Monday, July 17, 2017

Novelty Iris

By Bonnie Nichols

“What are Novelty irises?” ………. I get this question almost every judges training class I teach. I tell everyone “according to the AIS Handbook for Judges” – Novelties are broken color, space age, flatties, and variegated foliage irises. That statement is somewhat still true; however, the advancement of Novelty irises is moving rapidly. Remember when we all had dial-up modems and we heard whispers of “the Internet” circulating. And look where we are today!

'Big Bang Theory'--image by Blue Jay Garden
An example of new directions in Space Age irises.

'Zebra Blues' (Kasparek)--image by Jeanette Graham
An example of the new variegated foliage varieties.

In the 1950-60s “space age” irises became available to iris gardens primarily thanks to Lloyd Austin. Traditionalists probably shied away for these new-fangled irises. Strange irises, rock-n-roll, and the Beatles – what was the world coming to?

'Cross the Line' (M. Sutton)--image by Jeanette Graham
Space Age irises met some of the new color patterns.

Thanks to Alan Ensminger and Brad Kasparek (two guys that were iris pioneers), they brought us all those strange broken colors. Brad and Kathy Kasparek kept us guessing how to pronounce the GNU series as well as others.

'Spiced Tiger' (Kasparek)--image by Schreiner's Iris Garden

'Big Break'--image by Paul Black
Broken colors are now coming from different breeding lines.

'Leprechaun's Trick' (Black '15)--image by Paul Black
Another  example of variegated foliage

Monty Byers gave the iris world three Dykes Medal Winners (Mesmerizer, Conjuration, and Thornbird). Many times I wonder what Monty would think about the advancements in space age irises since the late ‘80s.

'Tropical Delight' (M. Sutton)--image by Mike Sutton

So, in addition to quoting the AIS Handbook answer of what Novelty irises are…………I always add FLATTIES, DOUBLES, BROKEN COLOR, SPACE AGE, FLOUNCES, POMPOMS, FULL MOONS….and, and, and……….. I don’t know where iris forms and iris colors will go from here AND that is part of the fun too. So to everyone reading this, think about hybridizing more Novelty irises!

FLATTIES are probably my favorite. Did I say that out loud? As judges, we are trained not to show our personal preferences when judging. As a human I find that difficult especially when I’m adding irises to my personal collection. My favorites are CHAOS THEORY, ORBISON, TOP DOWN, and FULL DISCLOSURE. All are faithful flatties.

'Chaos Theory' (Blyth)--image by Barry Blyth

There is a new addition to my favorite flatties – WICHITA FALLS. Yes, you are one of the first to hear. Z.G. Benson’s granddaughter has been kind enough to share one of Z. G.’s seedlings from the early 1970s. It is a huge blue/yellow FLATTIE. It is 100% flat! She is allowing Hooker to distribute the iris for Z. G. and name it WICHITA FALLS.

'Wichita Falls' (ZG Benson)--image by Hooker Nichols

Wichita Falls is the town in northwest Texas where Mr. Benson lived and hybridized the iris. The Novelty Iris Society will introduce the iris. Novelty Iris Society members will be notified when the iris is available for sale. Proceeds of the iris sales will benefit the Novelty Iris Society.

'Full Disclosure'--Image by Andi Rivarola

'Top Down' (Nichols)--image by Hooker Nichols

Editor's Note: We appreciate Bonnie Nichols's guest blog. Bonnie is the president of The Novelty Iris Society and you can find more information about that group on Facebook as Novelty Iris Society.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Exceptional Performers in a Lousy Bloom Season

By Phil Williams

When one has grown Tall Bearded irises for 55 years and been an AIS member for 51 years, you see lots of improvements in the iris perennial, many disappointments, and far too many steps backward.

The iris should be a hardy, easily grown perennial plant.  Clearly many of the modern hybrids do not qualify. It is the result of a love affair with the flower and the perennial has suffered by too many irises with gorgeous flowers introduced with low bud count.  Most of today's modern hybrids are produced in mild climates leaving those of us in parts of the country with challenging growing conditions scratching our heads!

The judges’ handbook requires a minimum bud count of 7 buds per stalk in order to be seriously considered for any garden award.  The mention of bud count, reminds me that the sequence of those 7 buds opening into blossoms can result in a clump easily remaining in bloom for a full month.  There are introductions who promise up to 12 buds per stalk which could extend the bloom season ensuing for 5-6 weeks.

