Of all the irises found in gardens, the Tall Bearded irises are the most common and certainly the most dramatic. They are the last group of bearded irises to bloom, producing large three-dimensional flowers on strong stems high above broad, sword-shaped leaves. Each stem can be branched up to four times, with the most modern varieties producing as many as 13 flowers in one flowering session. The blooming period usually begins as the Intermediate Bearded irises start to fade and continues for two or three weeks; however, some modern varieties produce flowers for up to four weeks at a time. The flower stems of Tall Bearded irises grow from 70 to 102 cm (27-41 in.) tall. The flowers are 10-17 cm (4-7 in.) across and, like all bearded irises, can be found in an infinite range and combination of colours.
Although Tall Bearded irises have been grown in Europe for hundreds of years, mainly for their medicinal properties, it was not until the nineteenth century that named varieties started to appear. At this time they were not known as Tall Bearded irises. The plants were raised from seed pollinated by bees. Most of the plants were crosses between Iris pallida and I. variegata. Flower colours were often murky, but as so many variations occurred, hundreds of varieties were introduced, the majority of which are no longer grown.
Around 1822 a Frenchman called de Bure named the first hybrid, a pli-cata called Iris 'Buriensis'. Other influential hybridizers of the time include Lemon, Jacques, and Verdier. Although the French first dominated the iris market, elsewhere in Europe hybridizers were at work. In Germany, the nurseries ofVon Berg and of Goos and Koenemann added iris hybrids to the ever-increasing list of names, and in Belgium Louis van Houtte introduced plants. Later, during the latter half of the century, British breeders also began to introduce bearded irises, Peter Barr and Amos Perry being the most important of these. By the end of the nineteenth century, so many new named hybrids had come on the market that hybridizers believed irises could be developed no further. How wrong could they have been?
The most important developments in nineteenth-century iris hybridization were due to biologists not nurserymen. During the latter part of the century new species were introduced to Europe from Asia Minor. In Britain, botanist Michael Foster, a professor of physiology at Cambridge, collected and grew as many iris species as he could, including newly found plants sent to Britain by missionaries travelling through Asia Minor. Most of these plants arrived without names, but two ofthem in particular caught the eye of both French and British iris growers. One was called Iris 'Ricardi' after the person who collected it in Palestine. Foster named the other I. 'Amas', after Amasia, the area in which the plant was found. Unbeknown to hybridists then, I. germanica 'Amas' and I. 'Ricardi' were tetra-ploids. Up until this time all bearded irises had been diploids with small blooms, delicate petals, and slender stems. The new species, when crossed with diploids, produced varieties with larger flowers, thick and velvety petals, and stronger stems.
Foster took advantage of these new species and became one of the first hybridizers to use scientific knowledge in his crosses. Unfortunately, he did not record the parentage of his plants. After Foster's death in 1907, nurseryman Robert Wallace of Essex, England, introduced many of Foster's plants to the gardening world. Most have since disappeared, but Iris 'Mrs George Darwin', I. 'Mrs Horace Darwin', and I. 'Kashmir White' can still be obtained. These were just a few of the varieties exported to the United States, and Foster's work inspired many future iris lovers on both sides of the Atlantic. Foster was respected not only for his work but also for his generous sharing of so much of his knowledge with others, a tradition that continues among iris hybridizers today.
When Foster died, he left behind a large collection of notes which Ellen Willmott loaned to William R. Dykes, the author of The Genus Iris. The notes outlined Foster's work and helped Dykes investigate the species
Iris 'Susan Bliss'
further. Dykes believed that many bearded species were hybrids and to test this theory asked a friend, retired engineer Arthur Bliss, to make crosses between them. Among the plants Dykes sent Bliss were plicatas, amoenas, neglectas, asiaticas, and I. squalens.
