Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Talking Irises" PLICATA TALL BEARDED IRISES--an historic past and an exciting future!

Susanne Holland Spicker
Barry Blyth seedling - Yellow plicata
(Photos courtesy of Roland Dejoux)
Hybridizers Barry Blyth and Keith Keppel have very successful plicata programs, with many award-winning cultivars through the years. They continue to explore plicata patterns, coming up with exciting new variations. With their permission, Roland Dejoux, President of the French Iris Society, shares some of the latest cutting-edge Barry Blyth and Keith Keppel seedlings:
Barry Blyth seedling
Barry Blyth seedling

Keith Keppel seedling

Barry Blyth seedling
Keith Keppel seedling
There are several forms of plicata irises. Walter Moores, hybridizer and iris expert, tells us there are those that are barely a plicata, with narrow margins; some are almost solid; some are banded; there are  amoena plicata irises, others are bi-colored, others look like a seamstress has meticulously applied a hand-sewn edge; and still others look like a pepper shaker has applied the color, like his  all-time favorite plicata, the heavily peppered 'Leanna.'  I can see why it's a favorite!
'LEANNA' (Meininger 1997) 
(Photo AIS wiki)
Plicata irises have been around forever. Shown here, the historic plicata from 1612, 'SWERTI.' It is still grown in the garden of Gordana Stojanovic, and is the oldest documented plicata. 
'SWERTI' 1612   
(Photo courtesy of Gordana Stojanovic)
Considered one of the best bearded irises of all-time, the beautiful white and blue-violet plicata 'MADAME CHEREAU' (Lemon 1844) is grown all over the world, and is still offered by commercial iris gardens, as seen in this photo from Schreiner's Iris Gardens. 
'Madame Chereau' 1844
(Photo courtesy of Schreiner's Iris Gardens)

The first Dykes Medalist was a plicata--'San Francisco' (Mohr 1927), as well as 7 others through the years:
(Photo AIS wiki)
'Kilt Lilt' (Gibson) DM 1976
(Photo courtesy of Dawn Mumford)
'JESSE'S SONG' (Williamson) DM 1990
(Photo courtesy of Dawn Mumford)
'SPLASHACATA' (Tasco) DM 2005
(Photo courtesy of Dawn Mumford)
'STAR WOMAN' (M Smith) DM 2008
'DRAMA QUEEN' (Keppel) DM 2011
Jim Hedgecock, of Comanche Acres Iris Gardens, has had a keen interest in the hybridization of plicata tall bearded irises for several years. He says he "knows that many of the future color advancements [in tall bearded irises] will come from the plicata pool of genes." He goes on to say that he sees "multiple bands in different colors on both the standards and falls."  To a certain extent these already exist, but he says "they just need more refining." One of the most exciting advancements, he predicts, is the background colors. "We will see orange, pink, and no telling what other colors as background colors in the near future of plicata blooms" he says. Hybridizers have "pulled out the luminata and glaciata patterns from the plicata" and he says "we can only guess what is next!"  Pictured here is his 2012 introduction and a few of his innovative seedlings in his emerging line of plicata irises:
'ORDINATION' Hedgecock 2012
This iris is destined to be the front-runner of what Jim hopes will be a line of plicata irises with multi-colored standards.

Hedgecock seedling X-5-1
Hedgecock seedling R-102-X
Hedgecock seedling Z-34
Hedgecock seedling X-32
Iris-lover Gayla Schmidt shares two of her all-time favorite plicata irises from her garden with us:
'WONDERS NEVER CEASE' (P Black 2007) HM 2009  AM 2011
This is one of Paul's favorites in his hardy plicata program--WOW!

Gayla says she loves the bold colors--that they just grab your eye when in bloom! She loves the great balance of color in 'Showcase.'
'SHOWCASE' Schreiner 1975
Dawn Mumford has about 35 plicata tall bearded irises in her garden. She says "she doesn't know how you can narrow it down to just 2-3 favorites," and shares some of her all-time favorites with us from her garden:
'QUEEN IN CALICO' (Gibson 1980)
'RANCHO ROSE' (Gibson 1975)
'CREATIVE STITCHERY' (R Schreiner 1984) HM 1988
'ROSE TATTOO' (Nearpass 1976)

As dramatic new plicata patterns are introduced in the coming years, one can only dream of the stunning creations yet to be introduced. I am anxiously waiting for  many new beauties in the iris world.  

Watch for lots more Keith Keppel and Barry Blyth seedlings, shared by Roland Dejoux, in my next post!

Do you grow plicata irises? What is your favorite plicata?  I would love to hear from you!

NOTE: To read more on plicata tall bearded irises, or "The Plicata Men," Jim Gibson and Keith Keppel, and their amazing cultivars, click on the following links:

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