Monday, August 19, 2019

2019 CG White Medal

The American Iris Society

'Dubai'--image by Paul Black

'Dubai' ( Thomas Johnson, R. 2013) AB, OGB. Seedling TC229A. AB (OGB+), 33 (84 cm), Early to midseason bloom. Standards and style arms light lilac-purple; Falls light strawberry-rose, large red-black signal; beards yellow-orange; slight fragrance. 'Lancer' x 'Energizer'. Mid-America 2013. Honorable Mention 2015. Award of Merit 2017.

Since 1993, the Clarence G. White memorial medal has been awarded to the best arilbred iris with 1/2 or more aril ancestry. When Clarence G. White began his work with aril irises, little was known about the complexity of iris genetics. White assembled the largest collection of aril irises in the world, and conducted thousands of breeding experiments to obtain viable, fertile seedlings. One of his goals was to develop strong, pure Oncocylus hybrids.

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ron Mullin

By Phil Williams

I had planned a 3 day visit last month to visit my alert iris friend of 50 years Ron Mullin, former president of The American Iris Society.  The only flight out was canceled just as I was leaving for the airport. This week my journey back to Pawnee, Oklahoma is for his memorial service.  It will be my fourth and perhaps last visit to his adopted hometown.

Image from AIS archives
He was a kind and gentle man.  A man who visited and cared for his mother for her entire lifetime, traveling west to Marlow continuously.  Ron was a giver – to his family and every iris grower who crossed his path.

An amateur hybridizer, he won the Wister Medal with the beautiful pastel plicata 'Rhonda Fleming'.  Rhonda (the famous singer and actress who thrilled my parents when dating) is still very much alive and will be so saddened to learn of his passing.  After entering the nursing home, we would try to visit on the phone frequently until he could no longer keep the handset to his ear.

Without her knowledge, Rhonda herself will be a part of the funeral service.  Her beautiful voice could give life to a sacred hymn as well as the likes of George and Ira Gershwin. She and Ron visited by phone and writing letters frequently.

Ron always enjoyed sitting around the piano making requests and was more than surprised that I knew most of those ancient pop tunes.  He always said he wished we lived closer so that I could play at his funeral!

We are only 700 miles apart … and I will honor his wish, Lord willing! There will be hymns … and a bit of Gershwin .... many of the tunes recorded by Rhonda decades ago.

'Rhonda Fleming'--image by Evgeny Nazarov
Perhaps Ron is now in the midst of Mary Dunn, Kay Nelson, Melba Hamblen, Bob Schreiner, and a giant gathering of deceased iris friends that brought him such joy! On the other side might a simple wish for a garden filled with iris suddenly materialize?

Ron suffered many long years in a lovely, clean, and modern care facility in Pawnee staffed by many of his former high school students.  His former school superintendent and wife (Ned and Carolyn Williams) have cared for him all these years simply because they knew the importance of putting their love in action.  They are his living, breathing, mortal angels. What endless misery would have been his without these amazing two mortals!

The memorial service is scheduled for 11:00 am, Saturday, August  24 at Poteete Funeral Home, 600 Illinois Street, Pawnee, Oklahoma.

If you need further details, you may call the funeral home @ 918-762-2557.

Perhaps I will get to see some of you there. Ron was buried in Marlow, Oklahoma beside his Mother and Dad.

2019 Caparne-Welch Medal

The American Iris Society
The Caparne-Welch Medal 2019

'Beedlejuice'--image by Paul Black

'Beetlejuice' (Paul Black, R. 2013) Seedling #Q80F. MDB, 7.5 (19 cm). Early to midseason bloom and rebloom. Standards pale buff-pink, mid red-violet plicata stitched edge, random dotting over center, dark purple-black midrib; style arms red-grape crest and midrib, light rose edge; falls buff-cream, widely spaced purple-black eye lash lines along beards extending 3/4 way down falls, grape sanding on outer edge of haft; beards red-orange in throat, mid-orange in middle, white ends, hairs based white; slight sweet fragrance. 'Chart' X 'Kaching'. Mid-America 2013. Honorable Mention 2015, Award Of Merit 2017.

This medal is restricted to miniature dwarf bearded (MDB) irises. It is named in honor of William John Caparne (1855-1940) and Walter Welch (1887-1980). Caparne worked extensively breeding various dwarf iris species and was the first iris hybridizer to concentrate on smaller irises. Most of the dwarf iris cultivars grown in gardens in the first quarter of the 20th century were products of Caparne's hybridizing efforts. Walter Welch was the founder of the Dwarf Iris Society. After moving to Middlebury, Indiana, he met Paul Cook and began hybridizing irises. He shared Cook's enthusiasm for dwarf irises, and set out to develop new forms for the garden.

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES

Saturday, August 17, 2019

2019 Cook-Douglas Medal Winner

 The American Iris Society
Announces the
2019 Cook-Douglas Medal Winner
‘Raspberry Ice’

'Raspberry Ice' (Keith Keppel, R. 2011) Seedling# 05-20F. SDB, 15" (38 cm), Midseason bloom. Standards buff rose (M&P 3-CD-8) shading to orchid (43-FG-7) toward base; style arms buff rose; falls apricot cream (9-B-4) ground, 3/8" blended buff rose and orchid band, shoulders peppered and veined darker greyed orchid (45-I-3); beards candy pink (2-H-10) and pale orchid (42-G-2) giving rusty coral effect. Seedling# 01-18C: (seedling# 99-24A, 'Arvo' sibling x seedling# 99-24H) X seedling #98-25N: ('Music' x 'Stormy Circle'). Keppel, 2012. HM 2014, AM 2016.

