at hand the possibilities of success were greatly forwarded. Many things which had previously seemed hopeless became accomplished facts, though not all at once visible, for Iris raising is a matter of many years' patience, and many pleasant surprises began to arrive.


To describe the Irises which are the result of this inter-crossing of species, which, as regarded their parents, hail from all the alpine and sub-alpine districts of Europe, I have ventured to call them hybrid alpine Iris. One must say that they are rhizomatous plants, with practically evergreen leaves, four or live to a tuft, thin, flat, sword or sickle-shaped, 3 or 4 inches long at flowering-time, afterwards prolonged to 6 or 8 inches, and from half an inch to 1 inch wide, growing out towards the end of the rhizome on all sides, so that the tendency of the plant is to form a circular patch. The flowers are produced in early spring, as soon as the weather breaks and will allow of growth to be made, upon stiff, succulent stalks, which enable them to remain fresh for a long time without water after being cut, and standing from 4 to 8 inches, or in the tallest, 10 inches in height. The flowers are large, often larger than the plant which produces them, and are of similar shape to the German or summer-flowering Iris, with three upright petals, the standards, which in some of the varieties, however, lay flat open, and expose the 3-petaloid styles to view; the three lower petals, or falls, are pendent, sometimes contracted and tucked in, so to speak, and they all have a more or less conspicuous white, primrose-yellow, rich orange, or blue beard.


In colour they range from the purest of white selfs, white standards and cream or yellow falls, white and blue, white and violet and purple, each being white, yellow or orange bearded ; primrose-yellow self, cream and canary-yellow to rich yellow, with conspicuous orange-scarlet beard ; blues from the palest porcelain to deep blue-purple, lavender, violet-purple and crimson self, and bronze and almost black. These, with many changes of smooth or folded petals, long or round, plain, unmarked, or covered with lines, dots, and tracery, make up a sufficiently varied amount of combination and change to please a fastidious taste, and all of them together maintaining a constant relay and succession of flowers from very earliest spring to the end of April or early in May. Indeed, if the weather is mild, they will begin during October, November or December to throw up fitfully one or two flowers.


They have proved a welcome addition to greenhouse (either slightly heated or cold) decoration, they occupy but little space in small pans or 3-inch pots ; and if in clumps larger sizes may be used, but they require very little soil whilst in pots, and are very impatient of much water until growth has well set in, so that it is best to err on the safe side.
If grown in quantity for cutting, shallow boxes are equally satisfactory. In heat they will bloom from January to the end of March ; in a cold-house they commence early in March or end of February, and continue through to April. In all cases plenty of air should be given, especially when in bloom ; for if in a close, stuffy temperature, a minute fungus besprinkles both the petals and leaves, and the remedy is, of course, ventilation. They do not make satisfactory growth in pots, pans, or boxes, and so they should be hardened off and replanted in the open ground as soon as the weather will permit, for it must be remembered that they are hardy plants, accustomed to a rigorous climate.


A free, rather gritty soil is perhaps the best, and provided there is no stagnant moisture about, they are not exacting ; they have thriven in a stiff clay in a windy, exposed, and
sunburnt situation, and in ordinary garden loam. Their roots are voracious feeders, and quickly interlace in all directions where the plant is happy ; but if they get a rather dry,
sunny bank, where it is too hot and dry for most things, their growth may be much smaller, but their flowers will gain greatly in refinement. There is, in fact, no difficulty about their culture, provided that it be understood. Weeds and the shade of trees or large plants are quickly fatal to them, as is stagnant moisture; but beyond this, they are happy almost anywhere — on rockwork, as edgings, small borders, old walls, &c. ; and as they are small, bright green plants, they give an added charm to any situation they may occupy.
Their enemies, other than the conditions above stated, are chiefly the winter-slug, snails, and woodlice, the first two being very destructive. The latter is very insidious and troublesome if not looked after when the plants are grown in dry situations, as it makes its home underneath the rhizomes, or in the interior of the older decayed ones in the centre, and foods on the budding tips of the now roots just at the end of the advancing rhizome, which of course prevents its growth altogether; but these can be trapped or otherwise kept down, should they make their appearance.

