Monday, December 31, 2012

Green? It ain't easy!

By Griff Crump

Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder.  And maybe "green" is, too.  At least, that's what one might conclude after seeing what some of our iris fanciers consider to be green or partially so.

Here's what Wikipedia says about the phrase "It isn't easy being green":

 "Bein' Green" (also known as "Green") is a popular song written by Joe Raposo, originally performed by the Muppets and then covered by Frank Sinatra and other performers.

"In the Muppets version, Kermit begins by lamenting his green coloration, expressing that green 'blends in with so many ordinary things' and wishing to be some other color. But by the end of the song, Kermit recalls positive associations with the color green, and concludes by accepting and embracing his greenness."

Well, that may be okay if you're a faux frog, but if you're an iris, you're going to be judged, and must stand or fall on your own merits.

So, recently, I asked some Facebook friends to send me photos of irises which they considered to be, wholly or in part, green.  To these I added a number of others that I dredged up from various sources, including my own garden.  In order to make some sense of the results, I have, utterly arbitrarily, grouped them into the following various categories:  Veins, Chartreuse, Olive, Plicata, Green Ground, Blue/green, Green Gone Wild and "?"  Some, particularly the blue/green, could be (and are) found in more than one category.  And I don't anticipate that everyone (anyone?) will agree with the categories into which I have put the several cultivars.  As the title says, it ain't easy. 

I am much indebted to our friends who responded, and I hope I haven't overlooked any contributions.  There were several more submitted than are shown here, but both time and space have limited what I could include.

Please also bear in mind that some of the seedlings shown here are selected not for their beauty, but for their "greenery".  So, let's begin.

Category: Veins

It was soon apparent that many irises are given the monicker "green" because of the veins in the falls. 

The first responder to my call for folks to suggest green irises was Coro Martin, who is enamoured of 'Snow Tree's' veins. 

SDB 'Snow Tree' -- R. Sobek.  Photo by Laurie Frazer
After that, things got both greener and less green.  Tom Waters suggested P. Cook's 'Green Spot'

IB 'Greenspot' --  P. Cook.  Photo by Jensen

Loic Tasquier contributed his seedling B018N:

Tasquier sdlg B018N
and his seedling C050H:

Tasquier sdlg C050H

Seedling 05M1 comes from my garden. 

Crump MDB sdlg 05M1

Don Spoon's 'Greenback Kid' has what I would call olive veins on a chartreuse or light green ground.

SDB 'Greenback Kid' -- D. Spoon

'Green and Gifted' has olive veins on what appears to be a pale yellow-green ground.  Here is its description in the Iris Register: "S. greenish champagne cream; F. overlaid blue when fresh, fading to S. color . . ."
TB  'Green and Gifted' -- P. Blyth

My SDB 'Greenwinkle' will be introduced in 2013. 

SDB 'Greenwinkle' -- Crump

 Then, there are some of my assorted green-veined seedlings, including:

Crump SDB Sdlg Apr 13 013

Crump IB Sdlg  Apr 29&30 09 056

Crump MDB Sdlg GC 3 001


Crump BB sdlg Apr 16 2010 025

ditto (top shot)
 and a rebloomer:

 Crump BB Sdlg 07P6 RE

Almost needing a category of its own, this is Chuck Chapman's 'Conundrum': 

SDB 'Conundrum' -- Chapman 

Finally, it may take looking quite closely, or zooming the picture if you can, but this seedling, 07H1, had both true green veins and aqua veins.  Unfortunately, it contracted rot and was lost.  I'll be making this cross again:

Crump SDB sdlg 07H1

Category: Chartreuse

In the foregoing, we have seen that many irises are termed "green" because of the influence of the veining in their falls.  Now, we turn to flowers whose overall coloring is termed green, but which is, in my opinion, really chartreuse.
The first of these is Loic Tasquier's Seedling B 114B (and notice the green veins):

Tasquier sdlg B 114B

Then, Linda Mann suggested 'Green-Eyed Lady':

TB 'Green-Eyed Lady' -- G. Plough.  Photo by BlueJIris
Not, I think, much greener than my 'Maid of Orleans', which I consider to be a very light chartreuse:

TB 'Maid of Orleans' -- Crump

Here, again, we see 'Greenback Kid':

 SDB 'Greenback Kid' -- D. Spoon

Then, 'County Cork':

TB 'County Cork' -- Schreiner, R.