Bliss crossed an asiatica with a Tall Bearded hybrid named Iris 'Cordelia'. The asiatica parent died but is thought to have been 'Amas' or something similar. The cross, however, resulted in one of the most important irises ever raised: I. 'Dominion' was introduced in 1912. Nearly twenty-five years later, in 1936, F. X. Schreiner, the owner of a well-known iris nursery in the United States, considered I. 'Dominion' to be the most important landmark in the history of iris hybridizing. The petals of this hybrid were more velvety and thicker than those of any hybrid previously introduced. Robert Wallace included I. 'Dominion' in his catalogue, selling it for the vast sum of five guineas.
Iris 'Dominion' went on to parent I. 'Depute Nomblot' (F. Cayeux 1929) and I. 'Dauntless' (Connell 1927), both of which became important parents themselves. Years later Melba Hamblen (Warburton and Hamblen 1978) commented that Bliss was the greatest hybridizer of the transitional period of iris breeding.
Bliss was not the only breeder to produce hybrids that included the newly discovered tetraploid species. In France, Vilmorin introduced Iris 'Alcazar' in 1910 and, due to the Great War of 1914 to 1918, delayed introducing I. 'Ambassadeur' until 1920. By that time the plant's stock had multiplied so much that I. 'Ambassadeur' could be bought very cheaply, and within a few years it was grown throughout France, Britain, and the United States.
The period just before and after the Great War saw massive improvements in the quality of the bearded iris flower. Wister summed up the situation perfectly in The World of Irises (Warburton and Hamblen 1978) when he said that iris lovers 'cannot realise the thrills that came in the two and three years after the close of the First World War to those who had known only the poorer iris of the past century.'
It was the Americans who did most to improve the Tall Bearded iris during the early years of the twentieth century. Amateur enthusiast Bertrand Farr, the owner of a music shop in Pennsylvania, saw Peter Barr's catalogue from England and imported the entire collection. Farr fell in love with the modern hybrids he received and promptly sold the music shop to start his own nursery. He not only encouraged others to grow irises, but also turned his hand to producing bearded irises, one of which was Iris 'Quaker Lady'. Introduced in 1909, this diploid iris is still available today.
The Sass brothers, Jacob and Hans, had emigrated with their parents in 1884 from Germany to Nebraska. Hans brought with him an interest in botany, but once in America both brothers started breeding bearded irises. Over the years they introduced many varieties of historical importance. One of Hans's most important introductions was the yellow-flowered Iris 'King Tut', which was used to raise the famous I. 'Rameses'. Jacob used 'Rameses', which was awarded the Dykes Medal in 1932, to create I. 'Ola Kala', which won the Dykes Medal in 1948 and is still sold today. Another Sass hybrid, 'Prairie Sunset', was awarded the Dykes Medal in 1943.
By the end of the 1930s, some of the seedlings produced by the Sass brothers were producing flowers with bumpy edges to the petals. These bumps, now know as lacing, were at first considered unsightly, but soon they gained popularity, and other hybridizers, such as Agnes Whiting and David Hall, began actively introducing bearded irises with laced flowers.
Another great advance in iris breeding came in 1939 when Clara Rees introduced Iris 'Snow Flurry', a white-flowered hybrid with ruffles. Like I. 'Dominion', I. 'Snow Flurry' was used to develop the shape of the iris flower by introducing ruffles to the edges of the petals and thus breaking the mould of tailored, smoothly shaped flowers.
Many of today's most famous iris nurseries were established during this time. In the 1920s Frank X. Schreiner, an amateur grower, opened an iris nursery in Minnesota. He imported many of the newer European varieties including ones from Cayeux and Vilmorin in France, and Arthur Bliss in England. Schreiner was the first American grower to import Iris 'Dominion'. Although he never raised irises, he trained his two sons to do so. Soon after Frank's death in 1945, the family moved the nursery to Oregon where other iris growers were already established and the soil was more suitable. Three generations later Schreiner's is arguably the largest iris grower in the world. A visit to the nursery during the flowering season, when it resembles the bulb fields of Holland, is an awe-inspiring sight.