In conclusion, it is hoped that they may prove useful, satisfactory, and popular plants, for there are no special cultural difficulties connected with their culture, as is the case with most of the bulbous Iris, together with the magnificent group of Oncocyclus Iris. With the new hybrids of "intermediate" Iris, which have caught the larger habit and flowers of the later, tall, bearded, summer-flowering Iris, together with many of their colours, but winch have placed themselves in time of blooming in front of I. germanica, the tall, blue flag, whose group furnishes the advance guard of summer Iris, we may have a continuous display from the earliest days of Spring, that endures without a break up to

W. J. Caparne, Guernsey.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Tall bearded Iris EXOTIC BLUE

Exotic Blue is another of those astonishing irises that is stunning in its unusual simplicity. Perhaps one of the most out of the square descriptions I read was Lloyd Austin  determination that 'Exotic Blue' was a kind of green and in fact 'Exotic Blue' was listed with the other 'Fascinating approaches to Green'  classified irises in his catalogue (nearly two pages of this colour tone).
This iris along with Burnt Toffee, Crimson Tiger, Infernal Fire,
Millennium Falcon, Tiger Honey, and the Border Bearded Irises like Jungle Shadows, Batik, Network, and the surprisingly named  Baboon Bottom, when they bloom at home always give me time to ponder the unstable genes that are always just below the surface in the Bearded Iris genetics. You can never beat the element of surprise! Keeps you grounded.

Randolph Iris Garden, Ithaca, New York. 1958 Introductions.
Lavender blue tinged with greenish brown. having a heavy matching beard which accentuates its exotic charm. 32". H.C. 1957. Runner-up for the President's Cup at the 1958 Annual Meeting.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July 1959, Number 154, Part 1.
Varietal Comment, Region 7-Nashville Vicinity, Adelaide D. Peterson, Brentwood, Tennessee.
Exotic Blue (Randolph), more than just aptly named. This is a connoisseur's iris which almost defies comparison. Medium in height, with falls a bit narrower than are generally popular, it nevertheless is a type of color break that is a hybridizer's dream come true. Several shades darker than powder-blue, it has a dark blue, olive-tipped beard, an olive green area at the haft with 'purple veining deep inside. While most viewers here stood around it in awe, one irisarian thought it terrible. That's the way with this iris, you're likely either to admire it tremendously or dislike it entirely.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society,October 1960, Number 159.
Varietal Comments by Region 15 Members by Thornton M. Abell, Santa Monica, California.
A few things seen in the Los Angeles area before leaving for the AIS Convention in Portland.
Also in Lura's and Barbara's gardens we saw Randolph's EXOTIC BLUE, a most intriguing flower, a smoky greenish blue with a rusty-violet beard; although  somewhat narrow in form, it was effective.

Rainbow Hybridising Gardens, Placerville, California. Lloyd Austins World Famous Iris Color Guidebook, 1963.
EXOTIC BLUE (Randolph, '58) EM 34"
From our AIS President Dr. Randolph comes this hybridizer's dream come true. Of such spontaneous appeal it was runner-up for President's Cup the year it was introduced. Yes, it's exotic & quite different. A distinctive blend of lilac blue and greenish brown with a matching olive-tipped brown beard. A connoisseur’s iris that defies comparison. [(Mata Hari x Black Forest) x White Wedgwood] JC '59.

AIS Checklist 1959
EXOTIC BLUE  Randolph, Reg. 1957  Sdlg. 51-223-5. TB, 28" (71 cm), M ; Light lavender-blue self, with darker center; brown beard, tipped blue. (Mata Hari x Black Forest) x Wedgwood. Randolph 1958. HM 1958.

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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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

EDENITE and CALIENTE and that blasted wiki iris thing again.

We grow large clumps of 'Edenite' (Plough, '58) and 'Caliente' (Luihn, '69) at home so it was with some wonderment that I recently received an email from a concerned Iris grower about the identification of his Iris and could I inform him if the Iris in the photo attached to his email was Edenite or Caliente??
I replied to the gentleman politely pointing out he must be confused as the two irises are so completely different, and inquired how was it possible to confuse the two varieties?????
Back came the email reply which referred me to a listing for 'Edenite' on that blasted wiki thing and on the page a note states " 'Edenite' is almost identical to 'Caliente' (W. Luihn, R. 1969) The difference is the color of the beard." and 'Yes Folks' after looking at the listing for 'Caliente' there is a double dose of this claptrap, the note on this page states " 'Caliente' is almost identical with 'Edenite' (Plough, R. 1958). The difference is the color of the beard." These pearls of wisdom have been there since 1st February 2011, that's almost three years of misinformation!!

Well I put the gentleman straight that these statements are pure works of fiction which took a bit of convincing as
unsurprisingly he was sure the American Iris Society would know best.  The 'slam dunk' is the above image, but I also copied him the registered descriptions from the 'real' Checklist database, also the introduction notes by Eden Road Gardens and Mission Bell Gardens which all make no mention of this little known look-a-like fantasy.
As readers can see that the official check lists entries below list the colour of 'Edenite' as "Sooty red-black". 'Caliente' on the other hand it's colour is described as "Wine red" two totally different hues. 
I sent the above photo collage to one of Americas most distinguished Irisarians and the reply "THAT'S IT!!! I first saw Caliente in the Luihn garden before introduction. There is NO way it could be confused with Edenite" 

AIS Checklist, 1959.
EDENITE (Plough, R. 1958). Sdlg. 55-11-14. TB 30" EM. RN1. Sooty red-black. Great Day x Sable Night., Eden Road 1959. H.C. 1958, H.M. 1959 A.M. 1961.

