Friday, May 30, 2008

The Delightful Aril Irises



Fantastic!! the ASI Year Book has arrived and as usual it is an informative read. Once again
brilliantly Edited by Thomas Fietz.
The Aril featured on the cover 'Hakuna Matata' (A & D Cadd) Mohr Medal Winner 2007. Cover credit ASI.
For all you folks that visit this blog and there are many of you (By the way Thanks once again for visiting) The Year Book is distributed to members of ASI anually 165+ pages of information and a large amount of colored photos of Aril Irises.

A selection of Articles 2007 issue are as follows
* The importance of the Clarence G White 'Oncobreds' in the developement of the new Arilbred Irises. H.V Slamova
* Taking Digital Iris Photographs. A Moran
* Part I; The Equipment. A Moran
* Part II; Taking the Picture. A Moran
* Part III; Working with your pictures. A Moran
* Enhanced Germination Techniques. S McAllister
* A new population of the rare Iris westii from Mount Hermon. O Fragman-Sapir

Iris lovers worldwide who wish to receive quality Aril iris information plus the many other benefit's of membership should give serious thought to Join The Aril Society International it's a great investment.The best Membership Deal is $28.00 US triennial which includes $12.00 credit for the plant sale in the first year of membership or when renewing membership. Australian and New Zealand members receive an $8.00 credit voucher for the Seed Exchange in the first year of triennial membership or triennial renewal.
Membership of the ASI has so much to offer there is the ARILROBIN, Yearbook, Newsletters, Seedlist, Rhizome sale and fellowship of those of us who marvel at the beauty of the arils and all of this at a super reasonable price

ASI Checklist (Cover Photo)
Hakuna Matata OGB - A. & D. Cadd, R. 1999). Sdlg. 12-92-1. AB, 24-28”, (61-71cm), VE & RE. S. straw yellow, brown infusion; syle arms slightly darker yellow; F. straw yellow, maroon brown area around beard with radiating darker maroon brown lines; beards brown, tipped yellow; lightly fragrance. Jolt X Dawn Victory; ruffled; slight musky Available in America from Andiris Gardens

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Arilbred Iris 'ESTHER, THE QUEEN'



all my New Zealand friends and visitors who might just read the next post but are frustrated at not been able to purchase the featured Aril iris plant This posts is for you!!

The best thing about 'Esther the Queen' is that you get an exotic Aril Iris and a Historic Iris all rolled into one!!
The plant gives good increase. These Iris are classified as OGB which is a Oncogeliabred , an iris hybrid of oncocylus and bearded iris parentage and considered to be the easiest to establish.Generally Arilbred's can be established in conditions similar to the bearded irises just grow in a summer dry garden
in a rich warm soil with sharp drainage full sun, and they will bloom their socks off for you!!!!Esther the Queen is available in New Zealand from The Iris Garden Christchurch and at $10.00 per plant is a very reasonably priced. It's sold bare rooted so order one now to be sure you get one next season.If you live in Christchurch you may be able to drive out to the Iris Garden this weekend and pick up some iris growing in pots. Just do not forget to Join The Aril Society International for a triennial deal that will never be repeated!!!!! Three years for $28.00 US and at today's dollar conversion that's $36.00 NZ or $12.00 NZ per year plus a $8.00 US Voucher for you to spend on seed. Brilliant!!!!
For Our American visitors there is a large list of commercial growers listed on the ASI web site that may stock ETQ. Check it out!

ASI 2006 Checklist ESTHER, THE QUEEN OGB (Eugene Hunt, R. 1967). Sdlg. ORB 64-1. AB, 36” (91 cm) E-M. S. wisteria blue, deeper veins, blended willow green at base, brown at claw; F. willow green, blended erythrite red; dotting by black beard on black maroon spot, paling to brown as it blends to willow green. (Sundt 5631D: (Ardrun x Ib-Mac) X Kalifa Gulnare). Tell’s Iris Garden, 1968.
With many thanks Picture courtesy Aril Society International.©

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris 'ALPINE MEADOW'

Alpine Meadow was a complete mystery to me as I have never seen the iris growing and all I have had to date is a couple of catalogue descriptions and an artist's enhancement of the bloom shown above which is the cover of the Stevens Bros Catalogue 1955-56.
Two days ago a fine Irisarian and generous friend Sarah Cook in England returned from her European trip and sent me this amazing photo of Alpine Meadow. It is a big thanks to Sarah that New Zealanders get to see one of the great irises of Jean Stevens breeding lines which got major raps when first released 53 years ago. Photo was taken last week in Merian Park, Botanical Garden, Brüglingen, Switzerland. This iris major's in the classic form.