This medal is restricted to standard dwarf bearded (SDB) irises. It is named in honor of Paul Cook (1891-1963) and Geddes Douglas (1902-1993). Paul Cook's work with dwarf irises was truly pioneering. His early breeding of dwarf irises led to a series of I. arenaria hybrids. He was the first to use the true I. pumila in his breeding programs, and this resulted in the introduction of the first of the great stud irises in the standard dwarf class. Geddes Douglas was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1902. Douglas's historically most important hybridizing achievements were with dwarf irises. Working with stock from Paul Cook, Douglas's crosses of I pumila with tall bearded irises created the race of irises that came to be known as 'lilliputs.'

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES.

Friday, August 16, 2019

2019 Williamson-White Medal Winner

The American Iris Society
The 2019 Williamson-White Medal

'Gesundheit'--image by Terry Aitken

'Gesundheit' (Charles Bunnell, R. 2011) Seedling #Q110-1. MTB, 20-22 (5136 cm), Early midseason bloom. Standards and style arms bright yellow, irregular purple specks; falls slightly lighter yellow, random small purple streaks; beards bright yellow. Seedling #H25-1: (seedling #D45-1: ('Lucky Mistake' x 'Zebra') x seedling #C39-12: ('Welch's Reward' x unknown)) X 'Opal Imp'. Aitken's Salmon Creek 2012. Honorable Mention 2014, Award of Merit 2017.

This medal is restricted to miniature tall bearded (MTB) irises. It is named in honor of E. B. Williamson (1877-1933), his daughter Mary Williamson (1909-1987) and Alice White (1886-1969). Although others had introduced irises that fit into the miniature tall bearded iris class before Williamson, he and his daughter were the first to breed them as cultivars in a distinctive class of irises. They were apparently byproducts of breeding for tall bearded irises. In the early 1950's, Alice White of Hemet, California began a crusade to gain recognition of the assets of these wonderful smaller irises. She organized table iris robins and wrote many articles for the AIS Bulletin and gardening magazines promoting their virtues.

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

2019 Sass Medal Winner

 The American Iris Society
Announces the
2018 Hans and Jacob Sass Medal Winner
'Leave the Light On'
Riley Probst

This medal is restricted to intermediate bearded (IB) irises. It is named in honor of Hans Sass (1868-1949) and Jacob Sass (1872-1945). Both of the Sass brothers bred all types of irises that would grow in Nebraska, but their early fame as hybridizers came for their work producing intermediate bearded irises. Crossing dwarf irises with tall bearded irises, they were the first American breeders to develop many new colors and forms in the intermediate class. They saw the great advantage of intermediate bearded irises on the windy prairie, and the value of a type of iris that filled out the bloom season between the early dwarf irises and the later tall bearded irises.

Image by Hugh Stout
Seedling #U4WHXHM. IB, 22 (56 cm), Early, midseason and late bloom. Standards blue-purple with 1/16th gold edge; style arms bright yellow, vertical purple veining on style crests; falls blue-purple luminata pattern, bright yellow area with 1/4" white spear extending downward from beard; beards orange; pronounced sweet fragrance. 'Wild Hair' X 'High Master'. Fleur de Lis Garden 2013. Honorable Mention 2015. Award Of Merit 2017.

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

2019 Knowlton Medal

The American Iris Society Announces
The 2019 Knowlton Medal Winner
'My Cher of Happiness'

This medal is restricted to border bearded (BB) irises. It is named in honor of Harold W. Knowlton (1888-1968) of Auburndale, Massachusetts, a tireless promoter of the border bearded class of irises. 

Image by Paul Black
'My Cher Of Happiness' (Paul Black, R. 2013). Seedling #R189A. BB, 27" (69 cm). Late midseason bloom. Standards mid-pink, pale crystalline light ecru rim; style arms mid peach-pink; Falls ivory, blended 3/4" pale butter-yellow band, light mauve veins over haft, green textured veins; beard hairs based white, tips tangerine; slight sweet fragrance; heavily ruffled and laced. Seedling #!P85B: ('Lipstick Kiss' x seedling #L47A: ('Queen Anne's Lace' x 'LaRue Boswell')) X 'Always Lovely'. Mid-America 2013. Honorable Mention 2015. Award of Merit 2017.

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The 2019 Wister Medal Winners

The American Iris Society Announces
The 2019 Wister Medal Winners

'Autumn Explosion'
'Daring Deception'

This medal is restricted to tall bearded (TB) irises. It is named in honor of John C. Wister. Three medals are awarded each year.

John C. Wister led the organizing meeting that created the American Iris Society and became its first president, a position he held for fourteen years. He guided the society through its formative years.

