Friday, December 25, 2009

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "MARBLED MOHR" or is it a Arilbred????

Christmas Blessings to you all.
If I had to pick an Iris which epitomised my year it has to be Marbled Mohr. It kinda is one type of Iris but it ain't, and lets face it, when you see such beauty the politics of Iris registration takes a definite back seat. Maybe, it just is one of those situations when,"If it looks like a Arilbred,Grows like an Arilbred, you know, it just might be an Arilbred"
Problems like these in Iris Nomenclature will be eliminated when the meaning of 'Cumulative" is discovered and embraced by more than just the few Iris Societies that have already done so.

Tell's Iris Gardens. Provo, Utah. Iris Catalog and Hybridizers Handbook 1959
Greetings 1959,
Then I have a William Mohr seedling I have kept around a long time because it always performs well. This I have named MARBLED MOHR. It is in the same color-range as SPLASHES but unlike it an easy grower. It carries a fine plicata heritage and I can see its use in a worthy plicata program.
1959 Introductions
MARBLED MOHR* (Tell Muhlestein). Early-Midseason. 40 inches. (William Mohr.) X (47-15 ((Midwest x Mme. Louis Aureau) x (Aldura)).
Large Mohr-type flower of medium violet splashed white'. Good growth and bloom. Could be a great plicata parent. .. .. ... $5.00 

Its registered as a Tall Bearded Iris yet the 1959 American Iris Society (AIS) Checklist notes it as a "Mohr Type".
MARBLED MOHR (Muhlestein, R. 1958). TB 40" E-M. V2M. Medium violet, splashed white (Mohr type). William Mohr x (Midwest x Madame Louis Aureau) x Aldura)., Tell 1959.

The Aril Society International (ASI) in its 2006 Checklist notes Marbled Mohr under APPENDIX C "OTHER THAN" [OT] Iris which have been registered with the American Iris Society as "other than" arilbreds. They usually contain 1/4 aril complement.

The Historic Iris Preservation Society has a Comprehensive Checklist of Aril and Arilbred Cultivars: This is an alphabetical checklist of cultivars based on American Iris Society registrations through 1996 and Aril Society International records through 1996. It contains historical information and notes on the cultivars in addition to "standard" checklist information. Compiled by Kay Nelson Keppel and Sharon McAllister.A great example of what a Cumulative Checklist can do and its listing is thus.
MARBLED MOHR AB (Tell Muhlestein, R. 1958). Sdlg # N/A. TB, 40", E-M. William Mohr x ((Midwest x Madame Louis Aureau) x Aldura). Medium violet splashed white. Tell, 1959.
Notes: registered as a TB but qualifies as an OB- in both systems. Ref: AIS '59, p. 122; ASI '76, p.53.

Good to see that someone has got it right. Big Hat tip to Dorothy Stiefel

Available in New Zealand from The Iris Garden so be sure to get your order in.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

See you all in the New Year and thanks for visiting in 2009.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

"That old Jap Magic has me in its spell"



A visit to Eddie Johns and his Otara Birch Gardens is always one of the great highlight of the Iris year. This is the largest collection of Japanese Irises in New Zealand and makes for an impressive display. Some of his new seedlings show real potential. A few of the photos taken yesterday.
Big hat tip to Eddie Johns for his hospitality.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Monday, December 14, 2009

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris "KINGSTON GLORY"

We have grown this iris at home for two years, but only bloomed in its second season. My initial thoughts were before checking the label that it was most likely Bernard Hamner's 1994 introduction 'Burgundy Party' and what was it doing growing there? But when reading the label and double checking my notes and garden map, I found out the Iris to be the widely acknowledged shy blooming New Zealand bred iris 'Kingston Glory'.
With good closed form in it's Standards, a nice amount of ruffling on both the standards and the falls, and with a not to excessive amount of veining extending from the haft down a significant third of the falls, giving 'Kingston Glory' a retro look of sorts. It's a soft bi-tone of burgundy-lilac colours which are sun-fast. Foliage has a purple bottom to it (PBF).
All and all, a better looking and a more structurally sound bloom than 'Burgundy Party', but lets itself down by being an sporadic bloomer a trait that happens a lot with the progeny of 'Bewilderbeast'. Branching inconsistent and bud count is lacking so far, but I will continue to grow this iris with interest and hope it looses interest in been shy.

AIS Checklist 2003
KINGSTON GLORY (Noel Lapham, R. 2003). Sdlg. 98-86x. TB, 32" (80 cm), M. S. light rosy lavender; F. deep velvety rosy wine red, white ground at haft with rosy wine red markings; beards gold; lightly ruffled; slight fragrance. Honky Tonk Blues X Bewilderbeast. Begg Shield 2001. Mossburn Iris Gardens 2003.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tall Bearded Iris "GYPSY ROMANCE"

For the past 6 years the award winning 'Gypsy Romance' has consistently created a great deal of attention in my garden. A rich ruffled violet raspberry self (RHS 77A) with a most attractive beard. Clumps up very well and in no time at all becomes a very impressive display. Flowers of good form and ample size. It's one of the few Irises that makes my bucket list (one you need to grow and see before you kick the bucket) Interesting parentage R 720-D: (Louisiana Lace x Entourage) X T 879-B: (L556-1: (G 510-A x Fabulous Frills) x Starcrest)

CONTEMPORARY VIEWS—1994/1995, Perry Dyer. 
GYPSY ROMANCE (Schreiner 1994) is a rich deep cranberry, deeper and larger than ‘Thriller’ (Schreiner) with much improved plant habits. The hafts are imprinted with a small portion of smooth chocolate. Stalks are a superb modified candelabra, with 4 branches, double budded, with excellent sequencing of bloom and later secondary stalks, further extending its bloom season. Overall form is tighter and improved over the Schreiners’ 1992 offering of similar nature, ‘Mulberry Punch’.

