I love all the various reticulations, veining and striping we see in the incredibly wide range of patterns that we are so fortunate to enjoy in the iris family. All throughout iris history hybridizers have often worked to remove veining, creating smoothly colored irises, devoid of the intricate patterns that all the variations of veining afford us. It was a worthy cause and advanced the palette for the flowers, but let us not forget just how wonderful that veining can be as an asset to an iris, not a detraction. What follows is a series of photos of varieties I have enjoyed growing over the years that are enhanced by the wonderful veining. Far from being something to be improved these varieties take their colorful patterns as a mark of distinction and proudly showcase what a wide range irises offer the gardener, thanks to the keen eye of hybridizers who appreciated their value. As always, click the photos for closer views.
First up 'Honey Chile' (Salbach, 1940). A lovely soft gold with with red-brown veining at the hafts - how's that for a reversal of the usual gold veined hafts on red?
'First Time' (Welch, 1963) brings those red veins down onto the lower falls in faint tracery on a white ground edged old gold. So sweet!
'Japanesque' (Farr, 1922) is a masterful example of the use of veining to enhance the bloom. The reticulations on this one really make a bold statement, especially when there are six falls to show them off!
'Bewilderbeast' (Kasperek,1994) is a great example of a modern iris using the classic reticulations in a new manner. The broken color pattern follows the classic veining road map to create a vivid and exciting splash of colors.
'Gay Stripes' (Fielding, 1957) was named for it's best feature - the lovely soft striping on its falls.
'Oyez' (White, 1938) is a marvelous variety with a very striking pattern of deep red veining on softer pinkish ground. Decidedly different.
Likewise, 'Circus Stripes' (Plough, 1975) which exhibits its finest trait quite beautifully, with deep purple veins on a lovely clean white ground. Visually arresting in the garden!
'Pink Tiger' (Eldorado, 1965) brings this same striped aesthetic to a warm and delicious blend of pink and apricot with deeper rose veining.
'Red Butterfly' (Linse, 1955) is a really striking example of the use of veining to enhance an iris bloom. What a remarkable pattern has been wrought in this one!
'Tropical Butterfly' (Carstenson, 1963) is similar, but takes the pattern to a whole new height with the width of the petals and depth of color, adding a cream-yellow ground to set off the dark red.
'Mrs. Horace Darwin' (Foster, 1888) takes the opposite path. Here we see the minimalist use of veining to accent a bloom otherwise a self. Sublime.
'Clara Noyes' (H.P. Sass, 1930) is an example of a variety that used the veining to create a blended effect when viewed from a distance in the garden. The yellow and pink tones combined to give an apricot effect from a distance, and brought with it much attention from admirers.
Last I'll show you something completely different - here we have 'Calcutta' (Kleinsorge, 1938) which features gold threads darting thru the petals that from a distance appear soft buff washed lavender at the center. A really beautiful effect.
What a truly spectacular flower to contain so many different ways to display color and draw the eye. I hope you will take a few minutes to look for examples of great use of veining in your iris patch this season. It can so often enhance the flower rather than detract from it. This post just barely scratches the surface on this topic. The beardless species offer their own variations on veining that are equally as striking. But that is a post for another day.