Irises forum: Who among you

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Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
Dec 7, 2019 4:41 PM CST
1. Place a higher priority on bloom form, branching, and vigor, than new colors. In other words, you will likely prefer to buy an older color with perfect form than one of the newer colors that often gapes open at the top, or in which the standards remain stiffly vertical, or even tip out at the top. Or one that is out of balance: either bottom heavy or top heavy. Or in which the blooms are crowded on the stem. For me, form is paramount.How many of you agree?

2. Tend to prefer clear colors over greyed or muddied colors.

I guess what my aim here is to find people of like mind with whom I have a greater chance of making successful occasional iris trades.

I understand the need of our award system to recognize and reward the development of new colors. But at the same time, I think perhaps the judging system is not giving enough points for the various aspects of form. When I look at the top winners I say to myself, "Gee, what pretty colors, but I'd not buy them due to them gaping open at the top. And then I just have to hope that someone will then hybridize with them to try to improve the form.

I also liked Tom's (can't recall his surname) recent letter in the iris bulletin, suggesting a revision of the way irises are judged. I thought his letter made a lot of sense. Basically it would help to compensate for disadvantages in distribution, allowing smaller nurseries and lesser known hybridizers to have a chance at awards. I hope everyone read his letter.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Evelyn
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evelyninthegarden
Dec 7, 2019 10:00 PM CST
Daisy ~ Thank You!

I'll go and read the letter. That's why I have so many old ones and newer ones. I'm hoping to make a good form and branching along with a unique flower. (Haha...I will die trying anyway! Hilarious! )

"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Dec 7, 2019 11:22 PM CST
distribution is a problem. sending plants to the national convention can help if they bloom. Big if!
Name: Elsa
Las Cruces, New Mexico (Zone 8a)
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GreenIris
Dec 7, 2019 11:31 PM CST
Just from the point of view of a buyer for my personal garden, first and foremost, I am after uniqueness of bloom; so new colors, new patterns, etc; But of course a beautiful form is going to absolutely up the value in my eyes as well as an abundance of blooms. But I have learned what I believe is beautiful form varies from what others may prefer.
I think the people who grow Irises are about as special as the flower itself!
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
Dec 8, 2019 1:21 AM CST
Interesting topic! Thumbs up

I am still too new to the iris world to have a grasp on what is considered "good" form versus "bad". I am developing likes/preferences as I try things out, and acquire new irises in line with those preferences. It seems that I don't like flaring falls, or overly ruffled irises, for starters. I also want some proportion in the plant. TBs should be tall (28-33" imo is way too short). The standards should have a decent height relative to the falls. The overall bloom size should be in proportion to the stalk height (no small blooms atop 40" stalks).

As for color, I absolutely want CLARITY in my bloom color, or at least not frank mud. I come from the daylily world, and I have seen bloom color run the gamut there from horrible mud to (rarely) clarity so pristine as to be almost unreal. (Unfortunately, in the latter case, that clarity often if not usually comes at the cost of too thin tissue which doesn't hold up through the day.) Most daylilies are somewhere in between, with some greater or lesser degree of "mud". With yellows it is generally not that noticeable; with other colors, it is. But it has been my experience that most people do not see the mud, until and unless they experience one of the cultivars with high clarity of color. Once you've seen clarity in a bloom, mud becomes easy to discern.

All of this is a way of saying that my experience of color in the daylily world affects how I see iris color. In that vein, I see most "red" and many (if not most or all) "orange" irises as being muddy. LEST WE FORGET is an award (H.M. 2012) winning, highly popular iris, has attractive color from a distance, is seemingly a reliable rebloomer (in my garden), and has decent form (for a rebloomer) to boot. Yet I kicked it out of the garden because I simply could not stand the muddy color one more year. Glare The virtues of the plant could not (for me) compensate for the bad color.



I have a few other "red" and orange irises... the "red"s are the worst for mud, but I still have a very few which I hope to work with down the road. Ditto a couple of yellow rebloomers which (to me) have muddy color... I hope to work with those to get cleaner yellow rebloomers. AGAIN AND AGAIN is a reliable rebloomer here, but I dislike the color; it looks muddy to me. LUMINOSITY is not a reliable rebloomer, but it has very good color. I want the best of both worlds there.



