Thursday, November 29, 2012


One of the good thing that happens when the Tall Bearded iris season nearly comes to the end, is the start of  the Spuria Irises season . This is one of my favourites spurias out of my very limited collection, it has amazing large blooms that have an incredibly long vase life that make the similar looking Dutch Irises look like poor little tryhards. Length of bloom stems are a florists delight. Spuria Iris bloom stalks range in height from 100cm to 150cm (3 to 5 feet) tall. They are usually planted at the back of the border or along the fence, however due to the tight-clumping, nature, they are ideal as vertical accents anywhere in your garden. First year plants will be much shorter than established ones. Since hot temperatures are required for good bloom, plant in full sun, being sure there is good drainage. Planting depth depends on type of soil- 2.5 cm (1 inch) and heavy soil and 5 cm (2 inches) in light sandy soils. Space far enough apart to grow in the same location for several years. You must keep them watered until they start to grow. Once established, Spuria's are drought resistant, however heavy irrigation in the spring will increase growth in bloom. 
Barry Blyth told me the other day in a communication regarding spuria irises "Spurias I could not sell, hence we no longer catalogue them, as lovely as they are. People just do not know what they are". (Now ain't that a real shame). 
I will post a couple more varieties that I grow in the next week or so.

Cordon Bleu Farms, San Marcos, California. 1984 Catalog.
BARBARA'S KISS (McCown, 1982) A unique colour combination with standards of light burgundy mauve and moderate orange yellow falls bordered light burgundy mauve.

AIS Checklist 1989
BARBARA'S KISS (E. McCown, R. 1981) Sdlg. 75-15. SPU, 54" (137 cm), M Standards violet (RHC 1 Opb 4/10) lightly streaked pale yellow; Fall strong violet bordering orange yellow signal, veined brownish purple; ruffled. Arbitrator X Imperial Beauty. Cordon Bleu 1982. HM 1984.

Note how different the colour tones are described in the Cordon Bleu Catalog when compared with the AIS checklist.

There are no commercial sellers of Spuria Irises in New Zealand but there should be!!
Clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Courtesy 'THE GARDEN', 30th June, 1900.

The Garden, New and Rare Plants, June 23, 1900.
This is certainly one of the most distinct of the german or Flag Irises. We welcome it heartily as a good variety for woodland and border. The flowers are large, fragrant, and handsome in colour, with light purple standards and deep velvety falls, the broad rich yellow marking running into the depth of the flower relieved the other shades. Shown by Mr. Amos Perry, Winchmore Hill, London. Award of Merit. Royal Horticultural Society, June 19.

The Garden, June, 1900.
This is certainly one of the most distinct of the German Iris. We welcome it heartily as a good variety, the flowers are large and fragrant and handsome in colour.

Horticultural Advertiser, June, 1900.
One of the most handsome we have ever seen in this class, the falls being a rich purple almost black, with light purple standards. A profuse bloomer.

Quality Gardens, USA.
When we saw this wonderful dark blue we said, well------- dollars as a lot to pay for an Iris root. But this one is certainly a beauty. American public look out for this one at Bronx Park, New York.

Country Life, June, 1900.
Quite distinct, the flowers of sweet fragrance and boldly coloured.

The Dean lris Gardens, Moneta, California The Iris, Illustrated Catalog, 1914
The Standards in This Group Range from Lavender to Purple.
Black Prince. Standards intense deep violet-blue; Falls, velvety purple, edged lighter. Very beautiful. Stock rare.

The Gardeners Chronicle, May 28th, 1921. Irises of the Future, W. R. Dykes.
At the other end of the season something might be done towards prolonging it by using the late flowering 'Black Prince'. Seedlings of this tend to retain the late flowering habit, and there is a large dose of I.variegata blood in 'Black Prince', forms with yellow standards are sure to appear among them. It remains for the hybridiser to get rid of the stunted stem, the crowded inflorescence, and the ugly form of the flowers, with their erect, widely separated standards.

Kelways and Son, The Royal Nurseries, Langport, Somerset, England.  Catalogue of Hardy Perennials and Colour Borders  1929-30
Black Prince, one of the best, the latest to open and the deepest of all in colour; purple-blue, deep blackish purple with white markings at the throat. 2½ ft. 1/6 each.

AIS Bulletin No.6, 1922. Description of Varieties, Part I.
Bicolor, VR-V. (d). Perry, 1900
Brief. S. erect, lavender violet; F. velvety dark anthracene violet with narrow edge of pleroma violet;

stalk very short branched; growth weak; to 30 in.
Details. Beard short, yellow orange; haft white, closely reticulated.
Remarks. A. M. R. H.S.
Listed in America under the name of 'Black Knight', should not be confused with the form of germanica often listed under this name.

A H Burgess,Waikanae, Wellington. Irises 1927
Black Prince, A.M.R.H.S.- Deepest of all in colour. Standards purplish blue. Falls deep blackish purple with white markings at the throat. Not a good doer. Very Late - 2 ft.