This year's three Wister Medals are:

'Autumn Explosion' by Rick Tasco:

Image by K. Brewitt
Early midseason bloom and rebloom. Standards warm white ground covered with red pansy-purple (RHS 83A) dots becoming almost solid towards the edges; style arms pansy-purple ridges, light lavender-white middle, lime-yellow edge, fringed pansy-purple crests; Falls cold-white ground covered with darker red pansy-purple dots becoming darker towards the edges, speckling intensity can vary from flower to flower; beard hairs based white, tips golden-yellow in middle and throat, purple-white at end; sweet fragrance; lightly ruffled. 'Mariposa Autumn' X 'Celestial Explosion'. Superstition 2013. Honorable Mention 2015. Award of Merit 2017.

'Daring Deception' by Thomas Johnson:

Image by Paul Black
Midseason bloom. Standards white, light violet wash up midrib; style arms white; falls plush violet, wide white band, white spray on either side of beard; beards tangerine; slight fragrance. 'By Jeeves' X Blyth seedling# O77-A: ('Hold My Hand' x 'Brave Face'). Mid-America 2012. Honorable Mention 2014. Award of Merit 2016.

'Insaniac' by Thomas Johnson:

Image by Paul Black

Midseason bloom. Standards white, pencil thin gold halo; style arms white, yellow edged crests; falls white overlaid with red violet lines radiating out to wide rimmed yellow-white edge; beards tangerine; slight fragrance. 'Bright Sunshiny Day' sibling X ' Painter's Touch'. Mid-America 2012. Honorable Mention 2014, Award of Merit 2016.

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dykes Medal 2019

 The American Iris Society
Announces the
2019 Dykes Medal Winner
‘Bottle Rocket’
Mike Sutton 2009

First awarded in 1927, the Dykes Medal is the highest award of the AIS, awarded to no more than one iris per year. Irises are eligible as a Dykes Medal candidate for three years following the winning of a classification medal. Only AIS registered judges may vote.

'Bottle Rocket' -- image by Colleen Modra
The American Iris Society is pleased to announce the 2019 winner is Mike Sutton’s ‘Bottle Rocket'. While the iris was created in California, under the AIS rules this will become the first Dykes Medal winner for Idaho.

The Dykes Medal is named for William Rickatson Dykes, an English botanist, horticulturist, schoolmaster, plant breeder, author, and the foremost authority on irises at the turn of the Twenty Century. He became the world's leading authority on iris. His insatiable curiosity led him to obtain a wide knowledge of many other plants, but his chief interest was in the lily, iris, and amaryllis natural orders. He also did much work with tulips, and his knowledge of them was comparable to his knowledge of iris. W.R. Dykes was also a prolific author. In 1909 he began to plan and work on his monograph, The Genus Iris. He worked on this project for 5 years.

On December 1, 1925, W.R. Dykes died as a result of a motor accident. His work had only begun, for he was on the threshold of greater achievements as demonstrated by his glorious yellow seedling which was named for him. His death was a shock and a Ioss to the entire world of gardeners. At a meeting of the British Iris Society held on June 16, 1926 it was resolved to award a medal to the hybridizer of the outstanding iris variety of each year in memory of Mr. Dykes and thus the Dykes Medal was created. It has become the most highly coveted, highly prized iris award dreamed of by all iris hybridizers. This is the highest iris award available and its name, the Dykes Medal, keeps his name alive and warm in all our hearts.

The World of Irises blog will be posting once a day all of the medal winners. The entire list of winners can be found at the AIS website, the AIS Encyclopedia and later in the AIS Bulletin, IRISES.

Monday, August 5, 2019


by Dawn Mumford

Part of the Mumford Iris Patch

I wrote a blog for this AIS blogspot September 26th, 2016 by using my right index finger on my Kindle Fire tablet. I used only one finger because both my arms were broken and I had a sling on each arm. I sat at the table and braced my right arm on the table and did the hunt and peck method because my right index finger was the only one strong enough to push on the keys.  This is the link if you want to read it.  A New Perspective.  A few blogs later I wrote my last blog until today.  It was written July 3rd, 2017.  Please read that if you want the whole story.  Here is the link, A Fond Farewell to Tall Bearded Irises.

I feel the need to update you on the things that happened after that last blog.  Our property and home that my husband and I built were put on the real estate market.  They sold in 2017.  With both my arms broken I needed to go somewhere to heal .  We stayed three weeks at one sons house with his family.  Neal and I then moved to a Senior Living cottage.  The kitchen staff brought three meals a day to our apartment.  That was necessary because of the arm slings and Neal's Alzheimer's disease.  Three months later we moved to another city where another son had purchased a home but wasn't going to move into it for another six months.  Then on his arrival we went back to the Senior Living Cottage.

It was now near Christmas time in 2017.  We celebrated as a family knowing that this would be Neal's last Christmas with us.  On Christmas Eve we celebrated the birth and life of Christ.  We took family pictures, had a wonderful dinner, and reenacted the nativity with the grandchildren acting out the parts of shepherds, angels, wise men, Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus played by the youngest great grand baby. Neal's eyes reflected that fact that he was fully conscious for the first time in months.  He felt the love of his children, grandchildren, and one great grandchild surrounding him.  It was on Christmas Eve 4 hours after the family picture was taken that Neal passed away.  It actually was a peaceful season for that to happen. It was bitter sweet.  I had been his caregiver for seven years and he and I were both tired.

