Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tall Bearded Space Age Iris CONJURATION

Flowers are small for the height of the stalks. It's a more subtle Space Age form and some people take a lot of convincing that it is a Space Age Iris at all. Covers itself in blooms with a great backup of buds. I've always been impressed with this Iris growing in other gardens but only just purchased this Iris last season, so for me to write that I'm looking forward to this multi-award winning iris blooming at home would have to be the understatement of 2013 .

Moonshine Gardens, Potter Valley California.
Introductions 1989
CONJURATION *TB*(Sky Hooks x Condottiere) X Alpine Castle.White with suffused violet edges, much deeper on the falls; white beard tipped tangerine and fuzzy white horns. A more modern, more ruffled Alpine Castle with horns...................................................................$35.00.

IRISES A Gardener's Encyclopedia, Claire Austin
'Conjuration' (Byers 1988) this variety produces small, scented flowers balanced on slender, well branched stems. The blooms are mainly white, but the falls are broadly edged with rose violet, while standards are tinged with a paler violet. The white beards are long, horned, and tipped with tangerine toward the back. Height 91 cm (36½"). Bloom : mid to late season. Parentage (Sky Hooks x Condottiere) X Alpine Castle. Dykes Medal Winner USA 1998.

IRIS Flowers of the Rainbow, Graeme Grosvenor. Amoena.
'Conjuration' (Byers 1988) it is not an amoena in the true sense as the white standards have a pale blue-violet edge while the falls are deep amethyst violet with a white central area surrounding white beards tipped tangerine with fuzzy white horns. This "Space-Age" Iris is ruffled, has good form and gives a blue-violet amoena effect in the garden. Spikes reach 90 cm in mid to late season, are strong, well held and support the eight or more buds. Growth, health, vigour and increase are all good, as is the general garden effect of this beauty. Breeding is (Sky Hooks x Condottiere) X Alpine Castle.

Contemporary Views, 1989, Perry Dyer– Award Winners
The 9-1-1 AWARD is given to the New Iris that is the most significant hybridizing achievement or color break. This year’s winner is the new Space Age iris, CONJURATION (Byers 1989). As viewed in Memphis at the master planting at Ketchum, it was a tall, commanding “amoena” in the tradition of its parent, ‘Alpine Castle’ (Blyth), but with drastically improved form. The stalks were somewhat thin, but tall and stately, and holding up average sized flowers with no problem in light rain and wind. Exceptionally vigorous and floriferous, it makes a smashing clump, but I feel it will also consistently produce show stalks. The color scheme is basically a white infused lilac-lavender, with the falls heavily washed on the edges in amethyst in the style of ‘Planned Treasure’ (Burger) or ‘Fuji’s Mantle’ (Schreiner). All of this is capped with consistent, bright tangerine beards and horns! A great breakthrough.

Contemporary Views, 1993, Perry Dyer- Space Age.
The presence of the late Monty Byers was felt all the way to Italy, and he took the competition by storm, placing five in the Top 20 finalists, and two in the Top 10! For the first time in the entire history of the competition, a Space Age iris won the top prize: CONJURATION (Byers 1989). The local Italian ladies would walk by the spectacular clump and proclaim, “bella, bella”!
Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 2002.
pace Age Iris
CONJURATION (Byers 1989) ML. 40" Bright white standards are lightly infused pale violet blue. Smooth, wide blue-violet edging on white falls. Tangerine tipped white beards. Frilly white horns.HM '91, AM '94,  Wister Medal '98, Dykes Medal '98

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 2013 Collectors Edition, Iris Lovers Catalog.
CONJURATION (Byers 1989) ML. 40"
A fantastic spellbinder! Conjuration's clean white standards are delicately tinted with pale blue-violet. Deeper 3/4 inch bands of amethyst-violet dramatically edge its snow-white falls. Look closely to see fuzzy white horns extending from the tangerine beards. Double-and triple-socketed buds yield 8-12 flowers per stalk. HM '91, AM '94,  Wister Medal '98, Dykes Medal '98

AIS Checklist 1989
CONJURATION (Monty Byers, registered 1988). Seedling D1-1. TB, height 36" (91 cm), mid to late bloom season. Standards white, edge lightly infused pale violet blue; falls white, suffusing to deep bright amethyst violet edge; white beard tipped tangerine; fuzzy white horns; ruffled. B-37-10: (Sky Hooks x Condottiere) X Alpine Castle. Moonshine Gardens 1989. Honorable Mention 1991; Award of Merit 1994; Wister Medal 1998; American Dykes Medal 1998.

This photo and others recently displayed on this blog and credited to Julie May were taken in 2003 on a Canon PowerShot S45 a 4.1 Megapixel compact point-and-shoot camera, now ain't that something.
As usual, clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Julie May.

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Barry Blyth's Tall Bearded Iris ABOUT TOWN

'About Town' from a cross with Joe Ghio's 1989 apricot pink 'Bubble Up' X with Barry Blyth's stunning 'Electrique', and the result is a sultry exciting iris with ruffled lilac mauve standards, velvety deep wine red violet falls all set off by a distinctive ruffled pinstriped edge in colour of the standards. Tangerine beards that contrasts nicely against the fall colours. Good plant health. One of the great parents for Barry Blyth.

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia. Iris, Daylilies, Hosta Catalogue, New Introductions,  1996-1997.
ABOUT TOWN. (Blyth, 96 Aust.) EM 40" We call this a sumptuous Iris, with full, wide, ruffled and laced blooms. The standards are a silvery mauve to silvery lilac; falls are red violet with a ⅛" edge of the standard colour. Beards are tangerine. Branching is very good with 4 and 5 flowering points, and 3 flowers out at once. The most exciting thing for us about 'About Town' is its seedlings. Some of the most laced and ruffled bi-colours are showing up and it is going to be in many, many pedigrees in the coming years.(Bubble Up X Electrique.) Sdlg No. B160-1

AIS Checklist
ABOUT TOWN. (Barry Blyth, R. 1996). Seedling B160-1. TB, Height 40" (102 cm), Early Mid bloom season. Standards silvery mauve lilac; falls red violet, ⅛" silvery mauve lilac edge; beards tangerine; ruffled, laced. Bubble Up X Electrique.

This photo and others recently displayed on this blog and credited to Julie May were taken in 2003 on a Canon PowerShot S45 a 4.1 Megapixel compact point-and-shoot camera, now ain't that something.
As usual, clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Julie May.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Barry Blyth's Tall Bearded Iris HOSTESS ROYALE

This star performer 'Hostess Royale' was purchased many years ago from Mossburn Irises. It's one of those iron clad irises that has amazing garden presence and visitors to the garden all want to know its name. Excellent branching and with sound, vigorous plant habits. As you can see it's a self of a peach pink tone with a white patch in the center of the fall which highlights the big fat fuzzy deep tangerine orange beards.  All topped off with extravagant ruffles on standards and falls. A welcome late bloomer which is a bit like saving one of the best for last.

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia. Iris, Daylilies, Hosta Catalogue  1994-1995
HOSTESS ROYALE (Blyth 94 Aust.) M-ML 42" Gorgeous coral peach self with just a small white area around the apricot tangerine beards which are quite thick and lush. Good strong ramrod stems. Again huge flowers and stems, may be to large to get in show bottles. Huge plants, needs plenty of space, but so rewarding. Everyone loves it. Nice sweet fragrance. (Dance Man X Pink Swan) A61-2 

AIS Checklist 1999
HOSTESS ROYALE Barry Blyth, Reg. 1994 Sdlg. A61-2. TB, 42" (107 cm), ML Peach with creamy white area around apricot tangerine beards; pronounced sweet fragrance. Dance Man X Pink Swan. Tempo Two 1994/95.

