Monday, June 28, 2021

Louisiana Iris Seeds

By Hooker T. Nichols

This article is about how a relative new Louisiana iris hybridizer handles his ripened  Louisiana iris seeds.  There are two different roads one can travel upon when it comes time to harvest  your fully mature seeds and either plant them immediately or simply place them in a dry container until planting later  on in the year.

Cynthia Maldonado with seeds. Image from The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative  

Some of the few seasoned longtime  hybridizers harvest the seeds from the stalks when the pods begin to  turn nearly white just before they turn brow.  Some will tell you to plant the seeds immediately without nicking the corner of the seed or completely removing the cork covering from the seeds.  I personally have never  had the time to plant the seeds early post bloom season because as soon as the iris quit blooming I morph into a daylily and begin hybridizing daylilies.  If planted directly  into the soil or  individual gallon black pots you will get some  germination before fall  with the majority the following spring.

Image from The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative

I simply allow my pods to completely dry (turn brown) on the stalks.  I remove the seeds from  the ripened pods and place the complete  seed  lot  in  a Styrofoam cup.   After they have air dried, I put the cups in a cabinet and leave them there until early February.  Then each seed lot is planted in a one gallon black  pot with good soil.  In less than six weeks  I begin getting germination.  When the seedlings are  3  to 4 inches tall, I  transplant each seedling into its  own individual gallon pot when  it remains until September.  They are liquid fertilized every seven days until early September.  By that time, each  seedling has formed a small clump.  I tap the plant clumps out of  the pots and line them  out.  I get about 100% bloom the following spring because of out mild  winters and long growing season which is 200+ days per year.

Drawing Plate I. Dormon Caroline  By Their Fruits.

Following removing the seedlings from the pots, I then place the pots in full sun and let them bake all summer.  In early September I start watering the pots from which the 3-4 inch seedlings were earlier transplanted.  You will get another rush of germination.  The pots are healed in for the winter and the process is repeated again.  After the second individual transplanting is complete, I then dump the pots.

Louisianas bloom the same time as  the Spuria irises.  They are a  wonderful  way to extend your iris bloom season.   Try growing some of  the new Pseudata irises  and you can extend your iris  season  several more  weeks.

 Louisianas are adaptable to almost all soil types.    Plant the rhizomes about three inches in depth, fertilize them twice  a month  with either liquid or granular  fertilizer.  In hot areas, you much mulch them and one good watering a week in  the summer will keep them from going dormant. 

 This is the way I grow Louisiana iris in Texas and success has come my way.

Friday, June 25, 2021

IRISES: The Bulletin of the AIS - Spring 2021 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 Spring 2021 issue of the AIS Bulletin is already available online, accessible via the Emembers section of the AIS website. The print copy has been mailed via the U.S. Post Office. On the cover, 'Lamoyne Elizabeth', (Jim Hedgecock 2018, TB) by Jill Bonino, winner of AIS International Iris Competition (see information for this event on page 38). A large final Part 5 of the Centennial Supplement is also included in this edition of IRISES, and a copy of the cover is below. 

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.

Here's a list of some of the articles on this edition of IRISES:

On pages 14 through 17, Section Happenings by Phyllis Wilburn.

A short update on Youth Views by Cheryl Deaton on page 17.

International Iris News by Bruce Filardi on pages 18 - 19.

The Iris World 2021 Photo Contest Winners on pages 20 through 23.

A reprint from this very blog on pages 25 - 29, the Adventures with Arilpums by Tom Waters.

Recent/Current Region 13 personalities by Jim Morris on pages 30 - 34.

Unique Technique for Gathering Viable Pollen, by Michael Dossett and Linda Mann on page 35.

An Interview with Hybridizer Elvan (Al) Roderick, by Debbie Thurston, on pages 36 - 37.

Winners of the AIS International Iris Competition, by Jill Bonino and Kathy Chilton, on pages 38 - 39.

The 1925 Redlands, California Exhibition Report by Claire Schneider on pages 40 and 41. 

A beautiful write up about Wilma Stout, Honorary Member, 12-15-2020 at age 102 years, by Iris Fraticelli on pages 42 through 44.

