Friday, June 27, 2014


May 28th, 1921.


W. R. Dykes

IT is never easy to prophesy correctly, even if successful prophecy is little more than intelligent anticipation. The following notes, therefore, are intended less as an indication of the future than as possible suggestions.

Among the early bulbous Irises there seems little hope of new developments, unless we can hold in check the fungous disease which plays such havoc among the bulbs. If we could overcome and eradicate this, there would be no end to the delightful series of beautiful hybrids which might be raised by crossing the richly coloured, velvety-petalled I. Bakeriana with the other species. The yellow I. Danfordiae might also be used to give us entirely new forms.

The Juno species seem to suffer from an undeserved neglect, for there are few finer garden sights in April than a large mass of the glistening, sturdy foliage of I. bucharica, closely set with the large white and yellow flowers; while the endless variety of colouring to be found among seedlings of the gorgeous I. Rosenbachiana well repays the patience which is needed during the three or four years that the bulbs require to grow from seed to flowering size. The later bulbous Irises, comprising I. Xiphium, the Spanish Iris and the kindred species, seem to have fallen under a cloud, from which they will hardly emerge until some remedy is found for eel-worm in the soil, for this pest appears to be as fatal to Spanish Irises as it is to the Narcissus. If this can be overcome, the multiplication of the florists' varieties, both of the Spanish and of the Dutch Iris, will go on; but we cannot expect much from their combination with any of the allied wild species, though these are distinct enough in themselves. They do not seem to combine well either with one another or with I. Xiphium. Thus I. filitolia, when hybridised, loses its magnificent red- purple colour ; I. Boissieri has the long hairs of its beard shorn down to half their length; while the clear golden yellow of I. juncea becomes dull and streaky.

Of Oncoyclus and Regelia Irises I am distinctly more hopeful than there seemed any justification for being a few years ago. Experience seems to show that these must all be dug up annually about the middle of July. The rhizomes may then be left lying out on the ground for a few days, provided that the sun is not too incessantly brilliant and scorching. They should then be trimmed of their leaves and be stored away, preferably in perfectly dry sand, in a well-ventilated, dry place, until the first week in October. The rhizomes and the roots should, with this treatment, remain firm and be ready to start into root growth as soon as they are replanted in rich, well- drained soil. At one time it used to be thought that the soil must first be beaten and trodden down until it was almost as hard as a rock, but this seems unnecessary, in view of the way in which these Irises flourish in the loose sand of Haarlem and in the drier, but equally light, Surrey sands.

To my mind, the fault of the Regelia-cyclus hybrids that are already in commerce is that they are nearly all of them mere colour variations of the same type of flower. When we remember, however, how utterly different I.paradoxa is from I. susiana and from I. iberica, and how each of these latter differ from the aptly named I. acutiloba and from the rounded, self-coloured flowers of the purple I. Mariae and its yellow counterpart, I. urmiensis, I cannot help feeling that crosses with these species might give us new types. Evidence to confirm this exists in the pleasing results that have resulted from crossing I. acutiloba and I. Sari with I. Korolkowi. The former gives very floriferous hybrids with the extended falls of acutiloba and the prominent veining of Korolkowi, while the latter retains the shape of I. Sari and something of the colouring that won for that species the name of the Wolf Iris, I. lupina.
No hybrids have yet appeared of I. Hoogiana, the last discovered and most astonishing member of the Regelia section. Its unveined, self-coloured flowers of pale or dark blue- purple are so beautiful that it seems almost sacrilege to attempt to hybridise into them the veinings and dottings of the other Regelia and Oncocyclus species, with which there would probably be no difficulty in making crosses.
Nothing has, so far, been said about the great class of Pogoniris or bearded Irises, which to so many comprises practically all the Irises that they know. Here the tendency is to aim at increased stature and a more widely branching habit in the inflorescence, qualities which are obtained by using as parents I. trojana and other giant species, such as I. mesopotamica and I. cypriana, which have now become more widely distributed. Whether we should aim at self-colours or at variegation in the flowers is a matter of personal taste and it is devoutly to be hoped that no self- constituted body of florists will attempt to lay down strict canons on this or on similar points and then try to ensure that all our Irises should conform to these canons.
For garden ornament it is hard to find anything more decorative than self-coloured pallidas, which can be obtained in a long series of shades from a deep blue-purple to a pale pink. If pallidas are, as a whole, later than the so-called I. germanica, it is easy to obtain an early race by crossing I. pallida with I. Albertii, from Turkestan. The characteristic veining on the falls, which ends so abruptly and which is typical of the species, is not sufficiently prominent, except at close quarters, to spoil the effect of self-coloured flowers. At the other end of the season something might be done towards prolonging it by using the late-flowering Black Prince. Seedlings of this tend to retain the late-flowering habit, and, as there is a large dose of I. variegata blood in Black Prince, forms with yellow standards are sure to appear among them. It remains for the hybridiser to get rid of the stunted stem, the crowded inflorescence, and the ugly form of the flowers, with their erect, widely separated standards.

