Monday, December 30, 2019

Irises of the Season

by Jean Richter

For this last post of 2019, I present to you a group of irises with seasonal names, pertaining to winter and late-year holidays. As might be expected, some of these varieties are rebloomers, and those will be noted with their picture. All iris are tall bearded unless otherwise noted.

My best wishes for a joyous and peaceful holiday season and happy new year! May the second century of the American Iris Society build upon the many great accomplishments of the first.

'Christmas Snow' (Austin 1963) rebloomer - photo by Mike Unser

'Snow Fiddler' (Dunbar 1972) miniature tall bearded - photo by Mike Unser

'Snow Velvet' (H.P. Sass 1942) - photo by Mike Unser

'Lacy Snowflake' (Schreiner 1977) - photo by Mike Unser

 'Winter Gold' (Austin 1965) rebloomer - photo by Mary Hess

'Snow Spoon' (Hager 1982) - photo by Mike Unser

'Winter Carnival' (R. Schreiner 1941) - photo by Mike Unser

 'Thanksgiving Firelight' (Austin 1950) rebloomer - photo by Mary Hess

'Santa's Helper' (Carol Lankow by Aitken 1997) intermediate bearded - photo by Mike Unser

'Winter Olympics' (O. Brown 1963) - photo by Mike Unser

'Winter Flame' (Austin 1953) rebloomer  - photo by Mary Hess

'Winterfest' (Schreiner 2005) - photo by Mike Unser

'Frost and Flame' (Hall 1957) - photo by Mike Unser

My heartfelt thanks to Mike Unser and Mary Hess for the use of their beautiful pictures.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Convention 2019 - New Zealand Style

By Maggie Asplet

From the 15th of November through to the 18th of November, Irisarians from around the country and overseas gathered for three days of wonderful companionship, visiting beautiful gardens, attending workshops and the usual AGM and a delicious dinner and awards evening.

Friday evening is the time to register, check out who else is there and start talking about irises. This was a more informal evening with the newly elected local Mayor, Nigel Bowan opening proceedings for our annual event.  Our President, Marilyn Fleming also welcomed everyone.  We then had two short presentations from our two overseas guest speakers, Andi Rivarola and Gary White introducing themselves.  There will be more about them later.

From Left - Mayor Nigel Bowan, NZIS President Marilyn Fleming, AIS Vice President Andi Rivarola and AIS IPP Gary White

For me, the most special part was the book launch - Why Irises?  I trust you have all seen the earlier post about this book.  I was great seeing the team who had assisted the author, Gwenda Harris, make this all happen.

Marilyn Rathgen (at podium) gave background and introduced the team.  Stephanie Boot (also standing) was responsible for editing, providing many photos and layout and support and Alistair Boot had publishing responsibility.  Absent was Graham Menary also responsible for supplying photos.

There were a number of beautiful blooms on display, items set out of the silent auction and some beautiful memorabilia on display.

With the formality of the opening over, it was off back to our motels for the evening.

Saturday 16 November - a day out and about on the bus.  Yes, just one bus which was followed by a few cars.  We set off for the area of Geraldine for the day.

Our first stop was the the Geraldine Festival with many stalls all set out in the Domain for us all to wonder around, find a coffee and later get our lunch.

A beautiful outdoor solar light made from a stump; a new iris business "Irises of Kinvara", my favourite floral arrangement on display in a near by hall

Our next stop was to the home and garden of David and Lois Attwood.  This was also our first opportunity to purchase plants, and we did.  Like all iris bus trips, there is always room in the baggage lockers for plants.  A delightful town garden with many little treasures.  My favourite was the Moraea pictured below.

Pictures from David & Lois Attwood's

Moving onto our next garden of Bob and Libby Hall.  A beautiful older garden with some wonderful trees around, iris lining the left hand entrance of the the driveway and another opportunity to purchase some plants.  This was also a space of some wonderful and interesting sculptures, all of which were for sale.