The Second World War did much to discourage commercial European iris growers from raising new hybrids. Even Amos Perry, famous in Britain for introducing many herbaceous plants, replaced his enthusiasm for irises with growing food to aid the war effort. This was the time American iris breeders, living in relative peace, made even more advances. Size, substance, and colour choices of the flowers of Tall Bearded irises increased considerably. Breeders began to select the features they wanted to work on. In Chicago, Orville Fay introduced white hybrids with improved hardiness. Many of his hybrids are still sold today including Iris 'Arctic Flame', I. 'New Snow', and I. 'Cliffs of Dover'. Introduced in 1960, I. 'Arctic Flame' was the first white Tall Bearded iris to have red beards, the result of 10 years of effort and five generations of seedlings.
While Fay worked on white irises, David Hall, a Canadian who lived in the United States, worked on pink ones, again with red beards. At the time, pink irises were neither truly pink nor hardy. Most of them were pink-orange or pink-lilac. Hall introduced Iris 'Cherie', which won a Dykes Medal in 1951, 'Palomino', and 'Spring Festival'.
Another very important hybridizer during this period was Paul Cook. Known mainly for his work on shorter bearded irises, Paul also introduced many larger ones that were a great advancement on what was already available. These included Iris 'Deep Black' and I. 'Whole Cloth', an amoena admired for the width of its flaring falls and purity of colour and a winner of the Dykes Medal in 1962. Cook had a policy of not making further crosses with his introductions, but others used them extensively. Iris 'Whole Cloth' produced a vast range of different-coloured amoena seedlings, and today many modern hybrids contain it in their parentage including some of the black varieties raised by Schreiner's in Oregon.
Meanwhile back in Britain during the 1960s Harry Randall was doing much to promote irises. Hall generously sent pollen from one of his pink seedlings with Harry Randall to Cedric Morris in Britain. This pollen later produced a pink Tall Bearded hybrid Randall called Iris 'Strath-more' after the home of the then Queen Mother, Elizabeth. Randall's enthusiasm for the genus frequently took him to the United States, where he obtained pollen of the newest irises. This sharing of ideas and pollen is one of the most endearing qualities to be found among those who are passionate about irises. Hall, Fay, Blodget, Reckamp and Rudolph, all hybridizers whose irises are featured in this book, exchanged pollen during the middle years of the century.
The 1960s and 1970s saw an increase in the size of Tall Bearded iris flowers, but no great advances in quality were made until the 1980s and 1990s. Among the most influential iris hybridizers in this new generation are Barry Blyth of Melbourne, Australia, and Keith Keppel of Salem, Oregon, who have been raising seedlings for 50 years. Their work and that of Joe Ghio in Santa Cruz, California, has increased the choice of flower shape, height, and colours available.
Blyth and Keppel regularly visit each other and exchange both ideas and pollen. Blyth has registered more than 800 hybrids with the American Iris Society, including Tall Bearded irises and many median irises. His plants tend to be unconventional. Many are heavily ruffled and unusual in colours with extraordinary patterning. Keppel, working first in California, became known for his plicata irises. Subsequently, he has done much to improve the lumi-nata types.
Over the years California has been home to many famous hybridizers, such as William Mohr, who worked around the beginning of the century, and Sydney Mitchell, who continued Mohr's work. Around 1940 Jim Gibson started to hybridize for plicata-style Tall Bearded irises, a dozen of which are featured in this chapter. Another prolific hybridizer was Joe Gatty, who like David Hall worked to improve pink varieties. Many of his seedlings, which have extravagantly ruffled petals with excellent substance, were introduced by Keppel.
