Monday, October 12, 2020

What is your favorite Louisiana Iris?

by Ron Killingsworth

When friends visit us during the bloom season for Louisiana irises, they are usually amazed at the diversity of the color and size of the flowers on Louisiana irises. After viewing thousands of irises in bloom, they never fail to ask, “Which is your favorite?”. Discounting my own introductions, it is hard to pick just one “favorite” Louisiana iris, when there are so many beautiful ones to choose from.

'Hush Money' (Mary Dunn 1998)

So, I will share some of my favorites with you. Maybe not the most favorite, but in the top ten, would be ‘Hush Money’ (Mary Dunn 98). ‘Hush Money’ won an honorable mention from the American Iris Society (AIS) in 2002. Registered as “stands cream with blue cast; falls cream, raised gold line signal” and “height 36”) does not completely describe this iris. It usually has style arms that are yellow at the top and green toward the bottom of the styles.  It has some ruffling on the falls.  The stands tend to stand up and the falls tend to have a graceful curving down to them. The foliage is never much taller than 36” and the flower is always in the right size for foliage that of that height.  The “blue cast” is very notable.  It is just a lovely small flowered iris. And, you have to love the name!

'Bajazzo' (Mary Dunn 1980)

Mary Dunn, of California, is no longer with us but she had a very productive career of hybridizing Louisiana irises.  She registered 128 Louisiana irises and won the Mary Swords Debaillion Award for ‘Monument’ (Mary Dunn 1977) in 1984.  She also won the Mary Swords Debaillion Medal (MSDM) for ‘Bajazzo’, ‘Rhett’, ‘Bayou Mystique’ and ‘Extraordinaire’. (By the way, she also registered ‘Scarlett’ so Rhett would not be lonely.) ‘Bayou Mystique’ (Mary Dunn 1988) just happens to also be one of my favorites. 

'Splitter Splatter' (D. R. Grieves 2004)

‘Splitter Splatter’ (D.R. Grieves 2004) is also one of my favorites. D. R. Grieves is a native of Kalamunda, West Australia, but interestingly, to my knowledge, was never a member of the Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI).  He probably belongs to some of the Australian iris organizations. Grieves registered 19 Louisiana irises from 2004 to present. I have never seen any of his other irises and ‘Splitter Splatter’, according to SLI records, has never been introduced in the USA. This one would probably be of interest to members of the Novelty Iris Society

'Heather Pryor' (John C. Taylor 1993)

 ‘Heather Pryor’ (John C. Taylor 1993) is also in my top ten favorites. Mr. Taylor spent a lot of time describing the iris when he registered it and the description is dead on.  It is a great garden iris and stands out in a crowd of blossoms.  The pastel colors really make it different along with the green style arms.  Taylor, of Sydney, Australia, registered 201 Louisiana irises.  The person Heather Pryor, of Australia, has also hybridized many beautiful Louisiana irises. With 153 Louisiana irises registered by 2019, she won the Mary Swords Debaillion Medal in 2004 and 2006 for ‘Peaches in Wine’ (97) and ‘Hot and Spicy’ (95) and her husband, Bernard, won the MSDM in 2016 for his ‘Blue Mountain Mist’ (2006).

'Dark Dude' (Ron Betzer 2010)

 ‘Dark Dude’ (Ron Betzer 2010) is probably my “darkest” favorite.  In fact, it is the darkest Louisiana irises I have grown and/or seen in person.  ‘Dark Dude’ won the MSDM in 2019, much deserved.  Its pod parent is ‘Bout Midnight’ (Mary Dunn 1988) (there is another Mary Dunn iris!) had been my darkest iris until Ron produced ‘Dark Dude’.

'Bout Midnight' (Mary Dunn 1988)

'Geisha Eyes' (Charles Arny 1987)

‘Geisha Eyes’ (Charles Arny 1987), an oldie but goodie is also in my top ten.  What an appropriate name! I was stationed in Okinawa for 18 months and passed through Japan several times.  Can not say I ever looked into a geisha’s eyes, but this iris has lovely “eyes”. The signal on all petals really make it stand out and it is a pleasing violet blue that holds the colors over many days.  It won an Honorable Mention in 1996 and an Award of Merit in 1999 but never progressed into the larger awards. It is of interest of me that the pod parent ‘Acadian Miss’ (Charles Arny 1980) is a beautiful white iris with green style arms while the pollen parent is ‘Valera’ (Charles Arny 1980), registered as apricot buff (and both of ‘Valera’s  parents are redish in color).  You never know what you are going to get when you cross two irises! Oh, those recessive genes!

Well, we could go on and on but that should be enough to hold your interest for at least a few minutes. Stay Safe and Stay Home. We will get over this mess.


  1. My favorite is Lake Sylvia, since it is short and blue and would work well in my pond.

  2. Wish I could grow them in UT. Too dry here.


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