Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tall Bearded Iris CASCADE

A cross of two irises attributed to Fernand Denis the pod parent was the violet rose with a white ground claw heavily striated brown purple named 'J. B. DUMAS'  and this was crossed with the very rich coloured neglecta named 'AURELLE' with its light purplish blue standards, rich luminous purple falls with a a heavy gold beard. The result of this cross was the lavender purple self  named 'Cascade'.
'Cascade' was the first iris to be catalogued by Jean and the Iris was introduced in the 1930 A.H.Burgess Irises Catalogue "as a seedling of our own raising". It continued to be listed in the Stevens Bros. catalogues until 1942. It is a terrific iris of classic style and form, grows well with high plant health. Super large flowers that last well in both garden and the vase. Have no idea and can find no clues to why this iris never made the pages of a Checklist, but because it is not registered does not mean it does not exist.

Emily Burgess sdlg. 1/C33 TB 44" (J B Dumas X Aurelle) 

Jean Emily Burgess Breeding Notes
1929 Blooming.
Seedling 1/C33 ;  3 ft 8"; Flower 6½" Soft light purple self. Haft white vented brown. Stands up well to weather. Scented.

A H Burgess and Son Iris Specialist Waikanae Wellington. Irises 1931
Cascade This is a seedling of our own raising that was much admired by visitors to our gardens last season. It is a huge flower, measuring over six inches from the tip of the standards to the bottom of the falls. Colour is an even tone of light lavender purple : a true self ; 3½ ft.....

The reason why I have been hesitant  in posting this iris is the deluge of nincompoops that will find an iris that looks something like this iris and then list it on that collective madness known as Trade Me. So if you see an iris listed on Trade Me as 'Cascade' you can bet it most likely is not.

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, January 20, 2014


This is one of my all time best 'other coloured plicata' Irises. (Not blue). An absolute magic combination of  colours makes for a standout iris with great garden carrying power. Good clean foliage and quickly forms a clump. Branching and bud count par excellence.
In 1993 'Tennessee Gentleman' won the Walther Cup a prize for the most Honorable Mention votes (112) in all categories, then in 1995 it  also received the most Award of Merit votes (124).

Sterling and Barbara Innerst, Oakland Road, Dover, York County, Pennsylvania. 1990 Introductions.
TENNESSEE GENTLEMAN will be introduced in '91. In 1988, I was scheduled to visit the fall meeting in Tennessee, but ended up hospitalized for several weeks and had to cancel. In 1989, I was rescheduled when Hurricane Hugo stranded meat the airport with no flight available for 24 hours. By the time this ad appears, I should have appeared in Tennessee in Feb. '90. These two irises are named in honor of all my friends in Tennessee. . $25.00

Sterling and Barbara Innerst, Oakland Road, Dover, York County, Pennsylvania. 1991 Introductions.
TENNESSEE GENTLEMAN Sdlg. 3361-1. TB, 36", M-L. Medium yellow with ½" blue purple trim on f.; bronze blue beards. Very vigorous 7-9 buds with excellent stalks. Point Made X 2375-10: (Capricious x Colortart). Very fertile both ways........................................................................ $25.00

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, April 1993, Number 291.
Duncanville Garden, Riley Probst (Missouri)
TENNESSEE GENTLEMAN (lnnerst 91), a creamy yellow with purple plicata had 5 stalks, but from a distance it looked like many more because it was so well-branched.

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia. Iris, Daylilies, Hosta Catalogue  1994-1995
TENNESSEE GENTLEMAN    (Innerst '91, USA) ML. 36"
Reblooms, prolific amount of bloom even when it reblooms. Petals are lemon buff with vibrant soft purplish rose stitching and a  ⅜" edge to falls only. Light yellow orange beards. Wide and lightly ruffled and waved. Excellent branching. (Point Made X (Capricious x Colortart)) H.M. 93

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, April 1994, Number 293.
Dr. Loomis Iris Trial Gardens, Mike Moller (Colorado) 2 Year Classes.
The 2-year TB class had many fine irises. The Loomis Award was won by top scorer TENNESSEE GENTLEMAN (83) by Sterling Innerest. This is a very distinctive plicata with outstanding plant habits. It displayed 20 fans with 9 bloomstalks.

AIS Checklist 1989
TENNESSEE GENTLEMAN    (Sterling Innerst, R. 1989). Sdlg. 3361-1. TB 36" (91 cm) M-L.     Medium yellow with 1/2" blue purple trim on F.; bronze blue beard. Point Made X 2375-10: (Capricious x Colortart)., Innerst 1991. HM 1993, AM 1995.

