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.

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