AIS Checklist 1939
BLACK PRINCE IB-M-La-B3D (Perry 1900) Perry 1900; Farr 1912; Francis 1920; Wing 1920; Sheets 1928; Forbes 1938; Irisdale 1938; Wass 1938; Wild 1939; AAA 131; A.M.RHS. 1900. Shown by Perry; Horticultural Directory and Year Book, 42: 60. 1901; J.R.H.S. 25: xciii. 19 June 1900; The Garden. 57: 497. 30 June 1900, Illustrated;

 Above is the correct image of Amos Perry's 'Black Prince' published in 'The Garden' 30th June, 1900 and is referred to in the 1939 Checklist .This photo also clearly shows why W.R. Dykes described 'Black Prince' as an iris with crowded inflorescence, flowers of an ugly form, with erect, widely separated standards, he also mentioned that it was short, with stunted stem'Black Prince' was also reported by others as a slow grower, flowers with a  distinct contrast between the standards and the falls and a very distinct light margin on the falls which the photo shows the later two descriptions well. 

Phil Edinger stated in an recent email to me "everything circulating in the US as 'Black Prince' is 'Othello'."

I originally used photos on this post which with the help of some research I recently completed proved the iris used to be totally wrong. The images were of the variety 'Othello'.
This having to adjust ID's of Historic Irises I am sure will happen more and more as the coming deluge of old publications are digitized, which in turn will open up a treasure trove of history helping to confirm beyond doubt that we got it right, or in my case confirm that I got it wrong.

Clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Copyright Iris Hunter

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Friday, November 16, 2012

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris 'IRWELL GOLD STRIKE'

I thought it was time for an update for the post 'Irwell Gold Strike' with a new photo and a few additional encouraging words.
 This iris just will not and has not stopped blooming this season and I think a note should be made to its registered bloom season to change from Mid to Mid to Late. Large blooms on solid as iron rod stalks that more than help make a bold and brilliant garden statement, plant habits that never fail to impress with good clean foliage and great increase. 'Irwell Gold Strike' was the stand out iris and the winner of the 'Begg Sheild' at the Lake Tekapo Iris Conference 2005. Described by Ron as "Cream standards faintly overlaid with yellow stippling, falls are amber gold. It has a gold beard with striations of cream and tan at the hafts. Standards are wide and flaring and shows good branching and bud count."

Will make a spectacle in anyone's garden, and being pollen fertile, makes it a more than interesting parent. Among the first irises that Ron purchased over 40 years ago were the white and yellow Amoena 'Pinnacle', and 'Summit', and its good to see a New Zealander continue with this colour line with such a high class Iris. This iris can be purchased this 2012 season from 'Kiwi Iris Delights' (Link above New Zealand Iris Growers) Buy it! you'll love it.
Another Brilliant New Zealand Bred Iris that Everyone gets to see!!!! Me, I'm just so glad to help.

Digital Image scanned from a regular 6 x 4 photo taken by Ron Busch.

New Zealand Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist 2011
IRWELL GOLD STRIKE Ron Busch Reg., 2007.Sdlg. X200. TB, 40″, (102cm) M. S. White flushed gold, deeper at midrib; style arms gold, white crest; F. Gold, brown veining on shoulders; beards yellow. Parentage; Infinite Grace X inv.Bang, Commentary, Coronation Gold, Latin Lover, Emma Cook, Pipes of Pan, Rich Melody, Imperial Crown, Melodrama, Gaylord, Pinnacle. Waimate Iris Garden 2007. Begg Shield 2005.(NZ)

This iris is listed in the printed 2009 Iris Check List, it also has a listing on the American Iris Society on-line iris registration database, but as at today's date the Iris Encyclopedia wiki 'Irwell Gold Strike' does not even rate a mention and never has. When I go for looking for accurate iris information where do you think I go, anyone care to guess?

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 Ron Busch, Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris IRWELL TRIBUTE

IRWELL TRIBUTE is a very fine blending of old gold standards with very smart burgandy plicata on  creamy orange ground falls. Attractive sanded and dotted pattern much in the style of the great 'COLORTART' (Innerst 83). Magnificent form, substance and texture that is simply presented with only light waving, no lace or other clutter. In only one season it is already much admired in the garden for it's vigorous clean growth and the unusual color pattern. Registered as parentage unknown but I have filled in the parentage from Ron's breeding records for your information.

