Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year in Review

As the editors of The World of Irises blog look back on 2017, these were the most viewed posts. To view the email, just click on the title of the blog and it will take you to the post.

 In first place was Dawn Munford’s “A Fond Farewell to Tall Bearded Iris."

Image by Dawn Munford

The second most viewed blog was Suzanne Holland Spicker’s "’Talking Irises’ TALL BEARDED IRISES: COMPANION PLANTS for PINK, RED, and PURPLE IRISES.”

'Red Skies' (Ghio)--image by Suzanne Spicker

That blog was followed by Chad Harris’s “Colors, Patterns of Japanese Iris."
Image by Chad Harris

Dawn Munford occupies the Number 4 spot with “MOREPHOTOMONTAGES OF TALL BEARDED IRISES.”

Image by Dawn Munford

Rounding out the top five, Suzanne Holland Spicker’s “GardenMagic Fills My Soul.”

Image by Kat Zalewska

Next up is Tom Waters’s “Growing Irises From Seed.”

Image by Tom Water

One of our new bloggers occupies the next spot with Hooker Nichol’s “Louisiana Irises.”

'Great White Hope' (Haymon)--Image by Robert Treadway

Bonnie Nichols wrote about cultural problems in “Bloom Out in Bearded Irises.”

Image by Bonnie Nichols

In ninth place, Bryce Williamson posted “I’m Singing the Blues.”

'Absolute Treasure' (Tasco)--Image by Bryce Williamson

The final blog in the top 10 is Chad Harris’s “FlowerForms of Japanese Iris.”

Image by Chad Harris

You can be automatically notified of all new post by going to the top left of any blog and filling your email address in the box and then clicking on submit. With the wide variety of content in this blog, you don’t want to miss a post.

And the editors look forward to 2018 and many more exciting and interesting posts.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

By Mike Unser

A small selection of irises with names appropriate for the season. Hope you enjoy them.

'Christmas Time', Schreiner's, 1965. Photo by Carlos Ayento.

'Holy Night', Ken Mohr, 1983. Photo by John Weiler.

'Santa', Shoop by Keppel, 1998. Photo by Mike Unser

'Santa's Helper', Carol Lankow by J. Terry Aitken, 1997. Photo by Mike Unser

'Christmas Carol', O'brien, 1973. Photo by Mary Hess.

'Dasher', Opal Brown, 1977. Photo by Paul Black. 

'Winterfest', Schreiner, 2005. Photo by Mike Unser

'Sleighing Song', Robinson, 1984. Photo by Paul Black.

'Gingerbread Man', Bennett Jones, 1969. Photo by Cindy Voss.

'Gingerbread Castle', Tompkins, 1967. Photo by Mike Unser

Happy Holidays! And all the best for 2018.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Median Iris: Standard Dwarf Bearded

By Hooker Nichols

One of the most delightful classes of bearded iris one can grow is that particular group of iris known as the standard dwarf bearded.  These wonderful smaller iris range 8 to 16 inches in height.   They bloom after the peak season of miniature dwarf bearded iris and before the peak season of the intermediate bearded iris.

Hooker Nichol's 'Amazon Princess'--image by Igor Khorosh

Most generally as a group, these delightful iris are rapid increasers and the clumps give the appearance of mounds of flowers.  They possess the color range found in the other bearded classes.  Bloom is determined by the amount of cold weather experienced during the winter season.  Here in Texas, we experienced 334 frost free growing days in 2017 and spring bloom was very limited.  On the flip side of the coin, abundant rainfall during the spring and early summer resulted in very good rebloom from those possessing reblooming traits.

'Bright Blue Eyes' (M. Sutton)--image by Mike Sutton

This group of iris are easy to hybridize and generally the seeds germinate very well.  One can get nearly 100 percent bloom the spring following the germination.  They make excellent border plants, but generally must be transplanted every three years.

'Open Your Eyes' (Paul Black)--image from Mid America Iris Gardens

Standard dwarf bearded irises do well in most regions of the country and are well liked overseas.  I encourage you to plant a few to begin and extend your bloom season.

'Eye of the Tiger' (Paul Black)--image by Chuck Chapman

Editor's Note: The top award in this class is the Cook Douglas Medal. All images in this blog have won that award.