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

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

Happy Gardening!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Willapa Refuge’s Wild Lawn: First Spring

Kathleen Sayce, June 18, 2021

A seedling PCI shows its complex parentage
It’s been eight months since the wild lawn was planted at the new office for Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, and Pacifica irises bloomed in their first spring. I took a few photos when I visited the lawn in April and June, while Program Manager Jackie Ferrier photographed almost every iris that flowered. 

We expect a bigger display of flowers next year as the wild lawn settles in. 

A variety of Pacifica iris grow in the lawn, including I. douglasiana, I. tenax, and seedlings from PCI hybrids. The plan is to let all the plants set seed, and scatter the seed around in late summer. We will also be planting more areas in coming years as the blackberries and other woody shrubs are suppressed around the visitors center and staff offices. One annual fall mowing is planned. Without mowing, woody shrubs and trees would soon (very soon!) take over the entire area. 

Looking NW in early spring to Willapa Bay

The grasses that provide a backdrop to the wildflowers are fescues, including Roemer’s and red fescue, and a low growing fescue mix. A combination of fescue plugs and seeds were used. This is important, because the grasses that grew here historically included reed canary grass, velvet grass and orchard grass, all too large and too dense for irises to thrive with them. 

Thrift in meadow
Iris tenax seedling

Other wildflowers include strawberry, springbank clover, yarrow, pearly everlasting and thrift. 

A new compost facility is selling compost by the truckload, so the next sections of the wild lawn will get a top dressing of compost to boost nutrient retention in winter, and water retention in summer. In these sections the compost will be tilled into the upper few inches. In the original section, we will top dress the lawn with an inch or so of compost next fall. 

I. douglasiana

PCI Mission Santa Cruz

This location was formerly a cattle ranch homesite, and there are thousands of daffodils growing throughout the area. The daffodils were retained as legacy plants, and also put on a nice display last spring. 

This fall we will add more wildflowers, including shooting-stars, common camas, checkermallow, chocolate lily, blue-eyed grass, and of course, more irises. 

If anyone wants a plant list, please contact me by email and I will send you the plant-list-in-progress. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Growing Irises Out East: Meeting Up in Raleigh

 by Heather Grace and Alleah Barnes Haley

Alleah Haley and daughter Heather discussing irises at the 2021 Region 4 Spring Meeting.
Bee Happy Farm, Creedmoor, North Carolina

Last month Alleah, daughter Heather, and son-in-law Chris met up with about 40 other members of the American Iris Society (AIS) in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2020 our local iris club, the Eastern North Carolina Iris Society, postponed hosting the AIS Region 4 Spring Meeting due to COVID, so we were eager to make it happen in 2021… if this could be done safely. Orchestrating this regional meeting required a BIG tour bus filled at half capacity for garden tours, BIG meeting rooms for social distancing, and collectively BIG hopes that our iris friends could and would attend.

Enjoying irises together AND apart
(foreground left to right) Bob Pries, garden co-owner Dean Richards, immediate past RVP Doug Chyz, and Anita Moran

When the time came, our hearts filled with joy. We met new members who joined AIS during the pandemic when we were unable to meet in person. Familiar faces appeared from our nearest North Carolina neighbor club, the Charlotte Iris Society. From Virginia we were joined by members from the Fredericksburg Area Iris Society, the Shenandoah and Potomac Iris Society, and the Central Virginia Iris Society. Coming from Maryland were members of the Francis Scott Key Iris Society. We even attracted out-of-region celebrities: Doug Chyz of South Carolina and AIS President Jody Nolan and her husband of Ohio.

Attending a regional meeting is always a delightful experience. In addition to connecting with other iris aficionados, the scenery is a feast for the eyes. On Thursday evening the talented Anita Moran presented a program on “How to Photograph Irises.” It was fairly technical and included advice on how to properly focus the camera on iris and avoid extraneous objects while photographing.  Alleah is now inspired to take a follow-up at the community college when in-person classes resume. She believes some skills are best learned in the classroom.

Anita Moran photographing irises

This meeting did not disappoint where learning was concerned. New member Matt Liner brought his first entries ever for an iris show, which joined those delicately transported from distant gardens. The over-100-specimen turnout was impressive considering that most entries were grown in other states. ENCIS members with gardens on tour kept their blooms at home for everyone to enjoy. Apprentice Judge Ingrid Bray received show bench judges’ training under accredited judges Anita Moran, Jody Nolan, and Sue Shackelford. Heather enjoyed punching entry tags to record judges’ awards and place ribbons as a clerk for the iris show. Clerking is a great opportunity to learn more about irises, and she got to spend quality time with expert facilitator Lois Rose who served as Show Chairman. 