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, June 18, 2013

Winter Blooming Tall Bearded Iris ETERNAL BLISS

In New Zealand it's less than four days away from the 2013 Winter Solstice when the day duration will be 09 Hours 37 Mins 53 Secs (Hardy worth turning the lights off) and in the home garden today Ben Hager's  'Total Recall' (92) has three bloom stalks that are just covered in buds and Monty Byers very fine re-blooming 'Eternal Bliss' (87) is in full bloom, now ain't that great? 'Eternal Bliss' is in it's second season re-blooming for me, which has erased the suggestion that when the Iris re-bloomed last season it was a one off. This cracker of a iris was purchased wrongly labelled as 'Fine China' from a seller on Trade Me.

AIS Checklist 1989
ETERNAL BLISS Monty Byers, Reg. 1987. Sdlg. C86-100. TB, 35" (89 cm), M & RE. Standards pale violet; Falls violet white; tangerine beard; heavily ruffled. A-3-1 RE-SA: ('Startler' x 'Sky Hooks') X 'Heaven Helped'. Moonshine Gardens 1988.

 If you get yourself a moment check out the Reblooming Iris Society web site and join! Its one of the premier Iris Societies, and if you don't own some re-blooming irises make a note to purchase some next season, you won't regret it!

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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Monday, June 17, 2013


Coloured forms of Iris innominata, 
Courtesy of the book, 'The Iris and its Culture' Jean Stevens.

Some Lesser Known Irises

By Miss J. Burgess, Waikanae.

Many factors have mitigated against the garden distribution and consequent popularity of the Californian irises, but none more so than the confusion hitherto existing among collectors and botanists themselves. The close affinity between the various species of decision is so strong that cross-fertilisation is almost a certainty when two or more species grow together. This taken in conjunction with the fact that there are endless numbers of local and colour forms of the species, makes confusion almost inevitable. Another difficulty has been that the plants make rather sparse root growth, and that that growth is active in a short period in the year. This means that successful transplantation of fully grown plants can only be carried out during that season of growth. As the old roots are not sufficient to feed the plant, where no root growth takes place after transplantation, the plant will stave and die.This period of growth occurs between July and December in New Zealand, and as flowering season itself lies within this time, the season for transplanting is further limited.
All the members of the section seed and germinate freely, and seedlings will flower in the spring, following germination. From the gardener's point of view this is eminently satisfactory, and he is no longer troubled that the mature plant is so difficult a subject to transplant. But to the collector of species this is merely an alleviation. The difficulty is that pure seed, true to name, is so hard to obtain, and seed imported of tenax, or Douglasiana, is likely to turn out mere hybrids of those species.

Provide Lime-free Soil
Cultivation in a lime-free soil is not a difficult matter. All the Californians thrive in a light loamy soil under ordinary garden conditions. The addition of leaf mould or garden compost and sand is, however, a material help. Moisture is needed during the spring and early summer, when growth is active, but a thorough ripening in the late summer and early autumn does no harm to the plants, and they bloom all the more freely the following spring. Most of the species are extremely free flowering, and in the case of some, notably tenax, the plants may be so smothered with bloom that the foliage is entirely obscured. All are eminently desirable rock garden subjects, and in the rock garden the dainty charm has an ideal foil. They will not tolerate the presence in the soil of lime.

Two Main Groups
The Californians are divided into two main groups, the longipetala group, which occurs mainly along the Californian coast, and the Californian section proper, of which tenax is, perhaps, the best known. This latter group of species is distributed throughout the whole of North-western America, though they occur most freely and California and Oregon.
 Longipetala is the tallest of the section, throwing up flower stems two feet or more in height. Although there is only one inflorescence to each stem, it bears four to five flowers, which opened in succession. The large falls are conspicuously veined with deep purple on a white ground, while the standards are an even tone of pale purple or lavender.The deep green foliage is somewhat stiff, and is almost as tall as the flower stems. There is an alpine form of dwarfer growth called Missouriensis. Another species, Montana, sometimes catalogued as Tolmeiana, differs from longipetala and Missouriensis, chiefly in it's narrower standards, and in the colour of the falls, which have less veining, and bears a distinct yellow patch on the blade of the falls.

The Californian section proper contains a large number of authentic species, but it is here that it has been so difficult to decide where a form deserves, specific rank. All the species of the section have conspicuous red coloured bases to their leaf growth. Tenax from Oregon is so named because of the strength of the leaves, from the fibers of which the Indians used to weave a twine or cord of considerable strength. It grows to about a foot in height, and bears flowers in endless variations of colour from palest pearly lavender through mauve to a deep claret colour. In my own experience it has proved to be the easiest of all the Californians to transplant, and it is certainly the most free-flowering.
Some Good Varieties
Hartwegii has perhaps doubtful claims to specific rank, differing as it does from tenax only in colour and its dwarfer habit. It is pale creamy yellow with straw coloured veining.
Hartwegii as a native of the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada, occurring at altitudes varying from 1500 feet to 7000 feet, and red volcanic debris. It is very difficult to transplant, and has not the same vigour as tenax. Somewhat similar in colouring, but stronger in growth and constitution, are Purdyi, from the Redwood regions of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, and Bracteata from Oregon. Purdyi which is only from 4 to 6 inches in height, has pale straw yellow flowers, conspicuously veined with dark purple, and Bracteata the same height as Purdyi, has deeper yellow flowers, also conspicuously veined, and differs chiefly from Purdyi in having longer, broader, but sparser foliage. There are, however, several botanical differences.
 Douglasiana it is perhaps as well known as tenax, and as easily grown. It differs from all the other species of the section, and, indeed, from almost all other Irises, by the fact that it does not lie down during the winter, but retains its very dark green, extremely tough leaves all the year.Douglasiana it is very variable, both in colour and style of growth. The endless variety of colourful is truly amazing; from every shade of lavender toned yellow and apricot to deepest purple, with every possible variation of veining. The height of the flower stems varies from 9 to 18 inches. Douglasiana appears to be confined to the coastal regions of California. Macrosiphon is another variable species, but much dwarfer in habit, and not so robust. It is a native of California and Oregon. Although the stem is seldom more than 3 inches in height, the flowers are furnished with a very long perianth tube ( as the name macrosiphon, suggests), the flowers themselves being about a foot in height. There is every conceivable colour variation from sky blue to yellow and white. The colour of the foliage also varies from glaucous green to Emerald. As previously mentioned, intercrossing between the different species of this group is extremely easy, and gives endless variations in colour, height, and form but of added interest, is the fact that several Californians, among them tenax and Douglasiana, can be successfully crossed with the Chinese and Himalayan Sibiricas. Among these hybrids has been raised a beautiful flower of a crushed Strawberry colour with gold veining on the falls. This hybrid was obtained from chrysographes crossed with Douglasiana. This early result promises that continued work among these lines will be well worthwhile.