I actually have a habit of going home from convention with a large item of my garden, or having to have it couriered home afterwards.  I can say that this time I was a little restrained and did not give into my usual buying habits (Large scale pieces to try and fly home with).

Pictures from Bob & Libby Hall's 

Our final garden for the day was at the property of Bernie & Joy O'Keefe and the home of Woodbury Rhododendrons.  This is very much a spring garden with some magnificent rhododendrons an numerous companion plants such as hostas, peonies, primulas, trilliums, hellebores and different edging plants.  Roses provide the garden with some wonderful summer colour.

As you wondered around this garden, we came across a lovely row of irises in full bloom.  I was also very taken with the pond area and water loving irises growing so well.

Pictures from Bernie & Joy O'Keefe's garden - Woodbury Rhododendrons

As is normal when attending a convention in New Zealand, we often are caught eating.  This was afternoon tea before we left for the trip back to Timaru and a free evening.

Saturday evening, although a free night, a few of us went out for dinner taking Andy and Gary for a bit of kiwi hilarity, topped of with our convention convenor feeding her face (sorry Marilyn).

Sunday, the day of staying put in Timaru, listening to some wonderful presentations by Andy & Gary on their trip to both Paris and Florence.  This was following by - guess what - time for mornig tea.

Shortly after this interval we held our judging workshop panel discussion with Gary and Andi on historic irises.  So very informative, on both counts and especially the Spuria irses, as we don't have much in the way of hybridising being done in this area.

After lunch, we held our Annual General Meeting - went without a hitch and didn't take long.  This was followed by the societies annual auction.  The South Canterbury Iris Group never disappoint in having a great selection of irises to bid on, and I sure did my fair share.

Andi checking out some blooms on display, then assisting Gary with one of their presentations and the group photo

The evening was our formal dinner at which time awards were given out, entertainment was provided by local member, Jean Barkman and then we were treated to another presentation by Andi on spuria irises.

Jean Barkman

Monday, a time to relax and enjoy the last of the gardens, so it was onto the bus again to travel south and visit members garden.  It was a day of dodging heavy showers and some hail storms that came through, particularly in the afternoon.

Our first garden of the day was at Lynda & Malcolm Crossen place in Southburn.  A beautiful garden with gorgeous iris display garden and also the irises that were entered for our New Zealand Begg Shield award.  This is judged during convention by approximately three judges.  Again, this is a garden with peonies, roses, hostas, rhododendrons, azaleas and so much more in, set in a stunning rural environment.

photos from Lynda & Malcolm Crossen's 

Our next stop was to Mary Brosnahan's garden.  Wow, this was just lovely, so well kept with the help of her daughter Susan.  I think the photos will say just how lovely this garden was.

AND - morning tea time

Back on the bus again to Lesley & Robert Tennant's garden at Otaio.  The property has been in the Tennant family since 1946 with many of the large Oaks, Elms and Ash already being there and since then the garden have been developed around this.  Definitely a garden that you need to wonder around to find some of the beautiful spots and areas framed with trees.  I even had an opportunity to talk with the chickens. The daffodils and the stunning pond are features of this property.

It is now 12.45pm and it is time for a short bus trip to the Waimate Events Centre - for lunch.  Before we got there, we had the first of some very heavy hail

From here it was onto our last members garden of Stephanie Boot's.  On the way, we have to "kill" a little time as the hail had again hit us, so we went around the block in Waimate looking at the Silos.

Just as soon as the hail had finished, we arrived at Stephanie's.  The very first thing you noticed was the huge amount of damage that the hail had done to her beautiful garden.  A gardeners garden, with some wonderful large Ash, Copper Beech and American White Oak trees.

Large specimens of Cordyline, Kowhai, Southern Beech, Totara, Chestnut, form the "bones" of this garden with Rhododendrons, Camellias, Roses and various other shrubs and natives.  Siberian irises now accompany the roses.

