Thursday, April 9, 2015

First Pacifica Iris Flowers

April 2015                                                                                           By Kathleen Sayce

The first PCI flowers are always exciting, whether hybrids new to the garden, or seedlings that are flowering for the first time.

Let the record show that something (I suspect a chipmunk) ate the bud of one of my earliest flowering new seedlings, so that 'first' flower will have to wait a year. Also, Garry Knipe's winter flowering hybrid PCI 'Premonition of Spring' flowered from mid fall right throughout winter, and is sporadically flowering even now. In this post, other new PCI flowers are featured. 

The grand old hybrid PCI 'Mission Santa Cruz' opened its first flowers in early April, and the deep velvet rose color reminded me again why this hybrid is so good for breeding and enjoying.

PCI 'Mission Santa Cruz' is a lovely rose pink, with a velvety tone to the falls, which have dark veins and a small touch of gold. 

PCI 'Harry's Rootbeer' has PCI 'Mission Santa Cruz' genes, and opened about the same time. Slightly darker with wider petals, the plants are sturdy and on the tall side, perfect for a few feet back in the border. This plant is from Matilija Nursery in southern California.

PCI 'Harry's Rootbeer' was developed by a southern California grower, and the toughness for hot dry conditions has translated well to the Pacific Northwest coast. 

Two PCI seedlings from a pod parent PCI 'Violet Blush' are being evaluated. The first flower has slightly wider petals and interesting but not outstanding color. The pedicels are long, and the flowers tend to flop. It's probably coming out soon; in a wet climate floppiness is not a good character to encourage.

This seedling of pod parent PCI 'Violet Blush' has interesting purple, pink and yellow flowers, but the flowers flop over on long pedicels; the plants are sturdy, but the flower stalks are not. 
The other seedling from PCI 'Violet Blush' has more of a species-type flower, narrower falls, standards and style arms, but the color is nice, a mix of purple and lavender. The plant is sturdy and upright, and the flowers are held up well also. It's going to stay for a few more years.

Another seedling from the same pod parent as above, this one is species-like with smaller flowers. The plants are sturdy, the flowers are on strong stems and nicely upright. The plus for a windy wet climate is that the flowers wear well in the rain. 
Seedlings of PCI 'Santa Rosalita' are also flowering now. Rain damaged the first plant's flowers so much that it was hard to evaluate them this year. A second plant of the same seed lot was luckier to open its flowers in a drier period, and they are lovely, wide, open, held well, on a medium sized plant.

A seedling of PCI 'Santa Rosalita', flowering for the first time this spring. The plant has better vigor than other siblings, and the flowers are large, ruffly, peachy-pink, and nicely complex with dark veins and a lovely purple and orange signal. It probably won't hold up in the rain, but it sure is gorgeous.

The star of my early spring irises is a hybrid from Richard Richards, who gardens in southern California and has spent decades developing truly tough PCI for hot dry climates.  That toughness appears to translate well into the Pacific Northwest. This PCI opened its first flower in early April, and is definitely a keeper. Good job, Richard!  

Richard Richards sent me this lovely hybrid last fall. I overwintered it in the cold frame and planted it out a few weeks ago. I was very pleased to see a bud a few weeks ago, and it opened in early April. The plant is sturdy, the flower is quite lovely, and as it's raining right now, I will see tomorrow how well the flower does with precipitation. 

Which PCIs are blooming in your garden this month?

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