Tuesday, January 31, 2012
First up is an Intermediate Bearded (IB) iris, 'Backlit Beauty' (Tasco, 2010) and what a bright splash of color it is!
Next we have Paul Black's award winning SDB 'Bluebeard's Ghost' (2006). A nice pure icy white with a strikingly deep blue beard.
Another SDB with quite a different color pattern is the Aitken's own 'Pink Latte'.
Intermediate Bearded (IB) variety 'Red Hot Chili' (M. Sutton, 2005) was a knock-your-socks-off combination of bright red and gold.
Terry and Barbara have a beautiful collection of Miniature Tall Bearded (MTB) irises and many were showing off during our visit. I love their small tailored flowers. They seem very simple and graceful in their beauty. First is 'Dollie And Me', a 2011 introduction created by L. Miller. A truly wonderful color combination and a real standout in the iris rows.
Another MTB with a harmonious combination of colors is 'Please' (Craig, 2005), with soft yellow standards over white falls blushed violet on the edges.
An unusual color combo is found in 'She's A Doll' (L. Miller, 2010). It features soft coral pink petals with the falls lightly washed with orchid pink. A very pretty effect.
Last, but by far the least, is 'Think Spring' (S. Markham, 2003). What a delightful flower this is, with it's soft lavender-violet coloring paling at the heart.
Tomorrow we'll take a look at some of the stunning Pacific Coast Irises that the Aitken's grow. Stay tuned!
Monday, January 30, 2012
Today I'll start with a few historic bearded irises that I photographed. These are varieties that are still here from Bruce Filardi's collection that I so enjoyed at the 2006 Convention, and are not stock sold by this garden. First up is 'Junaluska' (Kirkland, 1934). A beautiful, tall, glowing iris, it won an HM in 1936 and an AM the following year. Well deserved. I love the wash of rose in the standards and that dark red wire rim around them.
'Messaline' is an old French variety by Millet et Fils, introduced in 1927. It's small flowers are quite charming and display a complex pattern with delicate gold pencil lines decorating the edges of the orchid standards and falls washed and stippled heavily in red-violet, with gilded hafts and a golden beard.
Last is a pretty tall bearded variety from 1967 by Wright - 'Many Moons'. It is a creamy white self with just a touch of lavender to the fall. A really lovely iris.
I hope you enjoyed these. Please come back tomorrow for part two: Medians!
Saturday, January 28, 2012
A creation of Peter Barr, it was introduced in 1880 making it 132 years old! Few irises have managed to remain fantastic garden plants over that period of time. The blooms of 'Perfection' are of the neglecta class, meaning it has light lavender-blue standards over falls of a deeper velvety purple, accented with a golden beard. The falls have a really nice flare to them that you rarely see on the oldest varieties, and it gives them a jaunty, cheerful aspect. It is a tall variety as well, growing about 30 inches.
'Perfection' is that rare iris that is so versatile it can be used by any gardener no matter what their focus. It will excel equally at giving you a show quality bloom stalk to bring indoors, a lovely clump in your perennial border, or a mass planting all along your driveway. This classic iris is one you will really enjoy in your garden.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Established irises usually resist freeze-thaw cycles handily, but newly planted seedlings and late-transplanted adult cultivars are vulnerable, especially if the winter is very wet. It can take months for the dirt in newly planted beds to settle and compact. During this time, the sun, Jack Frost and the rain can combine to coax the plants up to where their roots are exposed, to be cooked by the sun. A good precaution is to cover those vulnerable beds with 1-2 inches of finely shredded wood mulch just after the first hard freeze of the winter. What the mulch does is provide a sort of insulating blanket over the roots, absorbing/deflecting the winter sun, tending to keep the temperature below the mulch more even during the 24-hour cycle, and shielding the roots from direct rainfall. You'll have to remove this mulch in spring, of course, but you'll have saved your plants.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Marte has been gardening at her home since 1974. The garden came equipped with a few "noid" historic irises. (For the novice iris grower, noid means no I.D., an iris whose name is lost or unknown.) Marte's noids have proliferated since, and form the backbone of a spectacular spring display in her garden.
Marte also grows modern tall bearded and Siberian irises en masse. Here she uses 'Impressionist' tall bearded iris to excellent effect with Siberian irises.
