Monday, November 23, 2015

Reddish, Redder, Red––A Short History of Selecting for Red in PCI Flowers

Kathleen Sayce

Recent Pacifica Iris selections are starting to look very red, but first selections of this rich color appeared decades ago in mid 20th Century hybrids. 
PCI 'Claremont Indian' R. by Lee Lenz,
photo from SPCNI photo collection. 

PCI 'Claremont Indian' was registered in 1956. Here's Dr. Richard Richards' notes about early reds,
 "The first "red" iris I ever saw was Dr. Lee Lenz's Claremont Indian. He produced it in the 50s, in a cross of innominata and probably douglasiana

"It was the foundation for the
reddish irises that appeared in Southern California, such as 'Pasadena Indian' and 'Native Princess' by George Stambach.

PCI 'Native Princess' by George Stambach, 1964

"About the same time Ghio introduced 'Emigrant', from seed I believe that
came from Hargreaves. Spelling approximate. From that iris came the Ghio reds. Of course hybridizers were using both 'Claremont Indian' and 'Emigrant' right away."

PCI' Emigrant', R. Joe Ghio, 1981

The early reds had species-like petals, much narrower than present-day hybrids, with reduced ruffling and narrow standards and style arms. Signals were typical of species, edging and veining were both restrained, and flowers tended to hold up well in inclement weather. 

By the late 20th century, ruffles, wide flower parts (falls, standards and style arms), bright colors and increased complexity in patterns on falls were, and still are, developing from year to year. 

I'm not going to show all fifty plus 'red' PCI selections (you can look them up in the Iris Encyclopedia), but will list some of them, focusing on those that are important for breeding, toughness, depth and complexity of color, and other desirable traits. 

PCI 'Indian Maiden', by George Stambach, R. 1971. 

'Indian Maiden' was another Stambach hybrid that showed complex dark veining on a lighter background. This patterning is an attractive feature of new 21st century hybrids, in a variety of color combinations. 

1970s registrations include:
'Sundance Eight' (e. Molseed, 1979), 'Verdugo' (Phillips, 1971)

PCI 'Mission Santa Cruz' (R. Ghio 1982) is still an useful parent for new hybrids. Its petal colors are intense, and carry forward into new hybrids a distinctive deep color saturation and sturdy petal structure. 

PCI' Mission Santa Cruz' R. 1982, Joe Ghio
In England, Marjorie Brummitt produced a series of Banbury hybrids during the latter part of the 20th Century, including 'Banbury Gem' (1972) and 'Banbury Melody' (1983). 

Other 1980-90s 'red' registrations include: 
'Adept' (Ghio, 1997), 'Battle Alert' (Ghio, 1995––and the name should be a clue that this is one of the very dark red hybrids), 'Common Sense' (Ghio , 1997), 'Endless' (Ghio, 1985), 'Escalona' (Ghio, 1994), 'Gamay' (Terry Aitken, 1995), 'Junipero' (Ghio, 1989), 'Mission Santa Clara' (Ghio, 1992), 'Opulence' (Elaine Bessette, 1996), 'Riva' (Ghio, 1988), 'Town Belle' (Elyse Hill, 1998), and 'Upper Echelon' (Ghio, 1988). 

PCI 'Salsa Picante', R. 2014, Emma Elliott,
photo courtesy Emma Elliott, Wild
Ginger Farms
'Salsa Picante' looks back at 'Emigrant' in a modern, sturdy plant with flowers held upright.

Two recent introductions by Debby Cole, 'Red Delicious' and 'Scarlet Woman' also edge closer to solidly red flowers. 

PCI 'Dracularity', another Debby Cole introduction, is an intensely colored flower, reminding us of the color blast that comes from well saturated petals, in this case with light edges. 

PCI 'Dracularity' R. 1998, Debby Cole

PCI 'Tulum', R. 1996, Joe Ghio.
 This article ends with another hybrid from Joe Ghio, 'Tulum', which shows more ruffles, wider flower parts, and in this hybrid, a dark signal and veining on a lighter background. It's a lovely hybrid with a velvety surface and in full sun, a pinkish red. 

Most of the photos in this article are from the SPCNI photo collection, with thanks to Ken Walker, Recorder, for sharing them to this blog. Emma Elliott shared  'Salsa Picante'. I also thank Richard Richards for his comments on early red PCI hybrids. 

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