Thursday, December 24, 2015

Seedlings in the Keppel Garden

Happy Holidays, Iris Lovers.  We have a special treat for you on Christmas eve:  a guest post by Ron Thoman, a writer, photographer, member and judge of the American Iris Society.  He is currently the Secretary of the justly famous Delaware Valley Iris Society and the Editor of the DVIS enewsletter.  If you have never seen the lovely gardens, the college grounds, and the iris photos visit for a real treat! ~ Renee Fraser

By Ron Thoman

When I attended the 2015 AIS National Convention in Portland, Oregon, I made sure to take the optional garden tour, which included the Keith Keppel Garden.  I had visited Keith’s garden twice when it was Stockton, California.  The last time was in 1986 when the AIS National Convention was in San Jose’, California.  A few years before that, I visited his garden when on a business trip to the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto … when it just happen to be the iris season.  So it was with some excitement that I first glimpsed Keith’s current garden from the bus window.
It was past peak bloom for his tall bearded irises, but there were still many wonderful flowers to see.  The day was cloudy but bright, an ideal light for photography.

With only one and a half hours before the bus captains would blow their whistles, there was not enough time to properly evaluate seedlings.  However, I did see a lot of very interesting flowers.  The tall bearded irises pictured below may or may not be introduced since it takes much more that a pretty flower to make a worthy introduction.  Nevertheless, it is does show the hybridizing direction in which Keith is going with his tall bearded irises.  So let’s take a look.


This flower is a golden honey color with an ideal form. The tangerine beards provide perfect contrast as does the dark coloring at the base of the standards.


The iris world always has room for another pink. And this is a beautiful baby-ribbon blue pink, with nice form and ruffles.


This is a flower of nice form and proportion. Gray standards sit atop medium dark blue falls. The dusky beards echo the mood of the standards.


This is flower of earthen tones. The standards are a very special attraction with their dark mahogany color. The lavender blaze under the gold beards adds interest.


This is a blue amoena, in which it looks like the blue was brushed onto the falls leaving some of the white showing. The added attraction is the dual colored beards, the inner being a dark red orange and the outer being light blue.  The full flair provides a dynamic feel.  It reminds me of butterflies fluttering around the clump.


Now this one is really different.  I think of it as an ink-blue reverse amoena trimmed in gold.


This is one voluptuous flower.  The apricot standards are not timid, but are in good proportion with the lavender blue falls with the gray edges. The generous beards finish the look.


I have seen this color combination before.  But never have I seen it with such dark blue-purple standards.  The ruffled falls are a lovely shade of pink.  And the tangerine beards are an added attraction.


This flower has a unique color pattern with outrageous ruffles.  It illustrates that there are many different types of ruffles, and these are especially nice.  Let’s hope that the floppy standard is not typical.


True pink standards sit above royal purple falls with a delightful spray pattern surrounding the red-orange beards.  I am hopeful that the tucked fall is a rarity, since this is a no-no in tall bearded irises.


The yellow standards are in good contrast with the amazingly deep cobalt blue falls.  The brown edges and hafts of the falls add significant charm.


The standards are white.  The falls are purple, with the purple bleeding out onto the lighter colored border.   And the border seems to actually glow.  The red beards complete the look.


I was attracted by the saturation and clarity of the gold of the standards and the blue in the falls.  The tan edges of the falls make it even more appealing.  The beards pick up the color of the edges.


It is good to see that the  ”plicata man” is still working on plicatas.  With the plicata-type flower there seems to be an infinite possibility of colors and patterns.  Here I particularly like the lavender standards with darker purple veins.  It gives the impression of a fine filigree pattern.

The bus captains loaded us into the buses way too soon.  I could easily have used a couple more hours.  There were entire sections of the garden that I didn’t even see.  And I know there were many seedlings that I missed.
Of course, there were many other photographers busy in the garden.  If you are one of those photographers, we would like to hear from you.  In the blog spirit, won’t you submit some of your photos as comments to this article?

As I rode in the bus, I was satisfied that I finally was able to visit Keith Keppel’s Oregon garden.  Thank you, Keith.  

1 comment:

  1. What a great experience that must have been, Renee! The seedlings are beautiful--I'm hopeful that most will be introduced. I love the plicata! Great article--thank you!


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