Monday, January 29, 2018

Iris Stories: April Melody 2

By Bryce Williamson

In “Iris Stories: 'April Melody,'” I wrote about the hard work over many years Jim Gibson put into the creating of the iris. Being so difficult to achieve a good pink plicata flower, it was much to everyone’s surprise that 'April Melody' proved to be a prolific parent from him, leading to the creating of many fine and interesting variations of the pink plicata pattern. Needless to say, other American hybridizers quickly realized that 'April Melody' was a great parent and could be used in a variety of ways to create new colors and patterns.

Just as she had done with the early Paul Cook neglectas and amoenas, Melba Hamblen in Roy, Utah quickly used a first generation child of 'April Melody,' 'Porta Villa,' with a plicata seedling out of her yellow and blue bicolor breeding. The resulting bicolor plicata, 'Capricious,' was a hit, moving the warm toned plicatas into a new direction. It went on to win an Award of Merit from the American Iris Society.

Capricious image by Barry Blyth

On the East Coast, Dr. Charlie Nearpass had been making crosses with 'New Adventure,' the iris that started Jim Gibson on his quest for pink plicatas. He in turn took his work and crossed it directly to 'April Melody,' producing 'Rose Tattoo.'
'Rose Tattoo image' by Rosalie Figge

Perhaps the person, beyond Jim Gibson, who has made the greatest use of 'April Melody' is Keith Keppel, once of Stockton, California and now living and hybridizing in Salem, Oregon. He took his 'Montage' and crossed it with 'April Melody,' resulting in 'Roundup' (the iris, not the chemical). Some of us can remember the 10,000 seedlings Keith raised from 'Roundup.' From that line, I will mention only four of the warm toned children. 'Gigolo' is brightly colored and was popular and much used by other hybridizers. More recently, Keith has introduced other pink plicatas such as 'Musician' and his Dykes winning 'Drama Queen.'

'Roundup' image by Bluebird Haven Iris Garden

'Gigolo' image by unknown photographer

'Musician' image by Perry Dyer

'Drama Queen' image by Russian Iris Society

Using the Keppel and the Gibson irises, Joe Ghio of Santa Cruz and Australia’s Barry Blyth went into the pink plicata business. A recent examples of Joe Ghio’s warm toned plicatas include 'Epicenter' and his 2016 introduction 'All By Design.'

'Epicenter' image by Jeanette Graham

 'All By Design' image by Brad Collins

Barry Blyth produced 'Waiting for George,' an iris that I found useful when combined with the pink plicatas that I had created out of the Gibson and Keppel lines.

'Waiting for George' image by Barry Blyth

While the focus recently has been on the lined and the multi-banded wave varieties, other hybridizers have produced lovely pink plicatas including Terry Aitken’s 'Celtic Woman.'

'Celtic Woman' image by Terry Aitken

While it might not appear to be an 'April Melody' descendant, one of my all-time favorite Schreiner plicata introductions, 'I’ve Got Rhythm,' traces back to 'April Melody.'

'I’ve Got Rhythm' image by Schreiner's Gardens

And today’s irises continue the legacy of 'April Melody' either directly or indirectly. As Keith Keppel wrote to me in email, “And how far beyond 'April Melody' do you want to go?   It's a mini-version of trying to list 'Snow Flurry' descendants!  All the Gibson stuff that is descended from it, virtually all of my tangerine (and some other) plic (and luminata, glaciata) stuff.  And then Ghio began using mine, as did Barry and it went on from there (as well as their using Gibson stuff direct).”


  1. Very interesting! So few good iris minds exist today and I always enjoy absorbing these wonderful paragraphs of information.

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