Grab A Grape--Image by Steve Kelly

That is made possible by growing a variety that opens only ONE BLOSSOM at a time on the stalk.  I have long ago ceased seeking varieties with multiple open blooms on a stalk.  My devotion is to a quality garden plant with 2-4 increases per year. I prefer stalks with high bud count and wide durable flowers with holding power (remaining open at least 3 days) that can remain upright during our beating rainstorms and strong winds.

This listing includes varieties with a maximum of 2 open blossoms at once.   My devotion to a quality garden plant with 2-4 increases per years also reflected in this list. (I do not enjoy dividing plants every 2 years that increase like a weed and I refuse to donate and share those plants with others at our auctions and plant sales!) Every plant on this list has been grown for a minimum of 2 years and survived the worst disease attack to ever strike here, fueled by late spring rains that blew northward from the marshes of Louisiana!

Two final last comments.  I try to avoid all irises that boast of an early bloom season.  Rare is the spring that our rows are not hit by early frost and freeze damage. Interesting that some varieties introduced as early consistently perform here in mid-season.  Go figure. No testing here for rebloom reliability.

Grab A Grape--Image by Steve Kelly

'Grab A Grape' (Steve Kelly  2017) Sdlg. PBD 09-2. TB, 36" (91 cm), M
Standards dark violet; style arms violet; Falls dark violet, orange tint on hafts; beards bright orange; slight fragrance. Paul Black X Decadence. 

Serene Lady--Image by Don MacKendrick

'Serene Lady' (Don MacKendrick 2017) Sdlg. 12-09. TB, 28" (71 cm), E-M
S. light heliotrope (HCC 636/3); style arms same, tinted tangerine at edges; F. same, hafts tinted tangerine; beards tangerine; ruffled; purple based foliage; slight sweet fragrance. 06-01: (04-01: (Wishful Thinking x unknown) x Lavender Park) X 07-02: (06-01: (04-01 x Lavender Park) x Feature Attraction). 

Chaps--Image by Nancy Price

'Chaps' (Nancy Price, 2016) Sdlg. 07-117F. BB, 28" (71 cm), M
S. and style arms yellow-tan; F. yellow-tan, darker ½˝ rim of tan; beards tan. Game Plan X Severn Side.

Edna Carmean--Image by Wild Iris Rows

'Edna Carmean' (Greg Hester, R. 2017) Sdlg. 10B4-1. TB, 36" (91 cm), M
S. light lavender-blue; style arms light lavender-blue and blue-violet; F. medium blue-violet, white wash around beards; beards white in throat, orange in middle, lavender end; ruffled; slight sweet fragrance. Jazz Band X Dance Recital. 

Caramel & Chocolate--Image by Rick Tasco

'Caramel & X Chocolate' (John Painter, 2015) Sdlg. J10-63A. TB, 42" (107 cm), M
S. lemon overlaid with brown veins and outer edge; style arms lemon, heavily veined and lined brown; F. black-burgundy-brown; beards antique gold. Rum and Coke X Latte.

Lemon Jade--Image by Rick Tasco

'Lemon Jade' (John Painter,  2015) Sdlg. J07-46A. TB, 38" (97 cm), M.
S. and style arms lemon-green; F. same, shoulders deeper; beards gold. L05-96: (J03-222A: (Honky Tonk Blues x unknown) x Richards 10201) X J04-6A: (Green and Gifted x Coffee Malt). 

Waves of Joy--Image by Rick Tasco

'Waves of Joy' (Richard Tasco,  2015) Sdlg. 09-TB-02-04. TB, 39" (99 cm), ML
S. naples yellow (RHS 11C), slight violet veins on midrib; style arms cream-white, naples yellow edges, violet ridge; F. violet (86B), naples yellow rim, light bronze shoulders and veins near upper portion of beard; beard hairs based white, golden indian yellow (17A) tips, minor violet tipped hairs at very end; moderately ruffled; light purple based foliage; pronounced sweet fragrance. Kona Waves X 05-TB-27-31: (Antiquity x 00-TB-05-01: (Can Can Dancer x Three Strikes)).