'Ultimate' (Thomas Johnson)--image by Brock Heilman

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Talking Irises" LOOKING FORWARD TO SPRING - Tall Bearded Irises With Spring Companion Plants

By Susanne Holland Spicker

I love experimenting with different color combinations in the beds. By combining a variety of companion plants, as well as complimentary, or harmonious combinations of tall bearded irises, the beds provide a nice palette of color, as well as a long bloom season by using early, mid and late bloomers that flower at the same time as other perennials in the gardens. The beds are always a work in progress--I evaluate my beds each year at this time and make changes where I want to replace older varieties with newer iris hybrids or add any favorites from my long "wish list." 

I love the colors in this yellow, pink and blue bed: Tall bearded irises 'Skywalker' (Schreiner '96), 'Tulip Festival' (Clough '75), 'Edith Wolford' (Hager '86), 'Aegean Wind' (Schreiner '08), and 'Out of the Blues' (Van Liere '10) with companion plants Singing in the Rain Itoh peony, assorted lupine, hybrid tea rose New Day, clematis Josephine, assorted pansies and petunias, and herbaceous peony Mons. Jules Ellie.

Striking colors of tall bearded irises and companion plants: 'Salzburg Echo' (Schreiner '09), 'Spiced Custard' (Weiler '87), 'Supreme Sultan' (Schreiner '88), 'Dazzling Gold' (Anderson '81),  'Taco Supreme' (Ernst '87),  'Throb' (Weiler '91),  'Flamenco' (Keppel '77), 'Mulled Wine' (Keppel '02),  and 'Tiger Honey' (Kasperek '94), with companion plants early gladiola, lupine, daylily Bela Lugosi and various daylilies and Harlem poppy.

Bold and beautiful!  Tall bearded irises 'Bold Expression' (Ernst '03), 'Dreamcake' (Ernst '02), 'Close Up' (Tompkins '02),  and 'Ringo' (Shoop '79) with companion plants rosy purple pulsatilla, Caribbean Crush verbascum, Fascination hybrid tea rose,  poppy Queen Alexander, America climbing rose, and lilac.

A favorite bed of subtle yellows and blues: Tall bearded irises 'Good Hope' (Moldovan '69), 'Absolute Treasure' (Tasco '06), 'Grecian Skies' (Brown '84), 'Edith Wolford' (Hager '86), 'Bertwistle' (Innerst '90), 'Lavender Luck' (Ernst '88), 'Wedding Candles' (Schreiner '82) and 'On Edge' (Schreiner '86), with companion plants assorted pansies, Blue Star columbine, yellow, blue and white lupine, Crystal Fountain clematis, dwarf Snow Lady daisy, Konigskind clematis, tradescantia, High Noon tree peony, Silver Beauty Dutch iris, and hybrid tea rose Sunblest.

This bed always stands out: Tall bearded irises 'Aristocracy' (Keppel '06), 'Artist's Time' (Schreiner '74), 'Ever After' (Keppel '86), and 'Bubbling Over' (Ghio '92),  with companion plants Elisabeth variegated phlox, pansies, single late tulip Don Quixote, heartleaf bergenia, Jacob's Ladder, bleeding heart, and assorted pansies.

I love these rose and apricot colors together: Tall bearded irises 'Discretion' (Boushay '78), 'Naples' (Johnson '01), 'Mystic's Muse' (Schreiner '93), 'Magharee' (Blyth '86), 'Aphrodisiac' (Schreiner '86), and 'Role Model' (Denny '88), with companion plants assorted lupine, and Itoh peony Singing In The Rain.

Do you like experimenting with your flower beds? What are some of your favorite combinations?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Iris Stories: 'April Melody'

By Bryce Williamson

Iris stories can be made up of several related, interlocking, overlapping stories—if the story is about a hybridizer’s creations, there may be stories about the names, why the cross was made, or other issues; less known is that often the hybridizer is influenced by or helped by other people who often are nameless, though those side stories are of interest. That is the case with Jim Gibson’s 'April Melody,' the first good pink plicata and the foundation parent of pink/orange toned plicatas today.