Eden Road Iris Garden, Wenatchee, Washington. 1959 introductions.
EDENITE--- EM. 30 in.( Great Day x Sable Night) Entire flower is deep red-black with falls having a sooty black appearance. Flower is large with wide petals. Fertile both ways. H.C. '58 ...........................$35.00 net.

AIS Checklist 1969
CALIENTE    Walter Luihn, Reg. 1967. Sdlg. 64-9. TB 38" ML. R1.    Wine red self; bright gold beard. ((Tompkins 54-173 x Bang) x (Oriental Glory x Huntsman)) X Forward March., Mission Bell 1968. HC 1966, HM 1969.AM 71.

Mission Bell Gardens, Melba and Jim Hamblen,  South Roy, Utah. Introductions for 1968.
CALIENTE (Walt Luihn). ML. 38". Brilliant wine-red of exceptional smoothness and clarity of color, highlighted by a heavy beard of antique gold. The standards are domed and the wide flaring falls have a jaunty lilt. Strong stalks with superb branching and prolific bud count. ((Tompkins 54-173 x BANG) x (ORIENTAL GLORY X HUNTSMAN)) X FORWARD MARCH. Sdlg. 64-9. HC '66 Net $25.00

When this wiki thing was first mooted did someone say the price for the Iris Encyclopedia will be to make the American Iris Society purveyors of inaccurate information?? I think not! But that is what is happening. Apparently a huge amount of the AIS membership do not even own a computer so are blissfully unaware that Iris nomenclature and the status of the AIS as the 'go to' organisation for accurate iris information which members take so much pride in, is being constantly eroded by the inaccuracies deceminated by this Ersatz Iris Encyclopaedia.   
Maybe if the Manager of this iris wiki free-for-all spent more time editing the web site information and less time trying to emulate that Hanna-Barbera animated fictional character 'Muttley wants a medal' the problems highlighted above would have had a slimmer chance of seeing the light of day! But Hey that's not something that's going to change any-time soon.  

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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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tall Bearded Iris CALIENTE

While we are on the subject of 'Bucket List Irises' I just had to take a photo of an Iris I have always considered one of 'The Best of The Best'. 'Caliente' is a Spanish word and when translated into English, it means hot as in attractive, and the photo shows how aptly this iris has been named. In the year 1969 'Caliente' was awarded a Honorable Mention, it was also in the same year entered  in the International Iris Contest in Florence as Seedling 64-9 and was placed third overall in the Premio Firenze, but more importantly in the same competition it won the title 'Best Red'. A vigorous all weather iris with great health, beautiful purple-based foliage which is coupled with generous increase. Claret wine red self with velvet texture and leathery substance. Nice contrast with bright bushy golden beards. Stems are tall, and in keeping with its vintage has candelabrum as opposed to candelabra branching on strong stems, stalks often opening 3 at once, with plenty of backup buds to ensure a great display of blooms for 'Caliente's' super long length of bloom season. 
For me, years ago when I first saw this iris it was an absolute must have, and today is still a high-quality soul soothing classic!!
More on bucket irises in my next post!!!

Region 14 Northern California, Nevada, Regional Bulletin, Fall 1967.
Views from a Crystal Ball, Joe Ghio.
Caliente (Luihn) A sombre deep crimson with a darkish cast. A fine advancement in the red class since it has fine formed flowers on tall, well branched stalks with many buds.

Mission Bell Gardens, Melba and Jim Hamblen,  South Roy, Utah.
Introductions for 1968.
CALIENTE (Walt Luihn). ML. 38". Brilliant wine-red of exceptional smoothness and clarity of color, highlighted by a heavy beard of antique gold. The standards are domed and the wide flaring falls have a jaunty lilt. Strong stalks with superb branching and prolific bud count. ((Tompkins 54-173 x BANG) x (ORIENTAL GLORY X HUNTSMAN)) X FORWARD MARCH. Sdlg. 64-9. HC '66 Net $25.00

Bulletin of the American Iris Society,April 1968, Number 189.
'My Want List', Larry M. Harder.

Walter Luihn has a new red iris that is scheduled as a future introduction called CALIENTE. This is the first yellow-bearded red iris that has impressed me. I also noted the outstanding branching of this variety.

Richmond Iris Garden, 376 Hill Street, Nelson. Bearded Irises 1971-72.
CALIENTE  - M.L. 36"
Brilliant wine red of exceptional smoothness highlighted by a wide heavy beard of antique gold.