Hail on the ground when we arrived; Stephanie (facing us) talking with Andi, Gary & Marilyn; an iris not damaged by the hail

More garden areas at Stephanie's

It was also time for the official handover of the banner from the South Canterbury Iris Group to the 2020 hosts Bay Of Plenty Iris Group.  The banner was actually handed over on Sunday evening so that it could be taken bake to the Bay of Plenty by car.

This was a time for afternoon tea, thank you from different members and our two guest Gary & Andi.

South Canterbury Iris Group fare-welling us all

On our way back to Timaru we stopped at the Makikihi Display and Trial Gardens, which had not been spared damage from the hail storms during the day.

The Makikihi Trial and Display Gardens were established by the South Canterbury Group in 2008 under the enthusiastic guidance of Brian Harris.

Now Lynda Crossen, with assistant Stephanie Boot, is the Director of the TB Trial Gardens and the Group, under the supervision of Jessica Ward, maintains the Display gardens which contain Dwarf, Median and Tall Bearded, Siberians, Spurias, Louisianas, bulbous and some species and historics.
Potted irises and plants are for sale all year round.

SO, this is a little insight into a New Zealand Iris Society Convention.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Louisiana iris species planting in the Northlake Nature Center near New Orleans

by Gary Salathe
The Northlake Nature Center is located near Mandeville, Louisiana, north of New Orleans.  It was established in 1982 by as a project of the Greater Covington Junior Service League as an independent non-profit corporation directed to preserve, study, and publicly exhibit the natural and cultural resources of the Florida Parishes in southeastern Louisiana.
The 400 acre Nature Center offers visitors the opportunity to experience three different ecosystems: hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest and pond-swamp. The ponds in the cypress swamp area are the result of active beaver dams.
Natural, native I. virginica irises are found throughout the Center.
On March 4, 2017 volunteers from the Greater New Orleans Iris Society (GNOIS), Gary Salathe and Richard and Carol Drouant, planted donated Louisiana irises species I. giganticaerulea and I. fulva in the cypress swamp area of the Nature Center.  When they first approached Rue Mcneill, Executive Director of the Nature Center,  about planting some Louisiana iris species among the many wild I. virginica irises already growing there she was very enthusiastic and said the GNOIS could plant as many as they wanted.  She also told them that she hoped that the society would eventually plant all five Louisiana iris species.
After finding what they believed were the right combination of wetness, soil type and sunlight, the trio of GNOIS members planted about forty I. giganticaerulea and fifty I. fulva plants in two separate locations. The irises were donated by A Louisiana Pond.


I. fulva
With the satisfaction and euphoria of successfully completing the planting they decided then and there to commit to eventually get all five species planted in the Nature Center.  Rue quickly accepted the offer!
The irises planted that day may be first ever Louisiana irises to grow there in the one hundred years, or so, that the cypress swamp has been in existence.
The shoreline of the beaver pond in the Nature Center is home to many I. viginica irises.

I. virginica in the cypress/gum tree swamp area. Although I. virginica is native to the north shore and other parts of central and north Louisiana it is not a Louisiana iris species.  Its range is through the east and central United States and up into Canada.

Rue McNeill and her rescue dog, Sam, shown next to volunteer Richard Drouant, were the cheering squad as Richard and two other GNOIS members planted the Louisiana irises. She is encouraging the GNOIS to plant all five Louisiana iris species there and has offered the group any assistance that they may need to accomplish this.

She also told the group about another area of the 400 acre tract of land that has ponds. She offered those areas to the GNOIS as places where species irises could be planted for the purpose of propagating them.

For more information on the five Louisiana iris species:

Gary Salathe and Richard Drouant up to their knees in snake country.  Luckily, the temperatures were cool enough that day so the snakes and alligators were not active.

GNOIS member and volunteer Gary Salathe.

Many of the I. giganticaerulea were planted right next to one of the boardwalk bridges in the front part of the Nature Center. People on the bridge will be able to view the irises from only about 10' away.

