Monday, July 30, 2012

The Iris at the End of the Rainbow: the Favorites of Walter Moores

By Renee Fraser

Sometimes when I'm out in my garden enjoying my irises, I wonder about the men and women who create such beauty.  What did they think when they first saw THIS flower open?  Out of all of the irises they have hybridized, which are their very favorites?  I also notice that the irises of particular hybridizers do well for me.  Could it have something to do with the climate the flower was born in? 

Since I have recently become acquainted with a number of both avocational hybridizers and those who also run commercial gardens, I asked them to share their favorite iris introductions and tell us a bit about how they became interested in hybridizing.  

The inspiration for these questions was 'Flying Down to Rio' by Walter Moores.  I have always loved amoenas (irises with white standards at the top) and bicolored irises, and this one is exceptionally pretty with its orange beard. So I asked him about this flower, and it turns out it's his favorite too! So we will begin with Walter Moores.

'Flying Down to Rio' 2006

Walter is an avocational hybridizer who gardens in North Mississippi, about seventy miles south of Memphis, which is at the southern edge for growing bearded irises with success.  He says he likes to try irises that people claim cannot be grown there. Those of you who live in this climate know the challenges.  Evey's Blissful Garden is a website devoted to helping gardeners in this climate choose appropriate plants, and wouldn't you know it, the site features Walter's irises! 

Walter says "sometimes I think I was born in an iris patch.  From my earliest recollections of flowers, I remember irises.  My dad had a huge planting of irises rowed out in the front of the house which was some distance from the road.  He had all colors but didn't know they had names.  My grandmother also had irises in her flower beds.  I remember taking bouquets to my teachers in elementary school just to hear oohs and ahhs and to get praised.  But it was not until I stumbled across an iris show in a Fort Worth mall in 1966 that I got serious about irises.  I had never seen modern irises before and was immediately smitten by them.  I joined the Fort Worth Iris Society on the spot and have never wavered from my love for the genus iris.  It was there that I first learned that some irises produced seed.  I was taught hybridizing by a member of the society and made my first crosses in 1967.  My first introductions were offered to the public in 1977, and I have rarely missed a year registering or introducing an iris.  Some of my irises are now historic, and it is amazing to me to find one of those 1977 introductions, 'Pepper Blend', still listed in catalogs today.  Another perennial favorite is 'Purgatory', introduced in 1987."  

Walter has grown and hybridized siberians, ensatas, spurias, arilbreds, species and species-cross irises, as well as bearded irises.  He loves them all, and thinks the most interesting gardens feature a variety of different iris types.

'Brown Recluse' 2013

An example of his efforts in breeding new species irises include this beauty, which is an unusual color for a fulva iris.  Look at that branching. Good branching allows the flowers to open without crowding, a very important goal in iris hybridizing.

'Pharaoh's Host' 2012

Another favorite of his is an arilbred, 'Pharaoh's Host'.  An arilbred iris is created by crossing an aril iris, native to the Mediterranean region, with a bearded iris.

A few of his favorite tall bearded introductions include 'Ascii 
Art', which remains very popular among gardeners today,  'Lemonade Springs''Miniver Rose', and 'Yalobusha Desert'.  Walter named the last to reflect the fierce growing conditions he faces in Yalobusha County.
'Ascii Art' 1997
Photo by Marilyn Campbell
'Lemonade Springs' 2004
'Miniver Rose' 2007
'Yalobusha Desert' 2011

Early on in his career, Walter was known for hybridizing reblooming bearded irises, but for the last few years, when he works with tall bearded irises, his focus is on zonals with different color backgrounds within the zones (see 'Bright New Day' for an example of a zonal pattern). In his current hybridizing efforts he is looking for "that elusive pink zonal." 

Walter adds "I think irises are one of the reasons I have enjoyed a long life.  New seedlings inspire me each bloom season, and I plan to continue for as long as I am able."