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

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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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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As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Credit and copyright Iris Hunter.
- See more at:
As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Credit and copyright Iris Hunter.
- See more at:
As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Credit and copyright Iris Hunter.
- See more at:
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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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sir Michael Foster, NOTES ON IRISES


ON SOME HYBRID IRISES. - I find that many have a great objection to the raising of hybrids. From a gardening point of view this is of course wholly unreasonable, seeing how every year sees the birth of hybrids more beautiful and more manageable than their parents; and even from a botanical point of view the hybridist, it appears to me, deserves praise and not blame. I will say nothing of the evidence, gradually growing stronger, that some of the wild forms of plants regarded by many as species are natural hybrids, and that the distinction between a veritable species and a hybrid is illusory. I simply ask, what is the object of all our investigations into the distinctive characters of plants, into their geographical distribution, and into the proper way of classifying them, except to understand the nature of plants, to find out how they came about, and what is the meaning of all their diverse features? If this be so, then every hybridisation must be most valuable, as being a direct experimental thrust into the hidden nature of the two parents. Every feature of a hybrid must have previously existed latent and potential, even if not visible, in one or other of the parents ; and, indeed, every hybridisation may be looked upon as a trial to see of what stuff the parents are made. Of course, for this very reason, new hybrids are apt to throw into confusion old classifications, and to upset many a neat clavis: but surely this is a matter over which we should not sorrow but rejoice exceedingly, seeing that we are thereby saved, as it were prematurely, from a serious error. Finding pleasure in my Irises, not only for their beauty, but also for the lessons which they teach, I have not hesitated for some few years past to make numerous attempts at hybridisation, and am already beginning to reach results which may perhaps be interesting not only to myself but even to my readers.

Let me first say a word about the natural seeding of Irises. The bare plot of ground which my sarcastic friends call my garden lies on the summit of a chalk hill, not in the soft southern part of England, but in the raw Eastern Counties - a hill, inconspicuous in itself, but appearing something because it rises straight from the flat plains of Cambridgeshire. Here without soil, with a rainfall about the smallest in England, buffeted by winds from every quarter, I make an heroic attempt to grow my plants; and they are nourished chiefly with my tears. One advantage only I have, that I gather nearly all the sunlight which falls in our dull clime. I mention these things because they have probably something to do with the fact that such plants as do not succumb to my adverse conditions, but reward my pains by living to flower, on the whole seed very freely. I have already found, more than once, that plants which with Mr. Thompson at Ipswich seed with difficulty bear me abundant crops. I am, therefore, amid all my disadvantages, in favourable circumstances for the seeding of Irises.

In the matter of seeding, not only with me but elsewhere, a great contrast may be observed between the beardless (Apogon) and bearded (Pogoniris) forms. With some few exceptions all the former seed freely, I mean without any artificial fertilisation; all the latter, with some few exceptions, seed scantily. At first sight there seems to be a final cause for this. The bearded Irises are in nearly all cases provided with a thick fleshy rhizome, which may be knocked about, cut to pieces, transferred from place to place, dried up, and, in fine, may suffer all manner of indignities without losing its life. Thus the chances of prolonging the individual life are much greater, and hence the necessity of reproducing itself by seed much less than with the beardless Irises, whose fibrous roots are in the majority of cases devoid of a distinct fleshy rhizome, and thus far more liable to destruction. But this view is negatived by the facts that the bulbous Irises (Xiphion) - (for a bulb is as good a protection as, or even a better one than a rhizome) - seed quite freely in most cases, and that the Onocyclus group (I. susiana, &c.), which are rhizomatous, and indeed most markedly so, seed quite freely, as far as my small experience goes, if placed under favourable circumstances. Moreover, it seems strange that the bearded Irises should be the ones which do not seed, seeing that in them the arrangements for insect fertilisation, such as the complex beard, &c., are much more elaborate, and the flowers are, as a rule, more handsome and conspicuous than is the case with the beardless Irises. And there is no evidence that, either in my region or in the rest of England, insects suitable for fertilising the bearded Irises are much less common than those suited for fertilising the beardless ones. I am inclined to think that the actual reason why the beardless Irises seed so freely is because, in some way or other, and for some reason or other, they have learnt the practice of self-fertilisation. I say learnt, because the arrangement of anther and stigma is in them, as in all Irises, opposed to self-fertilisation, and we are, therefore, led to believe that the Iris in its beginning was a plant which did not fertilise itself; on the other hand, it is quite open for us to suppose that the power has been preserved rather than acquired. At all events, I think I have evidence, though not yet sufficiently exact and extensive to be insisted upon, that these beardless Irises can fertilise themselves, even each stigma with its own underlying pollen ; and it is perhaps worthy of remark that in many forms, such as I. spuria, I. longipetala. &c., the anther is frequently so long as to project beyond and above the stigmatic surface, and thus the pollen from the top part of the anther readily falls on its own stigma.

The bearded Irises, on the other hand, as far as my observations will allow me to judge, are not capable of self-fertilisation; when they go to seed it is because the stigma has received the pollen of another flower. This is all very tedious, I hear some one say; and yet every one, I venture to think, loving at first a group of plants for their beauty only, will sooner or later find himself entangled and interested in questions of this kind. Besides, such matters are not without practical importance; for instance, in attempting to hybridise the beardless Irises much more careful precautions have to be taken than is necessary with the bearded forms.

It is with certain hybrids of the bearded group that I wish to deal now. As I said above, these, at least the native wild forms, very rarely seed naturally. But there are exceptions. Thus, among the dwarf forms, while the true I. pumila rarely goes to seed, I. cham├Žiris, and the allied I. italica, I. olbiensis, &c., seed freely. With the taller common garden forms seeding is much less common. I. pallida is the one perhaps most prone to seed, and next come some forms of variegata. I. germanica often produces pods, but rarely affords ripe, well-formed seeds. I have occasionally had a pod from I. flavescens, but I have never seen I. florentina so much as even begin to swell its pods. And the results of artificial fertilisation either with proper or with foreign pollen follow in much the same order. I have found no great difficulty in getting large, turgid pods, well filled with good seed, from I. pallida and I. variegata; with I.germanica the ovary swells and becomes a pod, but rarely gives sound seed; and the same with I. flavescens; while every one of the many attempts I have made to fertilise I, florentina have resulted in complete failure.
These facts make me feel inclined to believe that the going to seed or not going to seed is determined much more by the inherent intrinsic capacities of the plants than by the mere fact whether or no pollen has been brought, by insects or otherwise, upon the stigma. That the form of the Iris flower is adapted to insect fertilisation cannot be denied. Indeed, Sprengel states that he was originally led to his views of insect fertilisation by observations on the Spanish Iris (I. xiphium). This is a beardless form ; but the beard seems only an additional contrivance to insect fertilisation. On the one hand it is a more conspicuous signal than the coloured blotch on the beardless Iris ; on the other it seems to be of mechanical use, for, as I have actually observed, a bee tries to walk over the beard into the funnel of the flower, and in so doing repeatedly brushes the stigma with its back.
Admirably adapted as the flower seems, however, yet the occurrence of fertilisation does not seem to be in any direct relation to insect visits. I have not been able to make as yet any close or careful observations, but as far as I have hitherto seen I. germanica or florentina is as much visited by bees (or other insects) as pallida and variegata, and such of these creatures as are about in the spring seem as fond of visiting I. pumila, which rarely goes to seed, as the other dwarf Irises which seed freely. Nor does the quantity of pollen afforded by the anthers appear to be a very important factor ; for several Irises which have abundant pollen do not seed freely, while on the other hand I have repeatedly seen scanty pollen distinctly efficacious.