And the story of Jim Gibson and 'April Melody' actually starts in Utah with 'Tell Muhlestein' taking a plicata seedling from Loomis’ 'Seashell' and crossing it with his 'Pink Formal'. 'Pink Formal' was from a Loomis pink seedling and iris 'David Hall.' From that cross, he obtained 'New Adventure' and introduced it in 1953. We now know that the Hall pink irises had plicatas in their background and 'Seashell' certainly had them. 'New Adventure' was an interesting color break—a lavender-pink plicata with a tangerine beard, but, as you can see from the image, it did not have good form.

 'New Adventure' -- image from the Iris Encyclopedia 

When Jim Gibson in Porterville, California grew 'New Adventur'e he realized it had great potential, but it also needed a lot of work on the form. Thus started his quest for a well formed pink plicata. As you can see from the complicated parentage, he made many crosses and brought into the breeding both the best pinks of the day and his own well-formed brown plicatas. And he raised seedlings and then another generation and yet more generations.

During one of my visits to his garden, Jim explained that he thought about giving up—the desired result was not showing up, but he did not give up and finally a flower appeared that met his high standards. As you can see from the parentage, many generations of hybridizing went into the creation of 'April Melody':  ((37-57: (54-55: ('Taholah' x 45-53: ('Ballerina' x (('Gibson Girl' x ('Madame Louis Aureau' x ('Sacramento' x red brown))) x ('Gibson Girl' x ('Tiffany' x 'Siegfried'))))) x (45-53D x ('Ballerina' x 'Happy Birthday'))) x 'New Adventure')   X   (37-57 x ('New Adventure' x 54-55))).

But that was not the end of the story. At that time, the Gibson irises were being introduced by Cooley’s in Silverton, Oregon and they were hesitant to introduce this new colored iris. Enter the stranger in the form of Hazel Stewart of San Jose, a longtime member of the Clara B. Rees Iris Society.

'April Melody' image from HIPS archive

Region 14—Northern California and Nevada—had a spring meeting in Porterville. In the Gibson garden, the pink plicata seedling was in bloom. During the garden tours, Hazel stood by the planting and kept pointing out, “This is good. This is different.” She was right, it was good and different.

When the result of the voting for best seedling from a Region 14 hybridizer was announced, Hazel’s campaign had paid off—the pink plicata was named best seedling. With that award, Cooley’s did introduce 'April Melody.'

And 'April Melody' went on to be a major parent for Gibson and other hybridizers. From 'April Melody,' Jim introduced a series of new plicata colors -- 'Rippling Rose,' 'Summer Silk,' 'Casino Queen,' 'Mod Mode,' 'Porta Villa,' and 'Frosty Blush' are all first generation 'April Melody' children. The second generation produced 'Lilac Love,' 'Pink Ember,' 'Happy Halo,' 'Smoke Rings,' 'Lasting Spring,' and 'Frost Kiss.' In the third generation, along came 'Pink Confetti' and 'Anon,' among others. Further down the line, one of the most important and lasting of Jim Gibson’s iris is the wonderful 'Queen in Calico.'

'Porta Villa' image by Sunshine Iris, Australia

'Pink Ember' image by Glenn Corlew

'Anon' image by Country Delight Iris
'Queen in Calico' image from Iris Encyclopedia 

This is just a partial list of Gibson irises stemming from 'April Melody' and, needless to say, other hybridizers realized the potential of the iris and used it heavily. In fact, 'April Melody' not only opened up a whole new group of color plicatas, but also 'April Melody' appears in the background of so many differently colored irises that it is hard to believe including the 2017 Dykes Medal winner 'Montmartre.'
'Montmartre' image by Schreiner's Gardens

When Jim could have given up on the line, he did not; he continued to work for the goal, finally reaching and not only achieving a wonderful flower, but also a wonderful parent. 'April Melody'’s story also points out the importance of other people in making sure that wonderful and different irises are recognized. While the judges of The American Iris Society did award 'April Melody' an Honorable Mention, they failed to vote it an Award of Merit — a huge oversight on their part. In another blog, I will show how 'April Melody' and its children were used by other hybridizers to produce fine irises.

My thanks to Keith Keppel for reading, correcting, and suggesting ideas for this blog.