Iris A-Z: T


It is probably this iris more than any other that had me hooked (pardon the pun) on Space Age iris and I am not alone in being very fond of this. It is not for everyone, of course, with that strange blend of greenish brown and it introduced me to the word ‘ecru’. I remember having a photographer in the garden, many years ago when I was doing weekly jobs for Garden News and I asked him to take a photo of it. He rapidly returned and said he had but he didn’t know why because it was dead!

It is possibly the most famous of Monty Byers’ iris and in his catalogue he wrote ‘To say not everyone will care for this is probably an understatement! Not what even I could call very pretty but it has something that always makes me pause. Most strange with a kind of predatory presence I think, especially when it sports dark jaggedy appendages!’

It turns out that he was right to be positive about it because it won the Dykes Medal in 1997, nine years after its introduction and in 2010 it came in at No 9 in the popularity poll. In addition to a beguiling beauty, it has purple-based foliage and it grows and flowers very well, which always helps to keep an iris in the public eye. The purple ‘claws’ are reliably produced but can be variable in shape so there is always a bit of excitement when the blooms open.


And here is another Space Age iris, but this time with slightly more conventional colouring. Raised by Elaine Bessette and introduced by Salmon Creek iris in 2000 it was produced by crossing good old ‘Edith Wolford’ and an unnamed seedling from Monty Byers. The colours remind me of faded velvet curtains and furnishings in some old stately home but brought up to date by fierce-looking horns on the falls.

‘Tokatee Falls’

This is another Schreiner blue, this time from 2000. When the blooms are mature the falls are slightly paler than the standards. Apart from Schreiners being in Oregon, this has a connection because I visited Toketee Falls, but you will notice the different spelling. But there is a Tokatee in Oregon too which I may have been through since it is east of Eugene which I definitely did visit.

‘Tall Cool One’

And five years later Schreiners released this beauty with stalks more than a metre high. I guess they had a bit of a mind freeze and just named it simply and descriptively.

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