As is well known, there are many tall bearded Irises cultivated in our gardens which do not occur anywhere in a wild state. Some of them, such as I. aphylla, or I.plicata, I. Swerti, I. neglecta, are of very old standing, and have been admitted by Mr. Baker as species. Besides these there are an immense number of forms, generally spoken of in the nurserymen's catalogues as varieties of I. germanica. I have no doubt at all that I. plicata, or I. aphylla, and I. Swerti are derivatives from I. pallida; and moreover, I am inclined to think that they are hybrids and not simply intrinsic varieties. I. neglecta, for reasons which I will state presently, I believe to be a hybrid. The nurserymen's varieties of I. germanica are derivatives from I. pallida, I. squalens, I. variegata, I. sambucina, I. lurida, and I.flavescens; and my friend Mr. Peter Barr, in his catalogue, makes a very praiseworthy attempt to classify them as varieties of these several species. I believe that all these garden forms also are in ultimate origin hybrids, though the products of the first hybridisation probably varied largely afterwards ; and into the large number of forms so far known to me the blood of I. germanica proper, and of I. florentina enters to a very slight degree if at all.

I have spoken of these supposed hybrids as subsequently varying, that is, giving seedling varieties, because in the genus Iris, as so often in other plants, the hybrids, so far from being sterile, appear to seed even more freely than their parents. So much has this now become impressed on my mind, that in the case of any bearded Iris of unknown origin, the fact of its seeding freely would be to me an indication of its being a hybrid. Under the name of I.pumila affinis I received some time ago from my friend Mr. Max Leichtlin a handsome dwarf Iris, which he found in the Botanic Gardens at Vienna, and the origin of which was unknown. He supposed it to be a hybrid, and I am inclined to think that he is right, and that its parents are I. pumila and some such form as I. italica. This plant seeds with even troublesome profusion. Messrs. Haage & Schmidt distribute a somewhat dwarf Iris which they speak of as a hybrid between I. pumila and I. olbiensis. I am inclined to regard this also as a hybrid, though I very much doubt the particular parentage given; it, too, seeds most profusely. Similarly I. neglecta and many of the tall garden Irises spoken of above seed on the whole more freely than any native tall kinds, except perhaps I.pallida.
After these preliminary statements, which I trust the reader will excuse, on the plea that they clear the way for what is to follow, I may turn now to my own special attempts.


I have in my garden an Iris which I received under the name of I. variegata. It is not a typical variegata, since it has not the full golden-yellow of the type, but in its duller colouring tends rather to I. sambucina or I. lurida. Still I feel compelled, on the whole, to call it variegata; and it possesses one striking physiological character of variegata: it dies down completely and early in winter. This, as old Parkinson noted long ago, is a very distinct feature of I.variegata. Left to itself, this Iris has never seeded with me; during some six or seven years I have never gathered a pod, or even seen an ovary really begin to swell unless I had manipulated the flower.

In the summer of 1880 I removed from a plant all anthers as soon as the flowers opened, I may here remark that, with very few, and these doubtful, exceptions, all Irises are protandrous; that is to say, the anthers burst before the stigma is ready to receive the pollen, the readiness of the stigma* being shown by its separating from the bases of the crests, and falling down into a horizontal or inclined position. With a very little care, all the anthers may be successively removed, even before they have burst, and certainly in time to prevent any pollen falling on the stigma. I think, therefore, that I may safely assume that the plant in question could not have fertilised itself. Upon the stigmas of some dozen or a score of flowers I placed, in due time, the pollen, in some cases of I. pallida {a fairly typical form), in others of the large oriental form of I. germanica, marking the flowers thus treated. Of the flowers so manipulated nine gave large thoroughly turgid pods, which on dehiscence were found to be full of well formed seed. Of the rest some swelled at first, but subsequently went off. Of the flowers on the plant not so manipulated not a single one so much as began to swell, and this was also true of the few last flowers, which did not open until the manipulated ones had withered and set, and from which, therefore, I did not think it necessary to remove the anthers. I concluded from these results that the pods in question were the products of the strange pollen which I had put on the flowers - that, in fact, I had effected hybridisation; and I do not as yet see any flaw in the argument leading to this conclusion.
Unfortunately I did not affix any mark distinguishing those flowers on which I had placed germanica pollen from those on which I had placed pallida pollen. I have found, however, by experience that the pollen of pallida is very much more potent than that of germanica. Every hybridist is early struck with the fact that the pollen of some forms produces seed much more readily than does the pollen of other forms; and this is true of Irises also. So far I have not as yet succeeded in getting any ripe germinable seed as the result of the application of germanica pollen, whereas I have in various stages successful products of pallida pollen (including several varieties of pallida) placed on very different flowers. And while in the summers of 1881-83 I have again succeeded in impregnating I. variegata with pallida, all my attempts to cross variegata with germanica have absolutely failed. I conclude, therefore, that all my seed was probably the result of pallida pollen, and this conclusion is borne out by the characters of the seedlings. I shall, therefore, venture to speak of their parents as I. variegata and I. pallida.

The seed was gathered as soon as ripe, and sown immediately. It germinated very readily, and I have from it a very large number of seedlings, some of which flowered in the summer of 1882, and still more this summer, but a large number have yet to bloom. The special characters of the seedlings vary very considerably; it would be tedious to enter into detail, but the following general statement may perhaps not be without interest.
In foliage they are for the most part intermediate between the mother and the father, but favouring the former rather than the latter, very few indeed showing the broad massive leaves of pallida. Some have red bases to the tufts of leaves, as had the parent variegata, others have green bases like pallida ; but nearly all the plants resemble pallida and differ from variegata in that the leaves do not die completely down in winter. In stature also the children are intermediate between their parents; most, however, have the shorter scape and more compressed inflorescence of variegata, while some few show the taller more loosely branched stem of pallida.
Perhaps the more characteristic feature of I. pallida is the possession of thin papery colourless or white spathe valves, which become scarious so early as to lead one at first sight to fear that the as yet unopened bud is about to wither. In variegata the spathe valves are green flushed with purple, and much more persistent. In this respect also the majority of the seedlings were intermediate, having spathe valves which early became scarious, but yet turned brown flushed with purple, instead of taking on the silvery whiteness of the spathe valves of pallida.

The flowers themselves varied exceedingly in size, form, and colouring. In general the form of the flower and of its component parts, by the greater length of the perianth tube, by the narrower more pointed crests of the style, and by the shape of the segments, drew near to variegata; and the blood of this, the mother, was in most cases obvious in the bold and conspicuous veining of the claws of both the falls and the standards. In point of colour I was able to arrange a long series, passing from nearly typical pallida, through a variety of tints, to something which was as nearly as possible a reproduction of the mother, variegata. There was, however, on the whole, a tendency, on the one hand, to the development of a deeper blue than is ever seen in pallida; and, on the other, to the appearance, especially in the standards, of dusky and dirty hues of yellow.

Lastly, though I. variegata has no odour at all, many of the seedlings were exceedingly fragrant, more so even than I. pallida, the scent being as strong, and very much of the same character as that of I. plicata or I. Swerti. I venture to think, then, that I have in this case not simply produced a number of variations from the type of the mother, but actually effected a hybridisation, the offspring favouring the mother in foliage and habit (save as far as relates to the greater or less persistence during winter), and in the form of the flowers, while the influence of the pollen is most evident in the large amount of blue colouration visible in by far the greater number of the blooms.