Do you have a mass planting of irises? If you get the time, take a photo of it and send it to me at email@example.com and I will put them together on this blog. We'll have a nice show of irises to keep us all going until Spring bloom.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
This classic variety is very tall, easily reaching three feet in my garden. It is hardy everywhere, has excellent growth habits and blooms reliably. The strong stems carry many large blooms beautifully. The flowers themselves are a lovely combination of soft mauve standards over lilac falls, with bright gilded hafts and an orange beard. In shadow it is a somber palette, often being described as having a touch of grey to it, but in sunlight it glows with pink and gold tones. It is one of the masterful creations of E.B. Williamson, of Bluffton, IN, and was introduced in 1926 to wide acclaim. Why such a well regarded iris did not garner higher awards than an Honorable Mention in its introductory year is a mystery.
The Longfield Iris Farm catalog for 1930 describes it as:
"Tall bearded. It is free flowering and vigorous in growth and has been admired without exception by all who have seen it. We believe it will become one of the most popular of all Irises. It has a distinction of carriage and form that will appeal to all Iris lovers. Height 36 inches, stalk well branched, 7 to 11 flowers. Flowers large, 4½ inches high and 5 inches wide. Standards arching cupped; very broadly obovate; Mauvette shading out to yellow at the base. Falls flaring; very broadly wedge shaped; Lilac, haft golden tinged and Maroon veined; beard bright orange. Style branches Mauvette, sides yellow. We have raised many thousand seedlings with Lent A. Williamson as seed parent and of these we have under observation at the present time about 100 varieties. Dolly Madison is our first introduction from this series."
When Mr. Williamson was looking for a name for his new creation its similarity in coloration to another classic iris called 'Quaker Lady' gave the inspiration to name it for the beloved First Lady, who had been raised a Quaker. It was a fine choice and a fitting tribute. 'Dolly Madison' was at the top of the favorites list for many years after it was introduced. It was not only a great all around garden plant, but was used by many hybridizers and became an important variety for later improvements in irises. For instance, it was one of a few varieties that were integral in founding Dave Hall's breeding program that brought us tangerine beards and the famous 'Flamingo pinks'. All of its acclaim and high regards were well deserved, and 'Dolly Madison' remains a true iris classic.
Update: Via Facebook, Jim Morris tells us: "It is interesting to note that although this was supposedly named for President Madison's wife, hybridizer B.F. [sic] Williamson misspelled her first name. She spelled it Dolley not Dolly"
Friday, January 20, 2012
Here's the scoop: this is a wonderful issue of Irises, and if you can, as much as possible, you should share this delight with your friends and family. If you are receiving this via Facebook, be sure to click on the link to see the original blog post, you'll be glad you did. The front cover, a picture of 'Cajun Rhythm' that Rene Fraser took at her Southern California garden is spectacular. I don't really know how anyone looking at it cannot be moved. Also, if you click on the blog post you will see a much larger picture than you would on Facebook.
- Front cover: a delicious picture of 'Cajun Rhythm' (Schreiner's 1996) taken by our own blogger Renee Fraser
- My Favorite Irises by Nyla Hughes
- Double, Double, Toyle and Trouble by Bob Hollingsworth (an expanded article that originally appeared in this blog)
- Planting Combinations: Irises in the Garden by Renee Fraser, Debbie Hughes and Brenda Fox (also an expanded article that orignally appeared on this blog)
- An Iris Lover: Twenty-five Years on My Knees by Hybridizer Marky Smith
- The Wonderful Wizard of Auz: A Week at Tempo Two with Barry Blyth by LLee Heflin
- 2011 AIS Photo Contest Winners
- 2011 Tall Bearded Iris Symposium (popularity list)
And much, much more, such as:
Lots and lots of full-color pictures
Information on the 2012 Annual Convention at Ontario, CA
AIS President's letter Judith Keisling
IRISES' Editor letter Kelley D. Norris
Milestones, Remembering Salt-of-the Earth Members, and Sections Happenings by Jim Morris
Youth Views by Cheryl Deaton
American Iris Society members registered for e-membership already have access to this great issue via our website, and for those who receive it via mail, the issue is on its way.
Be sure to give us your feedback, comments and article recommendations in the Comments section below, via Facebook, or write to us.
The American Iris Society
Social Media Manager
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I guess you can say I am a hybridizer that has a few years under my belt. 2012 will mark my 32nd year to be dabbing pollen. I think after all of this time, I have settled down to where I want to go with my efforts. Several years ago I really started working with plicatas. My first crosses were made with wild color combinations. Pink plicatas on purple, brown on purple, etc. My first surprises were, these seedlings were not ugly. Many came in colors that were very pleasing to the eye and many came in color combinations that I knew already existed. At this point, I realized that someone had already tried some of these crosses.