Wise men, baby Jesus, and shepherd boy

Now I was a widow after having been married for 49 years.  My dream home and property had been sold.  My irises were no more.  The hardest part of the irises is that the couple that bought our property didn't tell me until too late that their plans were to disc under all the irises.  (I can hear the collective groan as you are reading this)  It was, by then, too late in the year to move them.  We were expecting a hard frost any day.

This was the home and property that I had to sell. 

Willard Bay is the body of water to the west.  It was in northern Utah.  The boundaries of the 5.5 acres are in red and the dormant iris patch is in green.

I am still living in the senior living cottage while my son and I remodel a home next door to his home.  It has room for just a super small number of iris when I am ready to start over.  I plan on moving there some time in the next 6 months.  

That is the update and now it is time to discuss irises.  I plan on talking about my favorite yellow irises.  Yellow in the garden is beautiful.  Your eye is drawn to the yellows.  It is a happy , sunny color.   

It is easy to track the yellows with your eyes in your garden.

Creamy soft yellows can be calming.  Some yellows can overpower like an old iris I had that was called Dazzling Gold.

'Dazzling Gold' D. C. Anderson, 1977, Historic, may be obsolete 

This irises' color is so intense that it can effectively block other blooms from being seen.  It can be used in small quantities and perhaps used in a small somewhat shady area or perhaps subdued by other bold plants around it.  It is beautiful however.

'Gold  Trimmings' Schreiner's, 1973, Historic

This one is very old but I find it warm and calming.  It has a large, graceful bloom.  

'Salzburg Echo' Schreiner's, 2009, heavy substance

This is probably my favorite yellow and I got it by mistake.  I had ordered a group of Dykes Medal winners and got this instead of 'Splashacata'.  The well known vendor I got it from corrected their mistake and said I could keep this one.  I love the heavy substance, which means the petals of the standards and falls are thick.  It is believed that the heavier substance allows the bloom to last longer.  It withstands the wind and rain better.  The form is lovely.  

'Expose' Joseph Ghio, 2003, Honorable Mention 2006, Award of Merit 2008

This iris is unique.  We had over 600 different irises but while walking in the iris patch I never had to look at a list or map or marker to identify this iris.  This iris is interesting and fun in the garden.

'Golden Panther' Richard Tasco,  2000,  Honorable Mention 2002, Award of Merit 
2004, Presidents Cup at 2004 AIS convention,  Wister Cup in 2006, Dykes Medal in 2009

Beautiful in every way.  This iris looks different in different lights.  Highly recommended by me.  

'That's All Folks' William Maryott, Joseph Ghio, 2004, Honorable Mention 2007, Award of Merit 2009, Wister Medal 2011, American Dykes Medal 2013

Just perfect!  Whenever an iris wins the Dykes Medal you know it is a good one.  It is healthy, strong, disease resistant, able to grow in multiple climates around the country and many other criteria.  Only one iris per year wins the Dykes Medal and it is the top award of the American Iris Society.  Irises are eligible as a Dykes Medal candidate for three years following winning a classification medal.  Only AIS accredited judges may vote for the award. 

'Tiger Honey' Brad Kasperek, 1993, broken color 

This is still one of my favorite broken color irises.  This iris has nice form and colors.

Notice all yellow's catch your eye in the photograph above.  

'Golden Legacy' Gerald Richardson,  2013

This iris is one that I only had for a couple years before I moved.  It spaced itself nicely on the stem.  It is a little more muted in color than I usually go for.  Nice form.

'Sky Hooks' M. Osborne, 1979, Historic, Space Ager because it has horns on the end of the beard

This was one of the first irises I bought back in the 1980's.  I liked the hooks on the end of the beard.  Again a nice form too.  

When I first decided to write on yellow irises, I thought I didn't have very many.  I had 16 other yellow iris with nice pictures that I could have added.  I mostly looked in the photographs taken in the last few years.  It has been a pleasure to think and write about irises again.  I hope in the future to write about my favorite oranges and reds.  What are your favorite yellows?

Collage created for this blog as an extra

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

American Iris Society News

The American Iris Society Registrars are pleased to announce that the Iris Register ( has been updated to include the 2018 Registrations and Introductions. It also contains the names currently entered into the 2019 database as registered or reserved.

AIS eMembers now have access to the AIS Summer issue of Irises and also the prior 6 issues of the Bulletin. Those issues are now available for reading online in a new format that does not require Adobe Flash.

The 69th regular issue of the AIS News & Notes is now live.

A special note:  With the launch of the new AIS Website (, some of the links in previous issues of News & Notes will no longer work.  All the ones in this issue point to the proper locations. In particular, use the Symposium Ballot links in this issue, not the earlier ones.

Additionally, any personal bookmarks you may have created into the old AIS website will no longer work. You should navigate through the new home page to establish new bookmarks to your favorite locations.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Location, Location, Location

By Bryce Williamson

Although I have been growing irises for over 55 years, I learn something new every iris season, or a lesson from the past is reinforced. In the last few years it is the term “location, location, location” and my discovery that it not only applies to real estate but also to gardening.