Schreiners Iris Lovers Catalog 2002
Wide undulating ruffling creates an enchanting appeal on Gypsy Romance's large well formed flowers. Its blue purple beards seductively contrasts the rich violet-mulberry color of its petals HM'96, AM'98, Wister Medal '02

AIS Checklist 1999
GYPSY ROMANCE Schreiner, Reg. 1994 Sdlg. W 603-1. TB, 37" (94 cm), ML ; Ruffled violet raspberry (RHS 77A), hafts washed bronze; beards blue purple. R 720-D: (Louisiana Lace x Entourage) X T 879-B: (L556-1: (G 510-A x Fabulous Frills) x Starcrest). Schreiner 1994. HM 1996, AM 1998, Wister 2002.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

'Libertia peregrinans' New Zealand Iris



New Zealand's only genus of the worldwide distributed Iris family (Iridaceae) is LIBERTIA SPRENGEI of which there are 4 recognised native species. Libertia peregrinans is one of the native species growing in the gardens just outside Parliament Buildings Lampton Quay in an area known as Waitiki Landing

The plant is used extensively by the Wellington City Parks and Reserves Department and is planted in many public gardens around the Capitol City. It's tiny white flowers which are still on some plants outside the National Archives and at Glover Park but plantings at Waitiki Landing have finished flowering and photos show an abun
dance of seed. Colourful Orange Green foliage which becomes more vivid when the plant is stressed certainly makes a statement. Can handle poor soils and harsh conditions which makes the plant ideal for amenity plantings. Plant has short creeping Rhizomes with fibrous roots

Formerly widespread in its Native habitat the plant is now classified as Vulnerable.

Click on photo to enlarge image

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris "SOUTHERN AUTUMN"

One of the highlights of this bloom season was the flowering of another Ron Busch Iris 'SOUTHERN AUTUMN" which performed great in the inclement weather. Good growth with eight to ten buds on very strong stalks, Standards a rosy grey white, Wine brick red ruffled semi-flaring falls with an edge the same colour as standards. Mustard gold beard enhances the colour combination. Whilst it was just its first year at home the colouration was stand out, it is floriferous, and has the potential to make a stunning clump. My understanding is that it is fertile both ways. An impressive Iris which would more than hold its own in its class internationally.Since the introduction of 'Finest Hour' this iris is the best New Zealand attempt at a red amoena in many decades.The breeding of red Irises or in fact a red amoena is the Holy Grail of the Iris world yet this iris was able to avoid been given an award of any sort, but in the New Zealand Iris world that isn't really a bombshell is it ??

AIS Checklist 1999
SOUTHERN AUTUMN (R. Busch, R. 1991). Sdlg. 8355/4. TB, 40" (102 cm), M. S. rose white flushed cream; F. brick red, light cream edge; beards golden brown. Parentage unknown. Irwell Iris Gardens, 1992.

Southern Autumn can be purchased in New Zealand by writing to, Jill Coates, 73 Ormond Road, Gisborne.

Big Hat tip to Ron Busch, a very clever man and one of New Zealands best Iris hybridisers.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Zealand Tall Bearded Historic Iris "NINA LEVETT"

The very late blooming 'Nina Levett' is often confused with a earlier blooming iris which grows at about the same height named, 'Pink Advance". 'Nina Levett' is the pod parent of 'Pink Advance'. Photo above is from the plant gifted to me by the late Shirley Spicer, of Wanganui.

Stevens Bros, Bulls, Catalogue of Irises, 1937-38.
A lovely tall pink of regal carriage.The large flowers are an even shade of lilac pink, and are carried on well-branched 4 1/2 foot stems. Exceptionally vigorous.

The Iris Society Year Book (BIS) 1942.
Awards by the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, 1942.
NINA LEVETT (Raised by Miss.P.Levett,NZ) A.M. 20th June 1941.
Vigorous and of rapid increase with erect, glacous-green foliage, 24 inches tall.Flower stems 48 inches tall erect, somewhat zigzagged,8-flowered.
Flowers extra large, stiff and well proportioned.Standards domed approaching Imperial Purple (33/2) Falls pinched, a tone of Imperial
Purple between (33/1 and 33/2) Veins distinct, brownish on haft.Beard Orange. Flowering for ten days from 18th June. (J.B.Dumas X Aurelle.)
(All Reports for Iris trial's at Wisley tend to be very descriptive and accurate)

Jean Stevens in 1950 writes in regards to the Levett's.
'As the years went by the quality of their seedlings kept improving, and the flowering season became even more exciting than hitherto. About 1935 they flowered a large new seedling of a bright lilac pink which they named Nina Levett after their mother. This was introduced in England by Orpington Nurseries who sent plants to the Wisley Trial Grounds. In 1941 Nina Levett was given an Award of Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society'.

The Royal Horticultural Society colour descriptions,Standards Imperial Purple (33/2) and Falls Purple between (33/1 and 33/2) show how completely inadequate the 1939 Check List colour chart was in it's time and also make the 1939 and 1949 Check List colour descriptions for 'Nina Levett' irrelevant. In the 1934 BIS Year Book (in an article by a Dr. Sansome who quotes Marc Simonet), he states that one of Nina Levetts parents, J. B. Dumas is a triploid with 37 chromosomes. Triploids usually aren't the most fertile of parents, so that makes Nina even more interesting!! It should also be noted that The Royal Horticultural Society state that Nina Levett parentage is (J.B.Dumas X Aurelle.) yet the 1939 AIS checklist entry is (...) X (J.B. Dumas x Aurelle) which the later implies that another Iris was in the mix. My opinion is that 'The Royal Horticultural Society' in its colour descriptions and parentage 'trumps all'.

