We are starting the Es with something old and rather different. ‘Elmohr’ was introduced in 1942 and is the best known introduction from Dr Philip Loomis. Settled in Colorado, he turned his hand to iris breeding and in particular Arilbreds. The aril iris are from the Middle East and need a dry summer baking. But their distinctive and exotic flowers have long tempted breeders to try to cross them with the more amenable bearded iris and they do hybridise. In recent years MidAmerica Gardens have been very successful in this regard but Loomis crossed the old ‘William Mohr’ to produce this. ‘William Mohr’ was a half-arilbred, with an old plicata ‘Parisiana’, which is similar to an iris I used to grow as I. plicata, with Iris gatesii, a grey and beige beauty from southeast Turkey and Iran.
‘Elmohr’ does have a bit of an exotic look about it, as do most arilbreds, particularly that blotch beneath the beards and the rather small falls compared to the standards. It won the Dykes medal in 1945 and it has been said that more plants of ‘Emohr’ were sold than any other iris.
This is the creation of the prolific and inspired Ben Hager of California. I loved it from the moment I saw it and most people feel the same way because it was introduced in 1986, and got lots of awards along the way before it got the Dykes Medal in 1993. What makes it so good is not just the flowers but its vigour and health, always important but not obvious from a photo of a flower.
Perfectly named, this flower is a plicata/amoena because the falls have that rim of stitching typical of a plicata but the standards do not and are paler than the falls. It is quite a complex flower, enhanced by that bronze beard and the foliage is also tinted purple at the base – always a nice extra touch. It was raised by Missouri-based David Niswonger who introduced more than 400 iris across all classes. Introduced in 1984 it received the Dykes Medal in 1991. (photo is scanned from a slide, hence the odd cast)
‘Echo de France’
We are finally leaving the USA and are in France now for this introduction from Pierre Anfosso, of Iris en Provence. ‘Echo de France’ is crisp, gently ruffled amoena in brilliant yellow and creamy white introduced in 1984.
We stay in France for this Cayeux introduction of 1995. I have already mentioned that I associate them with blue and whites with red beards, perhaps wrongly, but this has hints of that, though with a very different, pastel character.