Gilded Girl--Image by Nancy Price

'Gilded Girl' (Nancy Price, 2014) Sdlg. 10-49-B. TB, 36" (91 cm), M
S. white, gold rim; style arms yellow-gold; F. white, gold-yellow overlay; beards yellow-gold; ruffled. Celestial Explosion X Dream Team.

Carpe Diem--Image by Mike Sutton

'Carpe Diem' (George Sutton 2012) TB, 36" (91 cm), M-L.
S. and style arms sulphur yellow; F. sulphur yellow, white area radiating out from beards; beards sulphur yellow with fuzzy yellow horns; bubble ruffled; slight sweet fragrance. Bride’s Blush X Q616: (Dark Passion x Midnight Thunder).

Point to the Sun--Image by Mike Sutton

'Point to the Sun' (George Sutton, 2013) Sdlg. U-1557. TB, 36" (91 cm), M-L.
S. white, pale mimosa-yellow flush at midribs and veins; style arms mimosa; F. white; beards yellow in throat, white at ends, palest lavender horns; slight spicy fragrance; ruffled. R-384: (Wishful Thinking x Eagle Landing) X Wedding in White.

Subtle Beauty--Image by Rick Tasco

'Subtle Beauty' (Richard Tasco,  2011) Sdlg. 05-TB-20-14. TB, 40" (102 cm), M
S. light chartreuse-cream veined slightly darker, red violet at base extending half way up midrib; style ams light chartreuse-cream, red violet flush along midrib and on fringed crest, blue under style arm; F. violet (RHS 87A), slightly lighter around beards and toward edge; beards white base, hairs tipped burnt amber-gold; moderately ruffled; slight fragrance. Haut les Voiles X Louisa’s Song.

Adventurous--Image by Mike Sutton

'Adventurous' (Michael Sutton, 2010) Sdlg. V-334-A. TB, 35" (89 cm), ML
S. barium yellow, slightly veined white; style arms barium yellow; F. violet blue veined light blue, ¾˝ ruby red band; beards barium yellow, violet blue at end; serrated edges; slight sweet fragrance. Soft Side X T-714-A: (R-3911: (Seakist x Snowed In) x Spot On).

Secret Land--Image by Kaska Cholewa
'Secret Land' (Robert PiÄ…tek,  2017) Sdlg. 10-118-D-RP. TB, 36" (91 cm), M
S. salmon, wide light orange rim; style arms lilac-blue and yellow; F. dark violet with darker rim, lighter streaks in middle, lilac veins around beards on white background; beards intense orange; ruffled; pronounced sweet fragrance. Naples X unknown. 

Cold Fusion--Image by Mike Sutton

'Cold Fusion' (Michael Sutton, 2011) Sdlg. U-308-A. TB, 34" (86 cm), ML & RE
S. white, heavily veined yellow, yellow midribs; style arms white, yellow crests; F. white zonal burst veined yellow becoming violet blue which bleeds into midnight blue, pale red-purple rim, dark purple wire edge; beards yellow; ruffled; slight sweet fragrance. S-481: (Connie Sue x Ghio 98-3F, Applause Line pollen parent) X Mountain Sunrise.

Day on the Bay--Image by Larry Lauer

'Day on the Bay' (Joseph Ghio, 2012) Sdlg. 05-19N4. TB, 30" (76 cm), VE-M
S. creamy lemon yellow; F. white, wide violet band that bleeds toward center; beards gold. Center Ice sib.

Rocky Brook Lady--Image by Kent Pfeiffer

'Rocky Brook Lady' (Chun Fan, 2013) Sdlg. F91-728. TB, 38" (97 cm), EM
S. and style arms pale yellow-cream; F. same, deeper in heart and shoulders; beards orange in throat, yellow in middle, pale blue at end; ruffled, lightly laced; slight musky fragrance. Melted Butter X Summer Gown. Fan’s Iris 2013.

Platinum Jubilee--Image by Rick Tasco

'Platinum Jubilee'  Joseph Ghio,  2013) Sdlg. 07-95C. TB, 36" (91 cm), VE-E & RE
S. blue-violet, more pink at base; F. same, pinker toward heart; beards tangerine. Restless Heart X Treasured. Bay View 2013.

Moonlit Mirage--Image by Evan Underwood

'Moonlit Mirage' (Barbara Nicodemus,  2013) Sdlg. D21-02. TB, 30" (76 cm), M-L
S. grey-white or whiter, fine gold edge; style crests same, style arms touched wine-purple grey-white; F. wine purple, few grey-white striations; beards gold in throat and middle, ends wine purple; lightly ruffled. Ozark Rebounder X Chantell’s Lace. Rockytop Gardens 2013.