The I. giganticaerulea iris is one of five Louisiana iris species. It is also known as the “Giant Blue Iris” and is the state wildflower. Once found in abundance in southeast Louisiana marshes, it has been decimated over the last one hundred years by salt water intrusion through man-made canals and hurricane flood waters.

The site the group chose for the I. fulva planting faces south and should get direct sunlight for a few hours each day during the summer. The open spot was likely created when the tree shown in the photo fell down, which created an opening in the tree canopy. The irises were planted among cypress tree knees in about 1" of water and mucky soil. The site is only 6' away from the trail.

Richard and Carol Drouant at the site of the I. fulva planting.  About fifty I. fulva irises were planted there. 

I. fulva is one of five Louisiana iris species. Once found in abundance in south/central Louisiana swamps and roadside ditches, it has been decimated over the last one hundred years by encroaching development and the use of herbicides by the State of Louisiana highway maintenance crews to keep ditches clear of vegetation.

Editor's Note: The World of Irises is delighted to have this guest blog by Gary Salathe who lives north of New Orleans with his wife next to a pond that they have turned into a showcase of Louisiana irises call A Louisiana Pond.  It was on the 2018 AIS tour of gardens at the national convention.  He is a volunteer and member of the board of directors of the Greater New Orleans Iris Society. As a part owner of a residential construction company, irises are his hobby until his retirement and then they will become his vocation.  He is interested in the idea of raising Louisiana iris species into areas that now have much improved hurricane protection levees in Southeast Louisiana.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The top 15 Iris at ‘Smokin Heights’ season 2019/20 in Australia!

By Mel Schiller and Bailey Schiller

We are smack bang in the middle of digging customer orders right now before Christmas. Here is our top 15 Iris for this current season.

15. 'Mallee Sunrise' (Stribley '07) BB: An excellent garden Iris that grows well and blooms reliably. It puts on a wonderful show and calls viewers over from across the field.
14. 'Ruby Slippers' (Keppel '02) IB: On the older side now but it is an absolute showstopper!
13. 'Dedicated' (Black '11) SDB: Very unusual almost green colouring makes you do a double take. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, it has that wow factor!
12. 'Coralina' (Johnson '14)TB: Super bubble ruffled in peach tones makes this variety standout!
11. 'Line Drive' (M Sutton '07) IB: Nothing else like it! What more can we say?
10. 'Lancer' (Shockey '95) AB: An older Arilbred but it keeps up with the newer varieties. Its dark signal against the pastel lavender tone makes it very appealing.
9. 'Brilliant Disguise' (Johnson '08) TB: Flowers are born in abundance on this variegata. You won’t miss this Iris as you walk past!
8. 'Terse Verse' (Blyth '00) SDB: Very easy growing dwarf that covers itself in bloom season after season. Very strange colouring that is hard to describe.
7. 'Merchant Marine' (Keppel '07) TB: An all-time favourite in this colour class. Everything about it is perfection, we expect nothing less of Keith Keppel!
6. 'Voulez-vous' (Johnson '15) TB: A fabulous flat Iris that is among the best in this class. We use it a lot in hybridizing!
5. 'Splatter Matter's' (Painter '10) TB: We thought this would be popular, it proved us right!
4. 'Molokini' (M Sutton '16) TB: One of those “love it or hate it” Iris. For lovers of the unusual this is the Iris for you!
3. 'Waves On The Coast' (B. Schiller '19) TB: The illusion of a blue and green iris from the distance….interesting!
2. 'Kissed By Fire' (M. Schiller '19) TB: Garden visitors revelled in the magnet of colour this iris provided.
1. 'Edge Of Happiness' (Barry Blyth '19) TB: Barry Blyth has created this beautiful iris. Our most favourite from the season just gone by. WOW!

We find that iris seasons differ from year to year. Customers decide on the colour scheme iris for each year. Last year 'orange' appeared to be popular. This season, well it has yet to be decided! 

Well, we will leave you to it we have digging to do!

Happy Gardening!