(1914) Regeliocyclus Irises by Jenkins
The Garden p.575, November 28, 1914
Earlier in the year (see the issue of The Garden for July 4
) I had something to say in respect of this fascinating hybrid set, and promised at a more seasonable moment for planting to refer to them again. That time is now with us, and the moment being opportune and the soil in good condition, I will endeavour to redeem the promise then made. Those who are interested in these flowers or would like to make their acquaintance should turn up The Garden for June 13 last, where will be found a lifelike illustration of one of the best of them and an interesting communication by the Rev. J. Jacob.
In my previous note I recorded both my successes and failures with these Irises, and by a reference thereto it will be seen that the latter were obviously the outcome of a desire to make of them a permanent success without lifting or special treatment. The successes were equally due to following a rule of thumb method of culture that, indeed, laid down by Mr. Thomas Hoog (of Messrs. C. G. van Tubergen), Haarlem, through whose insight and enthusiasm the group came into being. This remarkable hybrid set has been evolved from the Oncocyclus and Regelia Irises, and those who have had the least experience of the former the " impossible Cushions " as they have been called will realise that the new race is not to be trifled with if success is to be assured. At the same time it must be distinctly stated that the difficulties are not insuperable. On the other hand, these moderns, while embracing much of the fascinating beauty of the Cushion Irises, have also inherited not a little of the perennialy inclined, genially disposed Regelias, which renders them so much more amenable to cultivation. In a word, they are characterized by hardiness, free growth and flowering, a flower beauty only surpassed by the Cushions themselves, and cultural requirements of the simplest character within certain limits. Apart from these good attributes they occupy a place in the floral chain of the genus which no others have occupied half so well, a fact which should appeal to all lovers of choice flowers. They are practically with us from mid-April to mid-May. Their Cultural Needs.
I have said that within certain limits this is of the simplest. Essentials in the case are briefly these: A rich, light, loamy soil, one freely charged with lime rubble for preference, perfect drainage, and a long annual rest such as is only afforded by lifting and drying each year. This last condition this immunity from the excitability of soil influences despite the obvious evidences of the plant's inclination to grow, is, perhaps, the most important item of all, since it is the continuity of the secondary or early autumn growth which it is so desirable should be restrained till the vicissitudes of the winter season are past. That accomplished, all else is plain sailing. To cover with frames or lights with the same idea of rest in view is not half so good, and, as I have proved to the hilt, brings failure in its train in the course of a couple of years. To ensure this complete rest the rhizomes should be lifted each year in July, shaken free of soil, and stored in an airy place in shallow trays till October, a course of treatment similar to that meted out to a choice lot of Tulips.
The Best Planting Season is October and November, when it will be seen that the plants are beset with sturdy half-inch-long shoots about the main or central ones, and that the root-fibers, in spite of a three months' enforced absence from the soil, show but little, if any, signs of shrivelling. Contrary to custom, these Irises appear best as the subsequent growth clearly demonstrates if the rhizomes are planted 2 inches deep, and it is a protection to the shoots, which incline naturally to push early through the soil.
These, then, in very brief are the essential needs of these plants, and the measure of their appreciation will be also the measure of their ultimate success.
At the head of the poll I place Charon (a study in old gold and bronze, and indispensable), while Mars (rosy violet throughout and big black blotch), Isis (ruby red), Artemis (rose and grey), Jocaste (satiny white and violet), Eucharis (somewhat suggestive of the lovely Cushion Lorteti), with Psyche, Hera, Luna, Eurydice, Una, Felicitas, Medusa and Irene are others which impel admiration by their infinite grace and charm. E. H. Jenkins.
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