Friday, March 4, 2011

Iris Fever Part II

Even more so than writing out want lists, there's nothing like a good dose of reality to cure the "I want"s. After last year's wet winter I'm not sure how many iris were lost. The ones that always come back year after year without fail are Jesse's Song and the iris from DH's grandmother, who had a farm on heavy clay in western Wake County.

'Jesse's Song', Dykes Medal winner 1990, April 2010

The beautiful white iris from her farm, nicknamed "Eva's White"
in her honor, almost matches Jesse's Song in vigor and bloom.

The other iris from her farm are not as vigorous but also reliable, as are Dusky Challenger, Harvest of Memories, Rare Treat, Samurai Warrior, and a pale yellow from my grandfather's garden (pictured in my last Blooming Friday post).

'Dusky Challenger'

'Rare Treat'

I have had Samurai Warrior since 1983. It languished in my parents' shady garden for many years before it was moved here. Although I don't seek out red iris, I love this one. It looks like velvet.

OK. There has to be other iris like these.

I found a list of iris that are very tough posted on by a TN iris grower/ breeder. She is in zone 7/8, like me, so her climate is probably very similar to mine.

Her suggestions:
Abbey Road TB pale yellow (Silverberg 1994)
Agatha Christie IB plicata, mauve and purple (Sutton 1998)
Autumn Twilight TB bicolor golden cream standards, rosy orchid falls (Brown 1971)
Awesome TB lilac pink self (Tompkins 1990)
Baby Blessed SDB yellow with white beard (Zurbrigg 1979)
Belvi Queen TB Cinammon plicata (Jensen 1976)
Black Magic IB purple self (Wayman 1935)
Blue Chip Pink TB pink self w/ lavender beard (Niswonger 1989)
Blue Pools SDB white standards, blue falls with white zonal pattern on falls (Jones 1972)
Bottled Sunshine IB yellow standards, white falls with yellow band (Nichols 1994)
Bridge in Time TB white (Wilkerson 1995)
Celebration Song TB pale pink on top, lavender on bottom, orange beard (Schreiner 1993)
Classico TB butter yellow plicata (Gartmen 1982)
Coral Beads TB white w/ some caramel shading on falls (Niswonger 1989)
Doctor Alan TB pink (Sides 1996)
Dusky Challenger TB dark blue-purple self with metallic sheen (Schreiner 1986)
English Cottage TB very pale plicata with lavender stitching (Zurbrigg 1976)
Fantastic Blue IB pale blue (Palmer 1974)
Feed Back TB medium blue-violet (Hager 1983)
Foxfire TB yellow self (Fox 1951)
Garden Club Delight TB lavender plicata (Zurbrigg 1997)
Gilded Cream TB cream with golden falls (Wilkerson 1995)
Golden Immortal TB yellow bitone, orange beard (Sutton 1997)
Grand Baroque TB pale amoena (Zurbrigg 1969)
Green-Eyed Lady TB pale yellow with charteuse tones (Plough 1972)
Harvest of Memories TB yellow (Zurbrigg 1984)
Helen Collingwood TB amoena (Smith 1949)
Hold That Tiger TB yellow standards, yellow and wine falls (Lauck 1957)
Holiday House TB very pale pink (Gaulter 1973)
Holy Night TB black/purple self (Mohr 1983)
Honey Glazed IB cream/yellow standards with dark caramel falls (Niswonger 1982)
I Do TB white (Zurbrigg 1973)
Immortality TB white (Zurbrigg 1982)
Jesse's Song (Williamson 1979)
Indian Chief (Ayres 1929)
Jewelled Starlight TB yellow plicata (Burch 1980)
Kelat Skies TB pale blue (Slade 1983)
Kiwi Cheesecake TB white standards pale yellow falls (Niswonger 1998)
Knots Landing TB white (Fan 1993)
Lady Emma MTB pale yellow (Jones 1985)
Lightning Ridge TB pale peach standards, dark rosey pink falls, orange beard (Brown 1965)
Love the Sun TB Yellow standards, caramel falls with yellow rim (Blyth 1984)
Low Ho Silver IB white self (Byers 1988)
Mariposa Autumn TB purple plicata (Tasco 1999)
Matrix TB pale yellow with cinammon veining (Hall 1990)
Midsummer Night's Dream IB dark purple self (Baumunk 1998)
Missouri Mist TB bitone lavender-blue (Niswonger 1999)
Mother Eve Smiles (Miller 1991) TB light yellow standards over white falls with yellow rim
Mulberry Rose TB Lilac pink self (Schreiner 1941)
Mystery Blush TB pale pink (Sides 1996)
Negra Modelo SDB dark purple self (Sutton 1998)
Night Game TB satiny dark purple standards, almost black falls, orange beard (Keppel 1996)
October Splendor BB pale pink, tangerine beard (Sides 1997)
Pacifier IB dusty pink plicata (Hager 1991)
Perfume Counter TB (Zurbrigg 1979)
Pink Formal TB pink (Muhlenstein 1949)
Pink Quartz TB pale coral pink (Wood 1995)
Prince of Burgundy IB purple plicata (Niswonger 1993)
Queen Dorothy TB blue-violet plicata (Hall 1984)
Rare Edition IB purple plicata (Gatty 1980)
Rebound TB rosey pink plicata (Wilkerson 1996)
Red Zinger IB wine-red self with orange beard (Black 1985)
Returning Chameleon TB pale silvery blue(Wilkerson 1995)
Ringo TB white standards, red wine falls with white rim (Shoop 1979)
Rip City TB red wine self (Schreiner 1999)
September Chereau (Brown 1965)
Shannopin TB (Pillow 1940)
Sign of Leo TB purple bitone (Zurbrigg 1979)
Stairway to Heaven TB white standards, pale blue/violet falls (Lauer 1993)
Stunning Serenade TB cream standards, burgundy falls with white rim (Thurman 1997)
Sultry Mood TB bright purple self (Schreiner 1989)
Summer Green Shadows TB pale yellow (Brown 1964)
Summer Olympics TB yellow with white zonal pattern on falls (Smith 1976)
Tiburon TB lilac blue self with white zonal pattern on falls (Gaulter 1971)
Titan's Glory TB purple self (Schreiner 1981)
Tuxedo TB dark blue-purple bitone (Schreiner 1964)
Unbelievable Love TB blue self (Grise 1995)
Understudy TB purple/blue (Tompkins 1986)
Vanity TB pink self (Hager 1975)
Victoria Falls TB chicory blue self with white beard and white zonal pattern on falls (Schreiner 1977)
Violet Miracle TB dark blue-violet (Zurbrigg 1979)
Violet Music TB blue-violet self with white zonal pattern on falls (Mahan 1991)
Wenatchee Skies TB blue self with white beard (Noyd 1969)
Where There's Smoke TB pale lilac pink self (Burseen)