AIS Checklist 1939
NINA LEVETT (Miss P. Levett, R. 1939). TB, VL, B1L; (...) X (J.B. Dumas x Aurelle). Orpington. 1939.

It would not be unrealistic to state that the few irises growing in New Zealand as 'Nina Levett' are wrongly labelled and I am somewhat reluctant to post New Zealand bred Irises on this blog as it leads to a deluge of 'look-a-like' irises, and some not even remotely 'look-a-like' irises, listed for sale on the internet as the real deal, and it it is not in anybody's interest to add to the existing large pile of very expensive miss-named irises that live in the cyberspace known as 'Trade Me'!!!! New Zealander's interested in heirloom irises need to have a confidence in their ability to Identify Irises and not merely accept that because an Iris was received or purchased with the name given it is true to label, after all these are New Zealand raised Irises, surely we should have some idea of our Iris heritage!!!!

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited.
Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©. 

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Zealand Intermediate Bearded Iris 'LUCY'S BLUE SILK '

Quite the little surprise package is this New Zealand bred Intermediate Iris which grows along side 'Moon Tike' and are two of the very late flowering Intermediate Irises in our collection.

A high health plant which grows well and always shows good increase and would adapt well to growing in most gardens. Slight but nice scent.

1989 AIS checklist
LUCY'S BLUE SILK (L. Delaney by H. Catton, R. 1985). IB 24" (60 cm) M-L. Light sky blue; white beard. Unknown parentage., Catton 1986/87.

Not sold commercially in New Zealand, but if you can find it I recommend you buy or trade it.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Getting it Right



An article in the AIS bulletin 353, April 2009 "Unsung Heroes of the Plant World" goes on at length espousing the advantages of joining a plant society - no doubt admirable thoughts. This blog has always promoted joining reputable plant societies.
But societies can undo decades of trust and creditability by promoting, selling or registering Irises with dubious names.
Take for instance a recent event. A lady (Who I shall call Mrs.B) from the district where I live attended an Iris show in Palmerston North in 2007. This show was sanctioned by the official Iris Society of New Zealand. The lady purchased an Iris labelled 'Beverly Sills’ from the sales table and was told the colour would be pink. Nothing wrong with this so far.

When she got home Mrs.B tipped the iris from its pot and was about to plant it when
another label was discovered which read ‘Sapphire Hills’.This is where I entered the frame. When Mrs B. rang me explaining the circumstances I said she now had a chance of growing either a really good pink or a really good light blue. Had it turned out that way it would have been an compromise as Mrs B. really wanted a Pink Iris but an acceptable result. Problem is when the Iris flowered it was a red brown blend (photo above) that no one knows the name. Mrs B. has now pulled the iris from the garden and is now looking for a nice pink Iris to replace it. There is now one really disappointed member of the public who when this Iris group is mentioned is not slow in coming forward and telling the story above. From what I have been hearing lately this is far from a one-off.

Where does the author of this article slot the above described scenario when he states, “ Societies promote the dissemination of accurate information and sponsor research to learn more. They are the reliable sources"?
The New Zealand club goes and publishes the same article in its own booklet just recently.

Maybe the editor included it as an example of something they could aspire to.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Border Bearded Historic Iris "JUNGLE SHADOWS "

'Jungle Shadows' tucked away among the peonies growing in its own little jungle at home . A sultry toned Border Bearded Iris of ideal proportions introduced in 1960, receiving the Knowlton Award in 1962. Registered by Helen Graham after the death of the originator Henry Sass. I treasure this iris for the chaos of colour and when introduced it no doubt created a step change in how we view and perceive what an Iris should look like. Chaos and controversy is always a great combination, well it is in my world.

Melrose Gardens, Route 1, Box 466, Stockton, California, 1960 Introductions.
The following Iris co-introduced with El Dorado Gardens, El Dorado, Kansas.
JUNGLE SHADOWS (Sass-Graham) 32". (Black Delight x black sdlg.)
Exotic and other-worldish. A color break for sure. The dusky grey base color is overblended and flushed with lavender, brown, olive and purple. A deep brown beard leads you to the mysterious depths of the flower.
Net. $15.00

A Garden Encyclopedia, Clarie Austin

Iris 'Jungle Shadows' (Sass 1959)
The standards are a mixture of grey and brown. These colours are flecked and stained throughout the petals which are further washed with a tint of dull violet brown. Inside the petals is a flush of purple. The ginger coloured beards are tipped with grey.This hybrid was introduced after the death of the hydbridizer. Height 99cm (39½ in.) Bloom mid season.

Fleur de Lis Gardens,
Sioux City, Iowa.  1965 Catalog.

JUNGLE SHADOWS (Sass-Graham) BB 30". M
An odd blend of grey, with a flush of bluish purple and bamboo yellow which gives the flower a grey-olive color. Made further intriguing by a dark beard and violet-tinged hafts.

