Monday, March 28, 2016

Children of 'Over and Over' Part 2- Breeding Reblooming Irises in Zone 6, Kentucky

by Betty Wilkerson

Just a reminder for those that are following this blog about 'Over and Over': many breeders do not consider 'Over and Over' to be a good plant due to its tailored form.  It's my intention to change some opinions, if I can. My approach on these crosses was to use well formed seedlings with 'Over and Over.'  In this crosss, the pod parent is seedling 2016-03 ('Lunar Whitewash' x 'Romantic Evening') and the pollen parent is 'Over and Over.'  

2016-03 (Wilkerson seedling) 

'Over and Over' could and does produce plicatas, but only if there are plicata genes in both parents.  While there are some plicatas in the background of this one, they are far enough back that they are unlikely to produce plicatas.  There are still many seedlings from this cross to bloom, probably this spring, which I expect to be loads of fun.

'Over and Over' (Innerst 2001)

2603-01Re (Wilkerson seedling)

Seedling 2603-01Re, above, contains both 'Lunar Whitewash' and 'Over and Over,' two of Sterling Innerst's last introductions. 'Lunar Whitewash' has terrible branching, so I've been taking a chance with it, but this one was born with nearly perfect branching.  'Romantic Evening' has been added to my lines to improve color depth and variety.  I hope to breed some pinks to these in 2016.

As stated in my August blog, some breeders don't want to use 'Over and Over' due to form and branching. Again, I took a chance.  This picture shows maiden bloom and branching of a seedling.  In the years to come it can change, for better or worse. The bloom was late this year, but it this too will change as years pass.  I've no way to see into the future. This set of parents should be good for rebloom, so stay tuned for more chapters from this mystery.

In summation, my garden is filled with seedlings that are only half rebloom.
On Facebook, I have an album full of the earlier ones that I may still use in this program. In the future, my breeding time will be spent trying to combine these "out crosses" to improve the overall quality of my reblooming seedlings.  Most any strong rebloomer, older or modern, may show up in these seedlings.  I'll report it all.

Several months ago, I found I'd run out of photos.  I've rerun some and used others that didn't make me proud, with the old stalks and everything.  I figured if the perfection of the pictures was more important than the content of the story, that someone would let me know.  Starting with the next post, I hope to have new and better photos.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Have Rainboots, Will Garden

By Vanessa Spady

Although we have endured several years of drought here in central California, everything turns green when the rains of  El NiƱo arrive. We recently got some steady showers (hooray!), which means a switch from monitoring to make sure things aren't too dry to ensuring things aren’t too wet. It’s a nice change, and I’m glad it's my biggest concern in the garden right now. There’s still a lot to do out in our gardens, even though it’s raining and not quite Spring.

Several days of steady, fairly heavy rain means that our creeks all have water and my rain gear stays by the door.  I don’t make a practice of gardening in a downpour, but I will confess I can't stay inside while it's merely soggy and inclement. And with the heavier rain, I did need to spend a bit of time keeping an eye on the drainage in the kiddie pool beds. For the first six or seven storms, they drained beautifully, and the rhizomes were in nice, firm condition. This last deluge, however, exceeded the capacity of the holes drilled in the bottoms of the pools. The result was standing water in several of the pools, even four hours after the rain had stopped. That was a surprise, since they’d done so well up until that point. Here’s what I saw:
A pool full of ‘Ensign’ and about a centimeter of standing water. Not good!

So, on with my Wellingtons, and my barn jacket, and my trusted rubber gloves. I chose the largest drill bit in my collection, mucked to the bottom of the pool in several low spots, and drilled two holes in each pool that had standing water. Presto, problem solved. I have been watching closely each time it rains, and so far, that has done the trick. The rhizomes have stayed nice and firm, and all but one now has lots of new growth... whew.

Extra caution is needed when the ground is this wet, since, as I’ve mentioned before, our soil can turn to pudding very quickly. So as I make my rounds, I tread carefully, and thanks to my Wellies, I can cover most of the sloped terrain without trouble. I definitely do not recommend kicking a ball for your dogs while in your rainboots on a wet slope. Yes, I slid and fell. The ground was so delightfully soft (and so was I) that I wasn’t injured. I was wet and muddy, and the dogs had no sympathy, so I sulked for a few moments and then got over myself. Note to self: Galoshes don’t offer much traction. Sigh.

Green slopes, mud puddles, and dogs chasing their tennis ball. Doesn’t look hazardous, right? Ha!