Scandinavian Gal--Image by Rick Tasco

'Scandinavian Gal' (Thomas Johnson,  2012) Sdlg. TB129B. TB, 37" (94 cm), EM
S. brassy yellow with green tones; style arms brassy yellow; F. brassy yellow, lighter white flash, slight violet flash around beard; beards bright yellow-orange; slight fragrance. Blyth O139-B: (Wintry Sky x Mango Daiquiri sib) X Audacious Amber.

Angler Fish--Image by Dale Austin

'Angler Fish' (Gerald Richardson, R. 2013) Sdlg. 04-14-02. TB, 33" (84 cm), M 
S. and style arms pale lavender; F. light buff, stippled violet; beards light orange, upward pointing violet horns; slight fragrance. Sunset Storm X Thornbird.

Flirtatious Gal--Image by Barbara Nicodemus

'Flirtatious Gal' (Barbara Nicodemus,  2016) Sdlg. N55A. TB, 35" (89 cm), EM-M-L
S. gold-peach lightening around lower midrib; style arms light peach, peach crests, white at stigma; F. white, edged peach, deeper gold-peach on outer shoulders; beards white base, orange in throat, yellow-gold in middle, white end. Fogbound X Barbara My Love.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Fond Farewell to Tall Bearded Irises and Other Dreams

By Dawn Mumford

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

This blog is my "goodbye blog". I'm starting with some lyrics sung by Carrie Underwood. The songwriters are Angelo T. Petraglia and Hillary Lee Lindsey.

   Press here to hear Carrie sing the song: 

It is the chorus to that song that really spoke to me:

“I guess it’s going to have to hurt,

 I guess I'm going to have to cry,
And let go of some things I've loved
to get to the other side,
I guess it's going to break me down,

Like falling when you try to fly,
It’s sad but sometimes moving on with the rest of your life,
starts with goodbye”

The following is a bit of my history with the blog, my irises and the reason for making this choice to stop writing this blog.  I’m at the crossroads and I have to make a choice.

I have so many wonderful memories of growing irises and sharing information with other growers. I have had irises in my garden since 1970. The oldest picture I could find to show you is of my irises was in 1974. The quality of the photo is not what we have come to expect with today’s technology.

This is a picture of skinny me showing my third child, Zane, the pretty iris.

This is Zane now as a 44 year old grandfather. 

In 1977 my husband got his first real job as a PhD organic chemist. He was hired to be a rocket scientist by Thiokol. We moved from Sandy, Utah to Brigham City, Utah about 70 miles to the north. We bought a home on about a quarter acre lot and started our iris collection in earnest then. My next door neighbor was already addicted to irises and I caught the bug from her although I had already been dabbling in them. My neighbor and I would order various different irises from Schreiner's and Cooley's and in 2-3 years when we divided them we would share with each other.

Early pictures of the Brigham City garden.

Early pictures of the Brigham City garden.

By the time we moved again in 2005 we had a pretty large  collection. 

In 2000 we bought a piece of property seven miles south of us in Willard.  It was 5 ½ acres and included peach, cherry, apple and plum trees.  It also had unlimited room for irises.  I made my husband promise we would build a house there.  He needed to retire first.

We put three rows of irises in the field but the house was not yet started.  The rows were 75 feet long.

The irises flourished in the orchard soil. It had lots of drainage and other nutrients. 

Intermingled with the iris story is the story of our dream home. In 2003 we started building our dream home. It was the ultimate Do-It-Yourself project.. I did not know how difficult it would be so not knowing any better we took the plunge. We worked on the house eight hours every day except Sunday for 18 months until we finally moved in with the main floor finished on January 5, 2005. Our house in Brigham sold a year later and that is when we brought all the starts that we could find to the new place in Willard.

Digging up the irises from the Brigham City garden took a lot of effort.

Here is a picture of the back of the house before Neal put the rock and stucco on it.

This is the back of the house after the rock and stucco were added.

 This is after we had moved all the irises from the yard in Brigham.

The finished courtyard and water feature in 2016.

This picture was taken in 2009

As you can see this photo was taken in 2011 when we had been in our home about 6 years.