I stated a little way back that I believed that a large number of the Irises which nurserymen speak of as varieties of germanica 'are hybrids; and among these hybrids of which I am speaking are many which seem almost identical with various " named " forms of our gardens. Very many of these named forms are by Mr. Barr classed as varieties of I. neglecta, to my mind very justly so. Now it is specially these so-called forms of neglecta to which my hybrids come near; so much so that I feel very much inclined to believe that the typical and original neglecta of Hornemann is actually a hybrid between I. variegata and I. pallida.

But I may perhaps go farther than this. Very many of the garden varieties may be classed as forms of I. squalens, I. lurida, I. sambucina (which are veritable species found wild in Europe), but some of my hybrids run very close indeed to these. These three Irises have many points in common and have been at times variously confused by successive authors (indeed I cannot say that my own mind is as yet clear about them) ; they are also related to variegata, the four forming a group, the members of whom are more closely connected with each other than with any other Iris. The view which naturally commends itself is that these four forms have arisen from one of the four, or from some lost common ancestor, by simple variation without the admixture of foreign blood. But my hybrids raise the suspicion that possibly natural hybridisation may have intervened. Of course further evidence is needed before a definite opinion can be arrived at. In this relation I may, perhaps, state that in the summer of 1881 I crossed the same plant of I. variegata with the pollen of a handsome garden Iris known as Queen of the May, and have obtained a large number of seedlings. Of these I may have to speak hereafter, meanwhile I quote them, since among them are plants the flowers of which, save as regards some inner structural features which a casual observer would overlook, are almost exactly like I. flavescens. Now the Queen of the May, though having reddish flowers, is in all essential characters a pallida, almost a typical pallida. Whether it be, as I suspect, a hybrid or simply a variation I do not know; but unless it be a hybrid with, what seems extremely unlikely, flavescens blood in it, so that the appearance of a plant like flavescens in my seedlings is simply a reversion to a part of the ancestral blood, the fact of the appearance of the flavescens features in the progeny of variegata (from which flavescens is widely different) as the result of hybridisation suggests that the wild flavescens is itself a hybrid.

To conclude this long story, I will call to mind a suggestion of Dean Herbert. That wonderful sagacious man (and the more I try to follow up his work the more I marvel at his breadth of view and at his insight) threw out the suggestion that all the bearded Irises growing round the Mediterranean basin were after all mere varieties of one form, and would be found to cross readily with each other. My own short experience leads me to believe that, within limits determined more by breeding capacity than by specific differences, he was right; and this opens up the question whether the variations giving rise to our many species of bearded Iris are, in part at least, due to natural hybridisation.


In support of Dean Herbert's view, I may call attention to a hybridisation which I think I have carried out between two Irises much further apart from each other than the two discussed above.

I. balkana is a dwarf Iris from the Balkan Mountains, introduced and named by Janka. It belongs to the pumila group; the short scape bears one, rarely two, somewhat large and handsome purplish-brown flowers marked with very bold veins.

I. cengialti is a curious Iris from Mount Cengialto in the Tyrol. It may briefly be described as a very dwarf pallida, with a branching scape hardly more than a foot high, and small pleasing sky-blue flowers. In general aspect at first sight it seems an absolutely different plant from I. pallida, and yet when you come to examine into its special features, it becomes very difficult to establish any satisfactory difference, and Mr. Baker regards it as a mere variety of I. pallida. I may here remark that there exists a series of low-growing Irises, almost exactly the dwarf reproductions of the commoner taller species. Just as this I. cengialti may be regarded as a dwarf I. pallida, so also is there a dwarf I. variegata, a dwarf I. neglecta, a dwarf I. amoena, and probably others. Whatever be the view taken of the exact nature of this I. cengialti, whether it be regarded as a definite species or a mere variety of I. pallida, it undoubtedly belongs to the division of Irises with a branching scape, and thus differs widely from I. balkana, with its one, or at most two, flowers on a stem.

In the spring of 1880 I placed the pollen of I. cengialti on the stigmas of a flower of I. balkana, the anthers of which I had previously removed, with the result that the ovary began to swell. I have not had sufficient experience with I. balkana to know if it seeds freely; but I have seen enough of I cengialti to be aware that its pollen, like that of I. pallida, has considerable potency. I took care that no pollen either of the same or of any other flower of I. balkana touched the stigma of the flower operated on. If the swelling of the ovary was not due to the cengialti pollen it must have been due (parthenogenesis being excluded) to pollen of some other Iris brought by insects. This, as I have already urged, is unlikely; and the sequel, I think, shows that in this case also a cross was really effected.

While the pod thus fertilised, though well swollen, was still green and unripe, my gardener snicked the scape with his scythe, and soon after a friend broke the pod off altogether. Hardly hoping to be successful, I placed the pod in the greenhouse, with the broken end of the scape plunged in damp cocoa-fibre refuse. Happily the pod ripened and gave me seventeen fairly good seeds, which were sown at once. In the spring of 1881 two seeds germinated, but the seedlings soon damped off. In 1882 fifteen seedlings appeared and flourished; of these fourteen flowered this spring and summer, the remaining one being sickly.

In foliage these seedlings differ a good deal from each other, but, on the whole, are intermediate between the two parents. The leaves of I. cengialti are short, comparatively broad, straight, and yellowish-green ; those of I. balkana are narrow, very pointed, markedly curved, and falcate, and their green has a more decided mixture of blue. The leaves of the seedlings are in some plants straight, in some falcate, in most cases broader than I. balkana, but narrower than I. cengialti; and though the greater number are of a yellowish-green colour, some are more distinctly blue-green than is I. cengialti.
As regards the inflorescence and flowers, since, as I believe, a real hybridisation was effected, perhaps I may be allowed to speak in detail, on account of the interest naturally attaching to the characters of hybrids as compared with those of their parents.

Whereas I. balkana bears a single terminal flower, very rarely two (so Janka), in eleven of the seedlings, besides the terminal flower, a lateral flower, on a short peduncle, sprang from a spathaceous bract about half way up the scape. In two plants (No. 4 and 9) there were two such lateral flowers, each pedunculated, and each springing from its own bract. In one plant (No.10) each stem (and there were several on the same plant) was regularly branched, after the fashion of I. cengialti, and bore in all five flowers; in fact the plant was, for an Iris, extremely floriferous.

As regards colour, three plants only (No. 2, 3, 12) were blue or purple, the colour being not exactly like either parent, the conspicuous brown veining of I. balkana being absent, while the light sky-blue of I. cengialti was not taken on. In texture the segments were rather delicate, like those of I. cengialti, and not stout and firm like I. balkana. In one case (No. 10) the flowers were small, of a pleasing creamy-yellow, with a very bright orange beard. In one case (No. 8) the flowers were large and white, the lamina of the falls and standards being largely spotted and streaked with purple. In the remaining nine plants the flowers were white, with a somewhat conspicuous blue or purple veining, which gave the petals a sort of slatey hue, the colour of the beard varying from bright orange to dull yellow.

It may seem surprising that eleven out of the fourteen plants should be entirely, or almost entirely free from the blue colour which is so conspicuous a feature of both supposed parents. Nor would I venture to insist on this being a token of hybridisation having been effected, since for all I know natural seedlings of I. balkana might sport white or yellow as do seedlings of I. chamreiris, I. olbiensis, &c ; but I do venture to insist on the beards of the seedlings as affording direct proof of mixed blood. The beard of I. balkana is white and blue, while that of I. cengialti (and in this it shows its pallida affinities) is orange. I take it that the possession by these white-flowered seedlings of an orange or yellow beard clearly shows the influence of the cengialti pollen.