Chuck Chapman offered this bright seedling:

 Chapman Sdlg 94-234-1

 and his 'Green Gizmo':
 Ghost Ship SDB Iris
SDB 'Green Gizmo' -- Chapman

as well as his 'Lookout Sunshine':

SDB 'Lookout Sunshine' -- Chapman

And his 'Wee Granny Smith' has plenty of green in it:

SDB 'Wee Granny Smith' -- Chapman
From Winterberry Gardens comes 'Granny Apple':

SDB (?) 'Granny Apple' -- D. Spoon

Here is my seedling 07H10:

Crump SDB sdlg 07H10

and another seedling from my garden, 093I21:

Crump SDB seedling 093I21


I have grouped in this category those irises which, to my eye, appear to be various shades of olive.
The first of these, suggested by Lucy Burton, is 'Gecko Echo':

MDB 'Gecko Echo' -- Kasperek

Loic Tasquier's 'Caonach' (pronounced KWEE-nock), which is Irish for 'moss'.

SDB (?) 'Caonach'  --  Tasquier
Next is Moss Spot:

SDB 'Moss Spot' -- D. Spoon

Then, several seedlings of my own, starting with 07A1:

Crump SDB sdlg 07A1

followed by 07A2:

Crump SDB sdlg 07A2

and 07A6:

Crump SDB sdlg 07A6

and another sibling, 07A8:

Crump SDB sdlg 07A8

as well as 07I2:

Crump SDB sdlg 07I2

and finally, 08I15:

 Crump SDB sdlg 08I15

Green Plicata

Just a couple in this category  --  the late Mike Greenfield's seedling 06DH-80:

 Mike Greenfield SDB sdlg 06DH-80
and, from my garden, seedling 07I7:

Crump SDB sdlg 07I7

Green Ground

The shades of green in these next few irises vary widely, but, judging only from the photographs, each flower seems to me to have a green base  --  and in both standards and falls.

Chuck Chapman's 'Green Waves':

SDB 'Green Waves'  --  Chapman

Chapman seedling 06-077-B:

Chapman seedling 06-077-B

Don Spoon's 'Senorita Frog':

SDB 'Senorita Frog'  --  D. Spoon

Chuck Chapman's Limesicle:

SDB 'Limesicle' -- Chapman

Category: "?"

This is the greenest photo of 'Easy Being Green' that I could find.  Maybe its verdure is just camera-shy.

TB 'Easy Being Green' -- R. Richards

Category: Blue/green

I am sure there are more in this category if we look around in our gardens.

'Wee Granny Smith' again:

SDB 'Wee Granny Smith' -- Chapman

And from my seedling patch, 08D2:

Crump SDB sdlg 08D2

and a sibling, 08D3:

Crump SDB sdlg 08D3

and an SDB seedling slated for introduction perhaps in 2014, 09Z10:

Crump SDB sdlg 09Z10

Category:  Blue/green Gone Wild

As I warned  --  not selected for beauty!

Crump SDB sdlg 07H3

Well, that wraps it up for now.  I must say that there are more and greener irises out there than I thought! With the cultivars we presently have, I think we can look forward to it becoming easier to be green.  And, considering some of the ones we've seen here, I can only hope that my seedlings will turn green with envy. 

If you've gotten this far, which do you think are the "greenest" irises shown here?  And do you know of any greener ones?  In either case, please pipe up!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Iris Classics: 'Siva Siva'

The plicata pattern has always been a very popular one in irises and no one did them better than Jim Gibson. His work from the 30's thru the 80's really brought this pattern into realms never before seen. One of his very best is his 1962 introduction 'Siva Siva'. A rich flower in variegata shades of gold and red laid over a white base, it is not a flashy variety, and yet always attracts attention.

On its introduction Cooley's Gardens described it as:
"A flamboyant combination of rich gold standards flushed cinnamon and porcelain white falls heavily bordered and etched brilliant red-mahogany-brown. The contrast is more pronounced and vivid than indicated in our picture above. All petals are fluted and rippled and the flaring falls are almost horizontal. Named for a colorful and exciting Samoan dance akin to the hula. The large, long lasting flowers are fragrant with the scent of spice."

The sturdy stems bring forth a plethora of buds that make for a long bloom period. With their flaring petals a full clump of blooms is like a crowd of whirling dervishes twirling in the spring breeze. And reliable of bloom it is, too, along with being a vigorous and easy grower. All these traits combine to make it an all around good garden plant.

Fifty years after its introduction 'Siva Siva' still captures the eyes and hearts of enough growers to keep it around and ensure its beauty survives for future gardeners to discover. I think Mr. Gibson would be proud.