'Moonlight and Wine' 2011
Photo by Rick Tasco

Which of these lovelies is your favorite?  Do you grow any irises by Walter Moores?  If you do, how do they perform in your climate?  

If you would like to know more about iris hybridizers, I recommend Classic Irises and the Men and Women Who Created Them by Clarence Mahan (yes, the same 'Clarence' for whom the lovely reblooming iris is named).  Stay tuned for more posts on hybriders from different parts of the country and the jackpots they found at the end of their rainbows.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

IRISES, the Bulletin of the AIS - July 2012 Edition

By Andi Rivarola

I hope you enjoy reading IRISES, the Bulletin of The American Iris Society, as much as I do. Here's the beautiful cover of the July edition: a pond surrounded by Japanese irises. What else can one ask for in this world? Isn't it just heavenly?

There are several sections of IRISES that caught my attention, and here are just a few of them to give you a taste of what's coming (via mail in a couple of weeks, or available now if you are subscribed to the Electronic Edition).

There is an awesome article called "How to Avoid Volunteering (or Being Volunteered)" by none other than Mr. Entertainment himself, winner of the AIS 2012 President's Cup (best in Region at a AIS Convention), California hybridizer Richard Richards.  You can rest assured that his article will take you to iris realms you've never been to before.

AIS Marketing & Committee Co-Chair Bob Pries writes "We Are Growing Again," about the latest membership growth experienced by our organization.

The always-informative columns, "Sections Happenings" by Jim Morris, and "Youth Views" by Cheryl Deaton

Bonnie Nichols writes a wonderful and tempting invitation to the 2013 Dallas National Convention, as well as she should, since she's the gracious Chairwoman.

The writer of Contemporary Views, Perry Dyer, discusses an interesting topic, "The Backyard Hybridizer."

And finally, Pat McNeal shares the last of her tips on "Selling Irises at the Farmers' Market."

There is much more in this edition of IRISES. I hope that this peek at the titles and the names of our contributors heightens your anticipation.  

For those new to the American Iris Society, you may choose to receive the printed edition of IRISES, or you can become an e-member and read the entire publication online. For more information, please go to our website's membership information section

Monday, July 23, 2012


by Jim Murrain

     I'd like to talk about the hybrids between Iris dichotoma and Iris domestica. These parents have suffered much abuse at the hands of botanists. They have both been kicked in and out of the genus Iris, lumped with distant relatives, and endured so many name changes that most people don't know what to call them.
     At least I. dichotoma 'The Vesper Iris' is usually thought to be an Iris. Poor I. domestica has had the lion's share of the problems. Commonly known as 'The Blackberry Lily' it truly suffers from an identity crisis! Thanks to modern science and the understanding of DNA we now know them to both be true members of the Genus Iris.

     The children and grandchildren of these irises have only had to deal with a couple name changes, from Pardancanda (with an X either before or after) norrisii to the now correct Iris x norrisii. Unfortunately they still seem to be stuck with the "common" name 'Candy Lily'.

     First hybridized by Sam Norris these beauties can display an astonishing range of colors. Most take after Iris domestica and have similar standards and falls which look like a tiny flat or double iris. Occasionally they will show hints of I. dichotoma and appear more iris-like with upright standards.  I have yet to see a hybrid display the style arms of I. dichotoma which I. domestica lacks, but they do exist.

     These iris hybrids can open their flowers at odd times of the day while their parents open either in the morning  (I. domestica) or late afternoon  (I. dichotoma). The flowers last only one day, but a stalk can easily have a hundred or more buds with several open at a time. Very easy to grow from seed, a few will flower in their first year in the garden and the rest in their second season. The Species Iris Group of North America's (SIGNA) Seed Exchange often has seeds available as do many gardening catalogs. 