All of that being said... you can't always get what you want. In the garden as in other aspects of life, sometimes compromises have to be made, and I guess this is where the topic of "new" color (or color blends, or color combinations/patterns/what-have-you) comes in.

For starters, there are those irises which are a greyed version of some hue or other. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about those, if that grey dullness is equivalent to mud or not. (Maybe it is a lesser offense? Confused ) I could see them working if either isolated (from other irises) by themselves, or else placed in combination with their more saturated color iris counterparts, so I have not yet thrown any of those out. HAUNTED HEART and one of its offspring FRIENDLY ADVICE are examples here.



In a similar vein (pun), I also have MOSBY'S GHOST. It lacks the veining of HAUNTED HEART and its offspring, but it is also an overall greyed bloom. I think it is subtly beautiful (maybe more so than HH etc. because of the lack of veining) and would do well with similar treatment (isolation or carefully selected companions).



Color combinations covers a lot of territory. Sometimes even if a new combination or blend is not as pristine in color as you would desire, so long as that mud isn't too bad, the overall garden effect can still be beautiful, especially if the iris is paired with the right partners. For example, I think that SERGEY has a beautiful bloom, but I simultaneously see that (at least in the falls) there is some degree of mud, because of the yellow/blue combination. But overall, to me it has a subtle beauty, perhaps because I accidentally had it paired with a saturated purple and a light blue self (TITAN'S GLORY and ABSOLUTE TREASURE, sorry, no combo pic), which really bring out the blue in SERGEY.



Sometimes, though, there is simply no hope for an iris, color wise. I had PRICELESS MEMORIES (direct from the hybridizer so I knew it was the correct plant), and I couldn't get rid of that iris quickly enough once it had bloomed. To me, the color was hopelessly muddy (at least in the standards, although I did not care for the falls as well), there were no companion irises which could ameliorate that, and thus there was no reason to keep it. (Yet it won an H.M. in 2019!!! D'Oh! )



Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom
[Last edited by Polymerous - Dec 8, 2019 1:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Dec 8, 2019 1:16 PM CST
different colors appeal to different people. what is mud to you, is not to others. Not ctitiziing, just pointing it out.
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
Dec 8, 2019 1:48 PM CST
Poly, I loved your distinction between the grays and the muds.I totally agree with you about the muds, but gaven't yet totally decided how I feel about the grays, like Haunted Heart. I have seen a picture or two of HH that I thought were gorgeous, and yet other pictures of it leave me less than enthusiastic about ordering it.

I find my preference is for closed dome standards. And like you, I like to see some good proportion between the standards and the falls so that the flower appears neither bottom-heavy nor top-heavy. I like the fact that most modern iris have broader falls that are less strap-shaped and droopy. But I do also like flaring falls. Maybe they aren't as easy to photograph, but I love the feeling that the flower is ready to "take off" like a bird or butterfly. Bluebird of Happiness is a prime example, and definitely gives me that happy feeling of flight:


-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
Dec 8, 2019 3:27 PM CST
Ack! I somehow did not realize that BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS had flared falls, and I bought it last summer! Sad Oh well... I bought it for the name and the color; hopefully the flare won't be so bad that the name/color/other plant traits can't make up for it.

I agree with you about strappy, floppy falls. I know that is a trait of the older historic irises and that many people love such, but I really can't see much of beauty in those oldies - not having seen the modern beauties that are available to us. (What the eye has seen, cannot be unseen, and the eye wants more of that, not less.) If there were particular cultivars with certain rare traits especially worth preserving, then yes, they might be garden worthy (or at least hybridizing worthy), but in general, not in my back yard. Hilarious!
Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom
Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography Cat Lover Seed Starter
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Totally_Amazing
Dec 8, 2019 3:36 PM CST
I place a lot of importance on the colour and pattern of an iris and less on form.

In regard to form, I prefer closed standards, fat beards and near horizontal falls but it doesn't bother me if an iris does not meet that criteria unless it is extremely droopy or open. There is only one iris that I have decided to part ways with because I don't like its form and that is Anything Goes. The droopy falls catch my attention every time I look at it.


In regard to colour and patterns, I love bright colours and well defined patterns. If an iris has a band on its falls, I usually prefer it to be a distinct band rather than a band blending into the background colour of the falls. I love blends too but generally when there is no other pattern or banding. I don't think too hard about it. If an iris appeals to me (and I have space), I buy it.

