In suggesting topics for this posting, Renee Fraser remarked, "One thing I always wonder about hybridizers is which new intro caught their eye and why?"
The first attraction for me is, simply, the beauty of the flower itself. The second motivator is its being of the patterns that I prefer, which are predominantly amoenas and near amoenas with velvety falls, usually dark. The third consideration is whether it might fit into my breeding goals.
Here are some of the recent introductions that have caught my eye:
Judy's Smile (Skaggs 2014), offered by Stout Gardens At Dancing Tree. From Starring x Kitty Kay. I have both of the parents, so might try the cross myself.
Another beauty, which I won't use in hybridizing (because it doesn't fit within my goals), but which I admire and would like to grow just for its handsomeness, is Mike Lockatell's reblooming border bearded Double Dare. I saw it when he first exhibited it at a Region 4 fall regional show. I and others thought it should have won best seedling, but one of the judges just didn't like plicatas.
I always like a good red, and Don Spoon's Red Hot Momma (Rogue X Dynamite) falls in that category. I can't seem to keep either of those parents alive (or, at least, blooming), but Don has, so maybe I'll approach him for a start.
'Red Hot Momma'
Lesley Painter's Midnight Rose (Napa Country Iris Garden) is the kind of iris that I really like, a near amoena with dark velvet falls. As a hybridizer with limited space, however, its unknown parentage gives me pause, i.e., will it work with the genetics of my existing stuff? If I had more space, I'd grab it. (And if you have space, I think you should, too.)
Keith Keppel's Gambling Man (Silk Road X Roaring Twenties) caught my eye, as does anything with the Edith Wolford color pattern. This, though, is from quite different lineage.
I am particularly impressed with the introductions of Robert Piatek, of Poland, and those of Anton Mego, of Slovakia. I have Mego's Slovak Prince and seedlings from it, and I hope that others of their cultivars will soon, if not already, be available in the USA.
Which newer introductions caught your eye this year?