     Division is a little tricky. With plenty of soil on the roots they can be divided in spring or early fall. Joe Pye Weed's Garden (which sells hybrids from Darrell Probst) recommends dividing when in bud, even down to a single stem. Plant promptly, water once, and they can continue to flower normally. 
     I'm still surprised how rarely I see these in gardens. An Iris that is easy to grow, blooms when no other Iris is in flower, and if grown from seed is very inexpensive. What's not to love? 

     Give them a try and you too will have reason to venture out in the noonday sun of summer even if you forget just what the heck to call them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Irises: The Best and the Bluest, Part One

By Renee Fraser

Blue flowers are rare.  Roses don't come in blue, nor do daylilies, despite sporting names such as 'Wild Blue Yonder' or 'Blue Desire'.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of the color blue in irises: they come in a variety of hues that quench the gardener's thirst. But this poses a dilemma: which blue irises do I want? There are so many!

I asked my gardening friends to show me their best blue irises. Some shared photos of their truest blue iris, some their prettiest blue, and some their best blue performer. I got such a fantastic response that they had to be split into three posts.  So we will start with the tall bearded (TB) irises and then share the beardless, and finally the median flowers. So here for your viewing pleasure are some spectacular blue tall bearded irises.

The traditional favorite is probably 'Babbling Brook'.  It is still in widespread distribution.  So is the reblooming iris 'Victoria Falls'. These are both tried and true garden choices, although 'Victoria Falls' must often be staked.

'Babbling Brook' Photo credit: His Iris Garden

'Victoria Falls' with 'Persian Berry'

Blue irises can be very blue, or more of a lavendar-blue.  NOID means 'no identification' and is used for flowers that have lost their identities.   Dynee Lawler, a photographer who gardens in Southern California, has this beautiful true-blue NOID in her garden.

NOID Photo credit: Dynee Lawler
And Rodney Deal, who is building an historic iris collection based on the varieties his grandmother grew and sold in Oklahoma, shared this NOID, which is at the lavendar end of the rainbow of blues.

NOID Photo credit: Rodney Deal

Blue irises also come in various depths of color and distributions of blue across the flower.  Examples of this are amoenas, irises that have white standards and colored falls. The favorite blue iris of David Stacey is the amoena 'Cascadian Rhythm', which he photographed on a trip to South Jersey Iris last year.  Talk about garden impact.

'Cascadian Rhythm'  Photo credit:  David Stacey
David gardens in Delaware, where he just purchased a large lot with plenty of room for irises.  The Delaware Valley Iris Society (DVIS) which serves parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, maintains a website that will keep you up into the wee hours of the morning with hundreds of photos of irises divided into color categories, where you can search for more blues. 

Susanne Spicker, whose blog Sowing the Seeds features many inspired photographs of irises, also chose an amoena as her favorite blue iris; a romantic flower with ruffles galore and flowing falls.

'Ruffled Ballet' Photo credit: Susanne Spicker

El Hutchison chose a perennial favorite, the rebloomer 'Clarence'.  Here it is in her Canadian Iris Display Garden in Manitoba.  I have seen it variously described as an amoena and as a luminata.  It certainly glows!  Some day I will tell you the story of how this iris got its name.  I promise.

'Clarence' Photo credit: El Hutchison

As for dark- to medium-blue TB irises, 'Sea Power' defines the word "ruffled".  It won the Dykes Medal in 2006, the Wister Medal in 2005, an AM in 2003 and an HM in 2001. It's no wonder!  Marte Hult, who gardens in Minnesota, claims this iris as her favorite blue.  She was joined by a number of other gardeners in this choice, although some report fewer blooms than they would like.

'Sea Power' Photo credit:  Marte Hult

Another ruffled mid-blue beauty was chosen by Tim Metler of Beaumont Ridge Iris Gardens.  This is 'Baltic Sea'.

'Baltic Sea' Photo credit: Tim Metler

Some of these blues tend toward purple, a dominant color in irises, and others are blue-blue.  My favorite blue for the garden is 'City Lights', a reblooming iris which starts out a strong medium blue and fades toward a purply-blue.  It's quite showy and the white areas light it up.