Schreiners Salem,Oregon. Iris Lover's catalog 1971
CALIENTE   (W.Luihn, 1967) ML. 38"
Brilliant wine red of exceptional smoothness and luminous color highlighted by a wide heavy beard of antique gold. A wide-petaled beauty with domed standards and jaunty flaring falls.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog, 1982.
CALIENTE   (Luihn, '67) ML. 36"
Brilliant wine red, highlighted by a wide heavy beard of antique gold. Wide-petaled  ith domed standards and flaring falls. HC, '66 ; HM, '62 ; AM, '71 ;

Bay Blooms Nurseries, Cambridge Road, Tauranga Spring / Summer 1996 Catalogue.
Bearded Irises
CALIENTE. This smooth, deep brown-red is an absolute self except for the harmonising bronze beards that are hardly noticeable. Round full form.
(The beard colour description for Bay Blooms beggars belief they were either describing another Iris or were colour blind, their is no way Caliente's beard  is hardly noticeable.)

AIS Checklist 1969
CALIENTE    Walter Luihn, Reg. 1967. Sdlg. 64-9. TB 38" ML. R1.    Wine red self; bright gold beard. ((Tompkins 54-173 x Bang) x (Oriental Glory x Huntsman)) X Forward March., Mission Bell 1968. HC 1966, HM 1969.AM 71.

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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Friday, November 22, 2013

Tall bearded Iris COUNTRY MANOR

A 40 year old Classic Iris that superlatives still do it little justice. Giant sized blooms with just the right amount of ruffling are carried on sturdy tall stalks with three branches and spur and nine to twelve buds.Standards are an warm white with light lemon at midribs. Nicely ruffled falls with light yellow hafts and yellow beard colours diffuses throughout the falls to give a buttery cream effect. A very good grower that shows great increase. Fertile.  Breathtaking! Another of my Bucket Irises!

Mrs Richard P. Kegerise, Temple, Philadelphia. Introducing for 1973.

COUNTRY MANOR Sdlg. 20-70 T.B. M-L 38-40 in. Cup Race X 1-66 (Swan Ballet x Rippling Waters)
A large ruffled creamy white. Light yellow hafts and yellow beard create a glowing center. Nicely held standards and rounded falls. An exceptionally strong well-branched stalk having three branches and terminal-at times an additional spur. It consistently blooms with three open flowers at one time. Bud count nine. A good increaser and fertile both ways. Indeed a show stalk. HC '72 $25.00

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July 1973, Number 210.
The Philadelphia Story, Hal Stahly.
After lunch at the Good and Plenty (it was both!) in Lancaster, we headed toward Reading, the location of the Kegerise gardens. There are two of these gardens, tended by two sisters who married brothers, both of whom are iris hybridizers. It all sounds very complicated in writing, when it is really rather simple; since the sisters are the hybridizers, we'll just refer to the gardens as that of Eleanor K. and that of Evelyn K. While Eleanor is working the irises, husband Richard must be manicuring the lawn-not a weed in the broad expanse of grass. Here too we heard birds chirping in their fine pin oak. Eleanor Kegerise's own COUNTRY MANOR was putting on a tremendous show here at its birthplace. This big warm white with yellow shoulders and beard has fine fluted ruffles, good substance, beautiful form, and a really magnificent stalk with four and five branches plus terminal. It later won the President's Cup.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1990, Number 279.
An Iris Season in Review. Ted White (Maine)
20. COUNTRY MANOR (El. Kegerise '73) is an iris that grows like a tree ! It's stems usually measure 40" or more and carry a very generous 10-12 buds. The color is a creamy white with light golden yellow at the hafts and yellow beards. Country Manor often has 3-5 flowers open at once and usually does well on the show-bench. AM '76

AIS Checklist 1979
COUNTRY MANOR   Eleanor Kegerise, Reg. 1972. Sdlg. 20-70. TB 39" (99 cm) M.     S. white; F. white with light yellow hafts; yellow beard; ruffled. Cup Race X 1-66: (Swan Ballet x Rippling Waters)., Eleanor Kegerise 1973. President's Cup 1973,HM 1974, AM 1976.

