Saturday, December 17, 2011

Iris Classics: 'Frost And Flame'

While looking for an iris to highlight for you this week that might be appropriate to the season I thought of my old favorite 'Frost And Flame'. It seems a perfect fit for this cold and dark time of the year, as we await the changing of the seasons and return of sunshine and spring blooms.

'Frost And Flame' is just one of the hundreds of beautiful irises created by legendary hybridizer David F. Hall. He is most remembered for his lines of Flamingo pinks which revolutionized the iris color palette and this lovely tangerine bearded white came from the same breeding program. Introduced to the iris world in 1957, the flowers are large and of a pure snow white with a flaming tangerine beard glowing like an ember at the heart. Of good substance and flaring form, it is a tall variety easily reaching four feet in good conditions, and blooms early in the tall bearded season. It attained a well deserved Award of Merit from AIS in 1959.

Dave Hall in his garden. Photo by Robert Schreiner.

David F. Hall was born in Blenheim, Ontario, Canada, on August 15, 1875. At a young age he moved to the United States and became an attorney for AT&T. He retired at 65, relocated from Chicago to Wilmette, Illinois, and devoted himself full time to flower hybridizing. The world is richer for his efforts. He introduced some 300 irises and daylilies from the 1920's through the 1960's. He was 93 years of age when he was struck and killed by a train in 1968.

'Frost And Flame' has the wonderful ability to look good with just about any other color of iris. It compliments variegatas and pastels alike, and made a particularly good show in my garden a few years ago when a red and yellow columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) grew beside it and bloomed profusely about the clump. It is truly an iris classic and is as beautiful in the iris garden today as it was when it made its debut over half a century ago.

UPDATE: On the AIS Facebook page Tom L. Waters comments: "It's a lovely iris, and also a great example of the power of a good name. "Frost and Flame" is dramatic, descriptive, and unforgettable. I'm sure every hybridizer of a red-bearded white since has bemoaned the fact that the best name has been taken." So true! One of the things that truly makes an iris a classic is a great name to go along with outstanding beauty and performance. 'Frost And Flame' has it all! Thanks for the reminder, Tom.


  1. Hello, I am trying to gather more information about my grandfather, David Hall. I have his scrapbook, which has quite a bit of information, but I'm interested in finding out more about the different types of iris he introduced. Thank you, Rebecca (Hall) Potter

    1. HI Rebecca, I might be able to help you out if you are trying to get a list of irises that your grandfather introduced. I am trying to collect his irises and they are hard to find. Let me know if you need the names of his irises. Lisa

    2. Lisa, that would be great! My e-mail is Thank you so much. Rebecca (Hall) Potter


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