Among the Evansias something good might come from the crossing of I. Wattii, which does so well when planted out in a cool house. It ought to cross with I. japonica and possibly also with I. tectorum and I. Milesii, if these two could be forced into flower early enough. I. tectorum and I. Milesii seem themselves to be so closely related that it is surprising that all attempts to cross-fertilise them have hitherto ended in failure, though a combination of the large flowers of I. tectorum with the tall stem and sturdy foliage of I. Milesii ought to make a most effective garden plant.

Among the Apogons or beardless species there is still scope for much work in hybridisation. The members of the various groups of obviously closely related species hybridise fairly readily with one another, and it is also possible to cross members of different groups with one another. For instance, the Californian I. tenax will cross with the Chinese I. Wilsonii, and the hybrid bears curiously speckled, dull purplish flowers with a yellow ground. I. Douglasiana crossed with the Himalayan I. Clarkei gives a mottled, pinkish flower of no great merit, but, when crossed with the Chinese I. chrysographes, gives a beautiful flower of a crushed strawberry colour, with gold veining on the falls.
Those who will take the trouble to raise seedlings should turn their attention to the group of Californian species, of which it seems true in many cases that no two individual plants produce flowers of the same shade of colour. The variety to be found among seedlings of I. Douglasiana, I. tenax, and I. macrosiphon is endless, and, as the plants flower in two years from seed, no one need hesitate to embark upon their cultivation. The seeds should be sown in pots or pans, and the young plants are best grown on quickly under glass, so that they are large enough to be planted out in the open in their permanent positions in May if possible, or, at any rate, before midsummer. They should then grow rapidly and develop before the autumn into plants of sufficient strength to pass safely through the winter.

The Sibirica group has lately been extended by the new introductions from China, and all its members seem to hybridise readily with one another. Much may be done with the older and well-known species, I. sibirica and I. orientalis, for the large flowers and brilliant colouring of the latter can be readily combined with the tall stature and floriferous habit of the former, while 'the crossing of the white with the blue forms of either species will give seedlings a nearer approach to a true sky-blue than is found in any other Iris. The yellow Chinese I. Wilsonii will give a yellow ground to I. sibirica and to I. Delavayi, and the combination is particularly pleasing in the latter case.

Two of our native species, I. Pseudacorus and I. foetidissima, do not seem to lend themselves at all readily to hybridisation with others. I. Pseudacorus seems to reproduce itself with whatever pollen the flowers are fertilised, and nothing ,seems able to fertilise I. foetidissima except its own pollen. It is true that there exists a plant which appears to be a hybrid between I. Pseudacorus and its closest ally, namely, the American I. versicolor, but no record exists of the origin of the hybrid. Its sterility is some indication of its hybrid origin and its intermediate position between the two above-named species suggests that they were its parents.

Hybridisation is a fascinating pursuit, and enough has already perhaps been said to show that much remains still to be done among Irises, especially when we remember that crosses that have often been tried in vain may at length prove successful.

