Monday, February 25, 2013

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris IRWELL FANCY

I have been sent photos of seedlings recently from some international Hybridisers at the top of their game that look somewhat like this iris. The reason why I point this out is that 'Irwell Fancy' was registered in 2010 after nearly a two year delay and the seedling number indicates this iris is much older than it's registered date, more importantly though it shows just how much Ron Busch was at the top of his game many years ago!
'Irwell Fancy' is taller than registered height and produces many blooms, nicely shaped large flowers in beautiful colours with a metallic golden edge on the falls.

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Checklist 2012
IRWELL FANCY Ron Busch, Reg., 2010. Sdlg.1839/4031. TB, 30" (76 cm), E. S. white, yellow base; style arms white, violet midrib; F. violet rose, yellow white around orange beard, yellow edge. Parentage unknown. The Iris Garden 2009

A 'Huge Hat tip' to Carol Rogerson of 'Kiwi Iris Delights' for the use of her stunning photo.
Photo Copyright and Credit Carol Rogerson.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013


Some Lesser Known Irises 

By Miss J. Burgess, Waikanae.

During the last eight or ten years we have come to realise the great value of the iris for giving a show of colour in the garden. Most gardeners can boast at least a small collection of the richly coloured and easily grown Bearded irises. The Japanese or Kaempferi section, as well as several isolated species of other sections, too, are fairly well known. There are, however, many other sections and groups of this extensive genus, whose possibilities have been, if not entirely unrecognised, at least overlooked, by the average gardener. This neglect may be done in part to the difficulty hitherto of procuring in New Zealand plants of the lesser known species. This article deals with the Sibirica group and its allied species, few of which are well known in New Zealand, but most of which can be obtained from leading growers.

The Sibiricas are characterised by narrow grassy foliage, and thin-stemmed graceful flowers, very artistic in effect, .whether seen growing in the garden, or used for house decoration. All the members of the group agree in liking a moist loamy soil, and do not like lime, though some of the species, notably Orientalis (I.sanguinea) and its varieties, are such strong growers that they can be grown successfully in any good garden soil and situation. However, to grow even these varieties really well, they should be planted by the waterside. Not only are the conditions there ideal, but water is the perfect foil for their graceful habit and rich colourings. With the exception of one species, Prismatica, which is a native of the Atlantic Coast of North America, they are all natives of Europe and Asia. The species Sibirica, which gives its name to the group, comes from Central Europe and Russia. The slender stems rise to a height of three to four feet, and flower in great profusion. The colour of the type is a rich purple, with brown markings close in to the haft, but there are now many colour variations obtained by hybridising. Three of the best of these" hybrids are ''Dragonfly," with standards of a bright pale blue, and falls rich deep blue; "Kingfisher." a rich deep blue; and "Perry's Blue" a wonderful shade of sky-blue, with a flush of white on the falls.

Sibirica Orientalis (I.sanguinea) is a dwarfer growing Asiatic species, whose stems do not rise really clear of the foliage. It is a native of Manchuria. Korea, and Japan. There is a Japanese form that is taller than Orientalis itself, with large circular falls. This form has been given the varietal name of "Emperor". There is also a fine white form under the name of "Snow Queen." Several Chinese species have been introduced into cultivation, and these must have a really moist situation if they are to thrive. Delavayi. which is distributed through the swampy areas of South-Western China, grows to a height of five feet. It has long drooping falls, and the whole flower is an intense violet- colour. Somewhat similar in habit and form is Clarkei, a native of the Himalayas, where it is found growing at an altitude of 6000 to 11.000 feet. The colour is a pleasing shade of light clear blue, flushed with white on the falls.

Differing in both colour and height from the foregoing ave the two yellow species of the group. These are Wilsonii and Forrestii. both from Western China. Wilsonii, which grows to a height of three feet, has pale yellow flowers, veined and netted brown at the haft. Forrestii is about half the height of Wilsonii. and is deeper yellow, with erect standards. Both of these species are useful in the garden, apart from their own beauty, as a contrast to show up the richer colouring of the other members of the section. One of the most exquisite irises known is Chrysographes. another Chinese species. The flowers vary some-what in colour, ranging from red-violet so deep as to be almost black, to a rich bright violet, the fall in all cases being illumined by a veining of brilliant deep gold at the throat. It grows to a height of two to three feet.

