Monday, August 5, 2013

Lousiana Irises: The Best of the Reds Part 1

Louisiana Irises:  The Best of the Reds

by Ron Killingsworth

The search for a true red iris has been going on for many years.  There are a lot of irises out that include the word "red" as part of the name or of the description, but are they really red?

Various members of the Society for Louisiana Irises have written articles about the search for a true red iris.  Some were too technical for me to completely understand but I was able to learn enough to know that a true red iris is yet to be created.  There are many Louisiana irises that come very close to being red and there are others that appear to be various shades of red.  I thought I would share some of these "red" irises with you.

'Ann Chowning' by Frank Chowning 1976
'Ann Chowning' is registered as "currant red self" and is actually a little "redder" than represented by this picture.  It won the  Mary Swords DeBallion Medal (MSDM) in 1986.

'Bold Copy' by Henry Rowlan 1983
'Bold Copy' is registered as having "red" stands and falls.  It is probably a little more on the red side than this digital picture reflects.  It won a Honorable Mention (HM) in 1987.

'Captain Bill' by Sidney Conger 1956
'Captain Bill' is registered as having  "Corinthian red splashed and reticulated deeper" standards and "mauve rose veined darker falls".  It won a HM in 1961.

'Cherry Cup' by Richard Morgan 1988
'Cherry Cup' is registered as "full red" with wire rim on falls.  It is actually redder than shown in this picture.  It won a HM in '93 and an Award of Merit (AM) in '96.

'Choctaw Ridge' by Joe Musacchia 2004
'Choctaw Ridge' is registered as "stands cranberry red" and is indeed a very pretty shade of red.  There are many shades of red but where is the 'cherry red" we all wish to produce?  It won a HM in 2010.

'Chuck Begnaud' by Dorman Haymon 1999
'Chuck Begnaud' is registered as "rich lavender' and is probably more lavender than red but it is a beautiful iris with a while halo around the edges of the petals and has serrated edges.  A great garden iris!

'Coorabell' by R. Raabe 1988
'Coorabell' is registered as "imperial purple falls" and is much darker in color than reflected by this digital photograph.  It is one of the few tetraploid Louisiana irises and is a great garden iris with huge flowers.

'Creole Flame' by C. Wyatt 1973
'Creole Flame' is registered as "dark cardinal red" and I have seen pictures that reflect a darker red than this picture.  It certainly appears red in the garden.  It won a HM in 1975.

'Dot Marie' by E. Matheny III 2000
'Dot Marie' really darker than this picture and is registered as "velvety dark purple" but appears more reddish purple in the garden.  A beautiful iris that grows well for us.

'Empress Josephine' by Dorman Haymon 1989
'Empress Josephine' is registered as "ruffled velvety dark red violet" so although it may not be actually red, at least red is used as part of the description!  It is certainly a beautiful iris with large golden spearhead signals.  It also is a good bit darker and "redder" than shown in this picture.  Am I the only one who has trouble with color shifts in digital photography?

'Far and Away' by Mary Dunn 1991
'Far and Away' is one of many wonderful irises hybridized by Mary Dunn of CA.  This one is registered as "ruffled deep red purple".  Notice the great yellowish signals on all the petals.  It won a HM in '96.

'Frank Chowning' by Henry Rowlan 1984
'Frank Chowning'  is registered as "currant red" and again is darker red than reflected in this picture.  It won a HM in '89, a AM in '91, and the MSDM in '93 (highest award within Louisiana irises).

'Fringed Gold' by D. L. Shepard 1992
'Fringed Gold' is without a doubt one of my favorite Louisiana irises.  Although registered in 1992, it is right up there with modern hybrids when comparing recent developments with Louisiana irises.  It is registered as "brick red" and has a wonderful gold edging on all the petals, more pronounced on the falls.  A great garden iris and a sure show winner!

'Jean Bush' by Dorman Haymon 1994
'Jean Bush' is registered as red and has a yellow halo around the petals.  It is more of the open form than most recent hybrids.  It has great substance and is a good garden iris.

'Joie De Vivre' by Heather Pryor 1995
'Joie De Vivre' is registered as "ruffled deep rose" and won a HM in 2000.  Heather Pryor, of Australia, has hybridzed many beautiful irises and this is but one of her beauties.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing a few of the Louisiana irises that are (or almost) red.  Learn more about the many other colors of Louisiana irises at the Society for Louisiana Irises and learn more about the many different species of irises at The American Iris Society.  Stay tuned for Part Two of the best of the reds later in the week.  Now get out there and plant some irises!

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