Mission Bell Gardens, Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Hamblen, Roy Utah. Iris for 1973
JUNGLE SHADOWS (Sass '60) Sultry slate grey standards flushed purple with olive tinge at tips; falls flare and have brown hafts fading to gray tinged violet. Dark beard. Vigorous well branched. (Black Delight X Sdlg.) Knowlton Medal '67......................$1.00 

AIS Checklist 1959
JUNGLE SHADOWS (Sass-Graham, R. 1959). Sdlg. 1-57. BB 26" M. V5D. Blended brown-gray and purple; brown beard. Black Delight x sdlg. 54-95., Melrose 1960.

Available in New Zealand from Amazing Iris Gardens and in the USA from Iris City Gardens and Wildwood Gardens

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tall Bearded Heirloom Iris "SUNSET SNOWS "

October 2009 is on record of being the coldest October in New Zealand since 1945, just witness the frost damage to the edges on the standards and falls in the above photo, and we had plenty of rain as well. This incessant combination of heavy frosts quickly followed with heavy rain has turned most of the early iris blooms into mush, and just when I was thinking there is not to be any photos of early varieties to take this season for the blog, Jean Stevens 'Sunset Snows' begins to bloom and becomes 'the save of the weeks'.
Plant has great increase, bloom stems are a bit short 68cm (27") and I have never been able to grow this iris to its registered height 92cm (36"), branching is best described as average and it is a problem for an iris with such a high bud count making the blooms bunched. Blooms form is plain with no ruffles and a narrowing in the falls giving the bloom a modern tailored look. 'Sunset Snows' colour combination of pure white standards, cocoa pink falls coupled with a tangerine beard was a complete colour break at the time of introduction and is still greatly admired today. With a early and long bloom season and as already mentioned a high bud count, fertile both ways, and producing seed that germinates easily which is not common for a recessive amoena made it a winner for hybridisers. Sunset Snows has proven to be such an important ancestor to modern tangerine bi-colours. The registration pedigree is very vague but interestingly with the Pod parent 'Youthful Charm' the information Jean wrote on the registration application shows the parentage stems back through seven generations before a named variety figures in it's pedigree, then 'Pink Cameo' and 'Flora Zenor' appear also 'Pinnacle'. Then it is another three generations back to any other variety.
In 1967 at the Florence International Iris Garden Competition 'Sunset Snows' received three awards. It won the Piaggio Cup for 'Best early Variety', the Cup of the Florence Garden Club for the 'Most original Colour' and Third place in the Judging for the Premio Firenze. This was the first time any prizes in this competition had come to the Southern Hemisphere, and an unprecedented result for any variety in that one cultivar had collected three prizes .
A very special Iris used extensively by other breeders.

Tall Talk Spring 2004
Bicolors and Amoenas Where to from Here? Barry Blyth.

A few words about Sunset Snows because as far as I am concerned, Jean Stevens began a colour revolution when she introduced this iris. It is a shame she is not with us to see the glorious iris that eventuated from her work.
SUNSET SNOWS (Stevens '65 New Zealand) M. 36". Standards white. Falls cocoa-pink, red beards. YOUTHFUL CHARM X sdlg; from yellow amoena crossed pinks. This is all that is said about it in the AIS Iris checklist 1969.
For me it only reached 32": Branching was very tight, but Bud count was amazing. When well grown there would be an average of 10 to 12 per stem. Also it could produce multiple stems per rhizome. Plants were very small but made abundant increase. First generation crosses gave a range of colours when crossed to non bicolours, such as pink and purple-black bicolours and yellow amoenas. Also dark, near black red bitones like LOCAL COLOR and ROMANTIC EVENING colours. So this is one area where these colours came from in today's Iris. It also gave plenty of selfs. All the seedlings were plain and form and generally branching was tight, but bud count was good. They were nearly all very early, flowering with the dwarfs.
 Barry also more recently made these comments on his website "Our friend Keith Keppel recently had enough time and the urge to track down the family tree of a seedling we had flowered a couple of years previously and we were particularly interested in the reasons for some of its unusual characteristics and he said that one of its ancestors, Sunset Snows, appeared over 1200 times in its background. That is just one of the dozens of varieties that make up its complex family tree. Think of all the seedlings viewed over the 50 years by all the different breeders and work involved just in that one variety alone. It is quite amazing and also wonderful that all these records are available and can be tracked by anyone. It is often easier to track an Iris variety’s pedigree and background than it is to track ones own family history".

Wanganui Irises, Putiki, Wanganui, Irises 1965-66.
Novelties 1965-66:
Here is a sensational new colour combination that Mrs. Stevens has developed from her original pink Amoena strains. Beautifully held, waxen white standards contrast harmoniously with flared and ruffled falls of a warm cocoa toned pink enlivened by a red beard. This completely new colour combination is truly sensational, charming, novel - and crowd-stopping. An iris which makes one wonder if there will ever be any end to the extent and range of colours and colour combinations which may be bred into irises. A very lovely novelty we are proud to introduce. 2½ft. 50 shillings.

The Iris Year Book 1969, Varietal Comment by C.C.Hall
Irises in Florence, May 1969
SUNSET SNOWS (J.Stevens) A huge clump of this Iris which won third prize in the 1967 Trials, carrying some twenty spikes, caught my eye on first entering the iris gardens, and by the end of the week when most of the plants where in flower, it was still, to my mind, the most attractive iris in the garden.It has pure white standards and horizontally-flaring falls of milky, tawny pink with a brownish infusion at the hafts. From a distance of 50 feet or so, it appears as an absolutely clean, deep-pink amoena and is most striking and attractive.

Schreiners Iris Lovers Catalog, 1967.

SUNSET SNOWS (Jean Stevens 1966) EM. 36" $3.00
Sunset on a snow capped peak truly visualizes this most impressive iris. It incorporates pure waxen white standards with contrasting, harmonious warm, cocoa toned pink falls - all enlivened by a red beard. A novel, eye catching amoena. Well-branched stems, medium sized, flaring flowers.

