Monday, October 8, 2018

The Diversity of Color in Louisiana Irises - "Unusual" Colors

by Ron Killingsworth

I have written previous “blogs” about the diversity of color in Louisiana iris blooms, in which we looked at specific colors.  Today I want to show you some of my favorite “unusual color” irises.  I use the term “unusual” but could use “odd” or “strange” instead.  Of course, what I call “unusual” someone else would call “normal”.  So, let us just say I find them to be “unusual” colors or colors not often found in Louisiana irises.  That does not in any way imply that I don’t like them.  I think my comments below will prove otherwise.

‘Annette Brown’ (Harry Wolford 2013) is registered as bright yellow stands and bright yellow, heavily veined, falls.  The pod parent is ‘Splitter Splatter’ (D.R. Graves 2004), which has unknown parents.  ‘Splitter Splatter’ is shown below.  The pollen parent, also shown below, is ‘Bayou Tiger’ (K. Strawn 1993).  Neither of the parents are even close to the same color as ‘Annette Brown’.

‘Bayou Tiger’ is a favorite among Louisiana growers who are also LSU fans.  The colors are very close the LSU tiger colors.  I have a hard time keeping enough of this iris because every person who visits wants some of it.

‘Birthday Suit’ (Patrick O’Connor 2010) is a very pretty pale pink iris with cream/yellow style arms with almost white falls with a pink overlay.  It is very distinctive.  The pod parent is ‘Honey Star’ (J. Hutcinson 1991), which is more cream and buff wine colored.  ‘Honey Star’ is one of my favorites and comes from Australia.

‘Bryce Leigh’ (Frank Chowing 1973) was a real breakthrough with the color and unusual signal, which is golden with maroon bordering the signal.  It won the Mary Swords DeBaillon Award (MSDA) in 1981, the highest award for Louisiana irises.

‘Chocolate City’ (Patrick O’Connor 2011) derived the name from hurricane Katrina, which almost wiped out south LA and MS.  Those around and keeping up with the news during that period (August 2005) can figure out where the name originated.  It is registered as stands and falls beige with rose undertones.  It is certainly an unusual color.  Patrick has hybridized some amazing irises but simply does not get the awards credit he deserves.

‘Dashing Hero’ (Heather Pryor 2004) is another fantastic iris from “down under”.  Heather and Bernard Pryor have produced a lot of beautiful irises in Australia, unfortunately it is almost impossible to import any living plants into that country.  The pollen parent is ‘Our Dorothy’ (Bernard Pryor 1997) and I suspect most of the coloring in ‘Dashing Hero’ came from the pollen parent.

‘Divorcee’ (J. Ghio 2001) is darker in the registration picture but the unusual signals are shown in this photograph.  The registration describes the signal as “deep rose stripe from end of lime line signal”.  The standards are apricot, edged brushed melon and the falls are melon rose.

‘Dr. Dorman’ (Sidney Conger 1872) was named for Caroline Dormon and unfortunately, the last name is properly spelled as Dormon.  Google Caroline Dormon for more information about this great lady or visit the web site of  Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve (known as Briarwood) to learn more about her work with Louisiana irises. ‘Dr. Dorman’ was one of the first Louisiana irises to display the “spray  pattern” around the signals.  It is registered as “stands wild orchid and falls dahlia mauve.”

‘Flash Harry’ (Penny Davis 2008) is another iris from Australia.  It has not received wide distribution but is certainly an “unusual” iris.  It is registered as “wine red” and is a beautify to behold.

‘Foxy One’ (M.D.Faith 2003) is one of the lighter colored irises but it maintains the color well as the days progress.  It is registered as violet to light violet.  It has a beautiful signal with dark violet surrounding the signal and the petals are veined with a darker, almost red, veining.  MD hybridized a lot of lovely irises.

‘Heavenly Glow’ (Richard Morgan 1988) is an older iris but still one of my favorites and an “eye catcher” from way across the garden.  It is registered as “orange red with yellow steeple signal and green style arms”.  Sometimes colors are hard to describe.  What was not described is the beautiful signal, an orange steeple signal surrounded by a darker “red?” with the same color veining on the falls.  It did not receive any of the AIS awards but often wins show awards.

‘Honey Galore’ (Ron Betzer 1999) is registered as orange buff with orange buff style arms that are infused black and green toward the base.  That is a good description although I readily admit I am not very skilled at determining colors, other than basic colors (red, white, blue, green, etc).

‘Hush Money’ (Mary Dunn 1998) has always been one of my favorite irises.  It is registered as “stands cream with blue cast, falls cream, raised gold line signal”and that does not come close to describing this beautiful iris.  First of all, it usually has smaller foliage and flowers than a lot of Louisiana irises.  The stands tend to stand up, although not straight up, more like 45degrees, and the falls tend to gracefully curve down.  It is impossible not to love the iris and the name.  It won a Honorable Mention in 2002 but never progressed any further in the AIS awards system.

iris.fulva dwarf – I wanted to post this picture because the flower of this species of Louisiana irises has an “unusual” color.  There are plenty of red flowers in the species of Louisiana irises but this one attracted my attention because of the deep black spot where the style arms meet, and because of the red “splotches” and veining.  An interesting example of i.fulva. To learn more about the species of Louisiana Irises just visit this website.