'Lavender Moonbeams'--Rick Tasco image
Two years ago, I decided to add three I. unguicularis, sometimes called the Algerian iris, to the garden, but my acquiring the plants coincided with my breaking six ribs and having to find a spot for the gardeners to plant them while I healed. The location was not ideal—my first lesson was that I should have found a location where I walk every day, not in a bed where I can go days without looking at the plants. The second thing I learned, and it is a recommendation for other gardeners who might like to grow these winter flowering irises, was find ‘Lavender Moonbeams’ because it flowered well.

Last year I made the decision to move the irises from the backyard into the front yard. No irises have grown there in seven or eight years and I expected them to do well in this new location. I had learned my lesson from the past and fertilized more heavily and add organic matter to the soil. That we did by moving 7 yards of potting soil mix into an area 600 square feet and a fifty pound bag of 15-15-15 was also spread over the area; however, I tend to over plant and as a result, I ran out of room and needed to plant my arilbreds in a different bed by the walk.

I had Reynaldo hand dig the bed with a bag of potting soil, but as the arilbreds grew and then bloomed, they bloomed poorly. My lesson was that they needed more fertilizer and one bag of potting soil for even that small area was not enough. I’ve also learned that my tendency to want to replant 4 rhizomes of a variety needs to be curbed—I may have to settle for 3 rhizomes! I will have to watch myself or the 1200 square foot area we are preparing in the backyard will not be enough.

I have always thought that where I bought plants and bulbs determined the quality of the product. A couple of years ago, I decided to add some reticulates to the garden and, for once, I got the location right—along the front of the sidewalk where I walk at least 6 times ago. I picked up a cheap bag of Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ from Costco and went to the most expensive and best of Silicon Valley’s remaining nurseries—the dwindling number of plant nurseries here is another story—for other colors and into the ground they went. I’m on the second year and ‘Harmony’ has bloomed well, though I learned that I should have planted the bulbs more closely together, and it is thriving, but the more expensive plants have grown and only thrown up a couple of flowers. There does not seem to be a tight connection between price and quality of the bulbs.

Sometimes I get the location right by mistake. Every few years, I scrounge the nurseries for Dutch iris, buying a dozen of each variety that I can find. They do well the first years, but fail to naturalize for a variety of reason. The amazing exception is ‘Sky Wing’, a soft lavender-blue that loves it location and flowers every year. It is planted at the edge of the water line for the sprinkler and I thought that location would be a kiss of death, but it likes it there. A large rock anchors that corner of the rose bed and that may help with Sky Wing. (Note that there is a Siberian called Sky Wings too).

With more than fifty springs under my belt for growing irises, each year I learn something new.

The World of Irises is the official blog of The American Iris Society. Now in its 99th year, The American Iris Society exists to promote all types of irises. If you wish to comment on a post, you can do so at the end of the page and the author or the editors will reply. If you wish to learn more about The American Iris Society, follow the link.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

IRISES: The Bulletin of the AIS - Summer 2019 Edition

By Andi Rivarola 

A warm welcome to those who are seeing IRISES, the Bulletin of The American Iris Society for the first time. If you are a member of The American Iris Society I hope you enjoy this new issue.

The Summer issue of the AIS Bulletin will be available online soon, accessible via the Emembers section of the AIS website. The print copy has been mailed via the U.S. Post Office. On the cover, a beautiful iris 'Autumn Explosion' by Rick Tasco, winner of the President's Cup at the AIS 2019 National Convention held in San Ramon, California.

Note: to access this area of the website you must have a current AIS Emembership. (AIS Emembership is separate from the normal AIS membership.) Please see the Electronic Membership Information area of the AIS website for more details.

In this issue...

Don't miss all of the San Ramon, California Convention information such as the convention award winners, on pages 2 and 3. 

On page 10, Neil Houghton remind us that, "required images with iris registrations," and he lays out the way to do it. 

Also on page 10, the French Iris Society you will find the invitation to hybridizers to submit their creations for the 2021 Franciris International Iris Competition to be held in Paris, France. (More detailed information Franciris 2021 continues on page 11).
Next, on page 12 Las Cruces, New Mexico wants your irises for the 2021 National Convention to be held there. 

The AIS Photo Contest is back for 2019, and you may read all the rules and information about how to enter, on page 13.

Pages 14 and 15 contain Section Happenings, and there you may read about the different AIS Sections, such as the Reblooming Iris Society, the Historic Iris Preservation Society (HIPS), the Aril Society International, and others. 

International Iris News are on pages 16 through 18. 

Youth views on pages 19 through 23.

The AIS 2019 Convention Review is on pages 24 all the way to 48, with lots of reading to do and beautiful pictures to see. 

Neil Houghton tells us all about tip #5 on his series about iris photography, on page 49.

Lastly, a touching article, "Rise Like a Phoenix," about Anita Moran's personal experiences with her family who lived in Paradise, California on pages 51 — 54. 

Not a member of The American Iris Society? Please see our website for information about becoming one:

There's a lot more to see and read in this edition of IRISES, either in digital or print formats.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Three Twentieth Century Women Iris Hybridizers

by Jean Richter

This is an introduction to three women iris hybridizers from the 20th century who are perhaps not particularly well known, but all created iris of great beauty.

Our first hybridizer is from the earliest era of the American and British Iris Societies, in the early part of the 20th century.