One marked feature of I. balkana may be noted in the somewhat inflated, pointed and markedly keeled persistent spathe valves, while I. cengialti betrays most distinctly its pallida affinities in its delicate spathe valves early becoming scarious and silvery white. Now, of these seedlings the spathe valves were, in one case, most distinctly scarious like I. cengialti, in four cases somewhat scarious, and in six slightly scarious, that in three cases only could they be spoken of as thoroughly persistent like those of the parent I. balkana.

Taking these facts, and others with which I need not weary the reader, into consideration, there is I think ample evidence that I have really crossed the two above mentioned forms, that is to say that I have brought into union a member of the pumila group and a member of the pallida group - two groups of Iris separated by a long interval from each other; and have thus made a step towards verifying the speculations of Dean Herbert. I may add that these hybrids are not sterile. It is true that they have not spontaneously produced seed, but I have attempted to fertilise them with another (and very different) Iris, and have obtained several pods with some apparently good well-formed seed. Of these, if I live and all goes well, I may have something to say in some future year.

ON A PROLIFEROUS IRIS.- As far as my experience and knowledge goes the following occurrence in an Iris is new and worth recording. The first of the hybrids between I. balkana and I. cengialti just described was grown in a pot and wintered in a greenhouse. It accordingly flowered early, and some time in May or June a second scape with a terminal flower and a lateral bract appeared. I cut off the terminal flower, and some time after was surprised to find that though no second flower appeared at the lateral bract the scape did not wither, but remained green. Early in August I noticed that the bract appeared swollen at its base, and, moreover, was splitting. On examination I found that the bud in the axil of the bract, instead of growing up into a flower, had become transformed into a bulb, and had already formed a tiny rhizome, from which a commencing root was already pushing. I cut off the stem below the node and planted it in a pot, so that the tiny root had access to the soil. So far it seems doing very well, and I shall watch its growth into a plant with great interest.

The formation of bulbs in the axils of the leaves and branches of branching bulbous Iridaceous plants, such as Freesia, Sparaxis, &c., is very common. [We have seen the same thing at Marica. Ed.] None of the bulbous Irises (Xiphion) have branching stems, or perhaps we might see a similar occurrence in them. Its repetition in a rhizomatous Iris is rather curious, and I perhaps may claim this physiological freak as an additional proof of these seedlings being real hybrids.

M. Foster, Shelford, Aug., 1883.

*By the stigma I mean the stigmatic surface only, the little ledge below the crests. Most authors give the name stigma to the whole tripartite upper part of the style, and speak of the crests of the stigma ; but it seems to me more appropriate to speak of the style as dividing into three parts, each bearing two crests, and below these a stigma ; for the stigmatic surface is not in the Iris as., e.g., in Gladiolus, extended over the whole of the tripartite end of the style.

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Please take the time and read the above from one of the Greats!
Published in 1883, I considered Sir Michael Fosters completely unabridged article 'Notes on Irises' needed once again to have some light shine upon his words and allow the readers see how prescient the man really was.
Now as an aside, I did consider sending the article to a ghost twitter writer who works for one of those gossip mag things to add some spicy little snippets of completely useless information like, without identifying the source suggesting the colour and weave of the jacket 'Foster' was wearing at the time of writing, perhaps we could say who were his acquaintances that  stopped by for tea that day, or maybe we could have suggested he was a member of a lodge with secret handshakes....... and then perhaps with all this overwhelming stretched credibility, and a few selective iris facts tossed in
to establish extra perceived trustworthiness, coupled with a dollop of suspect innuendo, it could at a later date become a mock iris history book...... with the outcome creating a following of cramped intelligence including a Lewis Carroll homage thing tossed in for good measure......need I go on.........Now as irresistible as this sounds I'm sure you already know some prankster has already written a very expensive book loosely based on the above idea and Classic Irises.....…and lets face it there must be a finite demand for tittle-tattle !!


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Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Considered by Carlos Ayento, of Brighton Park Iris to be endangered in its American homeland, 'Spanish Leather' a twenty eight year old classic is still regularly available here in New Zealand. It was one of my pleasant new purchase surprises last bloom season. This well named variety is a medley of autumn colours in bronze, copper-brown, and rosy-rust, completed with rich golden tones in the centre of each fall.The flowers are thickly substanced with a leathery texture. Iron rod stalks with especially good spacing of its branching and up to 8-10 buds per stem. A vigorous grower with beautiful purple bottom clean foliage that is resistant to leaf spot. Remarkable sun-fast blend topped off with bright bushy old gold beards.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 60th Annual Iris Lovers Catalog:, 1985.
With texture and color like fine leather wares fashioned by the master craftsmen of Seville, our Spanish Leather captures the quality and spirit of that finely wrought work. Rose, copper and henna-maroon all blend in a rich harmony highlighted by golden orange beards and artful golden dappling on the falls. Our photograph illustrates the richness of color and the fine detail in this big full-fashioned beauty. Extremely vigorous as well! You may never own boots of Spanish leather, but can witness something of equal beauty.

(Schreiner's, R. 1985) Sdlg. R 815-B. TB, 35" (89 cm), EM
Lightly ruffled rose, copper, henna and maroon blend with golden dappling highlighting shoulders and broad hafts; old gold blended beard. I 910-2: (D 824-AA x E 1068-A: (Calypso Bay sib x Y 866-A)) X K 891-B: ((Lime Fizz x Kingdom) x New Moon). Schreiner's 1985.

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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Monday, June 10, 2013

Tall Bearded Iris I'VE GOT RHYTHM

Very early, starts blooming in Mid October and carries on for weeks. Standards are rosy-raspberry with just the right amount of ruffles. Falls are a creamy white with an edge of the standard colour that broadens towards the hafts. An excellent highlight in any garden, vigorous with great plant health making it a delight to grow.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 74th Collectors Edition, 1999 Iris Lovers Catalog.
I’VE GOT RHYTHM (Schreiner 1998) EM. 38"
One of the first tall beardeds to bloom, this effervescent little darling is pert, petite and a fantastic performer. Note in our photograph how the distinct raspberry-rose plicata edging circles the creamy yellow ground of the falls and dominates the standards. Bright tangerine beards add that extra zip. Best of all, it's tall stems have three to four branches and triple socketed buds yielding 8-12 flowers.

Contemporary Views, 2000/2001, Perry Dyer– Plicatas

Hybridizers continue to explore the pattern and keep coming up with unique variations. On the whole, plants habits and overall dependability in the garden have improved significantly this past decade or so. I’VE GOT RHYTHM (Schreiner 1998) is a colorful warm plicata with flowers much smaller than we usually see from the Schreiners. Variety really is the spice of life, and I like the contrast here in this unique plicata. Standards are a rosy-purple with just a hint of the cream base peeking through. Then, the falls are a creamy-yellow ground, distinctly banded in a colorful lilac-purple and rose. Tangerine beards just set off the flower! The vigor and increase are especially noteworthy.