In the late twentieth century iris flowers have developed further than the early hybridizers could have imagined. Some plants have become exceptional. Iris 'Edith Wolford' (Hager 1986) epitomizes the extraordinary bicolour bearded iris. Irises with broken (that is, unstable) colours have made their way into our gardens. Brad Kasperek in Utah is largely responsible for popularizing such irises, and many ofhis introductions have names with an African theme. Horns and spoons extending from the beard have also, after many years, found favour. Once considered unusual, like hybrids with laced petals, hybrids sporting long extensions from the beards have been awarded the Dykes Medal in the United States. Many of these varieties can be attributed to Monty Byers.
During more recent years, Cali-fornian George Sutton has been introducing many bearded irises with elongated beards. The effect of the Dykes Medal award has been to legitimize what in the past were controversial developments among Tall Bearded irises. Lloyd Austin working in the 1960s in the United States first began introducing new hybrids which were then known as 'novelty'
or 'space age' irises. Today Iris 'Mes-merizer' and I. 'Thornbird', among other hybrids with spoons and horns, are included in lists without being segregated.
Raising new bearded irises is still very much an American affair, and much of it is being done in Oregon, home to some of the world's most active iris breeders and biggest growers such as Schreiner's, Cooley's, Paul Black, Thomas Johnson, Vicki and Jim Craig, and Keith Keppel. It is unquestionably the place to be during the iris flowering season if you are a lover of irises.
Hybridizing with Tall Bearded irises in Europe is confined to only a few individuals. In Britain, Brian Dodsworth, a retired director of Raleigh Bicycles, has had more success with his tall varieties than anyone else. In Italy it is Bianco, while in France the grandson of the founder of Cayeux irises, Richard, introduces many new varieties each year. These are grown in North America and Britain.
Those who love and breed bearded irises can be found throughout Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. These hybrids are truly worldwide garden plants and generous ones, too. If it was not for the hybridizers mentioned here, and many more that I could not include, none of the following plants could be enjoyed by gardeners around the world.
TALL BEARDED IRIS SPECIES & THEIR COLLECTED FORMS
The bright violet flowers have yellow markings and brown veins on the hafts. The standards are lighter in tone and nearer to blue. The flower is borne on a well-branched stem and is scented. The leaves are dark green. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: early season.
The dark violet flowers have long, narrow falls and upright standards that are paler in colour. White veins mark the hafts. The pale blue beards are tipped with yellow. The leaves are grey-green. Height: 75 cm (30 in.). Bloom: early season.
Iris cypriana Baker & M. Foster 1888 Cyprus
The large red-lilac flowers have deeper-coloured veins on the falls, while the standards are a little paler in colour. The hafts are veined with white, and the white beards are tipped with orange. The foliage is evergreen. The rhizome is liable to rot in wet climates. Height: to 100 cm (40 in.). Bloom: June.
Iris germanica 'Amas' (M. Foster 1885) Asia Minor
This tetraploid, once known as Iris germanica var. macrantha, was used in the early twentieth century as a parent of many modern Tall Bearded irises. The flowers have blue-purple falls and light blue-purple standards. White veins appear on the hafts, and the pale blue beards are tipped with yellow. Height: to 70 cm (28 in.). Bloom: early season.
Iris kashmiriana Baker 1877 Kashmir, Afghanistan, western Pakistan The white flowers are marked by greenish-yellow veins around the hafts, and the white beards are tipped with yellow. Each flower is carried on a stout stem with only one or two branches. This species is the most easterly growing of the bearded irises and seems to be confined to cultivation in gardens or graveyards. It is not totally hardy in Western Europe, but as a tetraploid it was a parent to our modern bearded irises. Height: to 75 cm (30 in.). Bloom: early season.
This bearded species can no longer be found in the wild. The flowers have soft purple falls that are deeper in colour in the centre and veined with bronze over a white ground on the hafts. The white beards become yellow at the throat. The standards are lighter than the falls. Each stem carries two or three scented flowers. Height: to 120 cm (41 in.). Bloom: early season.