She also suggested the ones below but I'm not crazy about the colors.
Autumn Orangelite BB Orange self (Brown 1962)
Avalon Sunset TB yellow/orange (Schreiner 1994)
Gingerbread Castle TB Orange/brown (Tompkins 1967)
Ice Cream Social TB pale pink with chocolate tones (Hensler 2004)
Poorman TB yellow/ mauve/ gray (Chadwick/ Derose 1999)
Tea Leaves TB cream with yellow on falls and tinged with lavender (Byers 1987)

She wrote that Red Zinger, Sultry Mood, Violet Miracle, Harvest of Memories and Poorman were the ones in the same class as Jesse's Song with regards to toughness and vigor in TN.

Some other iris growers suggested:
Stage Lights pale peach standards, purple/plum falls with white veining (Ghio)
Stingray violet blue self (Byers)
Success Story light blue standards, fuschia violet falls (Ghio)

Another strategy is to choose iris by breeders who grow iris where there's a lot of rain or have produced iris that resist rot, Goos & Koenemann (Germany) Grace Sturdevant (US), Cayeux (France) and Lemon (France) among them. Zurbrigg, Niswonger, Wilkerson, Schreiner, Sides and Brown are names that kept appearing in the TN grower's list. Not surprising since Zurbrigg lived in Durham, NC, where I grew up. Land of heavy red clay! Irises can be researched by hybridizer by searching the American Iris Society database. Viewing the lists for 1959, '69, '79 and '89 is free.

Some good historic iris I've seen recommended are Beotie (Cayeux 1932), Celeste (Lemon 1858), Flavescens (De Candolle 1813), Honorabile (Lemon 1840),Mme Chereau (Lemon 1844), Mme Louis Aureu (Cayeux 1934), Quaker Lady (Farr 1909), Loreley (Goos & Koenemann 1909), California Gold (Mohr-Mitchell, 1933), William A. Setchell (Brehm 1938).

I've been wanting to order Beotie anyway, to go with Baptisia 'Prairie Twilight Blues'. I've tried Flavescens twice. I have grown Quaker Lady with success before but doubt that I still have it after most of the iris by the sidewalk stopped growing or melted away.