Miss Violet Insole was a horticulturalist from Wales with particular interests in alpine plants and iris. She was born in 1883, and by age 21 was an accomplished horticulturalist, contributing to The Flora of Glamorgan at the invitation of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society.  During World War I she served in the British Red Cross Society Volunteers, and from 1917 was Quartermaster and Officer in Charge of the Llandaff Red Cross Hospital. In the 1920s she traveled abroad to New York, Jamaica, and South Africa to collect plant specimens.

Miss Insole was an early member of the British Iris Society, and was listed as a member by 1924, two years after its founding. She became a successful exhibitor in their shows, garnering many certificates and medals. In 1930 she gave the Society the Insole Challenge Trophy, awarded for a display exhibiting the decorative value of the iris.

Miss Insole was also an accomplished iris breeder. Although she introduced relatively few varieties, many of her varieties were award winners. Perhaps her most famous introduction, which is still widely available in commerce today, is 'Dogrose' (Insole 1930). This tall, stately iris has great impact in the garden.

                                                 'Dogrose' (Insole 1930)

Less well known, but still available in commerce, is the exquisite 'Golden Flare' (Insole 1931).

                                             'Golden Flare' (Insole 1931)

Sadly, Violet Insole passed away after a brief illness at the young age of 49 in 1932. At the time of her passing she was just coming into her own as an iris hybridizer, and surely would have introduced many more excellent iris had she been afforded a longer life.

My research has turned up only the barest of information about our next hybridizer, Luella Noyd. She was born in Spokane, Washington in 1903, and apparently lived in the eastern Washington area her entire life. Her iris hybridizing was concentrated on tall bearded iris, but she also introduced arilbreds, border bearded iris, and an intermediate bearded iris. I first encountered her iris with the lovely space age iris 'Horned Sunshine' (Noyd 1968). She continued Lloyd Austin's work with horned iris by using one of his space age introductions as a parent to 'Horned Sunshine.'

                                       'Horned Sunshine' (Noyd 1968)

'Fluted Lime' (Noyd 1966) is a greenish-yellow self.

                                               'Fluted Lime' (Noyd 1966)

Mrs. Noyd named several iris for her home town of Wenatchee, Washington. Here is her blue introduction 'Wenatchee Skies' (Noyd 1963).

                                         'Wenatchee Skies' (Noyd 1963)

Her lovely introduction 'Striped Butterfly' (Noyd 1958) has aril ancestry and could have been introduced as an arilbred, but she chose to introduce it as a tall bearded iris.

                                            'Striped Butterfly' (Noyd 1958)

Luella Noyd passed away in 1980 at age 76.

Walter and Luella Noyd circa 1960

Our final hybridizer achieved considerable acclaim in the iris world during her long life. Melba Hamben was born in 1910 in Utah. Her interest in flowers, and iris in particular, was a lifelong passion. She started growing iris in 1936 and began hybridizing in 1943 under the mentorship of Tell Muhlestein. She married Jim Hamblen in 1927 and as he shared her love of flowers, together they  ran Mission Bell Gardens.

Melba was a lifetime member of the American Iris Society, an award she received by getting the most new AIS members to join while she was Regional Vice President of AIS Region 12. She served on the AIS board of directors for many years, and as president of the AIS Foundation. She co-edited the AIS book The World Of Irises - it was one of her personal triumphs when the book was published.

Melba received many awards and accolades for her hybridizing accomplishments, including a feature in Life Magazine, honorary citizenship to the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and the key to the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was the first woman (and one of few Americans) to receive the British Iris Society's Foster Medal. She also received the Gold Medal from the American Iris Society.

Melba hybridized mainly tall bearded iris, but also introduced miniature dwarf, standard dwarf, intermediate, and border bearded iris. Her many creations include the beautiful pink and yellow blend 'Valimar' (Hamblen 1958).

                                               'Valimar' (Hamblen 1958)

Here is the lovely yellow 'Royal Gold' (Hamblen 1966).

                                          'Royal Gold' (Hamblen 1966)

One of her later introductions is the beautiful plicata 'Capricious' (Hamblen 1981).

                                            'Capricious' (Hamblen 1981)

Melba Hamblen passed away in 1992. She is remembered as compassionate individual who never hesitated to offer her knowledge and inspiration to those who asked.
I am very grateful to Mary Hess of Bluebird Haven Iris Garden for many of the photos in this blog.

The World of Irises is the official blog of The American Iris Society. Now in its 99th year, The American Iris Society exists to promote all types of irises. If you wish to comment on a post, you can do so at the end of the page and the author or the editors will reply. If you wish to learn more about The American Iris Society, follow the link.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Talking About Arilbred Irises

By Maggie Asplet

Aril and Arilbred Iris are not something that you would expect to see a lot of in New Zealand.  We are very fortunate to have Bill Dijk and his wife Willy, living in Tauranga, North Island of New Zealand.

Bill is one of those very lucky people with green fingers.  Whatever he does, it just works and is very able to get the impossible to be possible in our climate, with a lot of hard work I must say.

This article was been written by Bill and he has given me permission to publish his take on Aril and Arilbred Irises.

I. acutiloba susp. lineolate growing in coarse material.

When we talk about the aril irises, two very different types of irises are grouped together under the term "aril".   These are the oncocyclus and regelia irises of the Near East.  Although they have beards, they are not classified with the other bearded irises because they are so different in their makeup. Aril irises have derived their name from a little cream aril or a collar-like fleshy appendage of their seed.