W. R. Dykes.

The above article has also been published in the book 'Dykes on Irises' compiled and edited by George Dillistone, a reprint of the contributions of the late W. R. Dykes to various journals and periodicals during the last twenty years of his life.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris, LIANNE

 A New Zealand Bred standard dwarf  iris from the '70's. Standards and falls are are a clean lime-wash apricot colouring with darker apricot brown veins around the beard which spill towards the falls . Great increase, and good health. If you can find it , buy it!! Lucy Delany contributed hugely to New Zealand's Iris breeding History registering 20 irises mainly dwarfs and median irises, and her amazing navy blue coloured siberian iris 'Moon Moth' is an absolute stand-out!.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1974, Modern Trends in Dwarfs,page 93, Barbara B. Whitehouse.
The "ray" pattern is similar to the halo pattern but consists of longer veined like streaks of darker or contrasting colours spreading out over the falls around the beard and covering a larger area than does the halo, which is seldom no more than ¾ to ⅜ inch in length. Several very nice irises show this pattern..............................'Lianne' (Lucy Delany '73) light, gold-apricot with brown ray pattern.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1983,Dwarf bearded Iris from New Zealand, page 97, C.E. C. Bartlett.
In the summer of 1981 I received ten rhizomes of some dwarf bearded irises from New Zealand
Lianne (Lucy Delany '72)  Sdlg X Orange Blaze. S.D.B. A most attractive little iris at the lower end of the S.D.B.range. Standards pale apricot gold, falls same with veined halo of brown around the white tipped orange beards. A good grower and increaser and the colour is rather unusual. Its quality is confirmed by it having received 4th place in the Vienna Trails in 1979.

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Checklist 2014
LIANNE (Mrs L. Delany, R. 1972).   SDB, 11" (28 cm), EML.   S. light gold-apricot blend; F. same, heavily veined brown halo; white beard tipped orange.  Sdlg X Orange Blaze.   4th International Small Iris Comp. Vienna 1979.   Richmond Iris Gardens, 1972/3.

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Monday, June 16, 2014


Winter Olympics is an iris of excellent quality, an absolute classic, and a much deserved multi award winner. A very clean healthy grower with great clump forming vigour. Plenty of blooms held on strong stems that can withstand most weather conditions. A tough but beautiful Iris with great attributes  making a great  Iris for beginners. It is also very fertile both ways and sets pods easily.  Many irisarians and home gardeners 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.
Photo taken in the morning mist. The tiny water droplets in the mist make the light scatter which greatly softens the background giving a painted on canvas texture look. I quite like it!

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, January, 1963. Number 168.
Northwest Impressions, Joseph Gatty.
Prior to meeting Tom and Opal I had heard nothing but good reports of their white seedling out of  POET'S DREAM X ELEANOR'S PRIDE. I was not disappointed. WINTER OLYMPICS, as this seedling is now called, and ready for introduction in '63, is a white-white that lacks nothing in perfection of form, substance or branching. A good fifty-foot row of this variety displayed remarkable non-variation in number of branches per stalk, buds, and plant vigor. However, it is the flower of WINTER OLYMPICS that remains with one long after viewing it-that large but graceful white flower that has lost none of the grace that too often disappears with size; its ruffled elegance coupled with substance that indicates it was bred to withstand the elements.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July, 1963. Number 170.
Iris Trek, 1963 Robert S. Carney. Observations of Irises irises which were performing nicely in the gardens visited before the convention in Denver, 1963.
WINTER OLYMPICS (O. Brown). An outstanding new white self with matching beard. Good form and beautifully branched. Said to be a good increaser.
William T. Bledsoe, Fayetteville, Tennessee
WINTER OLYMPICS, by Opal Brown, and WHITE PRIDE, by Dr. Branch. Both are very fine white selfs, and I compared them on four separate days to try to choose between them, so I have placed them in a tie on my
personal score. WINTER OLYMPICS has classic branching, four branches and a terminal. WHITE PRIDE has three branches and the terminal, but it seems to me to be ruffled in a slightly more appealing manner. Both are terrific.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July, 1963. Number 170.
They liked these in the Tour Gardens, Roy Oliphant, Berkeley, California
WINTER OLYMPICS (Opal Brown). This lovely ruffled white with a hint of cream and green, will hold up its head (or should I say heads-for it made an outstanding clump) in any company.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July 1964, Number 174.
Reports From Region 15-Southern California. WHITES. Mrs. Archie Owen.
WINTER OLYMPICS (Opal Brown '63). Flowers large, pure white with a white beard. The standards are ruffled and the falls heavily ruffled. Stalk sturdy and well branched. A beautiful iris especially when you see three
flowers at one time on a well-branched stalk.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 1965. 
WINTER OLYMPICS (O. Brown, '63) Each $22.50
Domed standards and extra wide falls with elegant ruffling are features of this sensational new white Iris. It was the leader in the "Judges' Choice" in 1964 and was likewise first among those which won the HM Award of the AIS last year. Will be hard to beat!