‘I Remember You’ (Harry Wolford 2004) is registered as “light rose pink with falls darker rose pink”.  There is a lot more than that going on in the stands of this iris. The pod parent is ‘Atchafalaya’ (Farron Campbell 1998).  ‘Atchafalaya’ is a cartwheel form in dark red violet and that may be where the color was passed on to ‘I Remember You’, although their flower forms are different.

‘Katrina Dog’ (Patrick O’Connor 2009) is one of the few irises I can find that is registered as “light tan”.  The registration reflects “light tan standards, light green style arms with tan tips, tan falls and yellow arrowhead signal, veined brown, moderately ruffled”.  Again, color is subjective and although I can’t tell you what color this iris is, it just doesn’t seem “tan” to me.  There is a very interesting story behind the name.  Ask Patrick O’Connor about it if you meet him at a convention.  I love irises with a meaningful name.

‘Little Woods’ (Patrick O’Connor 2004) is one of few irises registered as pink.  The bold style arms, the deep dark center of the styles, the wine centered veins – there is just a lot going on in this flower.

‘Louisiana Fascination’ (Charles Arny 1969) is another iris registered as pink.  It is certainly of the older open form and the registration is simple, “dawn pink self”.  The pollen parent is ‘Her Highness’ (Levingston 1957), a collected i.giganticaerulea that is a white self.

‘Mister Sandman’ (Harry Wolford 2007) is certainly an “unusual” color.  It is registered as “pale yellow dusted burgundy at the edges”.  It is certainly an eye catcher and a welcomed relief from irises that are just yellow.

‘Miss Gertie’s Bonnet’ (Dorman Haymon 1999) is a beauty.  You have to love the name, named for Dorman’s Aunt Gertie.  He said it reminds him of the hat shore always wore in the garden. Registered as cream stands and lavender falls, it is certainly a little more complex than that.  It won an Honorable Mention in 2005.

‘N’Orleans Flambeaux’ (Rusty McSparrin 2013) is registered a “yellow” but it looks more orange to me.  I love the color, whatever it is, and the form with upright standards and flaring falls.  Another beauty – but aren’t’ they all?

‘Nadine Sarah’ (D. R. Grieves 2016) is another iris from an Australian hybridizer who has produced many beauties.  It is registered as “pale violet” with fine veining.  It certainly has lots of veining.  The style arms are eye catching.  Let’s face it, there is a lot happening in this flower.

‘Pink Poetry’ (Henry Rowlan 1987) is another beautiful pink iris with outstandingly beautiful signals surrounded by a darker, almost red, color with creamy white style arms.  Quite an unusual iris for 1987 and still a beauty today, some 30 years later.

‘Splitter Splatter’ (D. R. Grieves 2004) is an “oddity” in anyone’s book.  The splotches of color vary from flower to flower but are always present in some form.  Again, how do you describe something like this for registration purposes?  I love this iris and try to keep it growing in three or four different beds.

‘Summer Symphony’ (Heather Pryor 1997) is registered as lemon stands and yellow falls but described as “soft lemon stands, burnt red blush on edge, style arms apricot lemon, falls yellow base with terra cotta blush at edge with lemon rim”.  It is certainly all of that and much more.  Ya gotta love it.

‘Tchoupitoulas’ (Patrick O’Connor 2002) is really, in my opinion, odd!  The colors are different from just about any iris I have photographed.  Pronounced CHOP-i-TOO-las, it is a street in New Orleans, LA, and comes from the name of an extinct Indian tribe.  Patrick has named many irises for many things in South Louisiana.  To me the distinctive and “unusual” signal, described as “red violet”, is the most remarkable part of the flower.  The flower is certainly a thing of beauty and the name is really “unusual” also.  Patrick used to own Zydeco Nursery in Metairie, LA, so what can I say?  He lives close to the Atachafalaya Basin.  His tongue must stay twisted.

‘Under Radar’ (Patrick O’Connor 2011)  I just realized that a lot of these “unusual” irises were hybridized by the same person, whose name we won’t mention.  No, Patrick is a great person and a hard working member of the Society for Louisiana Irises.  ‘Under Radar’ is registered as “yellow stands and amber falls”.  They look more orange to me.  It has beautiful green style arms and a “green dagger” signal surrounded by a yellow “sunburst”.  The linage is really complex.  Check it out if you have access to the registration information.

‘Venus Vortex’ (Heather Pryor 1998) is really something!  It would be hard for anyone to describe everything happening in this iris.  I really like the white spray pattern on the petals.  It has the same pod and pollen parent.  Unusual, yes - but I love it.

‘Rooster’ (Ron Betzer 2013) is certainly an “unusual color” for any flower.  It is registered as “yellow” but I see many more colors in the petals, especially the falls. It has serrated edges on the petals while the signals are barely visible among the falls, which are almost as golden as the signals.  How can you describe such a beauty?  It won an Honorable Mention in 2017.

To learn more about Louisiana irises, visit here.
To learn more about other irises, visit here.


  1. Quality photos and just enough text to tempt us iris addicts!
    Kudos to those that provide content for these blogs and a great big thank you to you, Bryce, for organizing and soliciting these wonderful and informative posts! It is appreciated.

    1. Thank you Phil. Getting positive feedback encourages the writers to keep writing. Glad you enjoyed the "blog".

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