AIS Checklist 1999
I’VE GOT RHYTHM Schreiner, Reg. 1998. Sdlg. EE 975-A. TB, 38" (97 cm), EM. Standards lilac purple (RHS 70A), slight creamy center; style arms lilac purple; Falls creamy yellow (13D) ground, distinct lilac purple plicata edging; beards tangerine. 'Footloose' X AA 2191-C: (Y 252-1: (('Cozy Calico' x 'Grape Accent') x 'Capricious') x 'Gigolo'). Schreiner 1998. HM 2000.

A big hat tip once again to Julie May for her very fine photo.This photo and others recently displayed on this blog and credited to Julie May were taken at her Christchurch Iris gardens in 2003 with a Canon PowerShot S45 a 4.1 Megapixel compact point-and-shoot camera, now ain't that something.
As usual, clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Julie May.

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Iris Pseudacorus X ROY DAVIDSON

'Roy Davidson' is a clump-forming evergreen iris growing to 1.1m, the strong stems have up to 10 flowers or more, light but bright yellow with light brown veining, the falls with a crescent-shaped brown central flash and just look at the photo how is that for amazing carrying power!! This variety's pollination was possibly by an insect a bird or the wind, and for a intervention of nature it is a super good looking 'Water Iris'.
As a hybrid 'Roy Davidson', has like the species an excellent water purifying ability, and I have always had the thought that some up and coming Agricultural Science boffin would take the time to investigate growing pseudacorus and using this plant's natural talent of consuming excess nutrients and de-acidifying polluted water for dairy farm run off. The outcome is the possibility of having  purified water and in the words of  that My Fair Lady song 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly'.

Melrose Gardens, Stockton, California. The Connoisseurs Catalog, 1987.
ROY DAVIDSON (Hager '87) Beardless. 34" Clough #3 Holden Clough open pollinated.
You've probably read about Holden Clough, the mystery (parentage) iris from England. It sets a rare seed or two and about 10% of them germinate. This iris is from one such seed. And what a surprise! Iris pesudacorus is generally accepted as one parent of HC, and this grandchild resembles it except the flowers are 3 1/2" and are bright yellow with some veining and have dark brown crescent signals. THEY REMAIN OPEN FOR THREE DAYS, unlike pseudacorus and its one-day flowers. Stems of this one have two to three branches with multiple buds at each placement and fountains of wide, semi-glossy green foliage this is not dormant here. Promises to be a great garden subject but give this fast increasing plant plenty of room. Named for ROY DAVIDSON because the first seed was found on a stem from his garden so he is to blame for starting this whole thing. .....$25.00. 

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia. Iris, Daylilies, Hosta Catalogue  1994-1995
Iris Species suitable for water or boggy conditions.
This is a grandchild from Iris Pseudacorus and is a similar shade of yellow, but has flowers 3½ inches across and they last for 3 days, unlike pseudacorus which last 1 day. Stems have 2 or 3 branches and flowers are bright golden yellow. Foliage is dark and glossy and is evergreen. Equally at home in water, bogs or normal garden soil.

AIS Checklist 1989
ROY DAVIDSON Ben Hager, Reg. 1987. Sdlg. Clough #3. Apogon hybrid 34" (86 cm) E-L. Yellow, lightly veined brown on F., deep yellow outline by deep brown crescent signal. Holden Clough open pollinated., Melrose Gardens 1987.

 A massive Hat Tip to Phil Edinger for the above Melrose Garden listing.

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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New Zealand Aril Bred iris MOUNT MELITA

Another quality New Zealand  Aril Bred iris from the Richmond Iris Gardens. Alison Nicoll has really made a mark with her Aril selections of late which show a good eye for form selection in this class. The colour is a self of a dark diva blue (Ridgway 196) and bloom form is good with that rounded Aril trait on 40cm stems. Once again Alison has used 'Tabriz' (Kidd,'83) as a parent but this time a cross with Paul Blacks hauntingly blue Standard Dwarf plicata 'Cubby Cheeks' ('85) for an outstanding result. Introduced in the same year as 'Magic Mushroom' another of Alisons Aril Bred Irises I grow successfully, in fact all the Arils I purchased from Richmond Iris Garden in January 2012 established themselves well in their first season and bloomed in October 2012 just 9 months after planting which is a good result, so if you want my advise give them a go.

Richmond Iris Garden Catalogue, 376 Hill Street, Nelson. Issue 56, 2008-2009
New Introductions.
MOUNT MELITA: AB [ A. Nicoll '06] Dark blue, falls have a purple wash.

New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist 2013
MOUNT MELITA  Alison Nicoll, Reg., 2006. Sdlg. AO2D1-7. AB (OGB-), 15″, (39cm), M-L. Dark blue self, style arms tipped purple, F. washed purple; beards lemon. Chubby Cheeks X Tabriz. Richmond Iris Gardens 2008/09

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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Wednesday, June 5, 2013


As with all the 'IRWELLS'  its a strong and vigorous grower with great bloom count on rod like stems. 'Irwell Star Struck' was awarded an Honourable Mention when it was grown in the NZIS Tall Bearded Trial Garden at Makikihi in 2012.

New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist 2013
IRWELL STAR STRUCK Ron Busch, Reg., 2010. Sdlg.1901-4085. TB, 30" (76 cm), E. Standards and style arms white flushed wine; Falls wine, wine-white edge, white veins at shoulders and around orange beard. Parentage unknown. H.M. 2012 (NZ)

The Bulletin published official results from the 2012 Trial Garden but did not give any of the irises names, most of my readers appreciate quality information I thought it would be of interest to you all to publish the names of the award winning irises bred by Ron Busch, so here we go. The three irises (all registered in 2010) that were awarded Honourable Mentions (H.M.) are, IRWELL WATCH TOWER , IRWELL ANGELS SONG, and IRWELL STAR STRUCK
Two others were judged Highly Commended (H.C.) in the same trial and Ron had registered (2010) these irises as IRWELL OBSESSION and IRWELL DANCE

A big hat tip once again to Julie May for the use of her very fine photos.
Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Julie May.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Tall Bearded Iris SKATING PARTY

Perception, Perception,Perception. Just look at it! Now if I was to tell you that this iris is 'Historic' I think it would not be unreasonable for readers to inquire what has the Iris Hunter been drinking? or maybe recommend to me some restful accommodation with discreet professional support. However folks I kid you not, 'Skating Party' has this year being newly classified as 'Historic' because it is thirty years old and that's the official determination of the classification. This method of classification of a so called 'Historic Iris' is increasingly becoming a visual confusion for the general gardening public, and if a survey was done, you know the kind of thing where someone walks around a flower or garden show with pictures of irises from various vintages it would be a sure bet very few survey respondents would label most surviving irises of the 60's, 70's and 80's as 'historic'. Most of these irises are still listed in commercial catalogues today as 'Modern Tall Bearded Irises', (See the 'Schreiners' listing below). If the classification is to be taken seriously by the gardening public then at the very least it should apply to an iris that looks like its Historic. More than 650 irises including 'Skating Party' were registered in 1983, and all of these modern irises have now become listed as 'historic' in this year 2013, or another way of looking at it is there is now 650 more reasons why this 'Historic Classification' needs to change, and that 'caring not a whit about it' is not the clever option .

Many irisarians are happy to have just one white iris but you can't lump me in with that crowd. I've said it before and I'll say it again, all gardens can never have enough 'White Irises', they give a balance that is unbeatable and after all nothing clashes with white. They also can be the first irises to bloom in the season and 'Cascade Pass' (Cooper '70) is my earliest white iris to bloom, 'Skating Party' and 'America's Cup' (McWhirter,'88) are the last to bloom for me at home. 

