It is probably because of my age but I can’t think of this name without adding ‘my old friend’. It is another Schreiner introduction and although, like all black iris, it is not really black, it is a very fine attempt, successful, to a large degree, because of the black beard which ensures there is nothing to detract from the smooth, deep colour. It was introduced in 1992 and quickly earned a bucket of awards, culminating, in 1999 with the American Dykes. Schreiners themselves say it ‘surpasses all other dark Iris both in flower size and in the sheer degree of its black color’. I am sure that they feel they have surpassed it now!
‘Honk Your Horn’
We are now coming, by pure chance, to a number of Space Age iris, starting with Paul Black’s ‘Honk Your Horn’ (2000). Although the fuzzy horns are not as obvious as some, this has great garden presence because it is a tall plant. Most TBs flower at about 95cm (though it varies and to be a TB a plant has to be more than 71cm). But ‘Honk Your Horn’ has an official height of 114cm which is very tall. It is dwarfed by the old, white ‘Purissima’ which I would dearly love to have, with stems at least 120cm tall and I have seen old photos of it where it appears to be 2m high. It is said to have been slightly tender.
From the same stable as the above, Mid America iris, but this time from Thomas Johnson ‘Hook’ is a fragrant beauty in plum and purple shades and the purple horn on the falls is accentuated by that yellow beard that makes it look as if some exotic wasp is pollinating the blooms. It would be perfect for David Attenborough’s current series and he could tell us tales about how it attracts male wasps to pseudocopulate with it. It was introduced in 2001 and has the illustrious ‘Conjuration’ as one parent and thus a statuesque height of 122cm!
George Sutton established Sutton’s Iris Farm in Idaho and was a prolific hybridiser, introducing many Space Age iris. ‘Holy Fire’ was introduced in 200 and was bred from Monty Byers white ‘Mesmerizer’ (which we will see soon). It is a delightfully frilly and ruffled creation, in pure white with a little yellow in the hafts and those mandarin beards add a bit of zing. The big, fluffy horns add to its angelic looks, though I think horns really belong somewhere below the angels.
Texan Tom Burseen is as inventive with his names as his hybridising and has introduced hundreds of his creations. My photo shows the flower with a big, fuzzy horn that is upturned at the tip but a feature (or failing) of many of these iris is that the ‘appendages’ are very variable. Sometimes they are not produced at all, especially on the later flowers on the spikes, and they may be less showy than expected. ‘Hoptoit’ is supposed to have large ‘spoons’ and these can often be frilly flounces. But all this flower has is a small, spiky horn under the tip of the upturned beard. Even so, it is a pretty bloom and there is always the next flower to open! (2003)
At least you can’t miss the horns on this one! ‘High Spirited’ was bred by Linda Miller of Oregon and introduced in 2003. It is quite distinct for its peachy colour alone but the horns are usually suffused with violet, not obvious from this photo. It is more compact than most of those mentioned today, topping out at 81cm.
‘Haut Les Voiles’
Translating as ‘top the sails’ this is a Cayeux introduction from 2000. It is in the ‘Edith Wolford’ colourway and actually has her as one parent. No extra bits this time, just wonderful wavy seas and elegant primrose sails to catch the wind.
Win a greenhouse
I am a bit remiss at passing on information about offers from commercial companies, partly because the offers are not applicable to all countries and my visitors are international. But I should pass on the information really. So…
Waltons are giving away a greenhouse worth almost £930. It is painted and they will even install it for you! All you have to do is go to their site below (click the link) and enter. But you need to enter today. The competition is only applicable to residents of Wales, England and Scotland.
I have no financial or other links to the company and the information is given purely for your information.