To understand the respect and high regard that Jean Stevens commanded in the Iris growing world the description below written by Robert Schreiner an internationally respected hybridiser himself  in the Schreiner's Iris lovers Catalog 1955 says it all.
ALPINE MEADOW (Stevens 1955) M 34" Unlike Alexander the Great, Iris Hybridisers need not sigh for more worlds to conquer.
Many color realms still remain unconquered, yet the famous New Zealand Hybridist Mrs Stevens has once more crossed a new frontier. Here is an iris of a color combination without counterpart in commerce. Standards are clear white and falls a tint of soft blue, not the deep violet of older amoenas like Wabash. Alpine Meadow might be described as a blue 'Pinnacle'. This medium size flower is the first of what we feel certain will be an entire series of pastel amoenas differing from any now existing. Breeders will be glad to note that Alpine Meadow bears fertile pollen and seeds well.

Stevens Bros. 1955-56 Catalogue
2011 New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist
ALPINE MEADOW  Mrs J. Stevens, Reg., 1955.   Sdlg. 2/723. TB, 36″, (91 cm), M, W4. The standards are white, washed with duck egg blue, and the falls are a soft light blue.  This is a combination which is bright yet harmonious in the garden, avoiding the sharp contrast of the conventional white and purple blues such as Wabash; Description Stevens Bros, catalogue 1956-57; Bicolor (amoena).   S. white; F. light blue, brown haft; brown-gold beard.; Three Cheers X (Magnolia x ((New Dawn x Radiant Morn selfed)) x Winston Churchill)) x (Magnolia x variegata sdlg.).. 'Novelties' Stevens Bros 1956-57, Schreiner 1957

Please respect Sarah Cook's copyright.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

National Library of New Zealand

I am pleased and honoured to announce this blog has been added to Te Puna Web Directory at The National Library of New Zealand. The selection criteria is 'Personal sites where they contribute to the documentary record of the nation's experience'.
The aim of Te Puna Web Directory is to provide a subject gateway to selected New Zealand Internet information resources that help libraries, their users, and all New Zealander's meet their professional, educational, cultural and personal information needs.

Many Thanks to the National Library

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book of the Month Hits the Bargain Bin




A New Zealand Gardener's Guide
Pamela McGeorge and Allison Nicoll
Photographs by Russell McGe

Paperback, 96 pages, 190 x 2
55mm, NZ, 2001.

This practical gardener's guide to growing these spectacular garden flowers features –
* Landscaping with irises
* Bearded irises
* Evansia or crested
* Beardless irises

* Bulbous irises
* Picking and caring for the blooms
* Pests and diseases
* Where to see and buy irises

RRP.$30.00 NOW ONLY $12.00 plus p&p. Terrific value!!!!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tall Bearded Iris 'DAWN REFLECTION'

Identifying Historic or any Iris for that matter is fraught with difficulty partly due to others or your own preconceived ideas, or information which is slightly off base. 'Dawn Reflection' has been one such journey, but I got there in the end as I gave up listening to people who have that uncanny knack of imagining irises into existence. Last growing season I was gifted all the irises growing in Wanda Williams garden and 'Dawn Reflection' was part of the gifts it was also documented as growing in the Williams Garden by Iris Convention attendees in 1956. The seedling # 1/U86 (Dawn Reflection) first bloomed for Jean Stevens in 1946, and her notes state " Rosy Plicata lightly toned 3½ ft.". Jean originally applied to have the iris registered as 'Pygmalion' but the name was turned down by the AIS registrar as 'Pygmalion' had already been used to register a Japanese Iris in 1938. The new name 'Dawn Reflection' was confirmed 4th June 1948. It was in March 1948 Jean sent by surface mail 3 plants of the seedling #1/U86 among others plants to Schreiners. 'Dawn Reflection' has its developing buds that have a barbers pole effect which is always that something extra. I have distributed this iris to others, so it now also grows in two Garden's in Auckland and two gardens other than my own in the Wairarapa so I guess you can say it is risk managed. For most New Zealand gardeners this would be the first time they have seen this iris that was originally introduced  by Jean Stevens in 1948.