My thought is to cross some of these wonderful new banded bicolors that are now on the market with modern plicatas and roll the dice. My crosses are already made and being grown off. The first seedlings will bloom this year.
There has been some discussion in hybridizer circles that the position of plicata markings on the petals can be transferred in crosses. In other words, a plicata with narrow color borders very close to the edges should throw some seedlings with the same defined edges. I have a new seedling, R-125-A, that has a very defined plicata pattern around the beards only. I have made a number of crosses with named varieties of plicatas that have definite bold plicata edges and clean backgrounds around the beards. These seedlings should establish my theory as to whether the two patterns on the falls can be combined into one. In my opinion, these seedlings will open the door to many new possibilities in plicata patterns. Many plicata varieties already exist that have patterns in varying positions on the falls and standards.
Ask any knowledgeable tall bearded hybridizer where the future is headed and they will tell you that plicatas are the answer. If you are starting out in tall bearded iris hybridizing, get on the boat, you won't be sorry. God Bless you and your gardens and thanks for listening.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
'Purissima' is the result of a cross between 'Argentina' and 'Conquistador', which share the pollen parent mesopotamica using pod parents 'Caterina' and 'Juniata', respectively. It was created by William Mohr and introduced after his untimely passing by Sidney B. Mitchell, who recognized its outstanding features.
'Purissima' was renowned for its large flowers of flawless white tone, exceptional branching and tall stalks, which sometimes reached 50-60 inches high. It was far and away better than other whites of its day. It did have one major flaw - a tenderness to cold, making it difficult to grow outside the mild climates of the south and the west coast of the US. Its good points, however, more than made up for this problem. Carl Salbach wrote in his 1936 catalog:
"This splendid flower still sets a mark of perfection and purity unequaled by any other iris. A pure white of great poise, fine form and heavy substance. With the sun shining through it, this has the appearance of frosted glass. Ideal branching. Early. 50-inch."
As renowned as 'Purissima' is in its own right it is even more important for the progeny created from its genes. The most famous is probably 'Snow Flurry', which is in the background of most modern tall bearded irises and may arguably be one of the most important varieties in the history of iris breeding. Not to be overshadowed is Eva Faught's light blue 'Cahokia' (from a line involving 'Purissima', 'Santa Barbara' and 'Santa Clara'), which was one of the main progenitors of both the modern blue lines and whites as well.
'Purissima' is another classic iris from the amazing gardens of Mr. Mohr that were saved by Mr. Mitchell, and our modern iris palette would be poorer without their efforts and keen eye. Its importance in iris history can't be overstated, and it remains today a wonderful garden plant for those in climes where it is happy.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
|'Mystique' (Ghio) Williamson image|
|'Rippling Waters' (Fay) Williamson image|
|'Words of Love' (Williamson) Williamson image|
|'Rococo' (Schreiner's) Williamson image|
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Tho not a large flower it was larger than most yellows of its day and it had two other traits going for it as well - height and color! In my garden it will bloom early on stalks around 40" in height. A reliable bloomer, the flowers are profuse and in cool temps are a very deep golden yellow, while buds opening in warm temps tend to be lighter. The beards are a matching shade of yellow. Because of the profusion of blooms it tends to put on a long display. It is a wonderful variety for mass plantings in long drifts.
Another feature, which some may think detracts, is the tendency to have a light dusting of purple freckles around the upper fall area. They seem more prominent during cool temps and not so noticeable when buds open on warm days. I think they are cute and always watch for them.
'Coronation' is a very hardy iris that thrives just fine in neglect and so is often seen growing around the US. It is one of the most common irises sent to me for ID. This would be an ideal variety for those with very tough climates. In addition to the wonderful traits already mentioned it also has great purple based foliage (pbf) which adds interest even when the flowers aren't around. 'Coronation' has it all, and is truly an iris classic.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Sunday, January 1, 2012
|'Ships Are Sailing'|
- United States
- United Kingdom
'Prince of Burgundy'
All photos taken at Salt Spring Island's Baker's Garden during the Victoria Convention. For descriptions please click on names below.
- ‘Ruby Slippers' (Keith Keppel, R. 2002).
- 'Ships are Sailing' (Marty Schafer/Jan Sacks, R. 1998).
- 'Hot Fudge' (Ben Hager, R. 1982).
- ‘Prince Of Burgundy' (O. David Niswonger, R. 1992).
- 'Ask Alma' (C. Lankow, R. 1986).
- 'Easy' (Jim & Vicki Craig, R. 2005).