Monday, December 13, 2021

Season 2021 at Smokin Heights

By Mel and Bailey Schiller

This spring was long and drawn-out, for which we are very thankful. At the end of September we lost our son and brother to a tragic motorbike accident, and this affected our iris season dramatically. The situation made it difficult for us to focus, but we are doing our best with what we have been dealt. 

The late-blooming varieties are now in bloom, which for us is a month later than normal. It has been incredibly hard to focus on getting photos of the seedlings, let alone the remainder of the iris fields. Some days are easier than others. 

We had a lot of rain this year, probably triple what we normally would experience in October and November. Bailey informed me yesterday that for a couple of my pods that had set, the stem was rotting. This has never happened before. Normally it is dry and incredibly hot in October and November; but this week, in December, we are experiencing hot days, which would have been the norm  a month ago.

Last year Mel and Bailey planted around 8000 maiden bloom seedlings. Most of these came from Barry Blyth. We also have around 1000 2nd year seedlings which we needed to go through, as these were the last crosses we made during our visit to Oregon back in 2019. Add to those the many seedlings we have grown and need to evaluate for introduction.  

Bailey is hybridizing for novelties. Mel is hybridizing arils and working on blacks. These are our main goals -  the beautiful irises that pop up in the meantime are bonuses. 

F106-1: ('Inner Darkness' X 'Black Lipstick'). This has beautiful blocky falls and a spicy fragrance. The color holds up in our heat and it doesn't wilt quickly. The foliage is lovely and clean. 

This gorgeous arilbred seedling ('Soaring Falcon' x 'Onlooker') had four rhizomes and all four, unfortunately, bloomed. I fell in love with this seedling immediately on first sight. I left the rhizomes in the ground hoping and praying for new growth, but it does not look promising. 

H172-1: ('Lancer' x 'Eye On America') AB. Huge blooms on strong stems make this AB a standout. We love it! Heading for intro....

Bailey's novelties have really taken off this season. So many awesome color combinations on plants with variegated foliage. Then the drumroll: the six-falled TB varieties he has been diligently working on. Here is a small sample of what is happening at Smokin Heights:

H27-B: ('Chaos Theory' X 'Full Disclosure'). 'Full Disclosure' has been a very good parent for six-falled TBs, but unfortunately it doesn't give much variety color-wise. Although this seedling isn't the most interesting color, it does have exceptional form.

H17-D: ('Untamed Glory' X 'Full Disclosure'). A little boring color-wise but very consistent with nice branching. It should be good to use further in hybridizing.

H14-A: ('Chaos Theory' X 'Fiasco') This is one of very many seedlings selected from this cross. This one stood out because of the nice pattern and overall good plant habits. We really like the look of the "belly" stripe down the falls. 

F58-ZZ: (X150-A: 'Painted Caravans' sib X 'Bold Pattern').The favorite of the bunch just because of the pattern. You can see from the photo that this seedling has nice branching and bud placement. 

The seedlings have finished blooming and we are still labelling photos from this past season. We can now begin the task of digging rhizome orders while the seed pods ripen. Over Christmas time we will begin removing unfavourable seedlings. 

Bailey and I sincerely wish you all a Merry Christmas. May you enjoy your Christmas time with loved ones. Remember it's not the presents under the Christmas tree that count, it is having those who you value most with you. Warm wishes from Down Under. 

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