1896, Flower Garden Notes by Gerard
Flower And Garden p 226, June 3, 1896
Flower Garden Notes.
ONE must have a firm will these pleasant spring mornings to follow up closely the necessary cultural work, each night brings forth so many distractions of flower and foliage. It is much pleasanter to linger over the newly expanded charms of color and form than to do the necessary prosaic work.
In spite of a dry season the hybrid German Irises have flowered as profusely as usual, with no shortening of stems or decrease in size of flowers, and at about the accustomed season. The fragrance prevailing now is from masses of forms of Iris pallida, an Elder-like scent, this Iris being the most fragrant of the family, and the best strains being among the handsomest of the bearded Irises, both in form and coloring.
Of other Irises lately in flower, I. Germanica macrantha has been glorious with immense blue purple flowers about twice as large as the ordinary variety. The reddish purple flowers of I. Kochii are also bold, distinct and handsome. Of the varied Irises in a collection of these flowers perhaps the forms of I. variegata will usually prove the most attractive. These are flowers with yellow standards and usually reddish falls, and are mostly bright and attractive, though not of the largest size. Professor Foster's hybrid Iris Parvar (paradoxa X variegata), which has before been described in Garden and Forest, has again proved to be as reliable as its male parent. It has had no protection or special care in the border, and has shown none of the miffiness of its Oncocyclus parents, though resembling it much in foliage and still more in some features of the flowers, which area beautiful dark vinous red. Another hybrid, Lupina x Ciengialti, did not show so much influence of the Oncocvclus parent and formed surface-creeping rhizomes, which unfortunately succumbed to a wet winter. This was a flower of a very odd hue, a degraded heliotrope. Lately I have had the pleasure of flowering a few more of Professor Foster's seedlings, which it may be interesting to note as a suggestion to growers who may have a fancy for hybridizing uncommon things. It is not possible to give more than a hint of the curious hues thus produced. I. Parkor (paradoxa x Korolkowi), with narrow foliage, flowered with a curious bloom, reddish purple with darker linings and dark signals, orbicular falls and rather modified standards – that is, not excessively large as compared with the falls. I. Korolkowi x vaga resembled closely one of the forms of I. Korolkowi, venosa, I think, a flower of small size, fawn color, with dark linings and beautiful styles of a golden brown, and in one stage with a distinct olive reflection. This hybrid produced apparently fertile seed-pods. The reverse cross, I. vaga x Korolkowi, bore flowers which were dissimilar in form and coloring, the latter being a light red-purple. The standards are tall and pointed. It is several years since I. vaga (Leichtlini) flowered here, and my memory does not serve for a close comparison. These plants must be soon dried off and kept dormant until late in the year. Another hybrid, I. Parsamb (paradoxa x sambucina), not yet flowered, may be expected to grow without special care, I. sambucina being as reliable as it is homely. Irises cross so readily and seed so freely that hybrids are produced with little trouble. There are countless hybrids of the bearded species, but there is still a wide and promising field among the newer species for interesting trials.
Fall-sown annual Poppies are now flowering as the spring seedlings are germinating. One cannot always carry over these fall seedlings from seed scattered in September, but in latitudes no more rigorous than this it is always worth while to make the trial at the risk of loss. Some seasons it is necessary to thin them out, in others few survive, but the survivors are strong plants, far better than can be produced by sowings at other times. Perennial Poppies now in flower are gorgeous, and usually even arrest the attention of those indifferent to any less conspicuous color, but they are not as handsome as the annual Tulip Poppy, P. glaucum, whose flowers, scarcely inferior in size, are of a most effective rich and satisfying crimson.
There does not seem to be any special reason why an amateur should take any unnecessary trouble with his garden, and it has always seemed to me that under this head was included the replanting of hardy Water-lilies in the tank boxes each season, most disagreeable and chilly work. My Nymphreas in the tanks are in ordinary soap boxes, and have not been replanted for three years. They are running riot now, flowers are plentiful and as large as the average, and there is more foliage than space on the water, so that it is fair to infer that these plants do not really require the manures rich in humus which are usually advised. This is not strange when one remembers that still waters, not too often changed, accumulate available plant-food from decay of insects and organic matter.
In the centre of my plant border is a Rose bush, now three or four feet high, covered with dainty pink and white single flowers not much over an inch in diameter. This Rose is remontant and bears several crops of flowers during the season. I notice that flower fanciers are quiet before this plant and are usually glad to pocket a few hips, which it bears plentifully. This Rose is the R. polyantha remontant introduced a few years ago, of which seeds are offered in the catalogues. It comes readily from seed, from which it flowers in three months, and the plants are perfectly hardy here. In three or four years it has had no winter-killed branches. The flowers vary in coloring and in number of Petals
Elizabeth, N.J. J.N.Gerard.
For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at