(1904) A New Hybrid Race of Irises by Jenkins

The Garden p.413, June 11, 1904


The advent of an entirely new hybrid race of Irises must be regarded by all hardy flower lovers and enthusiasts as of importance. But even the most ardent of hardy plantsmen could not have anticipated the admiration that the little group of Onco-Regelia Irises excited that M. C. G. Van Tubergen, jun., brought from Holland to the Drill Hall on May 17 last. Never before, perhaps, has the floral committee of the Royal Horticultural Society been so entirely unanimous in its awards to novelties. The fact that seven awards (three first-class certificates and four awards of merit) were given is perhaps best proof of the exceeding importance of this race. By combining the great beauty of , Iris Korolkowi with Iris iberica for the most part M. Tubergen has succeeded in producing , a race that, while retaining all that is good of the permanent characteristics of the species, yet largely embraces not a little of the picturesque beauty, colour, and remarkable veining of the Cushion Iris, and this with flowers of the largest size e.g. Iris Susiana, I sofarana magnifica, and others. I was indeed a happy thought that caused M. Tubergen thus to unite the beautiful and nearly evergreen I. iberica with I. Korolkowii, which is far more amenable to general cultivation. Generally the habit of growth in the new race is that of Korolkowii while the colouring and tracery of the veins of the other parent are clearly seen in many of the new comers. Already Mr. Tubergen has the experience of between six and eight years with the hybrid kinds, and he reports that without exception the entire batch has proved, not merely hardy, but increases quite freely. So much, indeed, was obvious when it is remembered that, of some dozen or more kinds set up on the occasion named, not less than half-a-dozen spikes were seen of each. Here again there is evidence of the enduring qualities of this new set, and as further showing that the exhibit in question had not cleared the collection, I may say I have since received a further half-dozen sorts from M. Tubergen, all distinct from those at the Drill Hall meeting.

The average height of the established plants, so far as known, is from 15 inches to 18 inches, and when it is stated that some of the best plants have this season carried eight or ten spikes, we have sufficient proof of the merit and garden value of one of the most beautiful types of hardy Irises. Not only were we struck by the extreme beauty of several kinds, but equally by the great size of the blossoms and the novelty of colour. And, as though this were not enough, we have yet to record the welcome fact that each spike is two-flowered; the second flower of the cut spikes expanding quite well in water. This, then, is a more or less external view of the merits of this new break in the Iris family, and we feel sure that those readers of The Garden who through long years have endeavoured to satisfy the obviously insatiable demands of the Cushion Irises will find in these Onco-Regelia kinds a more than worthy substitute. The new race proves just one thing more, viz., that the Iris genus has by no means reached its limitations, and we may look for more, not merely a continuance of the above kinds or an increase of varieties, but other races that may be brought into being by the careful hybridist, who will, we doubt not, ever have in mind the climate of Britain and the need that exists for new plants of undoubted merit, with a thoroughly reliable constitution.

Of the varieties that attracted my attention most;

I place I. Charon first, as the most remarkable novelty in colour, and a bold, well proportioned flower withal. The chief colours are old gold and bronze, and with satin like lustre in the standards the gold feathering and bordering is well seen. This sumptuous kind was obtained by the inter-crossing of Korolkowi venosa and atropurpurea.

I. 'Iphegenia', with its claret-purple falls and heavy blotch, is also a noble flower, the parents being I. Korolkowi concolor and I. iberica.

I. 'Artemus' has the distinction of quite erect standards and distinctly drooping falls, as opposed to such as arch at the blade of the fall. In this kind the falls depend from the claw, as it were. Artemus resulted from the crossing of Korolkowii violacea and Marie, the standards of rich purple and falls of dark violet, with black velvet blotch.

I. 'Antigone' came from I. Korolkowi violacea and I. iberica Van Houttei, and in the silvery grey and lilac and intense veining the influence of the latter is obvious.

I. 'Thalia', while distinct from the above, is of the same parentage.

I. 'Hera' is the result of crossing I. Leichtlini with I. paradoxa, and

I. 'Hecate' has I. Korolkowi and I. Lortetii for its parents.

Of those received from Holland and as yet unnamed, I select No. 54 as the gem of the lot, with I. Korolkowi leichtliniana crossed with I. paradoxa for parents. The standards are ovate, 1 ¾ inches wide at the blade portion, 2 ½ inches long, and wine red, with extremely delicate veining. Falls nearly horizontal, very stiff, an inch long and wide, roundly oval, the blackish maroon blotch extending to the short dense beard of the claw and merging to a more reddish hue at the tip of the blade. The sides of the blade have a conspicuous white ground, over which a thrice-forked veining of maroon only tends to make this fascinating flower the more charming. The flower is as unique in its way as Charon.

No. 2 is an extremely delicate flower, the groundwork of silvery grey, finely and copiously veined with reddish crimson. The veining of the standards is quite remarkable. The parents are Korolkowi (type) and iberica Van Houttei.

No. 18 is a flower of silvery rose, with red veins, the falls more heavily veined with crimson, and with crimson blotch at base. This is from Korolkowi violacea crossed with iberica Van Houttei.

These three are very distinct from those shown at the Drill Hall, and though unnamed at present, afford some opportunity for comparison by colour alone. Thus it will be seen that quite an elaborate set of crosses has been made and duly registered. Equally apparent is the way in which the pretty Iris Korolkowi in some form or other has been freely used as seed parent, and this, in conjunction with I. iberica forms, has given a series of novelties of remarkable beauty.

Hampton Hill. E. H. .Jenkins.

See also Regelio-cyclus

For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at

-- BobPries - 2014-07-11
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