I note the pod parent is that great white Tall Bearded Iris 'Cup Race', runnerup for the 1972 Dykes Medal. A little known fact is that 'Cup Race' led at several times during the voting for the Dykes Medal in 1972, and three days before the end of the talley, was in the lead.................. just a little digression . 
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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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris MISSION SONG

Only one of the parents are known which is no big deal when the known pod parent is Schreiner's amazingly golden yellow 'Golden Ecstasy '89" which itself has parents of two of the best yellows Schreiner's ever produced 'Tut's Gold' and 'Yukon Fever' so with only a solo parent known 'Mission Song' was always likely to have a good start in life. The colour combination is nothing really new or innovated, yellow standards, white falls with a full yellow band, a similar colour combination can be found in 'Joyce Terry' (Muhlestein) or that great Dykes classic, 'Debby Rairdon' (Kuntz) but 'Misson Song' has larger blooms that are a brighter glittering yellow, White falls with yellow reverse have a nice gold bushy beard. This is a very impressive Iris, but it has to be said its no bobby dazzler when it comes to increase its a wee bit on the slow side with growth but plant health is great. I have only just started to grow irises from Eric Braybrook a relatively unknown hybridiser from Gisborne who registered his first irises in 1999, but his introductions have not been commercially available until recently, and you guessed it, no publicity about this hybridiser or his irises by that New Zealand Iris club thing, but promoting New Zealand bred Irises is probably far too radical for that conservative organisation!  

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Checklist 2013
MISSION SONG (Eric Braybrook, R. 2010) Sdlg. 94/15/A. TB, 32" (82 cm), M  S. yellow; F. white, edges yellow; beards yellow; slight fragrance. Golden Ecstasy X unknown.

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, November 3, 2013


 This has been an outstanding Iris for me ever since it first bloomed at home. Ruffled sunshine yellow standards that are open, and a peak on the inside revels a colour change to a diffused white. Flared and nicely ruffled falls are mahogany copper red with a bright yellow starburst pattern extending down the falls,with antique gold colouring the underside of the falls and is also the edging colour top side.  Wonderful proper proportions,and beautiful healthy deep green foliage. Taller than the registered height. Slight fragrance. A very masculine look that just calls to visitors across the garden.

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Checklist 2013
IRWELL WALTZ TIME  (Ron Busch, R. 2010). Sdlg. 1882/4012. TB, 32" (81 cm), M. S. and style arms gold; F. copper red with gold influence, wide gold patch below gold beard, ½" yellow border. Parentage unknown.

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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Tall Bearded Iris PAUL BLACK

A intoxicating, bold, nicely ruffled violet blue self – with absolute knockout orange vermilion beards. Nice fragrance. Consistent in colour, has show branching form and great bud count. High health plants with a generous increase. From a classy cross  'Tom Johnson' (Black 1996) X 'Star Fleet' (Keppel 1993). Ticks all the boxes this one, and comes with a most impressive award list, The Franklin Cook Cup 2004, Honorable Mention 2005, Walther Cup for most Honorable Mention votes in 2005, 1st Place International Iris Trials in Florence Italy 2005, Award of Merit 2007, Wister Medal 2009, Dykes Medal 2010. Very glad to have this iris growing at home.

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia. Iris, Daylilies, Hosta Catalogue 2005-2006.
PAUL BLACK (Johnson 03 USA.) ML 42" Rich regal purple self with metallic sheen. Beards are a screaming dark orange. Excellent show stems with ten to twelve buds.(Tom Johnson X Star Fleet) HM 05 Walther Cup 05 for most HM votes.

BOURDILLON IRIS Champagne 41230 Soings en Sologne. Iris- Hémérocalles - Pivoines. Collection 2013.
PAUL BLACK  €10,00  MT.1m. DM 2010.
Entièrement bleu nuit avec une barbe orange. Sépales larges aux longues ondulations. Plait beaucoup !

Cayeux, La Carcaudière - Route de Coullons, France. Iris Lovers Catalogue, 2013.
ML - 105 cm 2011 £ 10.80
Excellent in every way! Ruffled, richly coloured, plain, dark to mid purple-blue flowers, contrasting strongly against the orange beards. Superb stems bearing 11 to 12 buds. This beauty is combined with vigorous growing habits and a spicy scent. Winner of numerous prizes when it first came out and awarded the Dykes Medal in 2010.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 2013 Collectors Edition, Iris Lovers Catalog.

PAUL BLACK (Johnson 03) ML 42"
This stunning dark purple self demonstrates all around excellence. Paul Black's tall show-bench stems bear 11-12 triple-socketed buds. Its large flowers have excellent ruffled form and are smoothly saturated in dark purple color. The dark orange beards create a fascinating color combination. A pronounced spicy fragrance enhances its appeal.Franklin Cup '04, HM '05, Walther Cup '05, 1st Place International Iris Trials in Florence Italy '05, AM '07, Wister Medal '09, Dykes Medal '10.

Mid-America Garden, Salem, Oregon. 2013 Catalog
PAUL BLACK (T.Johnson 03) Mid violet blue. Orange beards. Lovely perfume. Winner of Dykes Medal 2010.