Quaker Lady with "Eva's White" and probable 'Indian Chief' in
foreground and 'Helen Collingwood' in background,

I certainly want to try Quaker Lady again, as it and Dogrose are extremely beautiful.

California Gold looks a lot like a yellow from DH's grandmother's
garden. The blue iris is from his grandmother's garden too.

By itself Eva's yellow iris is not a favorite but it does provide a nice accent

especially with other blues and purples.

I have thought of trying to grow some of Jesse's Song's ancestors and other
iris that Bryce Williamson has hybridized since Jesse's Song does so well here.

The beautiful lilac pink self Lady Mary Elizabeth is described on the Dave's Garden page as a vigorous grower, so that one is on my list. I've tried Smoke Rings and Decolletage from the bottom side of JS's pedigree and I think Decolletage bloomed once in the last 5 or 6 years. It was beautiful but neither iris appear to have JS's vigor. I'd like to try to track down Charmed Circle, Kiss, Rococco, Full Circle, Space Ship, Tea Apron, Happy Meeting, Snow Tracery, Belle Meade and Dotted Swiss. They are all from the top side of the JS pedigree.

Indian Chief, which has been described as a weed everywhere, is a Cardinal seedling. Cardinal descends from Trosuperba and Dominion. Dominion is available at Superstition Iris, as are a lot of really nice historics, so I want to try that one too.

This site has a lot of eye candy, , and this site has a lot of great descriptions.

Who needs a cure for iris fever? More enabling is always good.


  1. They are beautiful!
    I have never grown iris - this is my first year to get them & I hope to get in garden over weekend to plant them (autumn here in New Zealand)
    Knowing the names would be real nice - who knows you might of started me on a new hobby cos I sure enjoyed looking at your ones & the links you have are awesome.
    Love Leanne

  2. Piękne irysy, bardzo je lubię, pozdrawiam.

  3. I always love seeing your iris collection, and can definitely see WHY you would want to add to it. I wish I could grow the kinds of iris that you have, but they do not like our heat and humidity.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  4. What a great research article you've posted on irises that meet some tough conditions. I don't know much about irises (and I can't believe how many named varieties there are!), but your stunning purple and white Jesse's Song gets me every time I see it here. So clear and sugary looking.

  5. Your variety of blooms always amazes me. I have a few iris that were passed on to me from my husband's great aunt. I don't know the varieties, but they do bring me such joy each time they bloom. Carla

  6. BEAUTIFUL photos! The colour looks so lush and so healthy and happy! Great Iris' for sure!

  7. Such a lovely display and collection of Iris.
    Like any collection having the names and stories make all the difference. You must be known as the Iris Lady in your family. Very interesting post. Lovely flowers on this dreary, cold, wet, end of Winter day.
    Sherry, who is waiting for Spring

  8. Dang, I accidently deleted your comment Darla. :(

  9. Sweetbay, You have beautiful, really beautiful iris....and a list I could spend a lot of time looking over! I've been eyeing a few Louisiana iris~They would love our wet winters, but I can't keep them wet enough during the summer. Have you had luck with them? gail

  10. Jesse's Song is a worthy medal winner. What a beauty! But they are all beauties! Your close-up of the red is fantastic.
    You sure do have a bad case of Iris fever :)
    That's a good thing to keep your mind occupied while we wait out these last few weeks of winter.

  11. Speaking of eye candy! I love looking a all your beautiful flowers, including your roses and lovely iris. But you also include a lot of solid, helpful information. I have only grown a few irises; my yard is too shady and the ones I have don't bloom well. Yours are so beautiful. Maybe you have inspired me to dig them up and find them in a sunnier spot!

  12. You must have iris fever, with so many of them. I love the variety of colors. They're all beautiful.

  13. So many iris so little time! I will take one of each please...

  14. What a beautiful walkway! I only grow Siberian and Japanese varigated iris but may reconsider! The squirrels in my NY garden used to dig up the corms of an iris called Chinese Dragon Something or other and chew on them. Maybe they tasted like chinese food!

  15. I'll echo everyone else's comments about your iris collection, Sweetbay--just beautiful! I won't be buying any new iris for my garden this year, because I was given so many passalongs last year. I don't even know what colors they will be, so I'm looking forward to seeing that.

  16. Your irises are lovely. I enjoyed the purple colored ones the most. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Sweetbay, your Iris must be the most beautiful I ever see on other blogs. I love the Quaker Ladies! The red one too from your parents . . . great color with all the blues and purples. A very impressive post!

  18. I'm actually knocked out about the amount of work put into this post.

    This is a great resource for Iris lovers


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