However it happened, Mrs. Allison did notice that the style arms had been replaced with extra standards, giving a lovely full effect to the flower, and not detracting at all. And she had the foresight to register with the AIS and have it commercially introduced.
'May Allison', like it's parent 'Celeste', is a small diploid variety, with lots of flowers in a shade of soft lavender-blue. While 'Celeste' is not often seen anymore, "May Allison" is still found in many collections of historic irises. It stands about 2 feet tall, is quite hardy and vigorous, and blooms early and reliably in my garden year after year. It is one of the most beautiful of the pre-1900 varieties I grow.
'May Allison' has fascinated iris growers since it was introduced. In an old AIS Bulletin there is a short letter from a member regarding double irises, in which she states:
The editor kindly gave me space in Bulletin No. 103 to ask if there are others who have double iris. The only answers I received referred me to May Allison. In the novelty which appeared in my yard the stamens were sacrificed and replaced with three normal standards. I have succeeded in raising one seedling from this 'Double Standard,' which was single and a different color. - Mrs. Robt. L Motter, Ga.
How she managed to get a seedling from an iris with no stigmatic lip nor pollen producing anthers is beyond me, but given the odd genetics in play perhaps one or the other slipped thru on a bloom or two and allowed a cross. The sharp-eyed and thorough hybridizer often finds things others miss, just as does the sharp-eyed gardener. Be sure to watch for sports in your iris beds, and also keep an eye out for 'May Allison' to add to your flower garden. This charming flower is a true iris classic.