These are the most outstanding species of the Sibirica section, but enough has been written to give some idea of the value of this group to the gardener, who can give them moist or waterside conditions. In conclusion, a word of warning. No iris. unless we except the English water-flag, likes stagnant water, or ill-drained conditions, as a substitute for a stream or waterside, and all irises, even moisture loving species, must have a fair amount of sun.

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

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Dave Hall writes on the development of Flamingo Pinks Irises.

New Pink Irises for your Garden
Courtesy Cooleys 1951 Catalog

The New Pink Iris

 Here's how this magnificent strain of Flamingo Pinks was developed - an entirely new color in iris.

By David F. Hall

 One morning in 1942 while inspecting our iris seedlings I was startled when I saw that one of the buds just opening was a deep pink, almost rose red. I had never seen a pure pink iris before, but it had been my dream for many years. Within a few days seven more pink flowers made their appearance among our seedlings, and these eight plants turned out to be the beginning of a new line of pink iris. Twenty-five years ago I realized a pure pink iris would add much to the beauty of flower gardens and made up my mind then to grow one. As most FLOWER GROWER readers know, the breeding of plants is not unlike the breeding of birds, animals or other living things - the same general laws of heredity apply.

Better animals, birds, vegetables and flowers are developed by carefully planned mating. Broadly speaking, "like gets like," but there is always variation in the offspring. To illustrate, let's consider breeding iris. If the objective is color, as it was in my case, a careful study should be made of all the varieties available to determine which two would most likely produce the desired color when crossed.

 The selection of this breeding stock is very important and is not based solely on the color of the flowers, but also on the characteristics of their ancestors for several generations. This is not as difficult as it counts for the checklist book of the American Iris Society lists over 19,000 named varieties of iris and, in most cases, their parentage. These carefully planned crosses, to be made the following summer when the iris are in bloom, are frequently worked out by the fireside during the long winter.

 In making a cross we take the pollen from the stamen of one selected parent and put it on the stigma of the other. The pollen fertilizes the eggs in the ovary and eventually a seed pod develops to the size and shape of a butternut. This may carry anywhere from a half dozen to 80 seeds. The seed is planted in late fall on open ground in the garden and germinates the following spring. When the young seedlings are about 3 inches high they are usually transplanted to another bed in rows about 18 inches apart and 10 inches apart in the row. Under favourable conditions most of them will bloom the following spring.

 All plants from a single seed pod are simply the children of the two selected parents; there will be a general family resemblance but no two plants will produce flowers exactly alike in color, form and texture. As in human families, there is always considerable variation.

Dave Hall Surveys His Pinks from a Vantage Point on His Terrace
Line Breeding

 From these plants, called seedlings, two or more parent plants that come nearest to the color or objective are again selected and crossbred. This process is repeated until the plants become weak from inbreeding. It is then important that there be one or more additional inbred strains or families of similar color, but not closely related, for an outcross with the first so that the resulting seedlings will regain their lost vigor and acquire what is called hybrid vigor. By this process, called line breeding, and careful selection, plus time, patience and faith, wonders can be accomplished in changing and improving any of the characteristics of iris or other plants.

The importance of not mating plants with common faults cannot be overemphasized. In such a case the offspring are almost sure to inherit the faults of both parents. If success did come in producing a new and sensational color in a flower, color alone would be of little value if the bloom lacked good form or substance, or the stem were weak and poorly branched, or the plants were shy-blooming or lacked vigor. So in working for color we must strive for many other desirable and important characteristics. To produce a plant with some of these desirable points is not difficult, but to combine most of them in a single plant is a real achievement.

 In time most careful breeders build up several strains or families of their own. By doing this they are able to breed out many of the weak or undesirable points, and at the same time strengthen the desirable characteristics until they become somewhat dominant. This gives the breeder good stock and an intimate knowledge of its good and bad points, representing quite an advantage over a beginner's efforts.