Region 14 Northern California, Nevada, Regional Bulletin, Fall 1966.
1966-An Iris Season in Review, Joe Ghio.
Another bloom season has come and gone. Without a doubt this was the finest iris season we have ever experienced in Santa Cruz.the growth was fantastic; the height and size of the blooms was unbelievable. The weather cooperated as never before. Generally, the days were rainless,windless, and mild. The first tall beardeds opened early in April and a few blooms were still around at the end of May. If only every year could be like this one! Wow!
WHITES; this was the year of WINTER OLYMPICS (O. Brown, '63). Planted here and there throughout our gardens, this tremendous Iris never failed to put on a fantastic show. Tall, well branched with fabulously formed flowers of pure white. An Iris which has everything one could wish. How can it fail to get the Dykes when it is eligible?

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1970,"The newer American Introductions ", page 63, R.A.Wise.
Winter Olympics (O. Brown, 1963). This new white self is highly rated in America and was the Dykes medal winner in 1967. The individual flowers are heavily ruffled with domed standards and extrawide semi-flaring falls. The stems are well branched and the bud count it is very high so that there is a tendency for rather too many flowers to be out at once, thus spoiling the appearance of the spike. The plant is a strong grower in this garden and contrary to some reports does not appear to be rot prone.

Browns Sunnyhill Gardens, Milton Freewater, Oregon. 1972 Iris.
WINTER OLYMPICS (O. Brown, '63) Beautiful white self including beard. Domed standards are ruffled and firmly held.Extra wide falls are intensely ruffled and gracefully arched. Large flowers of heavy substance. Near perfect branching. Fertile both ways. A M '66, Rees Award '66, Dykes Medal '67.

AIS Checklist 1969.
WINTER OLYMPICS    (Opal Brown, R. 1961). Sdlg. 9-5A7. TB 37" E-M. WlW.    White self; white beard. Poet's Dream X Eleanor's Pride., Brown's Sunnyhill Gardens 1963. HC 1961, HM 1964, AM 1966, JC 1964, 1965, Clara Rees Cup 1966, Nelson Award 1969, Dykes Medal 1967.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Iris Evansia, Iris Japonica, Crested Iris, NADA.

NADA when in bloom it is like a Christmas Tree on steroids, and once it starts it blooms for a very long time, but you can never tire of it. Large well feed plantings of these blooms just blow you away.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, April 1938, Number 69. Iris notes from Southern California, Lena M. Lothrop 
I managed to attend the Show for a few minutes and was very much upset. There was just one beautiful exhibit there and it was outstandingly so. It is a hybrid of Mr. Giridlian's crossing between japonica and Wattii. It is much superior to either of its parents. The stem with its many flowers, each one following close on the heels of another is beautifully branched. The flowers are larger than those of Wattii and have more color. If you can grow japonica you will find this worthwhile. He has registered it as Nada and I did intend to see to it that it was awarded an H. M. for it deserves it-all agree to it but no one attends to it. 