In regard to bud count, I only consider it when I looking for an iris to hybridize or I am trying to choose an iris among others that are similar.
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
Dec 8, 2019 3:45 PM CST
Poly, you made me grin! I, too am waiting for Bluebird of Happiness to bloom for the first time. Maybe next Spring we can share our verdict on it. I hope you and I both love it.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
Dec 8, 2019 5:04 PM CST
Poly, I think you may like flaring falls more than you may realize. For example, Daughter of Stars is one listed in the database as having flaring falls. I had it, too, but I am one of the many unfortunates who failed to keep it alive.

It seems that only a small percentage of irises with flaring falls are listed as such in the database. I'm thinking of Alien Mist, Awesome Alex, Conjuration, Destined to Dance, and Forever Orange, all from your "Have" list, Poly. Smiling You have a beautiful selection of "Haves," including some with what I would consider flared falls, even if they aren't listed that way in the database.

Here's what I think: flared falls that are narrow look awkward, but flared falls that are wide enough to touch or slightly overlap each other at their bases look great. That's just my own personal opinion. So there are flared falls, and then there are flared falls.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Dec 8, 2019 11:42 PM CST
I forget what the official standard is for bud count & my judges' handbook is downstairs & I am 'up'. know it is 5 buds for BBs so might be 7 for TBs. Just for personal preference I don't buy TBs over 36 inches in height for our New England garden. We don't have the long hours of sunlight which occur farther west which taller TBs might like.
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Dec 9, 2019 2:11 PM CST
Ack Sticking tongue out
Hilarious!
My bluebird looked 'bluer' to my eyes than the camera captured, and I loved it! This was its first bloom for me:

I loved it so much, I bought some more and gave it prime real estate. I can hardly wait to see it again next year Lovey dubby

Daisy, I think your chances of successful iris trades can still be pretty good even with folks who don't necessarily have a like mind...I mean, some may have an extensive variety that includes mud and form that you don't prefer along with irises that would meet your specs. Focus on the irises in question rather than a collector's individual taste that yields the spectrum of irises in their collection, could still, absolutely, result in a win/win trade--just sayin'

Anyway, on that matter--I do usually prefer domed standards, a bit of flare to the falls, and not toooooo many ruffles, which is at least part of the reason I am so fond of SDBs. I did get some "new" ones with new colors/patterns and I will be culling some because I am not at all impressed with their form (short, stubby, stiff and splayed standards Rolling my eyes. )
However, I do find my appreciation of ruffles and lace expanding.

I got this as a bonus

Wowza Lovey dubby gonna keep it
and Belle Fille was incredibly mesmerizing from start to finish
Thumb of 2019-12-09/dirtdorphins/5a9629

I'm going to try not to have any obsessive winter ordering this year and see what I end up liking/hating this next season...then cull and rearrange...then maybe give myself permission to get a few more Hilarious!
Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
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janwax
Dec 9, 2019 6:56 PM CST
Marilyn, as for "muddy" reds...I was told that if you can breed a "clear " red, your fortune is made!
A garden is fundamentally a process—there is change, and sometimes it is dying, and sometimes it is hibernating,” Tom Stuart-Smith
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
Dec 9, 2019 11:50 PM CST
Jan, I tried Lady Friend because it is the top-rated red on the Tall Bearded Symposium popularity poll. Believe it or not, I don't find it to be muddy. I am pleased with it. It's a red with a tinge of pink. Like this:



It's standards aren't perfectly domed, but this is one time I have opted for the color over perfect form, simply because its color is so exceptional. I just had to try the top-rated red, and glad I did. Now if an iris breeder can just capture that color in a seedling with better form!
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
Dec 9, 2019 11:57 PM CST
Dirt, your photo of Bluebird of Happiness is sooo pretty! I can hardly wait for mine to bloom! Did yours bloom its first Spring?
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
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Australis
Dec 10, 2019 2:43 AM CST

Plants Admin

Daisy and Poly, I've found your posts about colour to be quite interesting and, if it's not too much to ask, would like some examples of muddy and high-clarity colours, as I am struggling to work out what counts as "mud". It's probably just that I haven't tried to define it explicitly for Irises, so don't have a clear concept - I just know what I like and dislike (now, if you asked me about colour in Cymbidiums, I would be able to comment on it).
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Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Dec 10, 2019 6:59 AM CST
Yes, it did.
MAG sends huge rhizomes Thumbs up
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
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Polymerous
Dec 10, 2019 6:10 PM CST
Joshua, this is hard to discuss/give examples on, online. One reason is that muddiness doesn't always show in photo images. I once had a daylily seedling which from its picture had fabulous color, but in real life it was muddy as heck. You have to see the blooms in real life.