'City Lights' 

Blue irises that have dark falls and lighter standards are called 'neglectas'.  Here is a favorite of a number of gardeners, 'World Premier'.  It's an eye-catcher for sure: look how a single stalk shows up in the garden.

'World Premier' Photo credit: Susanne Spicker

'World Premier'

Loretta Headrick of His Iris Garden in central California went back and forth, and finally settled on rebloomer 'Deep Pacific'.  She says her eye is involuntarily drawn toward it in the garden. As far as medium-dark blues, this is among the bluest.

'Deep Pacific' Photo credit Loretta Headrick

Light blues are probably the bluest blue irises.  An iris that attracts much attention in the garden is 'Queen's Circle'.  It was the favorite light blue of a number of gardeners.  Here it is in my Southern California garden.

'Queen's Circle'

There were votes right and left for irises with clouds in their names.
Bob Sussman of Matilija Nursery and Bonnie's Irises chose 'Cloud Ballet' as his favorite light blue.

'Cloud Ballet' Photo credit: Bob Sussman

Kent Pfeiffer in Nebraska likes the silvery 'Through the Clouds'.
'Through the Clouds' Photo credit: Kent Pfeiffer

And Naomi DiVincenzo in Colorado chose 'Above the Clouds'.
'Above the Clouds' Photo credit: Jan Lauritzen

Marilyn Campbell, an accomplished photographer and gardener, picked 'Color Me Blue' from her zone 4b garden. For those of you seeking true blues, it's hard to beat this light blue.

'Color Me Blue' Photo credit: Marilyn Campbell
Marilyn could not choose just one, and her second choice turned out to be the single most popular true blue iris among all of my gardening friends across the whole internet.  Here is 'Absolute Treasure', the winner of this informal poll of favorite blue irises.

'Absolute Treasure' Photo credit: Marilyn Campbell

We'll take a look at beardless blues soon.  Are you a lover of blue irises?  What's your favorite blue tall bearded iris?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Every Tom, Dick and Harry of Louisiana Irises

By Ron Kiingsworth

When I first became active in Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI), I became friends with three long-time members: Harry Wolford, Tom Dillard, and Dick Sloan.  I decided I would hybridize three LA irises and name them for Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Hybridizing irises is a time-consuming process, and it helps to set out with a specific goal in mind. In 2007 I decided to cross two dark Louisiana (LA) irises with the goal of putting a larger signal on the pod parent.  (The signal is the flash of gold you see below.)  I chose the Mary Swords DeBaillon winning LA iris 'Night Thunder' (Morgan, R 2000) as the "pollen parent" and 'Jeri' (Bertinot, N 1984) as the "pod parent."  In other words, I took the pollen from 'Night Thunder' and put the pollen on 'Jeri.'  I made several crosses on different days to insure that some of the crosses would set seed.
'Night Thunder' - the "daddy"

'Jeri' - the pod parent or "mom"
'Jeri' has only a tiny gold line signal while 'Night Thunder' has a large "steeple" gold signal.  I was really hoping to get a 'Jeri' with 'Night Thunder's' signal.  (Let me point out that both of these irises are darker than these pictures reflect.  I have trouble with digital pictures of really dark irises, they always seem to shift in color to appear lighter than they are in reality.) 

These crosses produced several nice seed pods and from the pods I harvested about 80 seeds.  I planted the seeds from each pod in separate large plastic pots and marked them as "Jeri X Night Thunder."  I was successful in germinating about 30 seeds and wound up with over 25 seedlings.  I planted these seedlings out in rows in one of my flower beds and the seedlings grew through the fall of 2007, the whole year of 2008, and finally in the spring of 2009 my seedlings bloomed! 