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, February 1938, Number 68. Report of Iris Show held in connection 'with the Pasadena Flower Show, April 16, 17 and 18, 1937. The most beautiful exhibit was a bowl of Nada (japonica X Wattii) brought in by its originator, Mr. J. N. Giridlian. It was not entered in competition but the judges insisted in giving it a Special Avvard.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, April 19
49, Number 113. Iris Japonica and its Hybrids, J.N. Giridlian, California.
The late W. R.Dykes, writing in The Gardeners' Chronicle of May 28, 1921, said,'Among the Evansias something good might come from the crossing of I. watti, which does so well when planted out in a cool house. It ought to cross with I. japonica ..." Mr. Dykes was unable to make the cross because he had no luck in flowering the plants and when they did at last bloom they did not respond to cross pollenization. At best they are shy seeders even in Southern California where they bloom profusely.
It seems that Mr. J. C. Stevens, of Greenville, New York, and myself, working independently, made this cross at about the same time, except that I used the japonica type form and he used the variety Uwodu. At any rate the hybrids raised were both registered in the year 1936, and in both instances 'Watti was used as the pollen parent.
The results obtained, while being equally lovely, are quite distinct in many respects. Mr. Stevens' variety was named Fairyland and mine Nada. The Fairyland plant is unlike either parent. The foliage is very narrow, dark green and superficially resembles a California species. It makes a very compact growth and is quite low-growing. It flowers in April on upright, short-branched stems,with many flowers nearly the size of watti. The color is white heavily and attractively spotted deep violet. It is a good pot plant.
Nada has very large foliage, larger than either parent, bright green, which grows fan-shaped on 12-inch stems. Well grown plants will stand about three feet high. The flowers are produced earlier than Fairyland's and are a shade smaller than those of japonica, but much more numerous. I have had as many as 200 flowers on one stem over a three-month period. I think Nada has more flowers per stem and a longer blooming season than any other iris. The flowers are well ruffled, white with a slight lavender sheen with yellow crest and light lavender spotting in the haft. As the flower stem is strong and wiry, it is held up well and does not flop over. When cut, nearly every bud develops. It makes an excellent house or greenhouse plant and is very attractive when planted in a hanging basket.Nada is not sterile and will produce seeds either selfed or crossed back to either parent. However it is a very shy seeder and that is the reason why I have been unable to raise many more varieties from succeeding generation crosses. The only other one on the market now is a selfed seedling of Nada which is named Darjeeling. This is an improvement over Nada in size of flower and ruffling.

Bulletin of the Seattle Iris Society, November, 1947. Iris Nada, Mrs F.B. Eylar, Seattle, Washington.
Though Nada, the beautiful little crested hybrid, isn't at all happy in my garden and gets frosted each winter, I am always hoping that some year will be warm enough for it to bloom. Our garden is about 800 feet above the Lake and doesn't have the protection of the fogs either. It would be interesting in the next bulletin to have expressions from different members as to what success they do have with it and how located in their garden, for I do know that some members do have complete success with it.
Nada is a hybrid as the result of crossing two of the crested type, japonica and watti. Japonica has orchid-like flowers of a uniform shade of lavender on 2-foot stems with many branches making a huge bouquet of one stem. The blooming season is very early, February to April, so it is for sheltered gardens. The blossoms of Nada are nearly exactly like japonica but the background is white with very delicate shadings of the blue or lavender. When examined closely, the blossoms are exquisitely formed and marked. Many people call japonica Nada, which is incorrect, as Nada is white "japonica."
Watti, the other parent, comes from the southern slopes of the Himalaya mountains with growth habit more like a dwarf bamboo than an iris. The fan of leaves is perched on top of a two- to four foot stem. It is easy to detect the qualities of each of the parents of the beautiful Nada. It has the large, graceful, branched panicle of watti, also the rather bamboo effect in the foliage-the beautiful golden 'crest of watti and the general form of japonica. It is not a showy flower but most exquisite at close range with its fringed style arms and waved petals. I certainly envy the favoured members who can grow it successfully.

 Southern California Gardens, Victoria Padilla University of California Press, 1961
One of his earliest introductions was an iris cross that he called 'Nada' which, because of its evergreen foliage and dainty orchid like quality of its numerous flowers, has become one of the most popular iris of its kind in California and in the southern states.