Image courtesy Schreiners 1977 Iris Lovers Catalog

AIS Checklist 1969
SUNSET SNOWS (Mrs J. Stevens, R. 1963). 2-k28-54. TB, 36", M, W4. S. white; F. cocoa pink; red beard. Youthful Charm X sdlg. from yellow amoena crossed pinks. Wanganui 1965. 3rd Prize Florence Cup of Florence,Garden Club,(For most original colour) Piaggio Cup 1967 (For best early variety).

A major hat tip to a good friend Carlos Ayento of Brighton Park Iris for the Schreiners Information. Still available in New Zealand from Julie May, The Iris Garden, Christchurch In the USA you could try Blue J Iris

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Grannies Bonnets among the Tall bearded Iris

Seems like it stopped raining at home for no more than an Hour, the Aquilegia's are just loving it but the Irises are not so keen with the constant rain. I'm so glad I am just judging Irises this week-end and not showing.

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "GLACIER "

Many white irises are now on show, but so many damaged by the rain and with more rains to come this is not going to be a great bloom season for the early varieties. Despite the weather 'Glacier' a French raised variety has managed to keep its head up, and a variety taller than most, is liked a lot. 47 years old and I have always considered 'Glacier' to be a significant transitional iris from the classic form to the more modern form of white Iris blooms. It does however slowly revert back to the older form the older the blooms become.

AIS Checklist 1969

GLACIER R Cayeux, 1962 TB 37" M, Large White self, pale yellow beard. (Claude Cayeux x Jane Phillips) X Blue Throat.,

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "LOS ANGELES "

The heirloom iris 'Los Angeles' flowering in the rain at home today, its the sibling to the Dykes Medal winning plicata 'San Francisco' but a much better grower, and sure is a sight to behold.

Robert Wayman Bayside, New York. Catalog for 1930-31 

LOS ANGELES (Mohr-1927)
This new giant "plicata" bloomed for the first time in my garden in 1929. $10.00 each

Quality Gardens, Iris, Freeport, Illinois. Iris 1933
Foreword, 'A little gossip about Iris'

The curious and interesting part of it is the fact that the buying public, the rank and file of people who grow irises in their gardens for their own pleasure so often disagree decidedly with official awards. As an example the first American award of the Dykes medal was made to San Francisco, first of the giant plicata's. Its sister seedling, Los Angeles outsells it year in and year out by a wide margin. The selection of the 50 and 100 best Irises by the accredited judges of the American Iris society also places Los Angeles ahead of San Francisco. This should not be taken as at all discounting San Francisco, a great and wonderful Iris, finest of the giant plicata type, but shows the fallibility of official ratings.
LOS ANGELES (Morh 1927) M. 46" Fragrant. Great white flowers of fine shape and texture ; the standards faintly edged blue, falls beautifully marked red brown at the base and the blue style arms lend a note of clear colour to the centre. One of the most beautiful irises we list. It is perfectly hardy and has stood in our garden for years unprotected.

Stevens Bros, Bulls. Catalogue of Irises 1937-38

LOS ANGELES (Morh-Mitchell)
Snowy white standards and falls with a slight stitching of coerulean at the haft, and clear blue style arms, Los Angeles is an exquisitely sculptured beauty with the finest satin sheen. It is tall, vigorous, and well branched- a classic Iris that is a cornerstone in any collection worthy of the name 3½ ft.

Carl Salbach Iris and Selected Seed Catalog, Berkeley, California, 1937

LOS ANGELES (Morh-Mitchell) This giant plicata, introduced with the Dykes medal winner San Francisco alternates in favour with the latter- one person preferring Los Angeles, the next San Francisco. Los Angeles has more white and less of the blue plicata markings than San Francisco and is a good doer everywhere. Great white flowers of fine shape and substance, the standards faintly edged blue with the blue style arms adding a note of clear blue in the centre. Tall and widely branched. Most outstanding. Early. 40 inch. $0.25 ; 3 for $.60

The Iris Year Book 1942,
Bearded Flag Irises-An Initial Thirty.By F. Wynn Hellings.
LOS ANGELES. Although reputedly tender in some districts, probably on account of its mesopotamica blood, it has never given me any trouble or demanded any special treatment. My favourite among plicatas and superior to any in sheer aristocratic beauty. The large white flowers on 4 feet stems, have a reddish flush on the fall hafts and the blue style-arms add piquancy. It is free flowering, increases rapidly, and is quite a healthy Iris.

Tell’s Iris Gardens, Iris Catalog and Hybridizers handbook, Provo, Utah, 1951.

LOS ANGELES (Morh-Mitchell 1927) M. (Conquistador x Parisiana) x (Esplendido) Lightly marked white plicata. Splendid parent, good blood for blues, whites, and plicatas. AM '44

AIS 1939 Checklist

LOS ANGELES TB-M-W2 (Mohr-Mitchell 1927): ((Conquistador x Parisiana) x Esplendido)

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

2010 Bearded Iris Calendar.



"Great Christmas Gift"
Not one of those small desktop calendars for a big price, its a large calendar for a very reasonable price. Folds out to A3 size which is 297mm × 420m or 11.7'' × 16.5''
$19.50 (NZD) plus $2.00 postage and packing for New Zealand customers or $4.00 for overseas postage.

Wendy Begbie
Amazing Iris Garden
292 Busby Road,
Web Site

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Iris germanica



Pictured above flowering at home today I. germanica var. vulgaris, an historic garden variety, and is a Natural Hybrid, recorded as been cultivated in gardens for centuries.