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist 2011
IRWELL TRIBUTE  Ron Busch, Reg., 2007. Sdlg. 91-114-2. TB, 40″, (102 cm), M. S. and style arms yellow gold; F. white ground flushed gold, rose brown plicata markings; beards yellow.  (Easter Tide x Southern Potentate) X involved parentage that includes Porta Villa, Chinqupin, Majorette, Wild Apache, Youthful Charm, Radiant Apogee, Wild Ginger, Rococo, My Honeycomb. Waimate Iris Garden 2007. CM.2005 

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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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tall Bearded Iris BEAUMONDE

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia. Iris, Daylilies, Hosta Catalogue  1986-1987
BEAUMONDE  (Lorna Hodges '86 Aust)  M. 36"  This has been a favourite of ours since it was a seedling in the raisers garden. This popularity was increased when it started to win awards in the trial garden. It is a plicata with a ground colour of white.  Standards are muted blue violet with a cast of colour throughout; falls are heavily veined muted blue violet.  Beards are bright orange.  It is a super grower with lovely branching.  Has to be seen to be appreciated.  (Smoke Rings x (Cabaret Royale x Porta Villa))  HC 83, Merton Calvert Award 84, AM,85.....................................$25.00

AIS Checklist 1989
BEAUMONDE (Lorna Hodges, R. 1985) Sdlg. TG 83-43. TB, 36" (91 cm), M. S. greyed blue violet; F. white ground heavily lined greyed blue violet; bright orange beard. Smoke Rings X (Cabaret Royale x Porta Villa). Tempo Two 1986/87.
H.C. 1983, Merton Calvert Award 84, A.M.1985, Iris Society of Australia.
Now here's the rub. I did a search on the internet for 'Beaumonde' some time ago before I purchased this iris and found a limited amount of accurate information and I also viewed a page on the much vaunted by others for its accuracy the "Iris Encyclopedia". I did at the time as this site suggests email Bob Pries
(he's the ringmaster for the Iris Encyclopedia) about the obvious problem, as usual I did not receive a reply but for me thats not really a  surprise. For a considerable length of time (A good part of this year that I have noted) this is how the page has displayed on the wiki.

Mr Pries very recently stated in HIPS E magazine 'Flags'
"The Iris Register and the Iris Encyclopedia are often compared but have different missions. The Register presents the official registrations as printed in the checklists. One of its primary assets is it is immutable at least by viewers. It serves as an accurate archive of the official registration data. But much of this information may no longer be true, particularly because of definition drift.' he then goes on to state,'The Iris Encyclopedia is attempting to provide a complete up to date information resource on the Genus Iris. Although we attempt to provide the original official registration data, in the case of the 1939 checklist registrations, we are also seeking inclusion of the material from the references given. Also users can provide annotations. For the Iris historian this should prove to be an invaluable resource for the future.'
Really ?.................Tell me something, has the definition of the colour 'Greyed Blue Violet' drifted so far in twenty seven years that it has now become 'Vivid Reddish Orange'?? The wiki image is so far off the written registered colour description that just about anyone could have looked at the photo and said, "I don't think so." Just how many more pages like this are there on this site??
It's no good telling me this is a one off (I can guarantee this is not) or that this is just my expression of a dissenting opinion regarding the wiki, I look at this situation like this, the addition of information to the official registration data should be at least as accurate as the original data that was submitted by the hybridiser when he or she filled in the original registration form, the attaching of additional information needs to be vigorously reviewed before displaying on the web and if you don't have the resource to do this, don't start the journey. The objective of a checklist is most of all accuracy that can be relied on, what it is not is a free-for-all that is justified by a so called 'definition drift'.
Hope may not be warranted at this point!!!

 Currently Daves Garden, when it comes to accuracy regarding the 'Tall Bearded Iris 'Beaumonde'' beats this wiki thing hands down and that site is without a photo!!

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, November 2, 2012

Tall Bearded Iris AURORA LIGHTS

'Aurora Lights' a great looking plicata that you see a lot growing in the more established gardens in the Wairarapa. Key point in identification is the purple base foliage inherited from the pod parent. Nice clean foliage and robust growth. This plant has often been mislabelled  as 'Harlequin' which it does not even remotely look like but the most telling fact that eliminates it as 'Harlequin' is that it does not have the PBF trait referred to above.

Stevens Bros, Bastia Hill, Wanganui.  Irises 1949-1950 catalogue

Novelties 1949-50
Even those of us who are nor enamoured of the new plicatas find this one lovely. The broad and beautiful textured falls have a slight flare and ruffling, cinnamon dotted on cream velvet. The standards are a rosy bronze flushed over cream. Falls are crimson dotted on cream velvet, broad and beautifully textured and have a slight flare and ruffling. A deep gold beard enriches the whole combination. Large flowers excellent branching and good height places this in the top rank. 4ft. ....................................................................42 shillings

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist 2011
AURORA LIGHTS  Mrs J. Stevens, Reg., 1948.  Sdlg. 7/T147. TB, 48″, M, Y8M.S. rosy bronze over cream. F. cream and rosy bronze, good form, deep gold beard. 4ft.; Description J. Stevens Studbook notes,‘1946 flowering’;
Plicata.  Manchuria X Tiffany. Stevens Bros 1949-50

 This photo was taken last year in a country garden I visited.
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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