Aril seed cut - showing the embryo

The arils show dark signal spots below the beards with much veining and speckling, in an unbelievable range of colours. Unfortunately, the arils are difficult to grow in all but the warmest and driest regions of New Zealand. I will start off by showing a few true aril oncocyclus/regalia species.  

Close-up of spcekling on I.samariae x I. hermona) X I. kirkwoodiae

In this century, hybrids were produced from crossing the arils with the more common bearded irises. These are called "arilbreds" (ABs), and are usually very easy to grow and still display the spectacular features of the arils. The arilbreds are as diverse in colour and form as they are in their genetic makeup and the combinations of these features make this an exciting and challenging group of irises. Unlike their aril ancestors, arilbreds can be grown successfully in a wide range of climates. They give gardeners the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of aril-type flowers without having to provide the special environment the pure arils require. They usually bloom earlier than the TBs, with the SDBs and the IBs.

I. Sheba's Jewel

Culture of Aril and Arilbred Irises

Arils and arilbreds have a reputation for being difficult to grow. This is partly deserved, but also partly the result of misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the word aril is often used rather carelessly to refer to both arils and arilbreds.  These two types, however, are very different in their cultural requirements and their capacity to grow and thrive without special attention.

Growing the pure arils like the oncocyclus and regelia species successfully is a real challenge, and it’s often a question of understanding their cultural requirements and adjusts them accordingly. Not always easy with our sometimes excessive wet, and humid climate in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. A warm and dry climate like central Otago would be more suitable, somewhat similar to their native habitat.

I. paradoxa atrata. Note its small, dark purple falls.

Today's AB’s (arilbreds) are not hard to grow in most climates. A selection of arilbreds interspersed among a bearded iris planting will find that most of them will grow and flower without any special attention; however, some understanding of  their cultural preferences increases the odds, ensuring a greater rate of success.

Although pure arils are not widely grown, a quick review of their cultural requirements is valuable, because it casts some light on the needs of their arilbred descendants.

The aril irises are the oncocyclus and regelia species from the Middle East and hybrids having only aril irises in their ancestry. The oncocyclus in particular have always posed a challenge to gardeners living outside their native region. They go completely dormant in the summer, which leaves them susceptible to rot in rainy climates. Furthermore, they don’t apologise for being temperamental, sometimes thriving for four or five seasons and then simply dying for no obvious reason. Regelia’s are much more adaptable, but still prefer dry hot summers.

Many different methods have been used for growing/protecting oncocyclus irises, especially during their summer dormancy when they must be kept dry. In cool, wet climates, most growers make use of a shelter/cover/frame, greenhouse or any other form of protection. I build this structure (picture) which is open on both sides for extra ventilation, and elevated bed for extra drainage, that is covered with polycarbonate plastic cover to keep the rain out.  I prefer to leave it on all season in our New Zealand climate to control the often excessive rainfall, warm temps and high humidity at the wrong time during the summer, which could results in rotting of the rhizomes.

Raised protected bed for Arils

This way I do control the cultural requirements like watering when needed, air circulation, feeding, and spraying for any fungal or insect problems.

Knowing the cultural requirements of the pure arils, one can take a few basic steps to improve the rate of success with arilbreds. If you have a choice of planting locations, arilbreds should be placed where light and air circulation are best and where drainage is particularly good. Take steps to avoid or reduce excessive soil acidity. Don't make the mistake of coddling them in a sheltered corner for protection from winter cold; such locations may be shadier and damper during the summer months, and lead to more harm than good. It will not be necessary to dig them or protect them totally from rain during the summer, as most arilbreds do not go completely dormant and are not as vulnerable as the pure arils. However, it is still wise to practice very clean culture and keep an eye out for densely overgrown clumps that could benefit from division. Plan on dividing arilbreds every other year; you may even find a few benefits from annual division!

In general, arilbreds of less than half aril content (this includes most arilbred medians) are to be grown exactly like the bearded irises. Giving them special treatment is unnecessary and may even be harmful, if it causes you to depart from tried and true practices that your bearded irises thrive on.

Those of more than half aril content should receive some preferential treatment. They should not require the full-blown summer protection preparations demanded by the pure arils but will appreciate the best drained, most open, preferably slightly raised location your garden can provide.

Preparing the site

For all arils: first and foremost, sharp drainage is important and the prime requisite for successful culture. They are desert plants, so they need full sun for at least two-thirds of the day. If possible, some protection, or shelter, from rain and cold is helpful.

Washed brick sand, granite, course pumice, or other coarse material, can be worked into the soil to improve drainage. There should be a good supply of calcium. (Gypsum can be used to provide calcium and loosen heavy soil.) If the soil is acid, lime should be added. Planting the irises on hills or ridges can help the drainage in marginal soils. Many people plant arils in raised beds where sharp drainage can be "built in."

To summarise:
  •   full sun
  •   sharp drainage
  •   no water in summer for the pure aril irises while dormant.
Normally, the colours of aril blooms are extremely pure as well as clear. Alternatively, their blooms may even have wonderful blotches that contrast the colour of the flowers. When arils are hybridized with the standard bearded irises, the progenies retain a number of these attributes, while some other progenies may have new, but mesmerizing hues, patterns and streaks.