Nada- Houseplant, Joan Cooper, Minnesota.
Leaves grow in broad fans with the largest individual leaves up to two inches wide and twenty inches tall. As they lengthen they droop, leaving the 22 inch bloom stalks displaying their flowers well above the leaves. Bloom stalks have 5 to 7 branches, each with at least three flowers, looming on widely separated days.
Very infrequently there may be too flowers on one steam opening the same day.
Each flower is at least 2½ inches wide and standards and falls are on the same plane.Standards are ½ inch wide by about 1¼ inches long, opening pure white, taking on a slight lavender cast as they age. The shape is unusual with a cat's-eared effect at the tips. Forms are slightly under 1 inch by 1¼ inch, ruffled and fluted, with a bright yellow orange crest and yellow orange dots deep in the throat. Pale lavender dots develop around the crest as the flower ages. The style arms add much interest, are ¼ to ⅜  inch wide by a bit over ½ inch long, pale lavender and unbelievably fringed at the tips. Each flower lasts approximately 28-30 hours, overlapping with the next days blooms.

Iris for Every Garden, Sydney B. Mitchell. Japonicas and Hybrids.
J.N. Giridlian in Arcadia, California has raised from a cross of japonica and Wattii a beautiful hybrid, Nada, and from Nada, a further introduction called Darjeeling. These make lovely garden plants, well-established clumps producing numerous stems with hundreds of butterfly-like blooms, most attractive in the garden and plentiful for cutting.

AIS Checklist 1939
NADA Ev-W1 (Giridlian 1936) Berry 1937 Bull. AIS 68: 69. Feb. 1938 % R., 1937 ( japonica X WATTII) H.M. A.I.S. 1939.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014


Plate 503, Drawn at Kew, April 1885

August 1st, 1885.



The graceful Iris figured in the accompanying plate was first described by Thunberg in 1793, and named by him I. japonica. It must before this have been introduced into England, for Mr. Baker states that the Banksian herbarium contains a specimen from Kew Gardens dried in 1792. Curtis figured it in the Botanical Magazine, in 1797, as I. chinensis, and in Redoute's " Liliaceae " it appears as I. fimbriata. On the ground of priority, which certainly should in most cases decide a question of nomenclature, the plant ought to be called I. japonica; but I. fimbriata is so happy a term, and I. japonica so little distinctive a one, that I venture in this case to break a wise rule and adopt the name I. fimbriata.
In a considerable number of Irises the fall or outer perianth segment bears along the medium line of the claw and the adjacent part of the blade not a beard composed of hairs, as in the ordinary bearded Irises, but a crest — that is to say, a ridge cut up into a number of tooth-like projections. These crested Irises, as distinguished both from bearded Irises and from beardless Irises, in which the whole of the fall is smooth and even, have been classed together in a group under the name Evansia.

I have myself some doubts about the validity of this group, since, on the one hand, a crest more or less developed appears in certain bulbous Irises —, in the Juno group — while traces of a crest appear in some species whose allies are clearly beardless ; and, on the other hand, the group, thus constituted by the possession of a crest, seems to me to contain plants wholly diverse from each other. Be that as it may, however, the Iris which we are considering now is a crested Iris and belongs to this group of Evansia.
It is a native of Japan (middle and southern islands) and of the middle and southern regions of China. The rhizome bears, fanwise, broad ensiform leaves, and sends out numerous runners or stolons, by which it may be rapidly multiplied. The stem, I foot or 2 feet high, is branched, bearing clusters of flowers. The individual flowers are short-lived, lasting only for a couple of days or so, but they are borne in profusion, a well-established plant giving a succession of flowers lasting many weeks.

The plate gives a fair idea of the form of the flower, the crisped and broken margins of the falls and standards, and especially the fringed edges of the crests of the styles, justifying the name of fimbriata, or fringed. But it is very difficult to reproduce the charm of the colouring, the delicate light blue-purple or lavender forming the ground colour of the whole flower harmonising pleasantly with the yellow and orange of the crest by help of patches and veins of darker purple scattered here and there. A well-grown plant with several stems covered with these graceful flowers, which make up in delicacy and refinement what they lack in size and depth of colour, is a very acceptable sight ; and in a warm atmosphere a slight, but agreeable, fragrance makes itself felt.

