Iris A-Z: L


Old and very curious, this is often said to be the first of the ‘broken colour’ iris. In a basic ‘variegata’ pattern with reddish falls and yellow standards, it is similar to ‘Gracchus’ that I mentioned a few days ago. Although registered as a TB it is now considered an intermediate iris because of its height and flower size. It was introduced by the German Goos & Koenemann in 1909. The curious thing about the flowers is that the patterning of the falls is often, but not always, imprinted on the standards, almost as though the colour was impressed on them when in bud. In addition, the standards are rather floppy so it often looks as though it is a flat top iris. Altogether it is a very odd flower but it has survived remarkably well for an historic iris and it is locally common in gardens, passed from gardener to gardener because it flowers well and grows like a weed.

The bloom may be modest but it was obviously considered very beautiful when first introduced because it is named after a ‘siren’ who lured sailors to their death.

Lore Ley was spurned by her lover and decided that life was not worth living. To prevent her taking her own life the local bishop sent her to a convent, but along the way they passed a cliff, beside the River Rhine, from which she could take a last look at her home and her lover. While taking her last look she jumped into the river and drowned but, from that moment, according to legend, she could be seen reclining on the cliff, combing her long, golden hair. Passing fishermen were so bewitched by her beauty that they were distracted from their work and became shipwrecked on the rocks and rapids. Perhaps this was her revenge for unrequited love.

‘La Part des Anges’

From sirens to angels. This beauty from French Michele Bersillon was introduced in 2010 and is a real cool beauty in softest baby blue with a hint of red at the tips of the beards.

‘Local Colour’

A Keith Keppel introduction from 1995, this is not really black, though it is a good, deep purple. The standards are often paler tan the falls though this does not show from my photo. Those fiery beards really add to the richness of the blooms. It won many awards and is still popular.

‘Leta Black’

This is another smooth, ruffled, sophisticated bloom from Paul Black and introduced in 2000. A breathtaking pink that always looks beautiful.

‘Loop the Loop’

A nice Schreiners plicata from 1975 so almost an historic iris by today’s standards but still a nice flower. Bred from their own ‘Stepping Out’. I guess that the name was derived from the relatively rounded falls and the fact that the standards almost repeat the pattern of the falls and have a good white centre. If you look at the old plicata ‘San Francisco’ below you can see what I mean.

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9 Comments on “Iris A-Z: L”

  1. tonytomeo
    February 9, 2022 at 10:21 am #

    OH! You know ‘San Francisco’! I have a rule against purchasing iris, since there are already so many here, and each has its distinct history. However, there are three that I might eventually purchase if they are available when I can justify giving them space in the garden. ‘San Francisco’ happens to be one of them. Of the three that I want, its color scheme and pattern are so perfect for the name. It actually looks like it should be named ‘San Francisco’. I also want its more subdued sibling, ‘Los Angeles’. The most important and most elusive of the three that I want though, is ‘San Jose’! Of the three, it is the most visually unappealing, which of course is SO appropriate for the greatest although visually unappealing city in the entire Universe!

    • thebikinggardener
      February 9, 2022 at 11:44 am #

      I did not know ‘San Jose’ but just checked and it is much more modern and quite pretty if you like these brownish blends. Although I have been to San Francisco and Los Angeles I have never been to San Jose – never plucked up the courage to ask anyone the way!

      • tonytomeo
        February 10, 2022 at 2:33 am #

        Gee, You’ve been to those two obscure and primitive towns without stopping in San Jose?! It is easy to find, not just because everyone knows the way, but because it is right next door to the center of the Universe, which is in Los Gatos. Anyway, I actually do not find the color of the ‘San Jose’ iris to be as appealing as the simpler ‘San Francisco’ (which I sort of find to be more appealing than ‘Los Angeles’), and the floral structure seems to be a bit garish. I primarily want it for bragging rights.

        • thebikinggardener
          February 10, 2022 at 8:37 am #

          I think it is inconceivable that I have not been to Los Gatos or San Jose, having been to Monterey, Sacramento, Fresno and Modesto, from memory. Might be my age and memory – which makes it worse if I can’t remember the centre of the Universe!

          • tonytomeo
            February 10, 2022 at 8:41 pm #

            Well, if you went between San Francisco and Monterey, but not on the coast, you likely went through San Jose without knowing it (GASP!) Realistically though, both San Francisco and Monterey are more interesting, and much older. San Jose, although the tenth most populous city in America now, and already a large city many years ago, really was not much to notice just a few decades ago, and is still relatively mundane. It is certainly my favorite big city, but only because I am familiar with it.Otherwise, it is quite unimpressive. One would expect more from the most important city in the entire Universe.

  2. Katherine
    February 9, 2022 at 12:37 pm #

    The local colour one is my favorite of these. There is another I’m not sure if you covered in “A” called “All Night Long Bearded Iris” that are almost black as well.

    • thebikinggardener
      February 9, 2022 at 1:33 pm #

      There is another black tomorrow and another dark one in a few days that is an even better plant than ‘Local Colour’. Thank you for commenting.

  3. wildstorm
    March 6, 2022 at 5:12 am #

    Loreley is a beauty! I must get that one in my historic collection. Beautiful pictures!

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