Monday, July 9, 2018

California Dreaming 2--Bay View Gardens

By Bryce Williamson

Joe Ghio has been hybridizing irises for more than 50 years and is the proprietor of Bay View Gardens in Santa Cruz. While he has dabbled in other types of irises including Spurias and Louisianas, he is best known for his work with tall bearded and Pacific Coast Native irises. This spring I was able to not only visit the home garden—spread over a vacant lot and the backyards of the two house next to his house—but also the “farm” at Freedom, California. While part of the farm is rented out to a blackberry grower, Joe does have long rows of irises and seedling there.

Joe was already an established hybridizer of tall bearded irises when he decided to breed Pacific Coast Natives. His foundation irises included seed and species collected in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the early days when Joe first started working with PCN’s, the flower had thin petals. If I had scheduled a visit to see them and it rained or Santa Cruz had high winds, I would have to reschedule since the flowers would be tattered. Not any longer the case—although still diploids, Joe has made major strides forward in flower durability and his recent hybrids hold up in wind and rain.

And the other amazing thing is the array of colors today. He has plicatas, bicolors, various lined flowers, and flowers with a contrasting eye at the heart of the flowers. The soft yellow and blue combinations are especially interesting. With this work, Joe has revitalized the interest in this group of irises. Sadly for many who will read this blog, the growing area for these lovely creations is limited.

Two Northern California hybridizers in the last 50 years have had a major impact on flower form. I have written in the past about Joe Gatty’s lovely creations and Joe’s huge, flower form changing work has been with “bubble ruffling.” Gone are the plain, tailored flowers of yester year and in are flowers with deeply ruffling and fluting. Joe’s bubble ruffled flowers forced all other tall bearded hybridizers to work ruffling into their creations.

Joe did win the Dykes Memorial Medal with ‘Mystique’, but I think judges missed another one of his early creations—‘Lady Friend’. I put it on the short list of irises that should have won the Dykes. It is an enduring creation that continues to be very popular today and one of those unique colors that has not been duplicated.

The following images are of some of Joe’s more recent creations.

Any one interesting in buying from Bay View Gardens can send $3.00 for a color catalogue to 1201 Bay Street, Santa Cruz, California 95060. Joe ships bearded irises in July and August and PCN’s in late October or November.

Editor’s note: This is the second part of my ‘On the Road Again’ blogs. The pervious one was about Nola’s iris garden and next in line will be Fleur de Lis at Modesto, California.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Developing More Color Patterns Into Rebloomers

by Ginny Spoon

'Little John' -- photo by Ginny Spoon

One of the goals of an iris hybridizer is developing new hybrids with richer colors and new color patterns. When we crossed 'Damsel' with 'Queen Dorothy' one of the results was our 'Little John'. It was a cross of a non reblooming iris with one that was a reliable rebloomer  (Queen Dorothy) in our colder zone 6. 'Damsel' is a lavender pink with a tangerine beard and has not been reported to rebloom in any zone, so that is what we call a rebloom carrier. You can see by the photo that is where 'Little John' gets its lovely color combination.  'Queen Dorothy' is a plicata and have gotten  plicatas and variegated flowers out of crosses with 'Little John'.

'Liquid Amber' -- photo by Ginny Spoon

Taking our 'Little John' and crossing it with another warm climate rebloomer, 'Lady Juliet' (zone 7), we got our reliable zone 6 rebloomer 'Liquid Amber'.  Don has long admired the West Coast hybridizer, the late  Monty Byers, who used cold climate rebloomers for crosses with the warmer zone rebloomers to develop better form and color patterns. Raymond Smith from the Midwest and Lloyd Zurbrigg from Canada and then the east coast also used this method to produce more modern cold climate rebloomers.

'Daughter of Stars' -- photo by Ginny Spoon

Our Wister Medal 'Daughter of Stars' is a good example of a cross with a cold climate rebloomer ('Clarence') by a carrier ('Mind Reader') producing not only a zone 6 rebloomer but a lovely luminata pattern as well. The lovely pink 'Vanity' by Ben Hager is another carrier that has been reported to rebloom in the warmer zones is in the parentage of many cold climate rebloomers. 'Starring' a beautiful non rebloomer by 'Daughter of Stars' produced a lovely cold climate rebloomer, 'Starring Encore'.

'Starring Encore' -- photo by Ginny Spoon

Immortality' --  photo by Ginny Spoon

Taking Midsummer's Eve X Fancy Woman (another carrier) we got BB 'Twiggy' a much better formed pink.  Both 'Twiggy' and our 'Love Goes On', both prolific rebloomers here, have produced early rebloomers with more saturated colors and more modern form. 'Love Returns' (Twiggy X Love Goes On ) is a good example. 'Midsummer's Eve' has 'Immortality' in its parentage.

 'Vanity' -- photo by Ginny Spoon

Don tried over 25 crosses of pinks with the cold climate rebloomer 'Immortality' before he finally got our BB RE 'Midsummer's Eve' While not the best form, 'Midsummer's Eve' has been the parent of many reliable and beautiful cold climate rebloomers.

 'Twiggy' -- photo by Ginny Spoon

'Love Returns' -- photo by Ginny Spoon

I have to relate a story about when 'Little John' was just a seedling. When Don was first hybridizing, and before we were married, he planted his seedlings surrounding his office of the Georgetown Observatory on the campus at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. where he taught Biology and Ecology. He also planted his excess seedlings in the Historic Colonial Farm in Accokeek, MD just across the river from Mt. Vernon. 

When the seedlings were blooming we would go and evaluate those we thought worthy of introduction. When I first saw 'Little John' it was love at first sight. We didn't have any tools with us and I wanted to take a piece home with me, but the ground was so dry that it was as hard as concrete. I would not be deterred so I took a rock and chipped out a few rhizomes and planted them in our garden in Cross Junction, Virginia. The next spring, we had a show stalk with 9 buds and perfect branching. Don said, "Get the shovel, we are going to get the rest!"

            Future introduction, reblooms in zone 6 -- photo by Ginny Spoon

This is a cross of a reblooming seedling from Daughter of Stars X Autumn Explosion. So, from a cross of a non rebloomer back in the parentage that produced a strong cold climate rebloomer, then crossed on another cold climate rebloomer, we have quit a lovely pattern and color combination on a reblooming iris.

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