The early bloomers are starting to open, one by one, and the beds are all starting to be full of nice tall, green growth. Spring is certainly right around the corner, and as we enter the Best Part of the Year (in my humble, iris-loving opinion), I expect to be outside in the garden anytime it’s not dark or I’m not at work. Hundreds of hours have gone into our test garden, and we’re about to see if our unconventional methods will pay off. Finger crossed, eyes peeled, and camera at the ready!

I'll leave you with one of my early bloomers, from a raised bed. Can’t wait for the rest to put on their big show!

'Thick And Creamy' (John Weiler, R. 1977). Sdlg. 73-50A-1. TB, 36" (91 cm). Extra early to midseason bloom. Ruffled white, blended primrose yellow (HCC 601/3) with slightly darker hafts; light primrose yellow beard. 'Wedding Vow' X 7-OB: ('White King' x 'New Moon'). Rialto Gardens 1978.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Reds and Yellows for the gaudy corner of the PCI garden

By Kathleen Sayce

Reds and yellows combine to make particularly richly colored flower displays. Here's a sampling of a few PCI hybrids in this group. The typical pattern is red to dark red falls and yellow to orange standards and style arms. In some hybrids, this combination shows up on all flower parts. 

PCI  'Wildest Imagining'
Start with a dark yellow to orange base color with darker veins, in PCI 'Wildest Imagining', then add more color to the petals, on the edges:

PCI 'Eye Catching'

Then darken the falls, and standards and style arms with intensely colored flowers including:
PCI 'Rancho Coralitos'

PCI 'San Justo'

Then intensify the colors:
PCI 'Wino' has particularly intense yellows

End with a hybrid that is particularly attractive, with red petals and golden veining on the falls. Not shown in this photo is the attractive velvety surface of 
'Sunburn', which makes it glow in sunlight. 

PCI 'Sunburn'

Monday, March 7, 2016


by Dawn Mumford 

     Each spring we enjoy watching our iris garden's rebirth after the cold freezes and snows of winter.  It is so fun to see all the newly planted rhizomes bloom for the first time.  It is also fun to see the older irises that open each year so faithfully.  It is like seeing old and dear friends. Neal, my husband, and I have what we call "The Super Achiever Award”. Although it isn't a bonafide award with a trophy or certificate, it is recognition by us for doing a good job.  This award goes to those irises that really go the extra mile to grow vigorously, bloom more, rebloom more, make a pretty mound or just show off.   It seems to be the same ones almost every year unless they have just been divided.  I would like to show you some pictures of those extra nice irises.  I highly recommend these because you can rely on them to perform well if your climate is similar to ours.        

We are in zone 6b in northern Utah fairly close to the Idaho border.  Our home is 4,300 feet elevation and there are three 9000 ft peaks east of our garden just a few blocks away.  Average rainfall is 16 to 18 inches of rain per year.  We are classified as a desert with only Nevada being dryer.   We also have temperatures that go over 100 in the summer and sub zero in the winter.  Irrigation is a must and we do plant our rhizomes with about 1 inch of soil over the top for protection from the extreme temperatures.                                                                                                                
                                  Neal and Dawn Mumford's Iris Patch                                                                                                                         
This post is especially for those of you who may have very little space for irises, since you will want the ones that grow vigorously.  I will show the pictures and explain why we gave that iris our award.  

I usually take close-up pictures of iris because, let's face it, my weeds won’t show and the flower itself is so intricate and fascinating. We don’t hire help, and my husband takes care of the iris alone. We have an orchard and 5 1/2 acres  of grounds and he is ill so we do have weeds.  I’m sure some of you can relate. That being said here are some pictures of some of our “Super Achievers.”

Here is our iris patch just waking up from a long winter. 'Jesse’s Song' is in the middle and 'Change of Pace' in the right corner.  That is 'Victoria Falls' is on the far right middle.  These three are almost always the first to bloom. What’s nice about 'Jesse’s Song' and 'Victoria Falls' is they bloom almost all season long, especially 'Jesse’s Song', which is first and last to bloom.  A super achiever indeed.  So both 'Jesse's Song' and 'Change of Pace' have been given our award.

                                        'Jesse's Song' (Williamson 1983)                                              Here is a collage of 'Jesse's Song' and notice all the buds that are still coming.  This iris is a very nice plicata. It was awarded the Dykes Medal in 1990.

'Change Of Pace' (Schreiner 1991) 
This striking iris always puts on a good show.  I think that it likes plenty of room to spread.  This clump has a 6 foot wide path on the right side of it.  The clump is always huge.  I like the beautifully arched standards and the plicata coloring. 

