Saturday, April 6, 2013


'The harbinger of winter' is how I relate to 'Champagne Elegance'. It starts to send up bloom stalks with the change in temperature and first of the Autumn rains. A stunning flower with great carrying power in the garden, and even more so in late Autumn when there are very few blooming irises. Its one of those 'Near- Amoenas' in which the nearly white standards are tinted with some other colour and in this case the standards are tinted light champagne creamy pink, which sets off nicely the light lemon apricot flaring falls. Good plant health, the plant is almost indestructible. Probably the best and most consistent re-bloomers of all time. 

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1989,  “Eighties Irises from America”, page 55, Alan Sedgwick.
There is another of Dave's irises which I cannot fail to rhapsodise over. This is the sensational 'Champagne Elegance' ('87). Every Iris lover in the UK should have this in the garden. The branching is a bit high in summer, but who cares when a two-year-old plant gives you five spikes in May, a further eight in August, and two in September? And its consistent, having flowered in both June and August, 1988, too. Let us hope that this Iris represents a watershed and we are on the verge of achieving what the rosarians have achieved, remontancy in most climates and not just California. I would add that I would make no special effort to persuade my irises to remont. Oh by the way, it has lavender pink standards and peachy pink falls. I intend to use it for hybridising and I hope other Britons will too. This is the Iris of the decade.

Contemporary Views, – Runner Up, Sunbelt Award for the best proven variety,
Perry Dyer, 1991.
CHAMPAGNE ELEGANCE (Niswonger 1987) is one I originally overlooked (or ignored). The color scheme is a sophisticated bi-toning and blending of champagne and pink tones, finished with an elegant diamond-dusting over the entire flower. A good companion for ‘Holy Night’, having all the same qualities but on shorter stalks. The coloration will vary with the season, moisture, and mineral content of the soil, but rather than a defect, it adds to the enchantment. (Judges, be careful with this one on the bench. Those artificial lights can be especially tricky with this one!). Also a dependable rebloomer, reported to be a near ever-bloomer in the temperate, Mediterranean climates.

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria. Iris, Hostas,Daylilies Catalogue 1996-97
CHAMPAGNE ELEGANCE (Niswonger 1987 USA) M 33"
Standards are near white to pale lavender pink; Falls are buff apricot. Amber beards. Heavy bloomer and once established regularly rebloom's in Autumn. ( Blyth seedling X (Coral Strand X Peach Spot)
HM 1989 AM 1991

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 74th Collectors Edition, 2000 Iris Lovers Catalog.
CHAMPAGNE ELEGANCE (Niswonger 1987) EM. & RE. 34"
Connoisseurs of fine Iris recognise this delicately shaded apricot amoena as one of the best. It's near white standards are classically arched while its ruffled falls present a gentle blending of buff, apricots and peach. A prolific Bloomer, Champagne Elegance producers 7-10 buds per stem and consistently re-blooms in late summer. HM. '89 AM.'91

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 2002
CHAMPAGNE ELEGANCE (Niswonger '87) M. 33" RE.
This amoena rebloomer of exquisite form will also give you an impressive budcount. Standards are a pale lavender pink atop buff apricot falls. Amber beard. HM. '89 AM.'91

AIS Checklist 1989
CHAMPAGNE ELEGANCE  O. David Niswonger, Reg. 1986. Sdlg. 23-81. TB, 33" (84 cm), Medium season Bloomer. S. pale lavender pink; F. light buffy apricot; amber beard. B. Blyth H 116-1: (('Magnetic Isle' x 'Rhythm And Blues') x 'Snowlight') X 7-78: ('Coral Strand' x 'Peach Spot'). Cape Iris 1987. Honorable Mention 1989; Award of Merit 1991.

Available from most commercial growers in New Zealand today.
As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.

1 comment:

  1. this is growing in my garden, and is one of my favorites! love the subtle colors!


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