Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Betty Ward Wilkerson

It is with sadness that The World of Irises announces the death of our longtime blogger, Betty Ward Wilkerson. Betty was a hybridizer and proponent of reblooming irises that grow and bloom in colder climates. Over the years, Betty shared her insights with our readers as she created new hybrids in her taxing climate in Kentucky, using the best of mild climate rebloomers with cold climate parents. She released her introductions through her Bridge in Time garden.
Summer Radiance
Her enthusiasm and expertise will be missed by all. Although in treatment for cancer, Betty had started a new blog when she became too ill to finish it. She stopped in mid-sentence, but we are posting it since it shares her last thoughts on reblooming irises. After working so many years to expand the reblooming gene pool, Betty wanted others to take up the banner of reblooming cold weather rebloomers. The World of Irises extends our sympathy to her family.

All Revved Up

In her unfinished blog, Betty wrote:

“Winter seems to come twice a year these days!  Guess I should be happy since that's twice as many musings and less hot sweaty garden days?  Not really!  I thought it was time I get down to one of my serious problems with irises and the way rebloomers reported.

About Tomorrow

“If I were to build a program by which rebloomers are reported throughout the country it would look something like this. 1:  All rebloomers would be listed according to the areas in which they were developed 2.  They would be reported based on where they have rebloomed.

“For instance, my own 'Cool Character' would be listed to for KY, CA and VA.  These are the areas that have reported so far and it's a relatively new introduction. As other states report, they would be added.

All About Tranquility

“You say this is not realistic?  It would take too much work on the part of the people that produce the catalogs?  I would have to agree.  It depends on too many variable, not the least of which is the interest of the people doing the work.  If a problem isn't important to their interests most people will not get involved.

“This is why the rebloom society has worked so hard to create the Reblooming Checklist and to keep it updated. This work has, primarily, fallen on the hybridizers and the reblooming royalty, the crew to which we owe this wealth of information.  The hybridizers use the information to create the next generations of rebloom.  Simple?  It's really a bit more complicated than you might expect.  There are a lot more ugly ducklings than you might imagine.  Just for fun, let’s look at some of the ugly ones first!  No?  Okay, I'll spare you the agony!

About Tomorrow

“Let's talk about…”

All photos by Betty Wilkerson except the final one by her son Chris.


  1. Enjoyed meeting and talking with Betty many times. RIP Betty

  2. We will all miss Betty terribly. My condolences to her family.

  3. Betty will be missed by all. I was always particularly interested in her blogs on rebloomers because she said her garden was in zone 6b which is the same as mine. I figured if they rebloomed for her they would for me. She was kind to me when I asked any questions of her. My sympathies to all who loved her.