Although, as I have said, I doubt the solidarity of the Evansia group as a whole, this I. fimbriata has certainly allies. Iris tectorum, also a Japanese and Chinese plant, with its much larger and more gaudy flowers, has many affinities with it ; and intermediate between the two comes an Iris which was introduced by seed from the Himalayas by Mr. Frank Miles, and which Mr. Baker proposes to call I. Milesi. And I am inclined to think that the I. nepalensis of Royle, when we come to know it more fully, will also prove a very close neighbour, as indeed does an unnamed Iris from Lahul, which M. Max Leichtlin has kindly given me, but which proves to be a most difficult plant to grow. The I. nepalensis of Don, which is identical with the I. decora of Wallich and with an Iris from Kumaon called I. kumaonensis (which name accordingly ought to be withdrawn), though a crested Iris, differs in most important features from the others just named.

Confining ourselves to the narrower group to which I. fimbriata belongs, we thus find that, while its centre is in China and Japan, it stretches away westward to the Himalayas, where it disappears. Strange as it may seem, and yet in accordance with what we know of the laws governing the geographical distribution of plants, we can pick up the group again if, moving eastward instead of westward, we cross the Pacific Ocean and North American continent, for the little Iris lacustris of the shores of Lake Huron and I. cristata of the States of Virginia and Carolina are not only crested Irises, but Irises in their essential features closely allied to I. fimbriata. In accommodating themselves to their American homes they have become dwarfed, though they have not lost all their beauty. The effects of conditions of life are still further seen in the little I. verna of the more northerly Eastern States, for this seems to me to be in reality a crested Iris which has lost its crest.
All the specimens which I have hitherto seen of I. fimbriata are exactly alike. I have never met as yet with any distinct variations. I have, however, in my possession two named kinds from Roozen, but as they have not yet flowered with me, I can say nothing about them.

In this rough climate of England, I. fimbriata — save perhaps in some southern paradisaical garden, such as that of Mr. Ewbank — must be grown as a cool green- house pot plant. Even with me it will live out of doors (I did not try it, however, in the winters of 1879 to 1881), but it only lives. To flower adequately it must have the protection of glass and the help of artificial warmth in winter. In its native home it is found in moist and shady situations, and must not, therefore, be dried off  like I. tectorum, which, as its name implies, may be and is grown in its native home on a dry house-top.
I have not found it very particular as to soil ; a rich open one, composed of loam, thoroughly rotten manure, a little peat perhaps, and a good deal of sand, seems to me to suit it best ; with too much peat the rhizome is apt to rot. I usually take a runner in winter, grow it on during the rest of the winter, spring, and early summer, shifting it from a 3-inch to a 4½-inch pot, and then to a 5 -inch pot, giving plenty of water and a genial temperature. By that time the pot has become well filled with roots and most of the foliage has been made. I then place it out of doors, not wholly in the shade, but exposed freely to our feeble English sunshine, taking care that it never gets quite dry, but keeping it, as respects water, rather stinted than otherwise during the late summer and autumn. In the winter it comes back into the house ; as growth begins again water is given more freely, and, according to the temperature to which it is exposed, the bloom may be expected from Christmas, or even earlier, onwards. If the young plant thus treated does not bloom the first winter, I keep it in the same pot, or one slightly larger only — for it seems to do rather better for being somewhat pot-bound, provided that it gets adequate nourishment — and subject it to the same treatment. The chief points of culture to be attended to seem to me to be — ample moisture, air, and light in the winter and early part of the year, and a season of comparative, but not absolute, rest during the latter half of summer and autumn.