Stevens Bros, Wanganui. Irises 1948-49 Catalogue.
DAWN REFLECTION (Stevens) Very lovely in its flared and waved form, of wonderful substance and gleaming texture, this new iris has a dainty grace which makes an instant appeal. It is a plicata, yet has two virtues which few plicata's possess, garden value as a clump, and a soft pink colour tone. The ground colour is ivory with the margins of the flaring falls softly stitched in pink. The waved standards are richly flushed and stitched rose pink. Excellently branched stems carry the huge blooms to a height of 3½ ft. 50 Shillings.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon,Iris Lovers Catalog,
DAWN REFLECTION (Stevens 1948) M 36"
This is the largest plicata I have ever seen and a prime favorite with garden visitors. The immense blooms, attractively flared and waved, have a ground color of glistening ivory,sparingly and precisely etched rose-pink on the falls and more generously suffused a bright lilac-pink in the standards. A sturdy iris of unusual delicacy, yet most effective in a clump. Branching and substance are ideal. $12.00

Salina Flower Farm, Salina, Kansas. Iris & Peonies Catalog 1954
Dawn Reflection (Stevens '48) 42". Soft Pink tone plicata on ivory ground.

Marble Iris Gardens, Grandview, Washington, Iris Colorama Catalog, 1961.
DAWN REFLECTION (Stevens 1948) M 36in. A very large plicata with immense blooms attractively flared and waved. It has the ground colour of glistening ivory, sparingly and precisely etched rose-pink on the falls and more generously suffused and etched a bright lilac pink in the standards. It is very effective in a clump.

AIS Checklist 1949
DAWN REFLECTION TB-M-Y8L (Stevens-W.R. N.)R: 1948

I have displayed two photos of 'Dawn Reflection' which shows slight colour variation and also shows the difficulty in capturing the colour soft pink. Above photo thanks to Bill Edington. For the colour 'Rose Pink' refer Ridgway 249.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Iris Unguicularis The Winter Flowering Iris

This is the Winter flowering iris is often referred to as 'Iris stylosa' or 'Algerian Iris'. A Frenchman named Desfontaine in 1798 discovered the iris in Algeria, giving it the name of Stylosa on account of its peculiarity in the way the style rises some distance in the flower before branching out to form the style arms. However Desfontaine later found that a compatriot, Poiret had discovered the iris thirteen years earlier and had given it the name unguicularis taken from the Latin "unguis" meaning claw with reference to the claw-like formation of the style and its branches.
It's reliable habit of non stop winter blooming an established plant very quickly becomes a terrific asset to the winter garden.

Stunning lavender blue flowers are 10-20cm (4"-8") tall and are often hidden among the long 40-60cm (18"-24") evergreen drooping leaves which are pleasant to the eye all year round. Grow it against a sunny wall of the house, it will thrive in a lime stony soil and it loves neglect. The longer and dryer the summer, the better bloom the following winter. The leaves as you can see in the above photo can get untidy and ratty-looking so a light pruning late summer of older leaf growth will tidy up the plant, and stimulate new clean growth.  Originally from Algeria, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon. There are several New Zealand registered varieties 'City of Sails', 'Bunty',and 'Violet Crescent', are a few, but where these plants can be purchased from is a mystery, which is most annoying.
This iris was given to me as a gift, and I cannot find a commercial seller of this iris in New Zealand so if someone knows perhaps they would be kind enough to leave a comment on where it is available from.
Most certainly another irresistible iris.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Intermediate Iris "KARIN OLDING"



Karin Olding a New Zealand bre
d Intermediate Iris Hybridised by Glady's Watson and registered in 1978 (I cannot find much information about this lady).Length of bloom makes this is one of the best reblooming intermediate irises. Yesterday I was chatting to Gloria Rapson one of New Zealand's finest Irisarian's ,who informed me that in her Tauranga garden Karin Olding is currently a mass of bloom stalks and flowering is expected within the week. KO starts to bloom for Gloria in June and can still be blooming at Christmas Time and into January. The temperature is a lot warmer in that part of the country than it is here but Karin Olding is one of the first to bloom in the Wairarapa. Whilst the flowers would not be considered perfection by the so called NZ Iris Growing Elite the iris can not be faulted for its bud count,the bud colouration, its good increase, and its extraordinary long bloom season makes it an Iris your garden can not be without.

Its registered Bloo
m season classification is VE (Very Early) but if this Iris was to be registered today it would probably have a bloom season classification VE-ASRE.(All Season Rebloom)Its amazing homozygous recessive condition would mean it has enormous breeding potential as a parent.