Discouraging Start

 When I started working for a pink iris I gave careful consideration to all of the best near-pink iris of that period finally selecting several varieties of orchid and lavender tones as parents. The offspring of these plants were discouraging. The orchid and lavender tones were dominant, the flowers smaller than I wanted and the substance thin.

In developing the first Flamingo Pink iris, the author had to grow some 12,000 seedlings in his trial hybridizing garden. 
Some seedlings are shown in the planting pictured above.

Eight years after commencing this line of breeding I threw the entire family on the compost pile and made a new start. This time I selected parent varieties that were not as pink but had better flowers in many respects. Two of them, Dauntless and Rameses, were Dykes medal winners (the highest award given to iris in this country.) Dauntless was one of the first good reds, and Rameses a pink and yellow blend. Other parents selected for the second try were W. R. Dykes, a large yellow from England; Dolly Madison, another pink and yellow blend, and Morocco Rose, also a pink and yellow blend with a tangerine colored beard. Morocco Rose, I believe, played a major role in the creation of a pure pink, as it undoubtedly carries the recessive gene of the tangerine colored beard that lights up most of these pinks.

First Pink Bloom

 It was nine years after making my second start when I came upon the first pink seedling. With this first bloom I assisted nature a little, and in a few hours had it opened sufficiently that I could see it was a pure pink self, all segments of the flower the same color with no veining on the haft. This so often occurs and is considered objectionable by most critics.

 This first pink to open was number 42-05. It was never named or introduced in commerce, but has been used quite extensively in breeding additional pinks. Of the seven others that opened that year, Overture and Dream Girl have been widely distributed. From these original eight pink seedlings much better pinks have been developed and are available, but because of the unbeatable law of supply and demand they are rather high priced. Other breeders have developed still better ones that will be offered for sale in a short time. These new varieties range in color from pale baby ribbon pinks with pink beards to deep toned pinks with geranium red beards. The tangerine and red beards give life to the flowers and add much beauty.

From this line of breeding another new and attractive color, golden apricot is as near as I can describe it, has come into being. It also carries the tangerine and red colored beards, lighting up the garden and attracting the eye from afar. I predict it will be very popular. These new pink and golden apricot colored iris compare favorably in size, form, texture and substance with the best varieties in any color class.

 A pure pink iris was only one of my objectives, for during the past 25 years 52 of our iris and hemerocallis originations have been named and widely distributed in this and several foreign countries. What started as a hobby many years ago has now grown into a very interesting small business which has furnished healthful and exciting employment since my retirement.

 Producing these original eight pure pink iris represented 17 years of effort and the growing of 12,000 seedlings. But it was a challenge that was worth while, not in dollars, but in satisfaction that comes from creating something that may add to the beauty and charm of thousands of gardens in many parts of the world.

Reprinted from Flower Grower magazine, August, 1950

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Intermediate Bearded Iris 'RASPBERRY BLUSH'

'Raspberry Blush' is a standout Intermediate Iris. The standards are a soft raspberry pink and the falls are the same with a Raspberry flush on the falls coming ⅔ the way down. Beards a beautiful raspberry orange tone. A great early flowering iris that boldly announces in your garden that the Tall Bearded Irises are on the way.It should be noted that whilst the registered height of this iris blooms is 51cm or 20 inches but it is generally accepted that it grows a little less than this. The RHS granted 'Raspberry Blush' the Award of Garden Merit and notes its height in the RHS Plant Selector,"up to 40cm or 16 inches" .
It's a 33 year old Iris that is still been sold in the current catalogues of main stream Iris nurseries idicates just how popular it is with the Gardening Public. This is unusual to say the least especially in the US of A where catalogue variety turnover is at its highest. 'Raspberry Blush' is still catalogued today by Schreiners another great indication of the high regard this iris is still held.  Awarded the Hans and Jacob Sass Medal in 1981.