'Skating Party' is a strong grower with good clean foliage clumps up quickly and with its profusion of bloom stalks can quickly become a bold garden feature with great carrying power. If you haven't got this iris it's high time you did! A Modern Classic iris that more than earns it place in the garden.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog, 1983.
SKATING PARTY  (Gaulter,83) M-L, 34"
Have you been looking for the 'all-whitest' iris? Here is a new one that should fill the bill. The beards are a lemon-white and the bloom is fluted all around.There is some flare in the falls, but the whole is very ruffly with nine buds to each 3-branch stalk.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog, 2002.
SKATING PARTY  (Gaulter,83) M-L, 34"
All time favorite white iris. The beards are lemon white and the bloom is fluted all round.There is some flare in the falls, but the whole is very ruffled with nine buds to each stalk. H.M.'85; A.M.'89.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, Iris Lovers Catalog, 2013 Collector's Edition.
SKATING PARTY  (Gaulter,83) M-L, 36"
Large and generously ruffled, Skating Party is a pristine white with lemon tinted beards. This finely balanced and well-formed Iris is an ideal addition to the white garden. H.M.'85; A.M.'89.

IRIS Flowers of the Rainbow, Graeme Grosvenor
Recommended Cultivars, WHITE.
'Skating Party'(Gaulter, 1983) has been my favourite white Iris for many years. It is a pure white with a white beard, heavily ruffled and of very attractive form. The very strong spikes carry 8 to 10 blooms which open nicely in sequence for an extended period, making this Iris ideal in the garden and on the show bench. Health and vigour are both excellent and 'Skating Party' will produce a large club in two years from a single rhizome. It moves easily and establishes quickly and I have found it admirable in a variety of climates. The tall spikes, reaching 90-100 cm, are bloom mid to late season and are able to withstand all but the worst weather. I have observed 'Skating Party' over many years and it never performs badly, even in less than perfect seasons. It is breeding is (Portrait of Larrie x Carriage Trade) x a sibling.

AIS Checklist 1989
SKATING PARTY (L. Gaulter, R. 1983) Sdlg. 77-45. TB, 34" (86 cm), M-L Fluted white; lemon beard tipped white. (Portrait of Larrie x Carriage Trade) X sib. Cooley's Gardens 1983. HM 1985, AM 1989.

I did write a little about these 'Confusing Historic's'  last September in my post 'Historic Iris 'TIME FOR CHANGE'

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, June 2, 2013

Border Bearded Iris ORINOCO FLOW

I purchased this Iris this season as it fascinated me with its dark purple style arms and I am sure looking forward to it blooming at home. Return to this post in a years time I will have expanded my thoughts. Interesting that this iris is reported to slip between growing in some gardens at tall bearded height and in other gardens its the height of the Border Bearded class. English bred and registered in England in 1989 but it was not until 4 years later it was introduced in America by the late George Sutton at his  'Sutton's Green Thumber Nursery' in 1993.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1991,"BIS Garden Trails 1991", page 54, Bryan Dodsworth.

'Orinoco Flow' (Bartlett) TB. This striking blue/purple on white plicata with only the thinnest of stitching round the fall margins. Form and substance, bud count and branching are excellent, the last being unusual in a plicata in that it is just as good an lateral as in the vertical plane. In consequence the crisp compact flowers are in perfect balance with the stem. It has confounded its breeder by attaining TB stature in every garden in spite of its BB tag.(Blue Staccato' X 'Raziza)

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1992,"Florence 1992", page 49, H.R.Jeffs.
The Border Bearded competition produced a worthy winner for Cy Bartlett in 'Orinoco Flow'. It smothered itself in stems and Flowers, and also gained the Best Commercial award by its share exuberance. This vigorous variety is a violet on white plicata with many buds and a long season. It's success at Florence confirms that at Wisley - a splendid garden Iris.

Contemporary Views, 1993, Perry Dyer– Border Beardeds
ORINOCO FLOW (Bartlett 1993), from England, has the basic colors of its mother, 'Blue Staccato' (Gibson 1977), but in a scaled-down version, more floriferous, and with heavier markings in the standards. The base color is pure white, and the stitching is a glowing indelible ink in indigo. It might be right on that imaginary dotted line between classes, between BB and TB, but an occasional “overflow” won’t keep me from growing this wonderful new plic. 

'Orinoco Flow' Front cover ''The Iris Year Book 1994'
Courtesy British Iris Society. Photo Maureen Foster 
The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1994,"The Dykes Medal 1994", page 10, H.R.Jeffs.
The Dykes Medal for 1994 has been awarded to Mr. C.E.C Bartlett for his Border Bearded Iris 'Orinoco Flow'. This is is an extremely vigourous and free flowering variety which has attracted a lot of attention during its brief career. It started off with a seedling commendation  from the BIS in 1986 and was selected for Trial at Wisley in 1989. It was planted in the Tall Bearded Trial of the year grew consistently shorter than 28" and was transferred to the Intermediate Bearded Trial in 1992, where it will be in its third year in 1995.
Cy sent it to Florence where was judged in 1992 and won the Adriana Gardi Cup (for Border Bearded Irises) . It made two splendid clumps with masses of spikes and flowers, and was very highly thought of by the judges.
Starting life as a seedling BS-R-1 (Blue Staccato' X 'Raziza) 'Orinoco Flow' was registered in 1989. The standards are white, heavily stitched with deep purple-blue on the edges. The falls have a white ground with heavy plicata markings at the haft and the top edges. These are set off by a navy blue beard and deep purple style arms. The whole is well ruffled and it has a slight sweet scent. The rapid growth and free flowering qualities will, I am sure, make many friends. H.R.J.

IRIS Flowers of the Rainbow, Graeme Grosvenor
'Orinoco Flow' (Bartlett 1993) 63cm White ground plicata with dark blue edging and navy blue beards. This Iris won the English Dykes Medal in 1994 for Cy Bartlett and, as seen in Florence 1992 when it won the border bearded class, it is the best border beaded Iris available.I think it was the best Iris of any type that I saw in Europe and cannot recommend it highly enough.

IRISES A Gardener's Encyclopedia, Claire Austin
Iris 'Orinoco Flow' (C Bartlett 1989)
This white-and-violet plicata is the only Border Bearded Iris to have been awarded the Dykes Medal by the British Iris Society. The flowers are very ruffled, although the ruffling is lighter on the falls. The beards are blue, and the flower is heavily scented. Height; 64 cm(25½ in.) Bloom; early to late-season. Parentage; 'Blue Staccato' X 'Raziza'. Dykes Medal Winner UK 1994.

AIS Checklist 1989
ORINOCO FLOW Cy Bartlett, reg. 1989. Seedling BS-R-1. BB, height 25" (64 cm), early mid to late season bloom. Standards white ground, heavily stitched deep purple blue on edge; deep blue purple styles; falls white ground, heavy plicata markings at hafts and top edge; navy blue beard; heavily ruffled; slight sweet fragrance. 'Blue Staccato' X 'Raziza'. Sutton's Green Thumber 1993.
RHS AGM 1995, British Dykes Medal 1994.

Available in New Zealand from Helen Laing at The Iris Farm Amberley

Don't forget if you get a moment take a visit to The British Iris Society web site listed in the International Iris Link page above.
A big hat tip once again to Julie May for her very fine photo.
As usual, clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Julie May.

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