AIS 1979 Checklist entry
KARIN OLDING (Mrs G Watson R.1978) Sdgl; W2-31-63 IB, 22" (56cm) VE. Light blue,overlaid and veined deeper blue on Falls;Yellow beard tipped white.Helen McGregor X Schreiner sdlg.

Introduced Collins Iris Garden 1978/79
Last bloom season was
the first time I had seen KO in all its glory, it instantly became a 'Must Have' in my garden, and 3 Rhizome's of Karen Olding were purchased for a group planting.
The only New Zealand catalogue listing of this iris in 2007-2008 is Amazing Iris Garden 138 Walford Road RD2 Katikati.Email

Karin Olding is yet another treasure of New Zealand iris Hybridising which to date has been very poorly promoted. Pictures taken of unlabelled Karin Olding growing in Queen Elisabeth Park, Masterton, New Zealand last bloom season. With the registration date of 1978 Karin Olding is now 30 years old so has archived Historic Iris status. I have no doubt it will still be around 30 years from now

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Saturday, May 10, 2008



'Soliloquy' is a garden blog I recommend you visit .Yesterdays post "Little Earth Stars" is an excellent example of the first class writing and the food for thought that is a consistency with this blog. It's the thinking person's Garden blog.
Please visit the site by clicking on this link SOLILOQUY and then click on visit blog so we can vote this lady into the top ten blogs on Blotanical where she deserves to be.
For me Dandelions will never be the same again.

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Tall Bearded Historic Iris "SHANNOPIN"

This photo of the iris "Shannopin" was taken growing in a garden of an old heritage house in Masterton at peak bloom time. 
My first association with this iris was as a NOID, found growing opposite a Butcher's Shop so I originally labeled it "The Butcher's Iris". This garden was small, directly adjacent to a tar sealed footpath and was overcrowded with rhizomes, buttercups and other plants, and had there been a competition for 'The best Iris surviving in a neglected garden' category it was certainly the clear cut winner. Flowers mid-late season. An iris of classic form, widely grown and admired in mainly older gardens of the Wairarapa District.
SHANNOPIN the iris was named after 'Shannopin's Town' which in the 1700's was a Delaware Indian Village located near the site of modern day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The hybridiser T. Lloyd Pillow was Pittsburgh's superintendent of Street and Sewer Department. The first of his three registrations was in 1939 a tall bearded iris NANTY GLO. In 1943 he introduced a tall bearded iris CONNOQUENESSING a native American word meaning "A Long way Straight". All of the names Lloyd Pillow used to register his Irises have an association with  'Shannopin's Town' or the associated Pennsylvania area.

Stevens Bros, Wanganui, Irises Catalogue, 1948-49. 
SHANNOPIN (Pillow 1940) An Iris of most unusual combination and very striking. Clear cream standards with lilac rose falls. Well branched with medium sized flowers 3.5ft

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon, 1948, Iris Lovers Catalog.

SHANNOPIN (Pillow 1940) M 40" A striking iris and most original.Close to a cream and rose amoena. Clear cream ruffled standards with pink to rose cast falls, medium sized flowers.$1.25

AIS Checklist 1949
SHANNOPIN TB-La-W9M (Pillow 1940)Kellogg 1940 ect. (Redwing X Seedling)

If you love historic irises and you get a chance to purchase this iris don't hesitate. I guarantee it will be a iris you will never regret growing. No commercial grower in New Zealand, and the American Garden that I knew stocked it has now closed.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter 

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris 'SLYVAN SONG'



Sylvan Song a recent addition to my collection and another amazing New Zealand introduction from Jean Stevens. This iris when it clumps up (I have several plants) will 'look the business' when growing among the darker blues.
Sylvan Song is the sister seedling to Airy Grace
Sylvan we think refers to Spirit's of the Wood's (Thanks J.M.)

Stevens Bros Catalogue Novelties 1947-48
A very distinct and novel personality is inherent in this lovely rounded flower of largest size and faultless form. A true self, the colour is quite new, and can be visualised as a warm honey-cream. A faint dusting of cinnamon brown at the hafts gives a rich almost vibrant note unexpected in such a light toned flower. A variety which will become extremely popular having nothing of the pallid washiness one usually associates with pale colour tonings 4ft.

