Monday, March 9, 2020

New cultivars for New Zealand

By Maggie Asplet

I felt it was time to write about what I am doing and perhaps even be brave enough to say what I would like to achieve with irises in New Zealand.  

I have for many years been very interested in hybridising but found it rather uninspiring to use any of the over 1,000 irises I had growing at home.  They were all considered old (bit like me, really).  Sadly, due to our quarantine conditions it makes it virtually impossible to import irises into NZ, a situation that has been in place since 2004.  

We have relied on the generosity of others, like Barry Blyth, or to make crosses in America then they send the seeds to us.  The other way we have gained new seeds have been through guest speakers bringing them to our annual conventions - Chad Harris, Patrick Spence, Andi Rivarola, and James Geditz all brought seed with them.  Sorry, I know I will have missed some others.  We here in NZ are very grateful to you all (even those not mentioned).

It is with thanks to the generosity of Thomas Johnson from Mid-America for putting up with me, that I can finally get to follow my passion of irises and develop brand new cultivars.  I must also thank Paul Black and Keith Keppel for allowing me to pick their brains as well as their plants.  I just hope they can continue to cope with my questions.


 The excitement of a parcel arriving from Mid-America - March 2019

And a little more exciting seeing the packets of seed within the parcel
This arrived in March 2019

A parcel with so much promise.

I will start with standard dwarf irises. I must say that I am really taken with these delightful irises.  They make such a wonderful front of border garden plant.  To be fair, I'm not even sure what I personally would like to achieve other than to start off at home here in NZ with some lovely new cultivars.  Bright colours and strong beards is what I will be looking for with future crosses.  So many possibilities as Paul Black would say.

During 2018 I used some of the following SDBs in my crosses, and later this year I will post what I consider my successful outcomes, and continue to grow them with the intention of introducing them.  Hopefully by 2022 we should have the first ready for the general public to purchase.  Sadly, I haven't been able to do any MDB crosses as they are usually finished by the time of my annual trip.  I am rather partial to these little cuties.


 'Alaia' - T Johnson '18

 'Kerpow' - T Johnson '18

 'Slightly Tipsy' - P Black '18

'Color' - P Black '18

I must say it is rather strange for me to spell color like this in the US English style.  I want to do - colour.  

This is only a small selection of the SDBs that I used, these were the most successful in the crosses, and now only time will tell just what they will look like.

I did dabble a little with MTBs, and a couple of IBs and BBs but will leave them for a later stage, as did more on my 2019 visit.

My main focus has been TBs, what I considered everyone's favourite, until my eyes opened so wide and I saw so many other beautiful irises and not just bearded ones.  However, now onto TB irises. 

For these I used a wide range of cultivars as I wanted to get a variety of different new irises into the crosses I have done.  Many were very successful (seed wise), again, we still have to wait and see what this has achieved.  Here is a few of what I used.


Black X10A, which if my notes are correct is a cross between 'Beauty Becomes Her' X 'Haunted Heart.'  I will confirm my notes with Paul this year.

'Oh What Fun' - T Johnson seedling now registered

'Apricot Smoothie' - T Johnson seedling now registered

'Call Me Maybe' - T Johnson '13

'Charmed I'm Sure' - P Black '14

'Solar Burst' - M Sutton '16

'Bedroom Romance' - P Black '16

'Another Suggestion' - K Keppel '16

And, then I did a whole lot of crosses, some very wide and probably will not produce well with what I think is perhaps my most favourite color pattern (at this stage), the luminatas.  Here is what I used.
'Belle Fille' - M. Smith '15

'Dialect' - T. Johnson '08

'Fancy Ideas' - K. Keppel '13

'Montmartre' - K. Keppel '08

This is only an insight as I have begun my journey with with seedlings from newer iris and is by no means all that I have used.  These images are of irises where I have had successful crosses and now plants are growing.

One of the seedling patches.  These are now well established and hopefully will be in flower this spring (October).

It is not long now and I will begin my journey back to Mid-America, where I hope to concentrate more on some end goals rather than crosses for crosses sake.  I particularly want to work with SDB and MTB irises this year.  I somehow think that the MTBs might just become my favourite bearded iris.

SO, if you have a dream, make sure you follow it.  It is so much easier to toil away on something that you have a passion for than not.  Later in the year, I will write a blog about some of the outcomes, but will probably only show you what I think is successful.

To American iris lovers, your spring has begun, enjoy your beautiful season.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, Maggie. Safe travels. Be sure to stop by Schreiner's Iris Gardens again, if you can! Looking forward to seeing you.

    ReplyDelete

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