AIS Checklist 2009
PAUL BLACK (Thomas Johnson, R. 2002). Seedling R103A. TB, height 42" (107 cm), Mid Late bloom season. Medium dark purple blue; beards dark orange; pronounced spicy fragrance. 'Tom Johnson' X 'Star Fleet'. Mid-America 2003; Franklin Cook Cup 2004; Honorable Mention 2005; Award of Merit 2007; Wister Medal 2009; American Dykes Medal 2010.

A bloody terrible iris to photograph with any camera but digital cameras seem to be worse. The light-meter thinks its focusing on the dead of night so automatically engages the flash. Believe it or not the only way I could get this photo to work was a early dawn shot and set the camera to anti-blur.
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, November 1, 2013

Tall Bearded Iris CIRCUS STRIPES

Some in the past have criticised 'Circus Stripes' because it lacks consistency with its plicata striations..................Now ain't that amazing huh!!!!
'Circus Stripes' is a classic campanula violet or grape juice [Ref 1]
coloured plicata on a 'pure as the' white base .
Domed standards have striations radiating from the bottom of the midrift towards a heavily coloured solid edge. Wide and flaring falls with vagarious striations that end in a semi solid but also feathered margin. Great branching, blooms often opening 2 or 3 at once on strong stalks. Swollen buds are an additional visual feature. After 38 years 'Circus Stripes' is still daring and irresistibly original.

Schreiner's, Salem, Oregon, 57th Annual, Iris Lovers Catalog, 1982.
CIRCUS STRIPES   (Plough, 1976) EM. 36"
How well named! This Iris is theatrical in the boldness of its etched markings. Its campanula violet veining in the center turns into heavier plicata edges on the petal tips as if a paint pot was spilled over white ground. Dramatic and stagey in appearance. You and your friends will surely stop and look at this exciting novelty. A well branched and most satisfactory grower.HM 78

AIS Checklist 1979
CIRCUS STRIPES  G. Plough, Reg. 1975. Sdlg. 69-17-3. TB 30" (76 cm) M.     S. white, edges veined campanula violet, heavier at tip; F. white, overall veining of campanula violet; white to yellow beard. Winner's Circle X 66-73-19, sib., Eden Road 1976. Honorable Mention 1978

Colours can vary from garden to garden or different soil types
As usual, clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.

[Ref 1]
[Ref 1]
[Ref 1]
[Ref 1] Maerz and Paul, Dictionary of Color, 1st ed. color 219

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Border Bearded Iris CRYSTAL BAY

Blooming today the award winning Border Bearded Iris 'Crystal Bay'. Described as a warm white with a neat medium blue border. Not sure if it is a plicata or is it what is now known as the 'Emma Cook' pattern?? Photo taken after a night of hard rain and cold temperature and shows 'Crystal Bay' resistance to inclement weather, and its ability to maintain its composure and star qualities. Not a great increaser but plants have good health.  Parentage includes Paul Cooks 'Kiss me Kate', Whole Cloth, Progenitor, and Jean Stevens 'Polar Cap'.
A mighty fine piece of Iris history to be growing at home.

Bennett C. Jones, Portland, Oregon. Introductions for 1966.
CRYSTAL BAY Sdgl.#B20-2 ((Kiss Me Kate x (Polar Cap x Progenitor)) X ((Polar Cap x Progenitor) x Whole Cloth)) Domed closed standards are warm white. Falls are warm white, bordered blue. Beautiful flower form and plant proportion- a true Border iris. H.C. 1965  26"............................................$10.00

AIS Checklist 1969
CRYSTAL BAY   Bennett Jones, Reg. 1965. Sdlg. B 20-2. BB 26" M. W1Bcm.    S white; F white with blue border. ((Kiss Me Kate x (Polar Cap x Progenitor)) X ((Polar Cap x Progenitor) x Whole Cloth))., Jones 1966. HC 1966, HM 1967, JC 1967, 1968, AM 1969.

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

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Tall Bearded Iris LOYAL DEVOTION

This is a very early blooming Tall Bearded Iris which is always a worry as 'we at home' are still in the peak Nor-westerlies season. Just two days ago wind gusts of 170kph arrived then left and I spent the next days cutting up two large 8 metre olive trees that were completely levelled, so bloom stalks on tall bearded irises were completely out of their league, I am still finding horizontal bloom stalks.
Can't say this is my favourite time of the year coming back home to find mother nature has been so bloody ruthless, but as the saying goes 'every garden path has its puddle'.
'Loyal Devotion' with its appropriate name opened its stunning medium blue bloom this morning similar in colour  to 'Color Me Blue' (Schreiner '97) but a more earlier 80's classic form.
My understanding is that this iris was never well distributed internationally so its kinda a real surprise to have it growing in New Zealand and it has completely disappeared from New Zealand commercial catalogues which is a shame as early light blues that can endure strong winds are rarer than rocking horse droppings .