What do you get when you cross a dark, almost black, iris with another dark iris?  Well, when my seedlings finally bloomed I was truly amazed.  I did in fact have quite a few dark irises.  Some looked just like 'Jeri' while others looked more like 'Night Thunder.'  Quite a few looked like 'Jeri' with 'Night Thunder's' signal.  But what amazed me was the other colors this cross produced.  Oh, those sneaky genes!

'Our Friend Harry' (Killingsworth, R 2011)
 One of the seedlings was almost red.  It has the nice large signals from 'Night Thunder'.  I moved this seedling to another bed and used every method I knew to increase the number of plants.  It bloomed again in 2010 and was still red!  It was red again in 2011 and the bloom count and positions were sufficient so I registered it as 'Our Friend Harry.'

Another seedling from the 'Jeri' X 'Night Thunder' cross turned out to be a lighter red and it too proved to be a good garden iris with lots of blooms and bud positions.  I registered it in 2011 as 'Our Friend Tom.'

'Our Friend Tom' (Killingsworth, R 2011)

I continue to grow many of the other seedlings from this cross and will eventually chose a few to register.  One of them is very dark with a velvety look and with 'Night Thunder's' signals, which I set out to create.

Seedling S-07-09-920
I really like this seedling because the stands "stand up" and the falls stay straight out.  Another seedling from this cross has stands that stand up and falls that droop down.

So, that takes care of Tom and Harry, but what about Dick?  Earlier, in 2009, I registered an iris as 'Our Friend Dick' (Killingsworth, R 2009).  It was a cross between 'Dural Bluebird' (Taylor, JC 1993) and 'Hush Money' (Dunn, M 1998).  'Dural Bluebird' is, as its name suggests, a nice blue, while 'Hush Money' is a creamy colored iris with a blue cast.  This cross also produced irises of many colors and I chose a seedling from this 2004 cross to name 'Our Friend Dick.'

'Dural Bluebird' - the daddy
'Hush Money' - the mom

'Our Friend Dick' - the child

So, there you have it -- every Tom, Dick and Harry of LA irises!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Those Puzzling Iris Names

By Griff Crump

Some time ago  --  a few years, actually  --  the question arose on as to why the various species of iris are named as they are. A whole list of puzzlers had been submitted. 

I. tectorum

While most irisarians have heard that I.tectorum means “iris of roofs” or “roof iris”, stemming from the Japanese practice of growing them on their roofs (although I have seen that explanation disputed), the meanings of other names remained obscure. Being the compulsively helpful person that I am, I offered the following explanations for some of them, which I repeat here for those who are not veterans:

attica -- similar to tectorum, but grows beneath the roof

subbiflora -- same as attica, but two floors down

mandschurica -- a variety, candidans mandschurica, will sit quietly in your
garden for years, then suddenly burst into bloom

acutiloba -- smelling this one can give you a very bad case of iloba

barnumae -- a real circus of color

bismarkiana  --  though plantings may be dispersed, this one will
consolidate and take over your garden

gatesii --  to be planted at the entrance to your garden, of course

hookeriana  --  (ahem, well . . .)

wattii -- in sufficient quantity, this becomes known as voltii

minutoaurea  -- a little bull goes a long way

odaesanensis -- comes from Odessa, but ran into a spelling problem

bulleyana -- crowds out other flowers

innominata -- Linnaeus lost the tag; very common; most of us have some

nelsonii  -- British; has only one branch

crocea -- Kasparek reject, who, looking at it, said "That's a croc."

ludwigii -- first cousin to hartwegii

foetidissima -- a real stinker

bungei -- you can't get rid of this one; it just keeps coming back

farreri -- Italian, misspelled

lazica  --  has to be staked

aitchisonii -- named after the well-known railroad town  (Aitchison, Topeka
and the Sa-anta Fe)

hartwegii -- first cousin to ludwigii

galactica -- honoring the Battlestar of the same name

stenophylla -- a nice present for your secretary

stocksii -- you buy this one when bondsii is too pricey

zaprjagajewii -- named for its discoverer, a Cossack who fell into a clump
of it when his horse missed a steppe

No doubt others among us have explanations for some of the rest.  