Published 1924
I. germanica (species Linnaeus 1753)
This is no individual variety but an abstraction from a group of varieties which agree in the following characters ; Leaves of some length in winter ; flower stems liable to destruction by frost before the emerge from the leaves ; stems bearing a terminal head of two flowers, a lateral branch three or four inches long and between them another short stemmed head or two ; spathes scarious in the upper half, green more or less flushed with purple at the base ; capsules narrow, oblong, triangular in section; seeds very few, oval not flattened; standards usually a little paler than the hafts and often bearing a few straggling hairs on the haft.

The nearest approach to a wild form seems to be I.kochii Kerner (1887) a rather dwarf plant not growing to a height of much more than two feet with rich red purple flowers of particularly smooth outline, not unlike that of albicans, and without any white ground showing between the thick brownish veins at the end of the haft.
Seedlings of I. germanica are difficult to obtain and are usually dwarf, with some of the characteristics of I aphylla. It might be supposed that all the varieties of I. germanica arose by the hybridisation of I aphylla but the other parent is unknown. It would probably have to possess spathes which were, at any rate partly scarious and the habit of making new growth in the autumn which would persist through the winter
In milder climates than ours, such as that of California I. germanica is capable of almost continuous growth and perpetual flowering, for blooms appear at odd times throughout the year

Photo Credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Barry Blyths 2009-2010 Iris Introductions

Just updated Tempo Two Web Site, with 42 Magnificent New Introductions for 2009-2010 Season portrayed as a slide show. Great eye candy!!!!
An interesting note on the Welcome page states they are in their 13th Year of Drought or Below average rainfall in Southern Victoria, Tall Bearded Irises just loving these conditions.
Barry Blyth is without doubt one of the world's great Iris hybridisers and its always good to see his Iris breeding kaleidescope and a new vision each year.

Click on the web page above to visit or go to
Big hat tip to Barry and Lesley

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

'Amazing Iris Garden' is at the 'Kumeu Just Gardening Show'



Wendy Begbie and her team from the Amazing Iris Garden will be at the 'Just Gardening' show at Kumeu, this Saturday!!!! Lots of Quality Bearded Irises in pots for sale.
Saturday 26th September 9am – 5pm. Kumeu Show Grounds, Access Road, Kumeu. Plants delivered to your car!

This promises to be another huge success. Wendy also has a new web site which is pictured above (Click for link). A Gardening delight, not to be missed.

Click on the link below for map and directions

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Short Story

In the afternoon sun today, the little Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris "Tonya" giving its all. Reports from up North (Auckalofa) are that the Iris season is early and off to a good start. Massey University in Palmerston North, today have some of their Tall Bearded Iris blooming possibly 'Magnolia'

The question to be asked is 'will this season be over before November starts ??'
No fluorescent lighting was used in the production of these photos.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Tall Bearded Iris Society is on Facebook



I was wondering just how long it would take before any Iris Society would embrace Facebook for promotion of membership, well it has happened!!!!
The Tall bearded Iris Society to help with the promotion are "Giving away Plants" and get this "Giving away free membership" using a competition format of 'guess the Iris name' . They have sponsorship from some forward thinking Commercial Gardens who are supplying plants and or underwriting the membership fees. With 390 fans on the site within 8 weeks and growing that's more than some Iris Societies total membership. What will Morph on this site when the membership campaign is complete will be interesting for sure.

It would wise to bookmark the site as more membership packages will be given away soon.
One day perhaps a new media person might put up the membership of an Iris Society on E-Bay or Trade-me and sell it with a free Iris or vice versa. Cost to promote your Iris Society a few cents, the reach, depending on where you are, but could be millions of internet users, some of them potentially new members. (Not a decision that will be made by a consultative committee you can bet.)

Well done, 'Tall Bearded Iris Society' and to the supporting commercial growers for thinking outside the square
and embracing E media.
A big hat tip to you all.

Link or click on web page image above

16/10/09 It has since been brought to my attention that the American Iris Society is also on Facebook but with only one message on the wall posted 29th July 2009 and 5 fans at time of writing it is somewhat insignificant and dated when compared with '
The Tall bearded Iris Society' effort.
But just in case you think I am in denial you can check out this
Facebook page at

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

W R Dykes, Tulips



Form of Orphanidea Boiss.Tulip #45 Pl. IX

William R Dykes, one of thee great giants of the Iris world also bred tulips and his book 'Notes on Tulip Species' is still widely referenced. I came across this book whilst researching Irises.
Published after his death in 1930. Illustrated and Edited by his wife E. Katherine Dykes, with the introduction by Sir A. Daniel Hall.
This rare book is held at the National Library of New Zealand and is well worth the trip to Wellington to view the incredibly brilliant Illustrations like the one displayed above.

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Wellington Botanic Gardens Tulips



Last time we visited the Botanic Gardens in Wellington it was a grey and overcast day about 4 weeks ago. Just the same this Saturday but with rain .(It was hard to keep the rain off the camera lens ) 'Tulip Sunday' at the gardens this year is 27th September which is another two Sundays away and as you can see there will be a powerful amount of finger crossing to keep some of the display beds at peak.