The falls of aril flowers have another typical characteristic. They may have veins and dotting or stippling in subdued or strong shades. These features may also appear in the standards of aril flowers. The dark, circular spots, also known as "signal", which appear at the end of the falls, are another typical trait of the flowers of oncocyclus irises, which distinguishes them from other iris flowers.

Iris mariae

Ideally, arilbred irises should be planted when they are just getting out of their hibernation or dormant period. You should avoid planting irises during the summer heat, as it is very stressful at this time of the year. Similarly, irises should not be planted during the late autumn just before the harsh winter months. In fact, the best time for planting irises is actually subject to the climatic conditions in your region.

Classification:  Nine Types of Arilbreds? Yes, Really

Although for awards purposes, the American Iris Society sorts all arilbreds into only two classes (less than 1/2 aril content and 1/2 or more aril content), the Aril Society International uses a more detailed system of categories that tracks not only the amount of aril content, but also the type of aril content (oncocyclus, regelia, or both).  

Close up of Iris paradoxa

An arilbred with only oncocyclus and bearded ancestry is an oncobred (OB). One with only regelia and bearded ancestry is a regeliabred (RB). If both oncocyclus and regelia ancestry are present, it is an oncogeliabred (OGB). This is by far the largest category.

If the arilbred has less than 1/2 aril content, it is marked with a "-" sign. If more than 1/2, with a "+" sign. If it has 1/2 aril content exactly, neither a "-" or "+" is used.

Aril seed as a rule are not easy to germinate, and there are several methods of germination:
Stratifying,  cutting and forced germination.  Aril iris seeds can be germinated with the following technique.

Forced germination" this is a technique that is often used for pure aril seeds to hasten germination. This method bypasses the need for any cold treatment.  The forced germination procedure involves cutting  with a scalpel or razor blade across the micropyle, across the end of the endosperm and embryo, in order to create an artificial rupturing of the micropylar barrier, which in natural situations germination could take a long time sometimes years to archive.  I use a special sharp grafting knife which I find personally more reliable and safer.

After soaking the seed for a few days in water (with some fungicide) to soften the seed, the aril and half the seed coat is removed, followed by cutting or slicing enough of the endosperm to expose the end of the embryo. I also borrow my wife’s art-craft 5X magnifying desk lamp with build-in lights for more close-up, hands free detail when slicing or cutting the seed.  

Most people do not do this with arilbreds, which germinate more easily.

Some people would try to stratify them and see what germinates first.  Sometimes temperature cycling is used as well. After all of that you could then try cutting or slicing them for faster germination. Be sure to sterilize the seeds before cutting them, especially for fungal protection when germinating seed in plastic bags or damp sterilized paper towels or whatever method you decide to use.

Points to recommend and remember:
1.   Hydration: Soak the seeds for up to a week in water with systemic fungicide.
2.   Remove the aril carefully (if it's an arilated species), cut the skin and slice a little layer to expose the embryo, which will be visible in the little hole of the endosperm.

Slicing aril seed

You need to be careful not to slice off too much of the embryo or you will negatively affect root formation and also risk damage to the embryo.
3. After cutting, put the seeds in damp perlite or vermiculate in little plastic bags.
I prefer damp sterilised kitchen paper towels for germination.
4.   When germination takes place in 2 or 3 weeks -

I prefer to very carefully transplant the little delicate seedlings directly into a 7cm X 9 cm peat pots, with a spray of systemic fungicide, outdoors in a cool, frost free place. Peat pots have the added advantage of no root disturbance when planted on into its permanent place or suitable container.
Having initial success with the germination, either forced or the traditional method is just the start of further necessary and ongoing special cultural treatment of the beautiful oncocyclus/regalia group.
After cutting/slicing I prefer germinating the seed in damp folded sterile kitchen towels, the moisture content when damp imho is just right for steady germination.  I then place the folded kitchen towels in an ice-cream container with the lid securely in place to prevent moisture loss, in a cool part of the nursery ( 10-15 C ). I inspect the seed at regular intervals for any sign of germination, with many seeds showing a radicle after 2-3 weeks in the damp kitchen towels.

I then proceed to very carefully prick out the sprouted seed, one at a time, in a 7cm X 9cm cm peat pot with 50/50 mixture of compost/fine pumice, water carefully to settle in the little seedling properly. Usually the seedlings ( 5-10 cm) will be ready for transplanting in its permanent place after 4-6 weeks. The very important advantages of the peat pots is no transplanting shock to the delicate seedlings, roots will easily penetrate the peat wall with no loss of growth. Don’t forget to spray the young seedlings with an appropriate fungicide at regular intervals for any possible fungal problems.

As is often the case with any specialist area of horticulture, complacency is the biggest killer and there is no substitute for constant observation, care and proper treatment.  The Oncocyclus and Regelia irises constitute an incredible group of plants that deserve nothing but the best.  The sight of just a single flower takes your breath away and a sight to behold.

To quickly summarise again :
    full sun.
    sharp drainage.
    dry for the pure aril irises, no water in summer while dormant.

These are some cultivation notes on how to grow the beautiful aril and arilbreds irises.

Editor's Note: For more information about aril and arilbred iris, contact The Aril Society International.  For more information about irises in general, contact The American Iris Society.


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