Iris pallida Lambert 1789 North Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Common in gardens throughout Western Europe, this perfect iris produces pale violet-blue flowers with white beards that are tipped yellow towards the back. The falls and standards, unlike those of many other bearded species, are very short and form a neatly shaped flower that is not damaged in poor weather conditions. In the wild the flower can vary from deep violet to almost pink. It is scented. The grey-green foliage is resistant to disease. Early hybridizers used this species as a parent to create other bearded irises. It is sometimes known as Dalmatian iris. Height: to 110 cm (44 in.). Bloom: early season.
Iris pallida 'Argentea Variegata'
This plant has foliage with yellow stripes, whereas Iris pallida 'Variegata' has white stripes. Height: 60-90 cm (24-36 in.). Bloom: early season.
Irispallida 'Princess Beatrice'(Barr 1898) Also known as Iris pallida subsp. pallida, this garden variety of great beauty produces flowers similar to the species but later in the season; they open just as the those of the species finish and are slightly smaller, on more slender stems. Like the species, the selection has disease-resistant foliage and is very fragrant. Height: to 97 cm (38: in.).
Iris pallida 'Variegata'
The foliage of this plant has white stripes. Like the yellow-striped Iris pallida 'Argentea Variegata', this selection does not produce a great quantity of flowers when compared with the plain-leaved forms. Both selections multiply slowly but are decorative. Height: to 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: early season.
The large flowers have round, violet standards and dark purple-violet falls. Copper veins sit on a yellow background around the hafts. The white beards are tipped with yellow, and the flowers are borne low down on sturdy well-branched stems. Height: 70-120 cm (28-45 in.). Bloom: early season.
Iris germanica 'Amas'
The Dykes Medal was established by the British Iris Society (BIS) to commemorate the work of Englishman William Rickartson Dykes. In 1913 Dykes published The Genus Iris, a book in which he reorganized the classification of the genus. Sadly, Dykes was killed in a road accident in 1926. A year later the first Dykes Medal was awarded. The BIS now presents this annual award jointly with the American Iris Society to the best iris raised in North America, and since 1983 with the Australian Iris
Society to the best iris bred in both Australia and New Zealand. The BIS also awards the Dykes Medal to a British hybrid, though not every year. It was awarded in France starting in 1928 but suspended in 1938 due to the Second World War and never reinstated.
Iris 'Abbey Road' (D. Silverberg 1994) The creamy lemon, scented flowers have standards that are a deeper tone of colour than the falls. The rounded petals are very ruffled, while the stan
Iris pallida 'Princess Beatrice'
Iris pallida 'Variegata'
Iris pallida 'Princess Beatrice'
Iris pallida 'Variegata'
dards just touch at the top. The beards are soft yellow. Height: 89 cm (35— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Pleated Gown' x 'Ganges Moon'.
Iris 'Afternoon Delight' (R. Ernst 1983) This large frilly variety has laced petals that pale with age. The standards are caramel and sit above the pink-lilac falls with their matching caramel edging. The white beards are tipped with yellow towards the back. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: mid-season. Parentage: ('Countryman' x 'Outreach') x ('Mary Frances' x 'Lom-bardy').
Iris 'Aggressively Forward' (S. Innerst 1994)
The standards are corn yellow and the falls a softer yellow with maroon edges. The beards are gold. The flower is heavily scented. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Point Made' x (('Osage Buff' x 'Spinning Wheel') x 'Burgundy Brown').
Iris 'Alizes' (J. Cayeux 1991) This bicolour produces large frilly flowers with white standards on the bluish side and soft violet-blue falls that are pale to white in the centre. The beards are yellow. The flowers are perfectly balanced on well-branched stems. Height: 84 cm (33— in.). Bloom: early to midseason. Parentage: ((('Palomino' x 'Emma Cook') x 'Tahiti Sunrise') x 'Pink Taffeta') x 'Condottiere'.
Iris 'Allegiance' (P. Cook 1957) The navy-blue flower has silky standards and rich velvety falls. The blue beards are tipped with yellow. Height: 97 cm (38: in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Dark Boatman' x (('Distance' x blue seedling) x 'Pierre Menard'). Dykes Medal Winner USA 1964.