Entering an iris show is a fun way to share blooms from your garden and learn other varieties you might like to grow.

In a banquet room nearby, Alleah moderated a panel discussion of AIS Region 4 judges Ray Jones, Ginny Spoon, and Carol Warner on ethics of judging irises. This topic is one Alleah is passionate about. She has always been particular about following guidelines and doing things right---this applies equally to all aspects of her life. A key message was that judges are the backbone of AIS because they personify its mission and goals. The panel discussion concluded with a 15-question test. No worries. It was “open-book, open notes” which relieved the audience’s anxiety. 

After lunch, it was time for more learning! Carol Warner gave training on AIS Awards and Honors. This topic is a requirement for Apprentice Judges to be eligible for accreditation, and many were pleased to add it to their lists of completed training. When the two-hour session concluded, Heather decided it was time for a nap. Alleah and Chris stayed strong and attended the regional plant auction. They bid on many wonderful irises, herbs, shrubs, and succulents donated by members of the region. Chris got outbid by Jody Nolan on a beautiful historic Iris japonica 'Aphrodite’ with variegated foliage. Jody gave a piece of her new specimen to Chris, and it will be a plant with a story our family will treasure for many years to come. Iris friends are really the best type of friends a gardener could ask for. They instinctively share GREAT PLANTS!


Chris’ rhizome of Iris japonica ‘Aphrodite’ will spend a few years increasing in a pot so he can keep an eye on it.

Saturday brought more opportunities to learn, albeit away from classroom walls. At the first host garden, participants had their pick of four in-garden judges’ training sessions; and the trio of attendees from our family - Alleah, Heather, and Chris - trotted like ducklings behind instructor Anita Moran to a distant bed of medians (small types of irises). This was Chris’ first regional and first opportunity to experience in-garden training. After clear, concise, expert instruction from Anita, Chris set about evaluating an iris. He seemed to enjoy the exercise, and it was fun to hear another family member critique and praise iris features.

Reblooming iris ‘Peggy Sue’ (Lauer 2006) does well in our gardens, and formed impressive clumps for Diana Dudley and Dean Richards. 

It is important to see an iris growing and to know what attributes make irises a prized garden perennial. To the novice, all irises are equally worthy candidates for the home garden. However, for the trained eye, critical merits and faults can be discerned. Some lack pleasing proportions, whereas others have flowers and leaves that match their height. Colors catch the eye from a distance and beards contribute pizzazz. The petals can be pinched (a fault) or have forms that twist (ditto). In the garden, it becomes obvious which irises have good substance and are able to withstand adverse weather conditions without losing their stuff.

Intermediate Bearded iris ‘Concertina’ (G. Sutton 2000) bloomed wonderfully for our family this year, and was doing the same for Mary and Don Myers. 

Clues about floriferousness are present from "bud count" (the number of spent blooms, open blooms, and buds that have not opened yet). Comparing foliage and plants can reveal which cultivars have a good green color, are disease resistant, and will avoid bloom out. It is impossible to gauge these attributes from a photograph. They must be evaluated in a garden, and it helps to understand what you are looking at.

Susan Miller invited attendees to offer suggestions that could help her identify a historic iris she received from her grandfather.  

When an iris does well in multiple gardens, it stands out in your memory.  Each visit is like seeing an old friend you have dearly missed. It was a joy to tour gardens of ENCIS members Diana Dudley and Dean Richards, Mary and Don Myers, Susan and Glenn Grigg, and Susan and Pete Miller. Each host welcomed the bus with enthusiasm, and shared quirks that make their gardens unique. Visitors took careful notes, and gardens will be described fully in a future issue of our regional newsletter, The Newscast.  

Host gardens identified irises introduced by a Region 4 hybridizer with white flags. ‘Cobra’s Eye’ (D. Spoon 2000) received the most votes on attendee ballots and received the regional D. C. Nearpass Award.

