Monday, November 27, 2023

A Growing Iris Resource on YouTube: Part VI

 by Heather Haley

In this post, I'll continue sharing an update for a growing iris resource on YouTube. The American Iris Society (AIS) uses its YouTube Channel to help organize and disseminate knowledge of the genus Iris, while fostering its preservation, enjoyment, and continued development. Many of the videos available are from the AIS Webinar Series, and their upload was planned for the benefit of all persons interested in irises.

In "A Growing Iris Resource On YouTube: Part I," I shared the origin of the AIS Webinar Series in 2020 as well as descriptions of recorded presentations that brought iris enthusiasts together during the pandemic. As the Webinar Series continued, I shared in Parts IIIII, and IV
The following describes the remaining webinars that AIS volunteers prepared, delivered, recorded, and posted to our YouTube Channel during 2023.

Webinar #31  - “ Judging Bearded Irises as Garden Plants” with Stephanie Markham

Stephanie Markham is an AIS Master Judge and serves as the judges training chairperson for the region she lives in (AIS Region 1).  In this webinar, you can learn about holistic methods that judges use to evaluate bearded irises in the garden for AIS awards.

Alan McMurtrie is a hybridizer of bulbous irises, notably Iris reticulata hybrids. His groundbreaking work has earned him several awards, including the AIS Hybridizer Award in 2019. In this webinar learn about the amazing world of reticulatas; the first iris to bloom after snow disappears.

Webinar #33 - “Historic Iris of Japan” with Chad Harris

Chad Harris has been growing and hybridizing Japanese irises for 40 years, and has introduced more than 30  Japanese irises and 10 species cultivars or species hybrid cultivars. He is an AIS Master Judge, winner of the AIS Hybridizer Award in 2022, and the co-chair of the AIS National Convention in June 2024.  In this webinar, learn about Chad's nine-year effort to research and preserve a collection of historic Japanese irises.

Webinar #34  - “Knowing and Growing Siberian Irises” with Bob Hollingworth

Bob Hollingworth has been growing and hybridizing Siberian irises for more than 40 years. He received the AIS Hybridizer's Award in 1997, and his work includes 11 winners of the Morgan-Wood Medal and creation of the only Siberian iris to win the American Dykes Medal, 'Swans in Flight.' In this webinar, Bob expands on a previous judges training and discusses what it takes to grow Siberian irises and recent hybridizing activities that help us catch a glimpse into the future.

Webinar #35  - “The Exciting Irises of the Middle East” with Dr. Dr. Ori Fragman-Sapir

Dr. Ori Fragman-Sapir has been the scientific editor of the “Flora of Israel and adjacent areas” website and is the scientific director of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. He is an expert on the Mediterranean and West Asian floras, as well as on geophytes, plant conservation, and sustainable horticulture. In this webinar, learn about the native irises of Israel and the Middle East, with inclusions from Jordan and Syria.

Webinar #36  - “A Romp Through the Iris Family” with Bob Pries

Bob Pries, in his own words, is a “frustrated botanist who gave up academia to make a living.” Beyond that, however, Bob has used his botanical knowledge and his interest in the Iridaceae to create one of the greatest resources available in the horticultural world, the AIS Iris Encyclopedia (a.k.a. the "iris wiki"), which includes the Ben R. Hager-Sidney P. DuBose Memorial Online Iris Library. In this webinar, learn about cultivation, evolution, and biodiversity within the iris family: Iridaceae.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Prolong the Pleasure of Bloom with Spuria Irises

 by Sylvain Ruaud

A Canadian iris enthusiast, author of "Les Iris" (Editions de l'Homme, Quebec, 2007), says: "If you grow bearded irises successfully, you can grow spurias, which are not as difficult as some other non-bearded species." What's more, these spurias have the good idea of flowering immediately after the large irises, so they ensure that the pleasure is prolonged.

They're not very well known, probably because they were only developed in the 50s, which is nothing compared to the large irises that have been cultivated for 150 years. Yet it was the famous English botanist Michael Foster (1836/1907) who, around 1870, was the first to take an interest in spurias. By crossing Iris orientalis and I. crocea, he obtained a hybrid he christened 'Shelford Giant' which, in addition to its tall stature, had a creamy white color with golden signal of I. orientalis, a species native to Turkey but also found on the Aegean islands of Lesbos and Samos. Contemporary iris hybridizer Clarence E. Mahan had this to say about Sir Michaël Foster's work: "The most famous spuria obtained by Foster is a cultivar in two shades of blue which he named 'Monspur'. This name is derived from two species that Foster thought were his parents: I monnieri and I. spuria." 

Iris spuria by Redouté in Les liliacées

Iris monnieri by Redouté in Les liliacées

In fact, 'Monspur' would not come from the species known today as spuria, but rather from a subspecies (either I. spuria subsp. halophila or musulmanica). Chromosomal analysis of available 'Monspur' plants suggests this, but it's not certain that this is the true cultivar obtained by Sir Michael. In any case, the name 'Monspur' has practically become synonymous with spuria! Together with the creamy white 'Shelford Giant', it forms the basis of modern spurias. The man who best describes the development of spuria irises is Geoffrey Stebbings in his book "The Gardener's Guide to Growing Irises" (David and Charles, 1997)
... the real work of hybridizing spurias began in California in the 1940s. It was here that Eric Nies used 'Monspur' to create a series of irises that were so important that the supreme annual award for spurias was given the name 'Eric Nies Award'. When he died, Marion Walker recovered his stock and introduced several of his last seedlings, which remain among the best today and include the popular blue-violet 'Ruth Nies Cabeen' (40) and 'Sunlit Sea' (56), a medium blue with a deep yellow signal on the sepals.
Iris spuria subsp. halophila in Curtis's Botanical Magazine

Since those heroic days, Spurias have evolved. The flowers have grown in size, the "spidery" appearance of the early ones has given way to something more voluminous, with petals as well as sepals, and a few undulations have appeared. The choice of colors has also expanded: from the yellow-centered white of the beginnings to pure white, mauve, perfect yellow and brown, often combined with yellow for a kind of plicata.