Mission Bell Gardens, Mr. and Mrs.J. R. Hamblen, Roy Utah. Iris for 1976.
1976 Introductions. Intermediate Bearded;

RASPBERRY BLUSH. ML, 20". Raspberry pink with deeper toned spot in falls and beards matching spot. Ruffled, well-formed flowers on strong stalks. Pretty Karen small sib X Dove Wings. #M70-22C. HC '75. ..................... $10.00

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October 1980, Number 239.
Varietal comments from Tulsa
What You Should Have Seen, Ron Mullin.
The IBs were in full bloom for the convention, and I agree with the many who commented that Hamblen's RASPBERRY BLUSH stole the show.

Tempo Two, Barry and Lesley Blyth, East Road, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia, Season 1983-84
RASPBERRY BLUSH (Hamblen '76 USA) IB ML 20". Ruffled well formed raspberry pink with deeper toned spots below pink beards. We love this one (Pretty Karen Sib x Dove Wings) HM '77, JC '77, AM '79. Sass Medal '81..................... $7.50 

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1990, “Shorter Bearded Irises in 1990”, page 61, C.E.C. Bartlett.
Still with the older varieties 'Raspberry Blush' (Hamblen '75) gave a good account of itself. This is a sturdy and reliable performer in pink with a raspberry fall patch. The form is good although the falls tend to be a bit square and strappy. A first rate garden iris nonetheless.

AIS Checklist 1979
RASPBERRY BLUSH (M. Hamblen, R. 1975). Sdlg. M70-22C. IB 20" (51 cm) M-L. S. raspberry-pink; F. raspberry on upper half, raspberry-pink on lower half; raspberry beard. Pretty Karen sib X Dove Wings., Mission Bell 1976. HM '77, AM '79, SM '81.

Intermediate Irises are ideal for the smaller garden with borders that are narrower and require less space than what might be required for Tall Bearded Iris. Flowering earlier than the Tall bearded Irises and later than the Dwarf Iris this class of irises add a continuance to the iris bloom season. They have similar growing conditions to Tall Bearded, full sun, good drainage, and a loose root run. If the area is windy, Intermediates because of their shorter growing height (16" to 27 ½ ") can be more appropriate for the conditions.

Available in the US of A from Schreiners Iris Gardens , in the United Kingdom visitors can order from, Aulden Farms . Sold in New Zealand by The Iris Boutique

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, February 13, 2013

Tall Bearded Iris MORNING MAIL

Now if you were delivered this iris in the 'Morning Mail' it would make your day, don't you think??  A stand-out pure orchid-lilac self with a distinctly bright tangerine red beard . Extremely tough and resilient with great branching and a extended bloom period. Absolutely huge carrying power in the garden.

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria. 1998-99 Iris, Daylilies, Hostas, Catalogue.
New Introductions
MORNING MAIL (Blyth 98 Aust) EM 38"
About Town is proving to be an amazing parent for Self's and  Bicolours. This one is a complete self of vibrant orchid lilac with tangerine red beards. Lovely branching with at least 4 places, so a high bud count. Proving to be  a good parent and will win at the shows no doubt. (Cloud Berry X About Town)

AIS  Checklist 1999
MORNING MAIL  Barry Blyth, Reg. 1998 Sdlg. E148-3. TB, 38" (96 cm), EM Orchid lilac self; beards tangerine. Cloud Berry X About Town. Tempo Two 1998/99.

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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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Jean Stevens on the raising of tangerine bearded pink amoenas Irises

Pictured above are Mrs. Jean Stevens, President of the New Zealand Iris Society and Marion Walker, President of the American Iris Society visiting the Schreiners display gardens, Salem, Oregon, May, 1956. Photo courtesy of Schreiners.

LETTERS FROM NOTED HYBRIDIZERS, Region 14 Northern California Nevada Bulletin, Fall 1959.
The Banquet at Region 14 convention in Porterville last spring was highlighted by the reading of letters from a number of nationally prominent hybridisers, all written in response to a request from W.B. Schortmann.