Buds galore give such an amazing display of form

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Friday, September 11, 2009

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris "RADIANT DAY"

Another photo taken in the interesting historic Iris collection of Mrs Mary Greaves in Masterton. It is the Jean Stevens Iris that I am looking forward to seeing flowering again this season. I have always considered this to be one of the Neon Sign's for Jeans breeding and the reference in her hand written notes of 'Very Brilliant' could also apply to the hybridiser herself. Its from a 1936 Carl Salbach Iris 'Radiant' with its standards of golden bronze and falls of velvety brick red, and was crossed with the 1939 copper apricot self of 'May Day' by David Hall hence the name 'Radiant Day'. Growing this iris in front the dark green leaves of camellias would make for an amazing colour contrast.

Stevens Bros Wanganui, Irises Catalogue 1946-47
RADIANT DAY (reg. 46) 1 /S41. Radiant X May Day  Each year sees the Bearded Iris gain an added brilliance as the brighter notes of nature's colour box yields to the breeder's assault. Here we have an iris that is almost gaudy - standards of bright apricot gold, and falls of orangey-copper-red, brilliant as some tropic bird. Fair substance and very free flowering. 3’6”

D'Arcy Blackburn's Catalogue 1953-54
Radiant Day (Stevens) A brilliant colouring with standards of apricot gold and falls of orangey copper red this iris has fair substance and is wonderfully free flowering

2011 New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist
RADIANT DAY Mrs J. Stevens, Reg., 1946. Sdlg. 1/S41. TB, 42″, L, Y9M.S. Apricot gold. F. Red, copper, orange, with orange beard. Very brilliant. 3½ft.; Description J Stevens Studbook notes,‘1944 blooming’; Each year see's the Bearded Iris gain an added brilliance as the brighter notes of nature's colour box yields to the breeder's assault. Here we have an iris that is almost gaudy - standards of bright apricot gold, and falls of orangey-copper-red, brilliant as some tropic bird. Fair substance and very free flowering. 3½ft.; Description Stevens Bros 1957-58.Radiant X May Day. 'Novelties' Stevens Bros 1946-47

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tall Bearded Iris "DARKSIDE"

The great thing about Bearded Irises is that just about anyone can grow them, so for the new and even the more accomplished Iris Growers, 'Darkside' is a 'must have' and is generally sold for very reasonable prices. My recommendation is at the very least, to put this Reblooming Iris on your wish list.
The large silky rich and ruffled dark purple black blooms with purple ebony beard, has a distinct purple base to the leaves.(PBF). A vigorous and utterly reliable garden iris which excels in full sun. Whilst the photo below is not great,In fact its a bloody shocker, and will post a better shot this bloom season (see above)  it does show why this iris has a prominent planting in our gardens, and for at least three weeks it is one of the best knockout clumps. Yes that Progenitor of the great Schreiner Blacks, 'Black Forest' is in the back ground pedigree on the Pod side and amazingly Jean Stevens' introduction 'Black Belle' is in the pollen side a few generations back.

The SUN BELT AWARD, given to the Best Proven Variety (i.e., one that has been on the market at least 4 years; this year’s winner had to have been released prior to 1986): DARKSIDE (Schreiner 1985). A great, quality complement to the Contemporary Award winner, ‘Silverado’, this is the ultimate in a very advanced line of Schreiner irises that consistently have choice progeny. Even in the Blanchard garden, where Miss Kitty had salvaged what was left of the June flood last year and replanted as late as November, ‘Darkside’ produced tall, well branched stalks this spring. Broad, blocky flowers are purest deep violet (approaching black) with light to moderate ruffling and a silk sheen. The overall form is even better than the very fine ‘Titan’s Glory’ (Schreiner) or ‘Dusky Challenger’ (Schreiner). Exceptionally vigorous, a consistent bloomer (obviously, if it bloomed in Blanchard this year!), and strong, telephone pole stalks that will not fall over in Okie winds, even with 3 or 4 of its large blossoms open. It makes for a good garden iris in the clump, too, as the 3 to 4 branches are modified candelabra. What is most impressive is that, even though the flowers are huge, it has backup buds that open in a proportionate size and with good bloom sequence.

AIS 1989 Checklist
DARKSIDE (Schreiner’s, R. 1985). Sdlg. R 114-A. TB 34" (86 cm) ML. Ruffled rich dark purple black; purple ebony beard. J 969-A: ((Night Song x A 588-A) x (Y 1608 x Matinata)) X Titan’s Glory., Schreiner’s 1985.) Honourable Mention 1987 Award of Merit 1991

Available in New Zealand from Julie May at The Iris Gardens Christchurch, and from Wendy Begbie at the Amazing Iris Garden

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tall Bearded Historic Iris "CASCADE PASS "

Returning home from Wellington and to my delight a solitary stem of the ridiculously early blooming 'Cascade Pass'. Not another bloom stalk in this garden to be seen but I did note that the are a couple in other gardens at home where the irises are starting to set bloom stalks, amazing really, we are still 9-10 weeks away from Masterton's Iris Show. Note the frost damage at the tips of the standards in the Photo.
A large white iris with slight ruffling and olive veins which start on the hafts,and cascade down the falls. White tipped beards touched with bright yellow towards the back. Flowers are scented. Now historic and 39 years old it is still an outstanding garden variety.