M. Foster.

 Published in 1885, I considered Sir Michael Fosters completely unabridged articles need  once again to have some light shine upon the words and allow the readers see how prescient the man was. T.J.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris KNOTTY PINE

Widely regarded as significant parent 'Knotty Pine' is in the parentage of hundreds of irises. (Used in breeding SDB Plicatas to give 'better form believe', it or not) Knotty Pine is what I describe as a progressive iris because the longer the bloom season gets going, the blooms get to grow taller and grow out from the foliage from where the earlier blooms seem play peak a bloom. Nice increase with great plant health. Standards are a nice citrus honey when first open, that becomes a more than pleasant honey tone with age. Falls are multi coloured browns with striations on the hafts which the above photo does not do justice to. Style arms a glowing amethyst colour. Extremely floriferous, just covers itself in blooms, coupled with a long bloom season and just seems to get better every year. An absolute must have median!!

John E. Goett, Monroe, Connecticut. Irises 1961.
KNOTTY PINE. SDB, 13". (Minnie Colquitt X Denni~ D551) Tan brown bicolor with very perky form. May have plicata factor from Cretica. Color controversial. $5.00

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1964,"Lilliputs and All That", page 72, H. Senior Fothergill.
Varietal comments on tall bearded irises are common place, but the smaller bearded hybrids get far less attention, so let us, on this occasion, review some of those wit h I.pumila blod in them , to the joys of which the iris world awakened when Paul Cook produced GREEN SPOT.
 KNOTTY PINE (1959) Here we have a brown, of general cafe-au-lait or lion skin effect. The standards are a smoky, creamy yellow ; the falls are tawny buff with a smoky maroon flush ; the orange tipped beards varies between blue and white below. Those who only like unsophisticated colours are not attracted, but I find it a very  satisfying variety in it's on right, and a most useful foil to show up the hues of nicely selected neighbours. 10 inches.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July 1964, Number 174. Flight Lines, Plic Tricks, Keith Keppel.
Back in Monroe, Connecticut, Median Iris Society President Jack Goett is working hard with the standard dwarf plicatas. Most stem from his KNOTTY PINE, a tan bitone standard dwarf. CIRCLETTE, violet on white, is from DALE DENNIS X KNOTTY PINE. Others are from KNOTTY PINE X PAT'S PAL, a Rundlett dwarf plic out of PATRICE X CRETICA. Included in Jack's progeny from KNOTTY PINE and PAT'S PAL are some TIFFANJA-patterned and colored plics.

Region 14 Northern California, Nevada, Regional Bulletin, Spring 1964.
'Carol Says', Carol Walters are notes of some of the median Iris which bloomed in the Western Median Test garden Rio Linda as they appeared to me. The descriptions of each median class given are taken from the material on exhibition judging of median irises complied by Crescent Deru for the Median Section of the American Iris Society.
Knotty Pine : The garden effect of this one is non-existent, but it is charming to view close, especially looking down into the flower. The standards are open and frilly, pale honey in color, showing off the glowing style arms and the intricately patterned falls of party brown velvet.

4~ Square Iris Gardens, Eau Claire,Wisconsin, Cold Climate Iris, 1982.
KNOTTY PINE (Goett 1961) Standards Tan, Falls Brown.
(The reason I have include these short and to the point listings is that the catalogue states 'plants are grown in a very harsh climate. Temperatures from -40°F in winter and up to 100°F in the summer. Coupled with the harsh climate is a short growing season' strongly indicates 'Knotty Pine' is a very hardy iris.)

AIS Checklist 1959
KNOTTY PINE  John Goett, Reg. 1959. Sdlg. 91-Al. SDB, 13" (33 cm), E. Color Class-YO5D, S. tan; F. brown. Minnie Colquitt x Dennis D 551. Goett 1961. Honorable Mention 1962, Award of Merit 1967, Cook-Douglas Medal 1970.

Once again I have to say that there maybe a slight outside chance 'Knotty Pine' is still commercially grown in New Zealand somewhere (can't say I had any success with this avenue), fortunately I was able to purchase this plant on Trade Me from hctnz (Lyn Nell) a Mid-Canterbury gardener who sends generous plants that have great plant health and I have never had the slightest hesitation to
highly recommend to visitors to this blog. 

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Reproduction in whole or in part of this photo without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited.
Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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