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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Saturday, January 18, 2014

ABOUT IRIS, John Thorpe

An Illustrated Journal devoted to the Florist, Plantsman,
Landscape Gardener and Kindred Interests.
The Horticulture Publishing Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Vol. VIIII July 4 1908

About Iris

Iris means "Rainbow" and that means all the colors there are. Twenty years ago, in our Queens catalogue I prefaced our Iris section thus: "The orchids of open air gardens are the Irises. If there are any more beautifully illustrative of form, more cheaply obtainable, more easily cultivated, more continuous in flowering than is the Iris that family has not yet come under our observation." This 10th of June, 1908, I would not change a single line.
We know it takes time to start again old-fashioned things, peonies, and phlox's and delphiniums for instance, reference to which I hope to take up later, and now the Iris begins to shimmer in the limelight, so much so that it may be expected to be one of our next first numbers. This Iris family should have more told of it than there is time and space at my disposal today. Some good every day German Irises are Sapho, violet and deep purple, early, distinct : three or four kinds travel for Sapho; fifteen or twenty kinds carry this name. Augustina, yellow and maroon. Eugene Sue, white and purple. Gertrude, violet blue, new and distinct. Gracchus, yellow and brown crimson. Celeste, pale blue, sweet as a gardenia. Jaacquesiana, maroon, bronze and crimson. Sans Souci, gold and mahogany, a gem. Judith, purple, sulphur and violet. Duchesse de Gerolstein (Harlequin Milanais), white, flaked and reticulated, a fine old variety. Dalmatica, lavender, tall : this has about twenty names. Madame Chereau, a gem amongst gems : pure white, cerulean blue and Tyrian purple, so beautiful and yet not young: has many names, — twenty or more. Fairy (?), white with violet veining. Darius, yellow, purple shading to cream. Ulysee, bronze, purple and gold and drab. Speciosa (catalogue), lavender and dark purple, large grower. Sir Walter Scott, yellow, brown and rich crimson. King Henry, deeply colored, crimson, purple and yellow. Leopold 1st, amaranth, yellow and smoky bronze. Peterson Harlequin Milnais is the glorious old Duchesse de Gerolstein.

The Iris man, after he has become acquainted with the preceding varieties will be looking for more and more, providing always that there is accommodation for the same. Everybody should have Florentina, with all the grace, beauty and expression of everything charming: colors, are white, lavender, green, brown and yellow. I know that this old dear thing is carrying twenty names: some of them are Chameleon, Peacock, Iridescence, Multicolor. Western Glow, and the glorious old favorite has stood its ground since 1596 and it is the same Florentina. Chamoeris Olbiensis, purple, white and gold, dwarf, flowers in April. Guldenstadtiana, white and gold, tall, June. Iberica, purple and lilac and coffee color. May and June. Laevigata (Kaempferii), the Japan Iris: the 4th of July banner flower, one hundred distinct kinds. Pumila, dwarf, purple, blue and white. April. Siberica in various colors, tall and graceful, May and June.

Another class of Irises is the Xiphions, including alata, caucasica, filifolia, Histrio, juncea, persica. reticulata, tingitana, vulgare and xiphioides. This section of Xiphions have bulbous roots and they are rather more delicate than the ordinary above-ground rooters.

Somebody some day will write a popular Iris book.

John Thorpe. NY

I have published this article as it ticks a few boxes that are interests I am pursuing at the moment when I get time, like how was the the pecking order of Irises named in the first 1929-1939 checklists determined who got the priority of a name over another with the same name? Some Irises mentioned above did not even rate a mention in the Checklist, 
which is another consistent early check lists anomaly, and why is this so?  The article describes differently the iris 'San Souci' which is also an area of interest for me, and last but not least it has a description albeit brief of a very early American historic iris and a garden favourite of mine 'Gertrude', its one of those pallida hybrids of sorts that never fail to please.IH.

AIS Checklist 1929
GERTRUDE TB-M-B1M Peterson 1907 class IVb, ☐ slight faint fragrance. AAA

Iris 'Gertrude' in the garden at Home.

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, January 8, 2014

Historic Tall Bearded Iris PURISSIMA

Purísima means "purest" in Spanish and is most commonly used in Spanish to refer to La Purísima Concepción (the Immaculate Conception) of the Virgin Mary. Historical misspelling in English resulting in double "s" which, as you can see is how the Iris was registered.Well used in iris breeding in the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties.
Has a New Zealand connection, first used by Jean Stevens in  her 1936 breeding programme as a pod parent and the first cross recorded was M7 Purissima X Inspiration although no seedlings were finally selected. The hybridiser Pattie Levett who lived at the family homestead "Beccles" in a small North Island town called Bulls used Purissima in the parentage that produced a beautiful creamy white Tall bearded Iris 'Wychnor'.
In America, lets not forget Purissima was the Pod parent to that game changer of hybridising the amazing 'Snow Flurry'. Also parent of Helen McGregor, Her Grace, Mary Rich Lyon, Pike's Peak Pink, grandparent of Cahokia, Pierre Menard, and Sleighride.