Iris 'Alenette' (C. DeForest 1969) This variety has creamy white petals that are crinkled around the edges and heavily flushed with yellow on the hafts. The falls are large and droop downwards, and the large, round standards only just touch at the top. The beards are thick, bushy, and yellow. Height: 102 cm (41 in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Cora-lene' x 'Cadette'.
Iris 'American Classic' (Schreiner 1996) There are many white-violet plicata irises, but all that are included in this book have something different about them. This one has soft violet beards on broad, extremely ruffled white falls that are stippled, veined, and edged with violet. The falls are more heavily marked, and the white background can only be seen in the centre of the petals. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: early to late season. Parentage: ('Lorilee' x 'Raspberry Frill's) x ('Titan's Glory' x (('Rococo' x 'Belray') x 'Navy Strut')).
Iris 'America's Cup' (J. McWhirter 1988) The pure white, lightly scented flowers are large and laced around the edges. The only additional colour is from a little yellow at the back of the white beards. Height: 102 cm (41 in.). Parentage: 'Skating Party' x 'Winterscape'.
Iris 'Amethyst Dancer' (R. Ernst 1996) This slightly scented, laced, bitone flower has wine-purple falls with white veins on the shoulders and pale peach around the edges. The standards are peach-buff, crinkled, and washed at the base with purple. Height: 86 cm (34— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Liaison' x ('Afternoon Delight' x 'Tracy Tyrene' sibling).
Iris 'Amethyst Flame' (R. Schreiner 1957)
The gently ruffled, deep lavender-blue flowers are touched with cinnamon on the hafts. The petals are laced around the edges, and the beards are soft lavender-white. Popular for over 10 years with American Iris Society members, this iris is the parent of many other hybrids. Parentage: 'Crispette' x ('Lavensque' x 'Pathfinder'). Dykes Medal Winner USA 1963.
Iris 'Annabel Jane' (B. Dodsworth 1973) The falls of this heavily ruffled lilac-coloured flower are a little paler in colour compared with the standards, and they carry a few soft brown veins on the hafts. The flower has a spicy scent. Despite being tall, this plant withstands windy conditions in Britain. It was named after the raiser's daughter. Height: 122 cm (49 in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Sterling Silver' x 'Champagne Music'. Dykes Medal Winner UK 1977.
Iris 'Anything Goes' (B. Hager 1995) The frilly flower has ruffled lavender-pink standards and extravagantly marked, palest yellow round falls. Soft mauve veins run about two-thirds of the way down the petal, forming a broad band of colour. The beards are rich tangerine. Height: 89 cm (35— in.). Bloom: early to mid-season. Parentage: ((('Peach Tree' x ('Vanity' x 'Pink Persian')) x 'Silver Flow') x 'Falling in Love') x ('Presence' x (('Catalyst' x 'Perfect Accent') x 'Flaming Victory')).
Iris 'Aplomb' (J. Ghio 1991) This rosy violet flower has petals that are gently frilled around the edges. The beards are coppery orange and surrounded by veins of white. Height: 102 cm (41 in.). Bloom: mid to late season. Parentage: (('Act of Love' x 'Lady Friend') x 'Caption') x 'Stratagem'.
Iris 'Arabi Pasha' (G. Anley 1951) At the time of its introduction, this hybrid was described as cornflower blue. I consider it to be evenly coloured deep violet-blue, with horizontal falls and wavy edges. The blue beards are brushed with burnt orange. Height: 76 cm (30— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Mirette' x 'Blue Ensign'. Dykes Medal Winner UK 1953.
Iris 'Arcady' (H. Senior Fothergill 1959) This strongly perfumed variety has pale blue flowers with satin-like petals. The standards are flushed with a deeper colour, and on the hafts sit short veins and soft blue beards. Height: 80 cm (32 in.). Bloom: mid-season. Parentage: 'Jane Phillips' x 'Pegasus'. Dykes Medal Winner UK 1962.