This picture was taken in the front yard looking through the iris at our house.  It is one of my favorite photographs. 

Another picture of our dream home taken at the golden hour.

People always comment on the mountain backdrop.  It really does make a pretty setting.

These are the 3 peaks that are viewed from the front of our house. Our iris are at elevation 4,329.

In 2010 something happened that drastically changed our hopes and dreams. We had planned on staying in our home for the rest of our lives. As you all know life doesn’t always go as planned. In 2010 my husband was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Neal was only 64 years old at the time. We were stunned. What would we do? How could I possibly watch and help my beloved husband as he slowly lost abilities and memories? Besides that he was the sole person who took care of the 350 trees. There is a saying by Bob Marley that "you don't know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice". Well we kept plugging along for six more years. We finished the basement and all the little things that weren't quite done on the house. We hired a landscaper and a contractor to build a courtyard in the back yard with a water feature and to put in sprinklers and trees, shrubs, and lawn in the back yard. This time we didn't do the work ourselves. We got everything just how we wanted it. Neal still worked in the trees and the irises and I ordered, cataloged, planned color beds etc. for the irises. In 2014 I started writing about irises for the American Iris Society Blog.

We tried to do a lot of things together to enjoy Neal while we could. This is my children and a couple of grandchildren putting together the gazebo.

The courtyard and fountain after they were finished.

Back view from the air looking east.

In 2016, January, I slipped on black ice and broke my right arm up by the shoulder and a fracture about 2 inches down from the socket.  It was a bad break and didn’t heal right so in August I had surgery to repair a rotator cuff and take out bone chips and clean up other damage.  2 ½ weeks later I fell at home and broke my left arm in exactly the same place as my right arm.  Now I was helpless and in two slings.  We stayed with one son and his family for three weeks. I couldn't drive for four months during the 2016 year. We then went to a Senior Living Center into a small cottage where I could heal.  It was there that we realized that life in Willard and our Irises and dream home were too much work for us now.  We decided to put our home up for sale.  It was something we never planned on doing but our 3 kids will be much nearer to us to help if needed. 

Our dream home is currently on the market and we will be looking for something to live in south of Salt Lake probably in Alpine.  We will downsize and hopefully find living a bit easier.  

The finished dream home

Four months ago Neal qualified for Hospice care so a nurse comes in once a week and an aid twice a week to help me.  I am grateful for their support and the support of my children and grandchildren

I am not writing this to whine. We have had so many blessings and have received love and encouragement from family and friends. This blog is just to explain why this will be my last blog for a long while. I guess there are some things more important than irises…but not many.

I am grateful that Renee Frazer and Andi Rivarola asked me to write about Tall Bearded Irises.  Irises have been a joy for us and it has been fun to get to know other iris lovers.  I have worked with many other fine vendors and consider them my friends and appreciate their work in hybridizing and selling their creations. I especially want to thank Phil Williams from Rocky Top Iris Gardens for his words of understanding and encouragement.  They helped more than he will know.  Finally I want to share favorite pictures of irises through the years. 

'Gypsy Lord' Keith Keppel, 2005, Dykes Medal 2015 (Gitano in the background)

'Embrace Me' Robert Van Liere, 2008

'Stairway To Heaven' Larry Lauer, 1992 , Dykes Medal 2000

'Aphrodisiac' Schreiners, 1986.  This was taken at at 6:15 p.m. and so there is more pink color than usual.

'Bravery' Joseph Ghio , 2011. Dramatically beautiful!

'Daughter Of Stars' Donald Spoon, 2000, Bloomed for me in May and again in October and though I didn't document it , I think it bloomed a couple of other months too.

'Happenstance' Keith Keppel, 2000 Perfect!

'Edith Wolford' Ben Hager, 1984, Dykes Medal 1993.  This photograph is probably my favorite that I have ever taken.  It won Runner Up in the photo contest for 2016. I love the light coming through it making it shimmer.

The iris patch with the mountains in the background. This photograph was one of the winners in the photo contest in 2016.  I felt very honored.  

I don't know where we are going to finally settle.  I don't even know if we will have irises anymore.  Paul Auster said goodbye better than I can: "and now we get to the hard part, the endings, the farewells, and the famous last words. if you don't hear from me often, remember that you're in my thoughts.” 

I can't say it any better.  Happy gardening.

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