That said...from my earlier post compare AGAIN AND AGAIN vs LUMINOSITY. The former (at least the falls) looks muddy to me (because there is a hint of blue or purple or something which dirties the yellow color), whereas the latter is, well, luminous in color, not dirty (aka muddy). It's some shade of yellow and nothing but (or at least, the yellow overpowers the mud from any other color Hilarious! ).

This summer, I noticed that the falls on EMMA'S LAUGHTER had some coloration in them. Compared to NORDICA or COZY COTTON, the falls look muddy to me. (That bit of greenish/creamish color might be attractive to some, but every time I looked at it, I thought "mud". It was color that in a perfect white (or blue-white) self would not have been in there.)



Do not confuse a lack of color intensity or saturation (or vice versa) with mud (or a lack thereof). A pale iris can be clean or muddy. A strongly colored iris can be clean or muddy.

The best verbal description that I can think of (for discerning muddy from not) would be something along the lines of, look at the bloom as though the standard/falls were made of a colored or tinted glass or crystal. Is that an appealing gem-like glass, or does that glass look like it is in need of a wash? (Don't let diamond dusting confuse the issue. While appealing in and of itself, that has nothing to do with clarity of color.)

I am uncertain (I have seen very few of them (1 for certain)), but it may be the case that the glaciatas are among those irises with the cleanest color. (This isn't to say that blue or lavender or purple irises can't have clarity.)

I had a NOID iris bloom this past season. The form is unexciting, but I am considering keeping that iris anyway because it had very clean color. (Image below - you can't really tell from the photo that the color is clean, but it is.)

Thumb of 2019-12-10/Polymerous/424bef

Sorry if this is not helpful. As I think I may have said earlier, flower color clarity is something that is hard to grasp until/unless you've experienced it. Shrug! You have to look at a lot of irises (daylilies) to find the (relatively rare) ones with great clarity of color. Once you've seen such a bloom, then your eye/brain goes AHA! and from then on at least the really muddy blooms will be easily apparent to you.

(Fwiw, in the daylily world, if you are hybridizing and want to clean up the mud in a flower, you typically cross it against the cleanest near-white or pink or purple daylily that you can get your hands on (ideally the pink or purple is known to throw near-white offspring). You would also most likely use the cleaner parent as the pod parent, because a lot (all?) of the time, the muddy color is coming from pigments in the underlying (beneath the color layer) tissue, and as I understand it, that is maternally determined. (This is also why the diploid near-white daylilies are whiter than the tetraploid ones, because the tetraploid daylilies have thicker tepal tissue.) But that's daylilies. Color determination seems to me to be a WHOLE lot more complicated in the iris world than with daylilies. Confused Confused That said, I note with interest that LUMINOSITY comes from a cross between a somewhat orange-y looking yellow and a very clean looking pink (going by the pictures, and pictures can lie Hilarious! ). The pink, VANITY, was a Dykes Medal winner by Ben Hager, who had a foot in the daylily world and presumably knew something about clarity of color.)

X =>
Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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Australis
Dec 10, 2019 7:35 PM CST

Plants Admin

Thanks for the detailed response, Poly. I think I've now got a better handle on "mud". It occurred to me whilst reading your post that perhaps one way to describe it would be that you are aiming for monochromatic colours (from physics, a monochromatic laser is one of a single frequency).

It's interesting that you comment about the underlying tissue in daylilies influencing muddiness and higher ploidies decreasing the "whiteness" of near-white blooms. From my understanding, that is effectively opposite to how it works in Cymbidiums - higher ploidies of the white species and hybrids tend to have a more solid, higher-quality "whiteness" to them. The layer above the base colour layer is the one that adds "muddiness" (typically in greens) and it is affected by temperature.
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