Irises for Every Garden. History of Bearded Irises. Sydney B. Mitchell.
In the perspective of thirty-five years it is now possible to rate William Mohr the outstanding American breeder. Through is work with Iris mesopotamica and Foster's Kashmir White, American breeders were given in the late twenties such outstanding irises as Conquistador, bred from the diploid Juniata by the huge ungainly mesopotamica; El Capitan bred from Oriflame by mesopotamica; Purissima which came from a seedling of Caterina by Kashmir White crossed with Conquistador ; the epoch-making tetraploid plicata's, San Francisco and Los Angeles and many others.

Rainbow Fragments, J. Marion Shull, published 1931.
A List of Better Varieties. Whites.
The supreme white self has not yet appeared, and this group includes none that has earned a rating of 90 or more at the hands of any considerable number of judges. Kashmir White and White Queen have won the same rating as Taj Mahal, but the former is not always a dependable grower. Purissima though rated very highly by a very small number of judges, does not promise to live up to a somewhat over-pretentious name, since it does not appear to be purer white then the ubiquitous Florentina, with which everyone is familiar, however much finer it may be in other respects.

Cooley's Iris Gardens, Silverton, Oregon, Bearded, Japanese, Spanish and Dutch Irises, 1932.
Recent Novelties and Specialties
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, in California or in the South, by all means add this glorious white to your collection! Nothing that grows can compare with it when flowered under congenial conditions. Growers in colder and wetter sections of the country can also succeed with it, but it must have winter protection except in warm climates. A normally flowered stalk of Purissima is a never-to-be-forgotten sight...............................Each  $1.75

Quality Gardens, Iris, Freeport, Illinois. Iris 1933.
PURISSIMA (Mohr-Mitchell)
A pure white iris of great size and splendid form. Not hardy in all climates, but ideal for moderate or warm climates. We grow it perfectly by giving it winter protection, and it is well worth the effort. It is the only tender iris variety we list...........................................$1.00

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, January 1933, Number 46.
VARIETAL NOTES From England, Australia, and Elsewhere (editorial comments added).
PURISSIMA (Mohr-Mit.) The finest white. I cannot conceive of anything finer; 5-5½ft., perfect in every way. England.
Mr. Pilkington must be impatient to see the flock of American whites of which the New England Committee has selected Easter Morn, Polar King, and Venus de Milo as of equal interest to the connoisseur. Ed.

National Iris Gardens, Beaverton, Oregon, 20th Catalog, 1936.
PURISSIMA (Mohr-Mitchell, 1927) E, 48".
The finest pure white Iris. Roots are tender and it is not recommended for the more northern states (for which Easter Morn and Los Angeles are more suitable), but grows well on the Pacific Coast and south of the Mason & Dixon line. A normally flowered stalk is a never-to-be-forgotten sight. Perfectly branched with finely shaped flowers.

Carl Salbach, Berkeley, California. Iris and selected seed Specialities.1937.
PURISSIMA (Mohr-Mitchell). Although introduced ten seasons ago, this remarkable iris still blooms as the most perfect white, handicapped only by a touch of tenderness when grown in regions of severe wintering. Latest reports indicate perfect wintering in many regions, but it is definitely erratic in its bloom in the Midwestern and Eastern regions of the United States. Grows ideally where winters are mild. Pure white with great poise, fine form, and heavy substance. With the sun shining through it, it has the appearance of frosted glass. Ideal branching. Where the climate is mild, or where the quest for perfection outweighs the risk of no blooms, Purissima will be every bit as good as Bridal Veil and Snow King, the two new and hardy leaders in white, although all three are non-competitive, being different in type. We suggest yearly replacements with our fully mature rhizomes for the greatest probability of bloom in cold climates. Early. 50-inch. ---- 40c; 3 for $1.00

Stevens Bros, Bulls, New Zealand, Catalogue of Irises 1937-38.
This splendid flower still sets a mark of perfection and purity unequaled by any other iris. A pure white of great poise, fine form and heavy substance. With the sun shining through it, this has the appearance of frosted glass...........................................................4½ft.

Iris 'Purissima' in the garden of British Iris Society President G. L. Pilkington.
Illustration from The Iris Year Book 1938, insert facing page 52 

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1942, Bearded Flag Irises-An Initial Thirty, F.Wynn Hellings.
10. PURISSIMA. This superb Californian variety, a veritable queen, would have been in my first list (above) if it were not for the fact that some growers consider it tender in England. Its conduct in this garden has been exemplary, planted as it is in a position sheltered from north and east winds in soil lightened with sand. Its grave, statuesque beauty justifies this little extra care. It is early flowering, in fact in most years it is the first of the tall, bearded, May-June Irises to flower, only yielding in some years to HARMONY. The stems run to 5 feet in height and the branching is excellent. The flowers, which have a slight bluey tint at first, are perfect in form and are noticeably lasting,

AIS Checklist 1939
PURISSIMA (Mohr-Mitchell, R. 1927). TB, M. WW. Argentina X Conquistador.  Preliminary Commendation RHS 1933. Salbach 1927.

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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