You can see the names of all the species irises and many beautiful photos of them at the Species Iris Group of North America (SIGNA) website.

Editor's Note:  Griff invites you to add your own "definitions" for iris species names in the comments section.  Be sure to keep it clean and, above all, funny!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Zealand Dykes Medal Winner 2012

By Piki Carroll
New Zealand Iris Society President

Hybridizer Ron Busch receives the New Zealand Iris Society’s Dykes Medal for TB ‘Norma of Irwell’

Ron Busch was born in Tower Street in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1934 and has been the Society’s most prolific iris breeder. Ron has been breeding irises for many years and his first registration was a tall bearded called ‘Open Country’ registered in 1969. It had lemon standards with light blue falls and a yellow beard.

'Norma of Irwell'

In 1976 he registered 8 Tall Bearded irises: ‘Allusion,’ ‘Blue Guilt,’ ‘Mountain,’ ‘Painted Witch,’ ‘Rich Melody,’ ‘Sand Boy,’ ‘Snow Song,’ and ‘And Southern Queen.’

Ron has consistently registered irises over the years: 3 Tall Bearded in 1981; 3 Tall Bearded in 1985; 4 Tall Bearded in 1991; and 2 Tall Bearded in 1997.

In 1999 we saw a change with 5 standard dwarf bearded registered. In 2006 saw another change and Ron registered 6 tall bearded and 2 Sibericas. In 2007, 1 tall bearded and 4 standard dwarf beardeds. 2008 saw 11 Spec-x (cal sibs) and 3 tall beardeds which included ‘Norma of Irwell,’ named after Ron’s wife.

In 2009 health issues began to plague Ron and a move to town and a smaller property were on the cards, nevertheless, Ron registered his biggest number yet: 113 tall beardeds.

The British Iris Society has approved the giving of the Dykes Medal for ‘Norma of Irwell,’ and due to Ron’s deteriorating health we are making the announcement prior to receiving the medal which is cast and inscribed in England and will take some time to arrive.

Well done Ron. A just reward for your perseverance over many years.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ^ - - - - - - - -^ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Editor’s Note:

For this week’s Guest Bloggers Series, the President of the New Zealand Iris Society shared with me via Maggie Asplet (web-mistress for the NZ Iris Society) the following information for their American friends and iris lovers worldwide -- the New Zealand Dykes Medal Winner for 2012, a nice tribute to one of their successful and most productive hybridizers. 

I hope you also enjoy the following historic report on how the system for awarding the Dykes medal got started in New Zealand.  For additional information please visit the New Zealand Iris Society.

History of The New Zealand Dykes Memorial Medal

“The Dykes Memorial Medal was instituted by the British Iris Society in 1926 to honour William Rickatson Dykes (1877-1925), a founder of that society and a noted English researcher, hybridiser and gardener as well as the writer of the authoritative monograph, The Genus Iris. The Dykes Medal is the highest award an iris can receive. The New Zealand Dykes Medal can be awarded every second year by the British Iris Society on the recommendation of the New Zealand Iris Society. Frances Love won the first New Zealand Dykes Medal in 1995 for the Siberian iris 'Emma Ripeka'. This medal is awarded also in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. The Australasian Dykes Medal was first instituted in 1985 and allowed a medal to be awarded to New Zealand and Australian irises in successive years. However the process of sending irises out of the country to be tested in Australia proved unworkable and as a result in 1992 the New Zealand Dykes Trial Garden system was set up for this purpose.”