Contemporary Views, 1988, Perry Dyer. Tall Beardeds by Color Group; Light Blues.
LOYAL DEVOTION (Waltermire 1982) was as good as it has ever been; looking good in virtually every garden. I don’t know what the Spences have in that soil of theirs, but I have never seen ‘Loyal Devotion’ with such a true blue. The branching is rather close to the stalk, but the flowers open without touching the stalk, and it looks good on the show bench. The timing of the bloom sequence in a clump is especially good, assuring a long season of bloom.

Contemporary Views, 1992, Perry Dyer, Dark Horse Award Runner sup.
One of the bluest true-blues in the kingdom is the Tall Bearded LOYAL DEVOTION (Waltermire 1982), a pure, crystalline clearwater blue displayed on an acceptable stalk with good bud count. The entire flower is diamond-dusted, which further enlivens the flower. Plant habits are beyond reproach.

Bay Blooms Nurseries, Cambridge Road, Tauranga Spring / Summer 1996 Catalogue.
One of the bluest of the blues we have ever grown. Super ruffled light blue with excellent branching and good growth. Flowers early in the season.

AIS Checklist 1989
LOYAL DEVOTION   C. Waltermire, Reg. 1981. Sdlg. CW 77-2. TB 30" (76 cm) EM.     Ruffled light blue; white beard. Sapphire Hills X Full Tide., Contemporary Gardens 1982. Honorable Mention 1984.

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

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Historic Arilbred Iris ' WITCH DOCTOR'

It has rained a lot in the past few days with very strong winds. Checking the garden this morning the arilbred 'Witch Doctor' had unwrapped itself from its large buds to show us just how good looking Arilbred Irises really are. Most likely sterile. Beautiful and mysterious form, massive buds which are nearly as interesting as the bloom itself !!!

Rainbow Hybridizing Gardens, Placerville, California.
Lloyd Austins World Famous Iris Color Guide Book, 1959.
WITCH DOCTOR (Plough, 1955) E-L 28" A new giant that will be an eye stopper in any garden for it is like an improved Conquest. Standards blue lavender with buffy tan midrib. Falls from centre down are grayed-blue-lavender with buffy tan haft and heart. Beard yellow, blue at tip. Starts early and blooms for a long season. HM 1956 JC 1957 (Cream Sdlg. X Capatola)

Marble Iris Gardens, Grandview, Washington. Iris Colorama Catalog, 1961.
WITCH DOCTOR (Plough, 1955) E-M 28 in. Unusual, large onco of grayed blue-lavender with a buffy tan haft at the heart. Has a tendency to bloom early and conitnue for several weeks. This is one of the largest Iris we grow. H.M 1956

The Aril Society International Illustrated Official Checklist 2006
WITCH DOCTOR OB- (Gordon Plough, R. 1953). Sdlg. 47-6-5. AB, EC, 28" (71 cm), EL. Lavender gray blend. TB sdlg. X Capitola. Iris Test Garden, 1955.Honorable Mention 1956, Judges Choice 1957, Clarence G. White Memorial Award,1960.

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

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Pacific Coast Iris Seedling

Scattered along the west coast of the United States are eleven species of irises, probably derived from the ancestor of the 40 chromosome Sibericans, and able to breed both with their cousins across the Bering Strait, and with each other.

Wherever these Pacific Coast Natives Irises meet they form hybrid swarms, some of which have been given species names in the past.   As is the way with gardeners, growers soon saw that there was a wide genetic variety within these species and began planned crosses.  New Zealand’s own Jean Stevens was among the first to start planned crossing, looking for better colour and form.

In the past thirty years these irises have changed considerably, with an expanded colour range, bigger flowers, some ruffling as well, alot under the influence of Joe Ghio, better known as a breeder of bearded irises.

These plants do not grow well in areas with cold winters – in fact they hardly grow there at all – but in milder regions they offer tremendous potential, flowering early in the tall bearded season, and breeders have been hard at work in California, Washington and Oregon in the United States, and in other temperate areas of the world.

They grow especially well in New Zealand and a number of enthusiasts have been crossing among seed originally sourced from the Society for Pacific Coast Native Irises.  The editor of the SPCNI lives in a neighbouring town and I recently had a look through his seedlings and was taken with this burnt sienna hybrid with vivid purple markings. 

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

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris 'WILD WESTY'

'Wild Westy' another show stopper from one of New Zealand's premiere Hybridiser of Median Irises , Noel Lapham. Plant was generously included as a bonus plant in an iris order from Mossburn Iris Gardens. Interesting bloom colour combination, and flowers with substance are held on stalks well above the foliage. If you have a New Zealand Iris collection this iris is a must have.

Mossburn Iris Gardens,Mossburn. New Introductions, 2006 Catalogue.
WILD WESTY  N Lapham, 2004 SDB. standards pale pink purple tinge,Falls peach-violet with tan veining, beard white tipped vibrant orange.

