Appropriately perhaps, there is a red theme to the Rs, but not all are red. It could be argued that none are red since true red is not possible in bearded iris. Nevertheless breeders have done their best and there are some valiant attempts.
‘Rameses’ is not red. Hans Peter Sass of Nebraska raised many iris and ‘Rameses’ was introduced in 1928. It was a winner from the moment it was introduced though the colour is hard to describe. Words used in old catalogues include rose, pink, russet, vinaceous, strontian yellow, Tourmaline pink, argyle purple, deep olive buff and avellaneous which was a new one to me and means dull, greyish brown – I can see why they said avellaneous! It obviously has something to do with hazel nuts. Whatever the colour, it grew strongly and it was awarded the American Dykes Medal in 1932.
Merton Gage of Massachusetts introduced this fragrant iris in 1935. Although the colour is brownish rather than red we have to remember how striking this must have been at the time. It won the Dykes Medal in 1939.
This 1999 Schreiner introduction shows how much has been achieved in the quest for a red iris. It is still not scarlet but the lighter centre to the bloom seems to give the flower an inner light.
Introduced in in 1994 by California’s Joseph Ghio, this is a pretty good red, though brick red rather than scarlet.
‘Ring Around Rosie’
Raised by Cooley’s Richard Ernst and introduced in 2000, this is a fabulous iris with similar, but less intense, colouring to his later ‘Carnival Ride’ (2002). Both got Awards of Merit. At the time, this colouring was absolutely new and it still stands out. It has good health and vigour.
And another red, white and blue Cayeux iris from 1997, translating as Blue ribbon but you probably guessed that.