 'Many Thanks' (Gaulter 1989) 
Cooley's Garden sent out this iris to thank us for helping them celebrate their 60th anniversary Year in 1988.  This is me standing behind 'Many Thanks' on the level ground.  I am about 67 inches tall and as you can see 'Many Thanks' is at least 54" tall.  It is on sturdy stems that don't blow over except in the strongest of winds.  Both the shape and color are worth the Super Achiever award.

'Aegean Wind' (Schreiner 1991) 
This clump is always a Super Achiever.  It blooms and blooms and blooms. I also love the reverse bitone coloring with the dark blue-violet standards and lighter falls.  It is pretty planted by yellow or orange. 

'Edith Wolford' (Hager 1984) 
This bloom has been around a long time. Isn't it still lovely? It won the Dykes Medal in 1993.  It is very ruffled and has excellent form. I also love the glimmer on the petals.  The canary yellow and blue violet are so distinct from one another.  It is another one that is robust for us every year.

'Conjuration' (Byers 1989)  
This won the Dykes Medal in 1998. This iris is very healthy here and also very tall. Neal is 6' tall and 'Conjuration' is 50-57" tall.  It also withstands all but the strongest winds even though the stems are rather thin. The masses of blooms doesn't hurt my feelings either.

'Lemon Mist' (Rudolph 1971)
This delicate colored bloom is such a nice clean color.  It has a pleasing form. As you can see it looks good planted next to 'Shipshape' and 'Edith Wolford' or any nice lavender or purple bloom.

'Magical' (Joseph Ghio 2007)
The first time I saw this bloom in my garden in 2014 it just took my breath away.  The ruffling is extravagant and doesn't tear while opening.  It makes masses of blooms and photographs like a dream.  It is one of my newer Super Achievers.  

'Supreme Sultan' (Schreiner 1988)
I'll end this blog with one more Super Achiever that didn't win by the number of blossoms or by the size of the clump but by the massive flower itself.  It is on ramrod stiff stems and the flower is 7 1/2 " x 5". This variegata (yellow standards with deeper falls which or solid tones of brown, purple or red) is flamboyant and frankly shows off.  I love that it has arched golden ochre standards and solid rich mahogany-red falls. It grows very well here.  Note the size with Neal holding the clipboard behind it and compare it to his hand which is considered large or extra large.  

We have had a lot of snow and cold temperatures this winter.  I am yearning for mid May to June when our garden will once again look like this.

What irises have you found to be especially pretty and hardy in your garden?  I would love to hear your comments.   

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

AIS Blog WORLD OF IRISES Five Year Anniversary

By Andi Rivarola

It is not often that we dare to take time to look back at our history and accomplishments (or lack thereof) and find that we're looking at it with a sense of amazement and surprise. 

I remember imagining an AIS Blog over five years ago and how providing such service would help the AIS tap into the huge online plant/flower audience. It wasn't a marketing idea, at least in my mind, as much a way to share the knowledge of irisarians with the many iris enthusiasts that I have come to know online from around the world. 

Could it be done? 

Well, the answer to that question is here, five years later. An amazing array of intelligent, giving, caring people have been a part of this blogging team, a group willing to share their personal experiences of growing, caring, and experimenting with the iris plants we all love. 

The result has more than met my initial expectations, and I hope that you have caught our sense of excitement and enthusiasm with what we share in the World of Irises.

Happy 5th Year Anniversary AIS Blogging Team!  You are the ones that make this blog happen. I hope this humble post will convey my huge sense of gratitude. 

Thanks too to former members of our blogging team Jim Hedgecock, Jim Murrain, and Evey Blalock, and to our occasional posters J. Griffin Crump and Mike Unser.  

I thought it would be fun to list a few of the subjects this group has covered both in words and images: tall bearded irises, median irises, spuria irises, Louisiana irises, historic irises, Pacific Coast Native irises, AIS National Conventions, species irises from around the world, new publications, updates on IRISES publications, irises and snow, bog irises, international iris news, aril and arilbred irises, hybridizer news, news of the AIS, the evolution of irises, confessions of an iris lover, winter in our garden patch, reblooming irises, novelty irises, biographies of hybridizers, hybridizers of our AIS past, Siberian irises, tending the iris crop, award winner announcements, iris color terminology, and so many other subjects I can't list them all.

Get to know the Bloggers

If you want to get to know the bloggers, follow their posts, ask questions in the comment section located at the end of each post; or go to The American Iris Society Facebook page and post your comment there. 

We see through their eyes, as each blogger brings out with their post their own relationship with irises, in words and pictures that are unique to them, and in the interim they help you and me gain some knowledge too.