............During the last 10 years I have been concentrating my main breeding efforts to wards the raising of tangerine bearded pink amoenas. In the primary crosses I used yellow amoenas of the Pinnacle series lines with Pink Cameo and a pink bud break I obtain very many years ago from variegata breeding. Although I have had quite a large number of pink amoenas for several years, no single seedling has yet appealed to me as carrying all the vitues I am seeking. Those with large flowers of perfect form do not have dead white standards, and those with dead white standards and pink falls either are small or lack the tangerine beard I consider essential to make such a delicate contrast truly effective.
In 1957 a number of seedlings came so close to my ideal, however, that I feel confident that the crossing of the unrelated best cannot fail to bring the desired results. In the meantime, the 1958 crop of seedlings has flowered- from crosses made previous to the 1957 seedlings. These one generation back from the 1957 crop, surprised me with an expected progress. One seedling in particular happily opening during Harold Knowlton's visit here has dead white standards and very clear,smooth, apricot falls. On a seedling plant the flowers were not larger than the medium-sized and may not prove large enough to be worthy of naming. Two other distinctly related seedlings gave pink amoenas of large size and pleasing flared form, but were too dwarf. So the medium-size apricot amoena was crossed to these as well as to the best of the 1957 selections. Amongst other pink amoena crosses- which comprise about two thirds of my 1958 seedling crop-occurred about 20 other pink or apricots amoenas, but though I use these for further breeding they all lack at least one of the many virtues we now ask of a new Iris.

Unusual By-Products
I think it is safe to say that long continued line breeding one colour and particularly for one colour combination, produces some unusual byproducts. This has been very noticeable in my line breeding for pink amoenas. It was natural to expect an apricot amoena as a by-product, but several most unusual colours and colour combinations are emerging from pink bud amoena breeding. Possibly this is due to the fact that the yellow amoenas and the pink used in the primary crosses are most recess of characters, and the study care I have taken to avoid introducing any other bloodlines was bound to develop distinctive results other than amoenas.

Amongst my seedlings have shown up white and pastel  blue amoenas with red beards, but other unexpected developments have been strangely will Lucent pearly grey with a pinky blue cast, almost white, but shimmering with ice dust, denoting a texture as well as colour development. These all have self coloured beards.

A number development is rich clear pink standards and soft violet falls. This is lovely where the fall is clear and the colour defined. The standards are always a clear rich pink and the beard is usually tangerine or red. A strangely different pink which has a warm brown cast, making it a cocoa pink, has also appeared- sometimes as a self, and sometimes with a cream standard. Of course if these colours are to be gained in flowers of large size, Heavy substance, and perfect form, much concentrated breeding work will need to be undertaken. But the interesting point is that it is obvious that there are still a long way to go before we can say we have exhausted the possibilities of new colours, and new colour combinations, which are based within the tangerine bearded pink complex.

Must Line Breed
I should emphasise that the development of these new recessive combinations and colours have a one almighty "must" attach to them. Whoever develops any one of these new colours which are emerging must attack the problem by means of line breeding. In no other way can I see these, until recently hidden, recessives being given the attributes of first-class garden irises. There will be no shortcuts via the introduction of other irises of dominant colours- and don't forget that any orthodox colour is dominant in relation to a recessive combination.
Outside the pink amoena breeding, and amongst my brown amoena crosses, has shown up another development which should not entailed much further breeding to give a perfect flower and a new colour combination. This is an Iris with pale blue standards and rich walnut brown falls- a sort of brown neglecta. The only faults one of the seedlings has which prevents me from naming it is rather close branching and flowers which are hardly large enough. However, with a nearly related brown amoena of good size and excellent branching available for use to correct these faults it should not be too difficult to get results.
Mrs W.R.Stevens, Bastia Hill, Wanganui New Zealand.

The above insightful letter from Jean Stevens was written to be read at the Region 14 convention in Porterville, Spring 1959. Letters from noted breeders were selected by Bill Schortman. The above extract was published in the Region 14 Fall 1959 regional bulletin.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Tall Bearded Iris AMETHYST FLAME

