Saturday, March 10, 2012

Iris Classics: 'Mady Carriere'

Today's classic iris is one of surpassing charm and sweetness. A very cheerful flower of soft colors that still manages to light up in the garden. It is, of course, the lovely 'Mady Carriere', one of the 150 magnificent creations of the classic French firm of Millet et Fils, introduced in 1905. This distinct variety was remarked upon by Robert S Sturtevant in The Flower Grower magazine, from 1920. He said
"Mady Carriere interested me greatly as it is clearly of the same parentage as Afterglow (Sturtevant) though soft blue not yellow through the center - if your taste is educated to this delicate blend they will prove worthwhile."

He was right! I believe that anyone who enjoys the old diploids would instantly take a fancy to 'Mady Carriere'. What is not to love? It is a very tall variety for its age, easily reaching 3 feet and higher. The stalks are sturdy, the growth hardy and vigorous. Its main attraction, the blooms, are glowing in soft lilac and yellow, the petals are narrow, flared yet dog-eared - and quite graceful. They have a rather unique attribute not often seen - the feather-like style arms reach well out of the standards ending in widely flaring style crests which give the form an uplifted aspect, as if the flowers are reaching for the heavens. I think it is a fantastic feature and adds alot to the charm of this beautiful heirloom.

From Bonnewitz Irises catalog for 1926:
"An excellent variety which is almost exactly the same color as Afterglow. We sometimes thought it superior to Afterglow, which has colors seen in the western sky after the sun has disappeared."

From Treholme Gardens catalog for 1928:
"S. plumbago blue, washed yellowish-white; F. ageratum blue, throat and beard bronzy-gold. A free flowering variety, producing flowers of good size and form. On the lines of Afterglow and Memory but not as reliable. A pleasing pastel effect."

Often described as having a glowing effect, it does seem to capture light in a way only the most special can match. It also is fantastic for massing and a well established clump in full bloom is a sight to behold (but then, aren't they all?).

Millet et Fils thrived in the early 20th century but did not survive the second World War. However they have left us with a marvelous legacy in irises that will carry on their memory for as long as there are collectors of old irises. 'Mady Carriere' is one of their best and a real iris classic. This is one to treasure.

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