Fertile "Cascade Pass' is unusual as nearly all whites come from a cross of two whites or the cross of a white and a blue and only occasionally do good whites come from the breeding lines of other colours. Cascade Pass pedigree Bang X (April Showers x Molten) which are all Tom Craig introductions and are detailed as follows. 'Bang' is a Cedar red brown. The yellow and white fancy plicata 'April Showers' was crossed with 'Molten' a rosy brown violet blend and the resulting seedling became the pollen parent of which the colouration is not described. That aside and quick browse of the checklist, the most likely source of the white is from 'Los Angeles' which is few generations back in 'April Showers' genetics, but I'm only speculating.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, January 1975, Number 218.
Nineteen from Region 15 Sanford Roberts.
Two ladies from the San Diego-Imperial Counties Iris Society have  given us two fine introductions in the past few years. The late Mrs. Ruby Cooper combined Bang X (April Showers x Molten) and gave southern California the large, ruffled white CASCADE PASS that blooms all year in these parts. It is usually exhibited from January through the late June iris shows and then comes right back for the November shows. Lois Weaver gave us the lovely Pacific Coast Native NATIVE JEWEL--a most enjoyable wide, light lavender.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July 1975, Number 216.
Saturday: Pilley, Oak Trail, and Cordon Bleu gardens. Rena Crumpler, Virginia.
CASCADE PASS, Ruby Cooper '72. I had not seen this last one before but it was very white and cool with deep gold beard, white tipped, and some green and a hint of lavender in the throat.

AIS Checklist 1979

CASCADE PASS (R. Cooper, R. 1970). Sdlg. 68-1 B X (A S X M). TB 45" (116 cm) M & RE. S. white; F. white with light yellowish green midribs; strong yellow-green markings on shoulders and throat; beard deep gold in throat, tipped white; very pale purple wash in entire throat. Bang X (April Showers x Molten)., Cordon Bleu 1972.

Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Photo Credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Art and Rust



Architecturally, Wellington, is a really interesting city. Yesterday on my way to meetings I passed the City Gallery Wellington which is currently closed due to construction of additional two new galleries and the interior upgrade of the existing structure. The new addition exterior rainscreen is a cladding of open metal webgrate . The material used is manufactured steel which has no protective coating, exposed to the elements it will of course rust, changing the initial colour from orange-brown to eventually a dark brown in colour. An interesting concept which contrasts well as a addition to the Gallery's original 1930 building.
The Gallery is expecting to re-open late September 2009. Landscaping around the new stuctures will be interesting on completion.
Well done architecture+ for thinking outside the square.

Photo Credit & Copyright Irishunter

Click on any photo to view a larger image

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Narcissus 'Emperor's Waltz'

Narcissus 'Emperor's Waltz'
A cyclamineus hybrid, 'Emperor's Waltz,' a charmer in yellow and orange, blooming just inside the gates at the Wellington Botanic Gardens. This cultivar backswept appearance of the petals are a feature. It is shorter growing and flowers before the larger cupped Daffodils.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter
Click on any photo to view a larger image.

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Corylopsis spicata 'Spike Witch-Hazel'

Today at The Wellington Botanic Gardens, just one of many amazing plants in the fragrant garden, masses of hanging tassels of sweet-smelling yellow green flowers on bare branches. The Spike Witch-Hazel new leaves will be a rich purple colour, turning bluish green with maturity. The plant also puts on a Knock-out display of Red to Orange leaves come the Autumn.
Truly a plant that has learnt to Multi-task. A Certainty for the"Must get list"

Photo Credit & Copyright Irishunter

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Wellington Botanic Gardens



Sunday before lunch at the very fine 'Scopa Caffe Cucina,' we visited the very wet Wellington Botanic Garden, which had suffered from very heavy overnight rains and wind, but all the same, its a great shot of spring anticipation with the tulip beds heaving the soil in the race for Tulip Sunday (This year its 27th September).
The early Magnolias took a some real punishment and lost about 40% of their bloom.

An amazing display with scent included. Daphne odora

Photo Credit & Copyright Irishunter

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tall Bearded Iris "HARMONICS "

Harmonics is a mid to late season flowering plicata and presents the ultimate contrast, not just the blue and white distinctive plicata pattern, but as an excellent example of the advances made in modern plicata breeding. Really good bud count on strong well branched stems, with a slight sweet scent. Pollen parent to Barry Blyth's 2000 introduction 'Painted from Memory'. The Blyth family has a long history of hybridising good quality plicata's in the blue and white colour range that quickly become classics's. 'Sapharine' another Blyth classic that I grow and possibly one of the great underrated blue and white plicatas of the last century. Australia has a great depth of plicata breeding which got of to a great start in the 1930's with Mr Aylett and his 'City of ' plicata series. His iris with its lost registration 'City of Armadale' was widely distributed in Australia and also used in plicata breeding.

Tempo Two Iris Daylilies Hostas Catalogue 1995-1996
'Harmonics' ( Blyth,94 Aust.) M-ML 38" A complete delight to us each year it flowers. Standards are white heavily overlaid and stitched light blue so that hardly any white shows through. The Falls bright white with 1/2" stippled edge of deeper blue and hafts are slightly deeper again. Beards are lemon white. Form is what makes it. Touching hafts on full wide ruffled flowers. Super branching make it an excellent show iris as well as a great clump of colour in the garden. This has a full sister for release in 1996( Some Are Angels ) that is pure white recessive that is also spectacular.

AIS Checklist 1999
HARMONICS ( Barry Blyth, R. 1994). Sdlg. Z62-1. TB, 38" (97 cm), ML. S. white, heavily overlaid and stitched light blue; F. white, 1/2" stitched and stippled deep blue edge, deeper hafts with violet tone, flared and ruffled; beards whitish, lemon in throat. W56-1: ('Lipstick Lies' x 'Light Beam') X 'Snowbrook'. Tempo Two 1994/95.

I see that my two clumps of the historic plicata 'Los Angeles' have shown good growth and could flower for the first time this season so it will be great to post the photos to show the progression of size and form of the last 82 years in blue and white plicata hybridisation.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo Credit & Copyright Irishunter

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