Andi Rivarola
Editor: World of Irises - the Blog of The American Iris Society 
AIS Social Media Manager

Monday, July 2, 2012

Siberians that the World Overlooked

By Bob Hollingworth

'White Amber'
For any iris, winning awards is a matter of both worthiness and luck. Luck is always an element in the recognition equation:  an iris might put on a particularly impressive display at an iris convention where many judges see it. Or it may put on a great show of bloom, but a week before the convention visit. It may have been planted on a rock, or at the corner of a sunless bed that missed water and fertilizer. In other cases, a worthy iris may never get to the convention for various reasons, perhaps there is not enough stock, for instance. Over the many years that we have sent Siberians to conventions we have seen all these things happen. We have also been lucky when an eye-catching plant showed itself off like a fashion model just as the visitors came. So here I would like to start a series that recognizes fine Siberians, that for one reason or another, never seem to have received the recognition they (to me at least) deserve.  

'White Amber' (Photo by Brock Heilman)
I don’t understand why Marty Schafer and Jan Sack’s 'White Amber', introduced in 2001, has never received any AIS award; not even an Honorable Mention. Maybe they have so many good introductions that some just get overlooked in the crowd, but 'White Amber' for me is one of their finest.  It grows very well for us, blooms early and reliably produces masses of bloom held so that the clump effect is near-perfect. The colors of the flower are novel and satisfying.

It comes from a complex background involving 'Reprise', 'Mad Magenta, 'Isabelle', 'Silver Illusion' and 'Snow Prince'. Surely 'Snow Prince' must have had a significant role because the flowers are relatively small, though compact and nicely ruffled, and the plant generally has a “sibirica” appearance.  Maybe Isabelle helps with the yellow base. The color is perfectly captured by the name – a smooth, warm, milky amber color on the falls that comes from combining yellow and light lavender–pink and which intensifies towards the hafts. The standards are near white and the style arms are mainly yellow. It is certainly in the top dozen Siberians I would take if banished to that proverbial desert island.

Another in the characteristic of a great iris is that it is a fine parent. Again it seems 'White Amber' has been overlooked. The AIS Iris Register lists no named progeny. That is until this year when we introduced an iris called 'Lemon Mousse' which is from 'White Amber' x 'See Ya Later' (Hollingworth, 2006). That cross gave irises in a variety of colors and patterns with several being good enough to take to the next stage for consideration.
I used 'White Amber' because it had such pleasing growth and flowering habits and because I was interested in the combination of yellow and lavender or red shades in Siberians. 'See Ya Later' comes from that kind of background too. So it’s rather ironic that 'Lemon Mousse' has no trace of red. It opens light yellow and fades to pure white with a yellow heart. The flowers are larger than 'White Amber', but produced in the same profusion. Another iris in this cross (05R1B15) did show the lavender and yellow combination along with striking yellow style arms. This too would have been introduced if not for a bunch of white grubs that ate the roots off in a dry summer several years ago. That’s when we discovered that European Chafer grub populations were rapidly on the rise here in Michigan.

10J13B3  (No. 1)

10J13B7  (No. 2)

The results of this cross were so pleasing that I decided to do another similar one using 'White Amber' and our 'Gem Quality' (2008), a seedling from 'See Ya Later' x the yellow 'Smiley Face'. And again the results have been fascinating – tremendously varied and some quite surprising, with all flowering vigorously. Here are three of them  The first, 10J13B3, in which red-violet is combined with yellow to give orangey shades (the photo is less than ideal I’m sorry to say), and the second one (10J13B7) combining blue-purple and yellow to give some brown tones on the style arms and falls, may not be so unexpected, but where did the third (and most interesting) one come from? 

10J13A1 (No. 3)
Reddish on top and blue below, 10J13A1  probably gets its bright gold signal from 'Gem Quality'. I expect that one or two of these may eventually be introduced if they continue to grow well and our control measures keep the grubs at bay.

So to me 'White Amber' is an under-appreciated gem. I still vote it for an HM every year though I suppose its time is now past. Irises are never technically out of the running for an HM, but not being listed on the ballot now is a killer. It seems that some irises just can’t get lucky, but if you want to add a fine Siberian to your collection, do keep it in mind.
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