In Eric Nies's time, Carl Milliken recorded 'White Heron' (1948, Nies Award 1958) and above all the yellow 'Wadi Zem-Zem' (1953, Nies Award 1956), which has the advantage of being resistant to virus attacks, which is important in irises that before him were very susceptible to these infections.

The hybridization of iris spurias began with the above varieties and a few others of lesser importance. After Eric Nies, Carl Milliken and Marion Walker, the torch was taken up by Walker Ferguson and then Ben Hager, who dominated the spuria world for many years before Dave Niswonger came along and swept all the awards (between 1999 and 2022 he won ten Nies Awards, only giving way in 2000 to Ben Hager and in 2008 to Charles Jenkins, then from 2021, and his demise). Today, the big spurias with 2n=40 chromosomes, at 1.00 m. or 1.20 m. tall, dominate the end of our seasons, in an increasingly complete choice of colors, since even orange is part of the panoply. They've never been as adored as the big irises, but their place is growing stronger every year.

1999 = 'Sultan's Sash' (Niswonger, 1990)
2000 = 'Ila Remembered' (Hager, 1992)
2001 = 'Missouri Springs' (Niswonger, 1994)
2002 = 'Sunrise in Missouri' (Niswonger, 1995)
2003 = 'Missouri Sunset' (Niswonger, 1995)
2004 = 'Missouri Rainbows' (Niswonger, 1997)
2005 = 'Missouri Iron Ore' (Niswonger, 1997)
2006 = 'Adriatic Blue' (Niswonger, 1996)
2007 = 'Missouri Orange' (Niswonger, 1998)
2008 = 'Elfin Sunshine' (Jenkins, 1998)
2009 = 'Missouri Autumn' (Niswonger, 1996)
2010 = 'Missouri Dreamland' (Niswonger, 1999)
2011 = 'Speeding Star' (Cadd, 2002)
2012 = 'Solar Fusion' (Walker, 2004)
2013 = 'Missouri Orchid' (Niswonger, 2006)
2014 = 'Gorden Ducat' (Cadd, 2004)
2015 = 'Missouri Morning' (Niswonger, 2007)
2016 = 'Castor River (Niswonger, 2006)
2017 = 'Line Dancing' (Jenkins, 2007)
2018 = 'Lemon Chiffon Pie' (Cadd, 2006)
2019 = 'Red War Clouds' (Walker, 2009)
2020 = no award
2021 = 'Steely Don' (Aitken, 2012)
2021 = 'Ibis Express' (Kasperek, 2012)
2022 = 'Ode to a Toad' (Kasperek, 2012)
2023 = 'Hot Chili' (Atiken, 2014)

Monday, November 6, 2023

IRISES: The Bulletin of the AIS - Fall 2023 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 Fall 2023 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, the 2023 Dykes Medal winner 'Don't Doubt Dalton' (Tom Burseen 2015, TB).

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 are of the AIS website for more details.

The AIS 2023 Awards are in full display beginning with the cover, back cover and all other winners displayed on pages 2 - 3. The listing of all winners are on pages 12 to 19.

A great recap of Region 21's Spring Garden Tour is included on pages 20 - 24.

A heartwarming tribute to Don Spoon on 25 - 31.

Don't miss the fantastic article by Charles Perilloux, about the Preservation of the Native Species of Louisiana Irises on pages 32 through 40.

Hot! Hot! Hot! Watering Irises When It's Hot, a very interesting article by Claire Schneider is on pages 41 to 43.

The Oklahoma Iris Festival and More by Michael Kowalchyk is on pages 44 to 47. Don't miss it. 

An invitation to the Spuria and Louisiana Iris Societies Combined Convention is on pages 48 and 49.

Everything you need to know about the New Horizons 2024 Portland National Convention is on pages 50 and 55.

Recommendations from the new AIS Membership Secretary, Jean Richter on pages 56 and 57.

The article, Are Japanese Irises Delicate Now Way! on pages 58 and 59.

A final article on Iris Grown in Containers: Part Four, on pages 60 and 61.

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


Support the Work of The American Iris Society by Becoming a Member:

Not a member of the American Iris Society? Please see our website for information about becoming one:
Happy Gardening!

  • The Annual Full Membership receives both benefits described above.
  • Participate in AIS’s bi-monthly Webinar Series featuring AIS experts from around the U.S.
  • Get to know about our lesser known irises, such as species, spuria, Japanese, Louisiana, Siberian and other beardless irises.
  • Participate in the Annual convention. The next convention will be in Portland, OR in 2024.  
  • Support AIS's Mission of education, conservation, research, preserving historical archives, and outreach projects.
  • Did you know that The American Iris Society is the registration authority for all rhizomatous irises worldwide?  
  • The Iris Encyclopedia is available 24-7, 365 days a year, and filled with a wealth of iris knowledge. Stop by for a visit!