1884, Iris Reticulata, again by Foster
The Gardeners' Chronicle p110, January 26, 1884
IRIS RETICULATA CYANEA.
is paccni vis, bcllum para " If you want to be brief take care to be long." [Free translation !] My former note was very short, and by its brevity has misled Mr. Krelage, so I must apologise to him, and tell a longer story.
Last spring I spent some very pleasant hours in visiting the interesting garden of my friend, the Rev. H. Ewbank, of Ryde, who pointed out to me an Iris (at that season long past flowering) which he had received from Messrs. Haage & Schmidt under the name of I. reticulata cyanea. Being not wholly ignorant of the nomenclature of Irises, I said at once, "I suppose that that is I. histrio?" "No," he replied, " quite different from histrio a real reticulata, and a very beautiful thing." The result was, that in the autumn I purchased a few bulbs from Messrs. Haage & Schmidt, and now I see them in flower I regret that my knowledge of Indian synonymy preventing my purchasing them the year before has deprived me of a year's pleasure, for the flower is really very charming. I can assure Mr. Krelage that it is not I. histrio, but, as I said in my former note, in form a characteristic I. reticulate Krelagei, with sky-blue standards and stigmas, and when Mr. Krelage sees it I think he will say that it is worthy and lit to bear the name Krelagei. The additional word cyanea is misleading ; the shade of blue is not cyanic, using that word even in the German sense ; a more appropriate though lengthy name would be I. reticulata Krelagei coerulea.
Since I wrote my former note I have learnt from my friend Dr, Radde, of Tiflis, that he has a sky-blue [hillblau) I. reticulata growing there. Now, the I. reticulata which grows round Tiflis and in the Caucasus generally is of the Krelagei form ; hence most probably the Iris of which we are speaking has been imported from that district. I have been led to understand that the lamented Mr. Nelson raised a sky-blue seedling I. reticulata ; but I also understand that he worked only with the typical I. reticulata ; so that when his seedling is distributed (as I trust it will be after a while) we shall have sky-blue varieties both of the typical form and of the Krelagei variety.
The sentence in my former note about the earliness, with me, of the Krelagei variety was intended as a feeler. What Mr. Krelage says about the early flowering of imported bulbs which have been thoroughly well ripened under a warmer and steadier sun than ours is perfectly true ; I have often had experience of it. But that hardly explains the case in point. I have grown I. reticulata for several years, and have flowering seedlings of my own raising ; in all these I have repeatedly observed a tendency for the Krelagei variety to be early with me, under very various conditions of soil, situation, &c. The reason why I call attention to this circumstance is this: The Krelagei variety finds itself much more at home with me than does the typical form, or I. histrio (which is in reality a strongly marked variety of reticulata). I have to take trouble to keep the typical I. reticulata and I. histrio in good condition ; the variety Krelagei takes care of itself. And while, on my bleak hill, the two former bloom later than in many other places, my Krelagei is frequently ahead of plants growing in places which in other respects are horticultural paradises compared to my desolate patch. And in the case of other plants I have made the same observation. The few flowers which do well with me, all tend to flower early. Conversely the plants which do not like my soil and situation, if they flower at all flower late. For instance, I cannot grow Lilium auraturn or L. speciosum. If I put them in the sun they are dried up or blown to pieces. If I put them where they will best get damp and shelter, the autumn frosts cut them down before their buds are fully grown. I am inclined to think this earliness of plants which " find themselves at home " is not confined to my own garden, though possibly the fact is more striking with me than elsewhere, because I have a greater choice of adverse conditions to serve as a good background for "throwing up" a success. A misprint in the last word of my former note takes away all the point from a poor little joke; for "Iridophils" read " Leuco-phils," M. Foster, Shelford.
For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at