Saturday, August 13, 2011

Iris Classics: 'Melodrama'

In 1956 the renowned Longfield Iris Farm introduced the latest sensation from the hand of master hybridizer, Paul Cook. 'Melodrama' was a spectacular flower, a bitone with light lavender standards that deepen at the midrib to the same dark lilac tone of the falls. It was an excellent new break in iris breeding and immediately started racking up awards.

It was given an Honorable Mention the year it was introduced, won the Award of Merit in 1958, and was a runner up for the Dykes Medal in 1961. Needless to say it was a very well regarded and very popular in its day.

Paul Cook had a long and fruitful career with irises and was instrumental in expanding many iris colors and patterns, but is probably best remembered for his work with the amoena pattern, culminating in a Dykes Medal for his masterpiece 'Whole Cloth' - which had been introduced the same year as 'Melodrama'.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication (some might say obsession) of Jerry Oswalt you can see the irises of Paul Cook at the Bluffton Memorial Iris Garden in Bluffton, IN. Jerry, along with local volunteers and descendants of the Williamsons and Cooks, has created a space in a local park along the Wabash river where they are collecting all the varieties from this amazing group of local hybridizers. 'Melodrama' is among them. There is also a display at the local historical museum about these iris luminaries.

All the wonderful traits that took the iris world by storm in the late 1950's are still there today in this wonderful historic iris. Seek it out and add a little history, and a lot of beauty, to your garden.


  1. It looks big. Is it a big flower?

  2. Yes, it is a large flowered variety. Not a giant tho, just big blooms.


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