Iris 'Arctic Fox' (V. Wood 1997) The white heavily ruffled, glistening petals are frilled around the edges and decorated with dark coral beards. The flower is scented. Height: 81 cm (32—in.). Bloom: mid to late season. Parentage: 'Skyblaze' x'Silver Fox'.
Iris 'Autumn Circus' (B. Hager 1990) The clean white background of this gently ruffled flower provides a canvas for the violet topdressing, which is stippled and veined over the standards. The falls are boldly, but perfectly, pencilled with violet, while the beards are blue-white. The scented flower is a reliable rebloomer. Height: 86 cm (34— in.). Bloom:
early season, then reblooming in autumn. Parentage: ('Space Odyssey' x 'Socialite') x 'Earl of Essex'.
Iris 'Autumn Echo' (J. Gibson 1973) Cinnamon-brown is stippled across the falls and over a rich yellow background. The standards, which are entirely soft brown in colour, touch at the top. The beards are deep yellow. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: early season and reblooming. Parentage: 'Wild Ginger' x 'Summer Sunshine'.
Iris 'Autumn Leaves' (K. Keppel 1972) A beautiful blend of autumn colours, the sweetly scented flowers are the colour of caramel, but the falls are overlaid with a strong blend of purple. The beards are orange-yellow. Height: 86 cm (34— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Vaudeville' x 'Radiant Apogee'.
Iris 'Autumn Tryst' (J. Weiler 1993) Like its parent Iris 'Earl of Essex', this plicata is a reliable rebloomer. The white flowers are large, stippled and washed with rosy violet. A glow of yellow radiates from the style arms. The flowers have bronze beards and a light, chocolate scent. The only drawback is that in windy autumns the flower can be battered. Height: 86 cm (34— in.). Bloom: early to mid-season, reblooming in late summer. Parentage: 'Lilac Stitchery' x 'Earl of Essex'.
Iris 'Ballyhoo' (K. Keppel 1968) The ruffled flower has large lemon standards and rose-violet falls. Streaks of paler-coloured veins mark the falls, and a heavy wash of purple sits around the hafts. The white beards are tipped with yellow. Height: 97 cm (38: in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Siva Siva' x 'Diplomacy'.
Iris 'Bandera Waltz' (C. Tompkins 1982) The flower is basically white. The falls are heavily banded with rose purple, the colour being stippled and veined along the edge. The purple beards are brushed along the top with bronze. Height: 97 cm (38: in.). Bloom: midseason. 'Summer Sandman' x 'Etched Amoena'.
Iris 'Battle Royal' (J. Ghio 1994) The scented flowers are rich red-brown with fluted petals and standards that are paler in colour. The yellow beards are marked around the sides with white tiger-like veins. Each
stem produces 8 to 10 buds. Height: 97 cm (38: in.). Bloom: early to mid-season. Parentage: complicated and including 'Lady Friend', 'Mulled Wine', 'Entourage', and 'New Moon'.
Iris 'Before the Storm' (S. Innerst 1988) The flowers are deepest black with wavy edges to the petals and matching bushy black beards. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: mid to late season. Parentage: 'Superstition' x 'Raven's Roost'. Dykes Medal Winner USA 1996.
Iris 'Benton Cordelia' (C. Morris 1953) Soft violet buds open into soft pink flowers with large coral beards. The scent reminds me of tobacco. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: midseason. 'Benton Petunia' x 'Radiations'. Dykes Medal Winner UK 1955.
Iris 'Best Bet' (Schreiner 1988) The ruffled pale blue standards are flushed with purple around the base. The wavy falls are a glossy royal-blue in colour. White markings sit on the hafts, while the short beards are blue. Despite its lack of branching, this variety is vigorous-growing. Some growers find it will rebloom. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: early season. Parentage: (('Amigo's Guitar' x seedling) x ('Navy Strut' x 'Royal Regency' sibling)) x 'Titan's Glory'.