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Checklist 2013
WILD WESTY, Noel Lapham, Reg., 2004. Sdlg. Orange Tiger B/P-2. SDB, 13″, (32 cm), M. S. pale pink with purple tinge; F. peach and violet overlaid with tan veining; beards white tipped vibrant orange. Parentage unknown. Mossburn Iris Gardens 2006/07.

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

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Intermediate Bearded Iris PINK REVERIE

'Pink Reverie' is an eloquent statement of strong pink with a distinct Apricot Salmon band on the edges of both the standards and the falls, all  accented with bright and daring Saturn Red beards. Classic form, silky texture, slightly ruffled, flared fall and substance supreme. Good increase and great health. 'Pink Reverie' in my opinion will go down in iris history as one of the all-time great Intermediates in the colour Pink, and as an added bonus it reblooms!!! Not bad for a 45 year old don't you think??
Thought I would also include below the listing from Richmonds, famous for their loquacious variety descriptions.

Mission Bell Gardens, Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Hamblen, Roy Utah. Iris for 1973
PINK REVERIE    (A. Brown, '69) E. 22in. Ruffled and flared coral pink with a slight orchid influence. Beard Saturn red. (Pink Pride X Self).

H.M. '71..............................................$2.50
Richmond Iris Garden, 376 Hill Street, Nelson. Issue #63, 2013-2014 Catalogue.
PINK REVERIE    (A. Brown, '68) Re-bloomer. Dark Pink.......................................$8.00

AIS Checklist 1969
PINK REVERIE   A. Brown, Reg. 1968. Sdlg. M 1205-3. IB 22" E. O1P.    Pink self with slight orchid influence, ruffled; bright saturn red beard. Pink Pride X Pink Pride., Brown's Iris Gardens 1969.

Available in New Zealand from Richmond Iris Gardens this season
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, October 3, 2013

Iris Evansia, Iris Japonica, Crested Iris, BOURNE GRACEFUL

Medium size flower which is deep lilac-blue with strong orange-yellow signal surrounded by old gold to dark violet flecks and a violet border around the white signal area. The flowers are borne on distinctive green stems that become darker towards the bottom, but the plant itself has no canes. The long glossy leaves are ribbed and coloured purple at the base (PBF)

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1975,"An Iris Japonica Seedling", J.R.Ellis.
From pollination's of the Ledgers variety of Iris japonica with pollen from the plant recorded as the Capri form of Iris japonica ( B I S Yearbook 1966 page 138) a vigorous hybrid has been obtained which has been registered as 'Borne Graceful'. For the last two years this hybrid has been grown in a cool greenhouse where it has flowered profusely from the end of March to the beginning of June. The flowering spikes reaches a height of 4 feet and the flowers which are 2
½ inches to 3 inches across are pale mauve in colour with a deep yellow crests surrounded by deep mauve spots.
Cytologically, the hybrid has approximately 61 chromosomes and this is the highest chromosome number recorded in Evansia irises. The parental species, Ledgers variety and the 'Capri form' have a 54 and 31 chromosomes respectively and the higher chromosome number in the hybrids stems from the fact that neither parent forms are cytologically true species. Ledgers variety with 54 chromosomes has been reported by Chimphamba (Cytologia 38:501-514, 1973) to have a triploid chromosomal constitution and in crosses with I.cofusa give gametes with different chromosome which range from 24 to 30 chromosomes (unpublished data). The 'Capri form' of I.japonica was also by Chimphamba to have a chromosome complement indicative of hybrid origin. It is highly sterile because of meiotic difficulties, but produces a few functional pollen grains which, in all probability have not been reduced in chromosome number. An unreduced gamete with 31 chromosomes from the 'Capri form' together with a 30-chromosome gamete from Ledgers variety have almost certainly combined to give the hybrid 'Bourne Graceful'.

I have used the B&W photo taken by the hybridiser,this was published in the BIS Yearbook in 1975
then I changed the photo taken in the garden today to B&W to confirm ID .Click on collage to enlarge.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1975, '1975 Registrations'.
BOURNE GRACEFUL    Jack R. Ellis, Reg 1975. Evansia  I. japonica.  Ledgers variety X I. japonica Capri form. Very pale mauve with darker mauve spots around yellow crest 42 " height. April-June in cool green house. A.M.,(J.I.C.), S.C.,C.M., 1975 . 

AIS Checklist 1975
BOURNE GRACEFUL   J. R. Ellis, Reg 1975.  SPEC 42" (107 cm) E-M.  Very pale mauve with darker mauve spots around yellow crest. I. japonica var. Ledgers X I. japonica var. Capri., British Iris Society 1990.

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Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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