There has been much written about this bold and impressive iris. It got itself in a lot of trouble with some growers when it was released because of its plant patent. The patent came with the anomaly that whilst there was no restriction on the use of patented irises in hybridizing, a grower of 'Amethyst Flame' at the time (60's) could not offer any increase to any iris society plant sales or auctions without written consent from Schreiner's to do so, but more on that later.
This vibrant classic iris still has a high level of relevance and deserves a place in today's gardens.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 1958 Iris Lovers Catalog.
AMETHYST FLAME (Schreiner 1958) ML. 38"
 This child of Crispette rivals Violet Harmony, the 1957 Dykes Medal winner, in immensity of size and elegance of form but possesses even heavier substance and more sharply flaring falls. In color, however, it bears little resemblance to Violet Harmony, falling instead into the curiously neglected color band between lavender and light violet variously denominated lilac, heliotrope, or amethyst, where some outstanding Iris have long been needed. Imagine an Iris the blue-lavender color of the common Lilac overlain with a soft pink sheen and you will come close to the novel coloring of this original new Iris. A truly magnificent variety of rugged constitution and classic perfection, AMETHYST FLAME, due to its gorgeous ruffling abounds in highlights like a many-faceted Brazilian amethyst; a true self except for chestnut epaulettes on the shoulders. If you want an Iris of grand championship caliber that will strike a new color note in your garden, don't pass up AMETHYST FLAME! (Sdlg. No. M 289A)
 Plant Patent Pending............................$25.00

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1961, page 71, "Varietal Comments" by the Kent Group.
The above heading was the best that could be found for the colours which are derived from blends of pink and blue, that is lavender, orchid pink, et cetera. Breeding may have been directed towards colours of this kind, but the tint obtained must have been uncontrolled in some cases.
AMETHYST FLAME (Schreiner 1958)
A large very wide flower in a bright colour which has been described as lilac-lavender. The standards are ruffled and arched, and the falls almost pendant but enlivened by ruffled edges. The stems seen had only two branches, but there may be some improvement when the plant becomes established. It is bold and impressive, and we are beginning to see why some of the eminent judges in the U.S.A. have been excited about it. Height 36 inches. 

AIS Bulletin #175, October , 1964, Page 110, 1964 Choices, C. Robert Minnick.
AMETHYST FLAME (Schreiner) There is much that can be said about this iris other than the fact that it has won the highest honor given by the American Iris Society. It is very ruffled, the branching is the best, the color is very pleasing, and it grows many strong stalks that have as many as five open blooms at its peak. It is a vigorous grower.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 1965
AMETHYST FLAME (Schreiner '58)
Immense in size and elegant in form, a curiously tinted blend of lavender or light violet and rosy heliotrope.The 'shoulders' of the falls carry a overlay of chestnut and the beard is almost white.Nicely ruffled. 38 inches tall, medium late.HM AIS 1958; AM, 1960. Dykes Medal , 1963. Plant Patent No. 1793.

Colour plate Courtesy of Harry Randall's Book 'IRISES'.

Wanganui Irises Catalogue, Novelties 1965-66:
From the curiously neglected colour range between lavender and light violet comes this arresting beauty.Imagine an iris the blue-lavender colour of the common lilac overlaid with a soft pink sheen and you have the colour of Amethyst Flame. The shoulders of the falls are flushed chestnut and the beard is an inconspicuous white. The individual blooms are huge and gorgeously ruffled, abounding in highlights like a many-faceted amethyst. With tall well branched stems, rugged constitution and heavily substanced blooms it quickly proved its worth in America by winning a Honourable Mention in 1958, its year of introduction, and a Award of Merit in 1960. This culminated  in the award of the Dykes Medal in 1963. 3ft.

IRISES A Gardener's Encyclopedia, Claire Austin.
Iris 'Amethyst Flame' (R. Schreiner 1957)
The gentle ruffled deep lavender blue flowers are touched with cinnamon on the hafts. The petals are laced around the edges, and the beards are a soft lavender white. Popular fir over ten years with American Iris Society members, this iris is the parent of many other hybrids. Parentage: Crispette X (Lavanesque x Pathfinder). Dykes Medal Winner USA 1963.

AIS Checklist 1959
AMETHYST FLAME (R. Schreiner, R. 1957) Sdlg. M-289-A. TB, 38 (97 cm), ML Amethyst-orchid self. Crispette X (Lavanesque x Pathfinder). Schreiner 1958. HM 1958, AM 1960, Dykes 1963.

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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