Iris 'Betty Simon' (M. Hamblen 1975) This flower has round, gently ruffled pale lavender falls and very ruffled soft yellow standards that open out. The style arms are large and a deeper colour than the standards, while the beards are yellow. The flower has a spicy scent. Height: 81 cm (32— in.). Bloom: mid to late season. Parentage: 'Misty Dawn' x 'Foggy Dew'.
Iris 'Beverly Sills' (B. Hager 1985) The flower is a soft, creamy coral-pink with beards of the same tone. The petals are frilly with a thick substance and a sweet scent. The blooms are carried on short strong stems, and the plant is said to rebloom. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Pink Pirouette' x 'Vanity'. Dykes Medal Winner USA 1985.
Iris 'Bewilderbeast' (B. Kasperek 1995) This flower is a psychedelic mixture of colours, including maroon, mauve, and cream. These colours sit in rivers across the white background. The standards are muted in tone, and the thin beards are dark yellow. Height: 76 cm (30— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: 'Tiger Honey' x 'Rustic Dance'.
Iris 'Big Squeeze' (P. Black 1999) The ruffled flower is basically orange in colour, with soft peachy orange standards and truly orange falls. The beards also are orange. The flower is heavily scented. Height: 84 cm (33— in.). Bloom: late season. Parentage: 'Victoria Falls' x 'Good Show'.
Iris 'Black Tie Affair' (Schreiner 1993) The large purple-black flower has shimmering, silky petals and black beards. It is lightly scented. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: ('Black Dragon' x 'Titan's Glory') x ((((('Broadway Star' x 'Whole Cloth') x 'Blue Mountains') x ('Toll Gate' x 'After Dark')) x seedling) x ('Morning Hymn' x 'Louisiana Lace')).
Iris 'Blackout' (W. Luihn 1985) This gently ruffled variety has falls that are large, round, velvety, and very black. The standards are glossy and purple. The beards are dark blue and thick, and the flower has a fragrance like that of chocolate. Height: 97 cm (38: in.). Bloom: mid to late season. Parentage: 'By Night' x 'Navy Chant'.
Iris 'Blatant' (M. Byers 1989) This variegata type of flower has soft yellow standards and flaring falls of rich mahogany-brown. The hafts are heavily striped with white, and the beards are rich yellow. The flower is said to rebloom and is scented. Height: 91 cm (36— in.). Bloom: early to late season. Parentage: 'Spirit of Fiji' x 'Broadway'.
Iris 'Blenheim Royal' (Schreiner 1990) This robust, reliable garden variety produces rich blue-purple flowers. The extravagantly ruffled petals are even in size and have a thick substance. The flaring falls are marked with brown at both sides and have white beards. The flower is lightly scented. Height: 97 cm (38: in.). Bloom: midseason. Parentage: (('Miriam Steel' sibling x 'Sailor's Dance') x ('Navy Strut' x 'Full Tide')) x ('Master Touch' xunknown).
Iris 'Blue Drift' (L. Brummitt 1967) The violet-blue flowers have paler-coloured standards and flaring, fluted falls with orange beards and half-moon markings ofbrown. Height: 99 cm (39— in.). Bloom: late season. Parentage: 'Starched Fabric' x 'Primrose Drift'.
Iris 'Blue Ensign' (H. Rollo Meyer 1937) The blue-violet flowers are slightly veined with gently ruffled, flaring falls and standards that splay open. The violet beards are tipped with brown at the back. Height: 9 cm (3— in.). Parentage: not recorded. Dykes Medal Winner UK 1949.
Listed as 'Blueyed Brunette' in the American Iris Society registration sheets, this variety produces what is described as cigar-brown flowers. I would call them copper-brown. Each
Iris 'Blenheim Royal'
Iris 'Blue Ensign'
Iris 'Blenheim Royal'
Iris 'Blue Ensign'
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