Iris A-Z: M

‘Mary Geddes’

We have made it to halfway through the alphabet and I will start with ‘Mary Geddes’ whoch, as you can guess from the look of it, is an old iris. It was raised by Mollie Claiborne Stahlman of Tennessee, who bred a dozen or so introduced iris. Released to the public in 1931 it was very popular and Cooley’s (1930) were effusive with praise ‘it is one of the most stunning in color I have seen this year—or any year’ and they described the colour as ‘light ochraceous salmon’ which sounds more like some restaurant dish for calorie counters than a colour. It is fragrant and quickly won the American Dykes medal in 1935. The foliage is flushed purple at the base, a feature of some varieties that is not a huge contribution to garden display but looks nice.

‘Millennium Falcon’

My record of Ms seem to include quite a few important iris, which is just as well as I seem to have virtually no photos of Ns at all. But before the famine tomorrow, we have a rich diet of great iris. ‘Millennium Falcon’ is one of Keith Kasperek’s most successful introductions and, whether you love Star Wars or not, the name must have had some influence. You can work out when it was introduced and the combination of height (97cm), bold but interesting pattern and colour and fragrance have ensured enduring popularity. It garnered many awards and reached No 35 in the 2010 popularity awards.


Monty Byers’ ‘Mesmerizer’ did better in the poll, reaching No 15. It was introduced in 1990 and slowly gained the merit it deserved and gained the American Dykes Medal in 2002. Although Space Age iris divide opinions I think it is the sheer beauty of the flowers, in white, sometimes tinged with lilac when they open, that attracts recognition, and the fact that the flounces, which are usually large and ruffled but can also be fuzzy, are reliably produced. My photo is a bit dark and does not show the flowers brilliantly.

‘Midnight Oil’

I remember when I first saw this iris and I was immediately struck by the velvet black flowers that were as black as any iris I had ever seen. It was bred by Keith Keppel and introduced in 1997. It never got any awards and I find this odd though perhaps it is because the flowers are not especially ruffled. Or perhaps it was because of health because, when I had it, it seemed unusually prone to leafspot, which I put down to the wet UK.

‘Melted Butter’

At last, one I still have, ‘Melted Butter’ is possibly not exceptional but it is a good grower and flowers well. It was raised by Chun Fan of New Jersey and introduced in 1992. Rather late in the season and tall and strong, it is fragrant and a delightfully bright bloom. And here it is in the lemon meringue garden last June.

Win Suttons Cottage Flower Seeds

I am passing on information of another competition, once again open only to UK residents I am afraid, but I guess they deserve some compensation for having a liar for a prime minister.

Five lucky winners will each receive six packets of Suttons flower seeds to create a gorgeously flamboyant cottage garden border

To enter just click here. Once again I have no financial link with the company and am including this information only for interest.

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3 Comments on “Iris A-Z: M”

  1. thelonggardenpath
    February 10, 2022 at 8:47 am #

    ‘Melted Butter’ is just perfect for your lemon meringue border!

  2. tonytomeo
    February 10, 2022 at 3:12 pm #

    ‘Midnight Oil’ is quite vigorous in our chaparral climates, which is consistent with attributing lack of vigor to damp climate. I have not noticed it in gardens at the coast to compare, and even at the coast, the climate is not always damp. This cultivar is uncommon for us. I would not grow it if it had not been given to me by a neighbor who produces iris. Of all my iris, it is one with an uninteresting history, since it technically came from an iris grower, . . . although not purchased.

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