D'Arcy Blackburn Catalogue, Gisborne 1952-53
Slyvan Song (Stevens) A very distinct and lovely variety with rounded flowers of largest size and faultless form. A self of warm-honey cream enlivened by a dusting of cinnamon brown at the haft. This is destined to enjoy great popularity.48 inches

1949 AIS Check List
SYLVAN SONG TB-M-Y4L (Stevens W R N.) Reg 1947 (Sdgl. X Tiffany) #3/T32

Notes from Jean Stevens stud book 1925-1944 the following pedigree extrapolated from several entries the Pedigree would read (Seduction X (Naranja X Firelight)) X Tiffany
Seedling T32 is a 1943 cross

Finally I take this opportunity to Thank Ms.Wanda Williams (Deceased) and her gardener Wayne Brown for their impeccable good taste in Irises which had made them accidental guardians of a collection of Jean Stevens Irises that endured for decades.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Martha Stewart 'Living' Magazine Iris Feature

Martha Stewart "Living" Magazine,May 2008, out in stores now!! features
A Gardener's Palette "Few flowers come in as many shades of the spectrum or are as versatile as the Tall Bearded Iris", Schreiner's Iris Garden played a big part in this article. Good to see Irises on the up and up!!

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

The American Iris Society Bulletin has Arrived

Fantastic!! the April 2008 AIS Bulletin has turned up and as usual it is an informative read.
The picture featured on the cover is Keith Keppels 1998 introduction "Broken Dreams" an Iris I received as a bonus plant from a grower this year so I am 'over the moon' It sure looks good. Photo credit Terry Aitken.

For all you folks that visit this blog and there are many of you (By the way Thanks for visiting) the bulletin is distributed to members of AIS 4 times a year, each bulletin has 120+ pages of information and colored photos on Irises. A selection of Articles in the April issue are as follows
  • Growing and Selecting Irises in Slovenia Izidor Golob
  • The Quest for a Yellow Japanese Iris John White
  • A Germination Experiment Kelly D Norris (Guest Editor for this edition)
  • Culture Corner Rita Gormley
  • A Breeders Life Robin Shadlow
  • How Fungi Function Sandra Dark
  • The Other Irids Part 1 Robert Pries
  • A Milestone of the Las Vegas Iris Society Mary Lee Fortner
  • Plicata Locus color patterns in Bearded Iris Dr. Don Spoon

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

End of Iris Rebloom Autumn has arrived with vengance



Autumn really arrived in the last two days. light dusting of Snow on the hills this morning, 1° Celsius at 6am, currently 4°C at 11:23am . The temperature drop has helped with brightening up the autumn foliage which is looking brilliant especially the Liquidamber styraciflua. Pictures of the hills from the top paddock and the trees turning colour. That's the end of the reblooming Iris as all the bloom and buds have just turned to mush. In a couple of months time the Iris bloom will start again.


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Friday, May 2, 2008

Back to the future but not with Blotanical

I have only just found the list in Blotanical which is the directory the 200 Most Recent Posts and it seems that it is almost impossible to obtain the status of "Recent" when you live in New Zealand as Blotanical places my current post in Yesterday's date. I published a blog Thursday 1st May and its instantly placed on Blotanical "Most recent posts" half way down the Wednesday 30th April section. Half a day later and its not on the list at all. Amazing!!
Where will this posting be placed I wonder
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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tall Bearded Iris 'TWILIGHT HARMONY'



Twilight Harmony grows in the same garden which is the featured garden shown on the top banner of this blog. (Banner now changed) Plant grows more Border Bearded height for me but when its bloom arrives it most certainly changes the colour dynamics of the garden. Plant shows good purple bottom foliage (PBF), has moderate increase, and can have up to ten buds per bloom stalk. The breeding potential of this Iris to date has largely been ignored. Richmond Iris Gardens, Nelson, is the only commercial grower in New Zealand who listed Twilight Harmony last season

Catalogue description from Wanganui Irises 1966-67
Twilight Harmony; No introduction of recent years has greater claims to beauty and distinction than this lovely Iris novelty. The grace and glamour of the modern form of ruffling and flaring has been given to a lovely new colour combination, totally new to the iris palette. The standards are a soft clean lemon gold, whilst the falls are just as soft in colouring but a light pure heliotrope margined with honey gold. A clear lemon haft and beard brings the colours to a delightful harmony

1969 Checklist.
TWILIGHT HARMONY.(J Stevens R. 1964) 2-158 TB 32" M Y4V S.luminous honey gold F.light heliotrope, honey gold border; gold haft and beard. P.Cook 216-55 X Olympic Torch Wanganui 1967

The seedling from Paul Cook 216-55 was also used by Jean Stevens in her 1962 introduction "SPARKLING SEAS" this is another variety that I have recently found, positively secured its ID, and is now growing in my collection of Jeans Irises

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