Monday, June 18, 2018

Spurias in Oregon - Part II

By Kevin Vaughn

I was most happy that the seedlings had taken after ‘Banned in Boston’ for having large and wide flowers as seedlings from the oranges can often be small, harking back to small-flowered  ‘Elixir’, which is behind most of the oranges. The best of these flowers were sib-crossed to see what will come next from this most interesting group.
As hybridizers we try for things we don’t have already.  Dave Niswonger has pursued pink for a while and others have gone after red.  When Lee Walker’s ’Red War Clouds’ first bloomed for me I was impressed at how much further towards red this spuria was than its predecessors.   A look at the pedigree showed that it had the red and pink approaches developed by others (‘Zulu Chief,’ ‘Countess Zeppelin’ and ‘Pink Candles) so the genes were there for further improvement.  Although the flower was not large, it was rather nicely formed and the plant grew well. Just down the bed from ‘Red War Clouds’ was Barry Blyth’s ‘Mahogany Lord’.

Spuria seedling (and photo) by Kevin Vaughn
‘Mahogany Lord’ is an odd shade, purple sort of flushed red, giving a maroon effect. On paper this looked like a match made in Heaven, as both were approaches to red and hopefully the effect of both would be redder yet.’Mahogany Lord’ was also a bigger, wider flower so improvements in size and form could also result.   Almost 200 seedlings resulted from the crosses, done in both directions. Let’s just say it was easy to dig out the good ones. It was a very sad lot for both form and color. Most were small flowers with rather muddy brown colors predominating. Only one was saved as a slight improvement in color and had at least acceptable form. It will never be introduced but it might be useful as a parent down the road. I should say that ‘Red War Clouds’ is not a horrible parent as I had just 4 seedlings from ‘Lucky Devil’ X ‘Red War Clouds’ and all were nice, not red, but nice dark purples with good form.  Two of these were sib-crossed in an effort to recover the red. I also used Terry Aitken’s lovely ‘Hot Chili’ with these seedlings, so there may be red in my future yet. Several years ago Dave Niswonger commented that he often made crosses that on paper would think you were progressing towards pink and getting nothing close but in a cross not intended for pink they appeared. I suddenly knew exactly how he felt!
A group of spuria seedlings (and photo) by Kevin Vaughn

This year all the selected seedlings from previous years bloomed well and I hope to make final selections of a number of seedlings from the last 4 bloom seasons. These mostly involve crosses of ‘Banned in Boston’ and ‘Angel’s Smile’ crossed to other colors, to take advantage of the form and branching habits of these hybrids.   Most of these crosses gave siblings of similar quality so final decisions will be made based upon bud counts and vigor as well as beauty of the flowers. Seedlings from intercrossing these selections should bloom this spring to see if any of these plants are also going to be yielding parents.

From the Editor: This article first appeared in Spuria News, the bi-annual newsletter by the Spuria Irises Society. Part I, can be found here. Reprinted by permission of the author. The Spuria Iris Society is a section of The American Iris Society, and is dedicated to expanding the public's knowledge of spuria iris. For more information about growing spuria irises and/or becoming a member of the society please visit their website.

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