Bus captains Heather and Chris encouraged attendees to designate their favorite blooms on ballots, and regional award winners were announced during a banquet later in the evening. Guest speaker Jody Nolan shared short programs “Why You Should Grow Species Iris” and “How AIS Works.”  A key takeaway was that our directors wear many hats, and volunteers can apply their interests and skills to benefit everyone. This rallying cry inspired the technologically-inclined Heather to join AIS Social Media team. She wants to share the love of irises with gardeners who aren’t familiar with AIS yet, but might want to join and learn more.

Irises introduced by hybridizers outside Region 4 were also eligible for awards. ‘Wishful Thinking’ (Keppel 1996) received the most votes and won the regional B. Y. Morrison Award.

Alleah is already making plans to gather her descendants at the next national convention. Perhaps we should invite the iris-loving cousins too. We loved getting out of the house for a meetup in Raleigh, and can’t wait for the next opportunity to spend time with our iris family, new members, and old friends. 

Photo Credits:

Chris Broberg: Alleah Haley and Heather, Enjoying Irises, Anita Moran; 

Nadya Pysmenna: Entering an iris show

Heather Haley: ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Concertina’, Susan Miller historic, ‘Cobra’s Eye’, ‘Wishful Thinking’

For comments:

What do you enjoy doing with members of your region and local iris club? 

Monday, June 7, 2021

A Trip Down Memory Lane - Part Two

 By Maggie Asplet

Gosh, it seems like only yesterday and I was writing part one.  So, on with the rambles from an old lady.

Part one had us visiting other places and not just spending all our time at Mid-America Iris Gardens.  Mind you, we didn't mind not leaving, but just so many irises to see and you can never look at them too many times.

A beautiful sunset from the paddock down the road from where Thomas & Kirk live.
(Paddock is Kiwi speak for field.)

The learning experiences, the sharing of knowledge, or perhaps I should say listening to the experts knowledge, is just so invaluable, and just shows you how "so little I know".

Something that some might thing rather trivial can be of great value to another person.  Photos do make explaining yourself to someone else so much easier.  During my last trip I took particular notice of the watering system Thomas used and what connections etc.

Watering system at Mid America

My watering system.  The fitting are much the same and I must say having the picture from my trip sure made it easier when trying to explain what I wanted.

For me, the very best part is learning from others.  Others that were always so willing to share their knowledge and experiences.  

First, I will look at the work of Lynda Miller and her work with MTB's.  They are stunning, just such a delicate bearded iris on such elegant stems.  I think it is fair to say that these are perhaps my favourite of the bearded irises.

Lynda discussing irises with Bailey (from Smokin Heights, Australia)

Here we have 3 of Lynda's seedlings

One of Lynda's registered MTB's.

A sight to behold, watching Keith Keppel evaluate his irises, then discussing with him why he makes the choices he does.  So very talented when it comes to hybridising.  Those years of experience tells him just what the outcome "may be" like, whereas I am still in the category of not knowing at all.

His iris patch, although it decreases in size each time I visit is just amazing.  If it were me having to make a choice of which seedling to keep, I think they would all be staying.

Photo on the left is Keith evaluating his seedlings
One the right you have Wendy (NZ) and Melissa (Australia) taking photos in Keith seedling patch.

I feel that to stop speaking about these different people is like not acknowledging them at all and there are still more that have had an impact on my irises and what I am trying to achieve.  I feel like there is a part 3 coming, as I would also like to just talk a little about attending the Regional meetings.

Each trip that I make, I always try and attend the Regional meeting in Oregon as there are many people there that I met in my first ever trip in 2015 when 23 New Zealanders went to Convention.  So many great friends were made.

From these friendships and from one person introducing another, we had the privilege of Patrick and Margaret Spence coming to our convention (Gisborne, New Zealand) in 2018.  Such a great time and then great to catch up with them again in the States.

While Margaret was here, she liked a top I had and wanted to know where I got it.  To cut the long story short, she now has a top the same as mine.  I had packed mine, never told Margaret - Guess what happened at the Regional Meeting.

I'm the one wearing glasses, oh we both are.  I'm the one with the cell phone in my hand.

This now leads me into the attending Regional Meetings and as this will be expanded quite a bit, I think this will be a good place to end.

SO, Part 3 it will be, covering some of the other amazing people and the Regional Meeting.

It is my great hope that 2022 will see the return of us from down under.