Monday, June 12, 2017

Iris Bloom Season in NW Louisiana on Historic Caddo Lake

By Ron Killingsworth

This was one of the most unusual bloom season I can remember.  Last year we had rains and floods and a lot of the iris beds were under water for over a week.  I am happy to report that they survived but they did not bloom this year.

We started the spring with lots of "colder than usual" weather.  It was very cold one day and then hot a few days later.  The irises simply did not know what to do -- bloom or wait for the weather to turn and stay warm.  Only about half of our Louisiana irises bloomed this year.  The remainder put up nice foliage but simply failed to put up bloom stalks.

Growing irises on Rocky Point on Caddo Lake in NW Louisiana holds special meaning to me.  The native American tribe of Caddo "Indians" settled in this area long before European immigrants made it this far into Louisiana.  Growing native Louisiana irises on this beautiful lake is my way of recognizing the natives of this area and although I am not sure they grew here naturally, having them on the lake pays tribute to the Caddo tribe.

'Atchafalaya' (Campbell, F 1998)
 This beautiful Louisiana iris was named for the Atchafalaya basin in south Louisiana. It is one of the "cartwheel" forms with a slight silver halo around the petals.

Louisiana rises growing near the "Marie Caillet Pond" with bamboo bridge in background
 I do not know the name of this beautiful and very tall Louisiana iris.  This picture was taken near a pond we dug and named for Marie Caillet, a charter member of the Society for Louisiana Irises.  There is a large stand of bamboo on the property and we make many things from bamboo.  I have recently started making bird houses from this bamboo.

'Aunt Rose' (Musacchia, J 2010)
"Cajun Joe" is what Joe Musacchia is best known by.  He lives so far south in Louisiana that you almost need a boat to get to his home.  Joe has hybridized many Louisiana irises.

See comments below
This lovely iris could be 'Glowlight' (Taylor, JC 1986) or may be 'Lois Setser' (Matheny III, E 1999).  The pictures I have of both irises look very much alike.  Regardless of the correct name, it is a beautiful iris and the standards "stand up" while the falls tend to "fall down".

'Dr. Dormon' (Conger, S 1972)
The iris in the foreground is named for Caroline Dormon.  Her name is often misspelled as "Dorman".  Dr. Dormon was a world renowned author, artist, conservationist and a charter member of the Society for Louisiana Irises.  Thanks to her efforts we now have Kisatchie National Forest in west central Louisiana, the home of many species of pine trees and of the Red-headed woodpecker.  Caroline hybridized many Louisiana irises in the 1940-70 time frame.  Her home is now called  Briarwood Nature Preserve.
Briarwood is a must see if you are ever in Louisiana.  It is located in the almost center of the state near the town of Saline, LA.

This iris was named to honor Caroline by Sidney Conger, who lived in my hometown and also hybridized many Louisiana irises.  Sidney's home in Arcadia, LA, had a huge garden full of Louisiana irises but they are all gone now, mostly destroyed when the home was sold outside the family.

Louisiana irises growing in a large planting in front of my house with my sister and BIL's home in background


A mixture of Louisiana irises, i.virginica and other plants growing near several cabins on the property.


Louisiana irises in a massive planting in what once was my vegetable garden.  We put them here "temporarily" over 8 years ago!


Louisiana irises growing by the Koi pond with "yard art" in background

'Cocka The Walk' (Musacchia, J 2005)
 This iris is registered as "42-48 inches" but grows much taller for me.  If you are interested in knowing the meaning of this name, check it out at Cock of the Walk.

Professor "someone".  These are tetraploid Louisiana irises and most of them hybridized by Joe Mertzweiller were named for his professor friends at what is now the University of LA at Lafayette. I have trouble telling them apart.
This is a large clump of tetraploid irises growing near the "Marie Pond" with the bamboo bridge.

'Delta Star' (Granger, Marvin 1966)
 Marvin Granger hybridized many "cartwheel" form Louisiana irises from a natural hybrid he collected in the marshes of south Louisiana.  These flowers have all falls and no standards and the signal is of course located on all petals.

'Kristi G' (Mertzweiller, J 1985)
 'Kristi G' grows like a "weed" for me.  This picture was taken at the Catfish Pond and you can see duck decoys in the background.

'Her Highness' (Levingston 1957)
 'Her Highness' is a collected iris.giganticaerulea alba and certainly shows the characteristics of this species of Louisiana irises named iris.giganticaerulea.

'Her Highness' (the white one) and "Professor who knows" with Caddo Lake and bald cypress trees in background

Massive planting of Louisiana irises with Caddo Lake in background

Pretty purple Louisiana iris with Caddo Lake, bald cypress trees and our boat house in background

'Myra Arny' (Arny, Charles 1969) with Caddo Lake in background

Bald cypress trees growing in Caddo Lake.  These trees produce cypress "knees" and are happy growing in water.

Do not recall the name of this tall Louisiana iris but she's a beauty.

Once again I do not recall the name of this Louisiana iris and took it as a "scenic shot".

Unknown Tall Bearded iris.  We grow very few Tall Bearded irises here in NW Louisiana.  Simply too hot and too wet for them.

'Seminole Moon' (Wolford, Harry 2009)
Harry Wolford lives in Palm Bay, FL, and has hybridized many Louisiana irises.  He retired from teaching in Ohio and moved his large collection of Tall Bearded irises to FL where they all died.  He then became interested in growing Louisiana irises.  This is one beautiful Louisiana iris.  If you know anything about Florida, you know where he gets the first name of many of his Louisiana hybrid irises.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures/  I take hundreds each year.  Not sure what to do with them.  If you are ever in the area, as they say in the south, "ya'll come by and see me sometimes".

To learn more about irises visit the web site of the American Iris Society.

To learn more about Louisiana irises, simply "google" Louisiana irises, AFTER you have visited the web site of the Society for Louisiana Irises.

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