Breaking from strict alphabetical order I will start the Cs with ‘Conjuration’ simply because, to me, it is one of the most distinctive and remarkable of all iris. It was bred by the late Monty Byers who ploughed his own furrow and specialised in reblooming and Space Age iris. I was privileged to visit him at his Moonshine Gardens nursery and he was an inspiration. For me, ‘Conjuration’ is very special, being vigorous and producing lots of flowers. He always thought the flowers a bit small but they are lovely, with delicate but vivid colouring and they reliably produce their fuzzy horns. The only problem, in this garden, is that the stems are rather slender and very tall. It was introduced in 1989 and was awarded the American Dykes Medal in 1998. An even greater honour was when, in 2010, it was voted no. 3 in the 100 favourite tall bearded iris – some achievement! Some of the other top ten will appear later in these posts but Monty Byers has two more in the top 15 (both Dykes winners too) and they will appear soon!
‘Conjuration’ has real garden appeal and it is fragrant.
This is another of the ‘blacks’ though the whole point, if you forgive the pun, is the thin, slightly fuzzy horns on the falls. The hafts are very stripy which is either a nice feature or not. Being a bit of a purist I think of them as rather unsightly. It was raised by the prolific Jim Hedgecock of Missouri and introduced in 2000. Things do not always follow such logical lines but one parent was a horned iris, in cinnamon and pink and the other was a dark purple bloom; so he got what he probably intended, though how many seedlings were discarded we don’t know!
This is, by modern standards, nothing very special, with rather open standards and curling falls but I liked the colour, which really is rather like copper. It was raised by Elvan Roderick of Missouri and introduced in 1979, winning the President’s cup in 1981.
The Amoena colour pattern in iris is used to denote iris that have dark falls and white or paler standards. It is a classic colour combination in the blues and one that I particularly like. But the breeders got clever and produced reverse Amoenas. I love them and ‘Crowned Heads’ is one of the best. It was bred by Keith Keppel of Oregon, producer of many fine iris and recipient of the AIS Gold Medal. His introductions won the Dykes Medal nine times from 1972 to 2021! He used the fine ‘In Reverse’ and strengthened the colour contrast to produce a glorious flower that won the Dykes Medal in 2004, seven years after introduction.
I have picked this simply to demonstrate a Variegata, having strayed into colour patterns, despite saying I would avoid it just two days ago! Variegata, referring to iris flowers means a flower with red falls and yellow standards, following the colourway of the wild Iris variegata and it does not mean it has variegated leaves, nor that the flower is spattered or streaked with colour: those are broken iris. ‘Country Charm’ is a Schreiner introduction, released in 1998.
I mention this dramatic flower because it is a sibling of the hugely important and distinct ‘Ring Around Rosie’ (which will get a mention later). Both are Ernst introductions from the now-closed Cooleys Iris nursery. This one was introduced in 2002 and has rather more saturated colour. The distinctive fall patterning was inherited from its ‘Wild Jasmine’ parent.