Colour in Seedlings by Sturtevant 1919

Gardeners’ Chronicles, p.309, 30 December, 1919 Notes on Irises, Color in Seedlings by Robert Swan Sturtevant

In our batches of Bearded Iris seedlings there has been a noticeable similarity in the progeny of certain crosses that give an effective flower colour, viz., pallida x aurea and ‘Bluet’ x ‘Empire’. In the first generation there is a. perfect blending of the lavender and yellow of the parents, self in effect, but of varying intensities. Anyone familiar with Iris and who realizes the usualness of the parents, would expect that this delightful blending would be found among the old varieties and the long and well-established occupants of our gardens; as a matter of fact, however, it is quite the contrary, and among some hundreds of named varieties with which I am acquainted only three show this perfection of combination. ‘Mady Carriere’ is of rather a silvery blue tone with a warmth through the centre. ‘Afterglow’ (see Fig. 144) shows a buff or pink-grey shading to the yellow of the haft, or beard, and Palaurea is the darkest shade, in effect Lobelia violet with a suspicion of yellow. Of these, ‘Mady Carriere’ is of French production, and the others have received ;awards from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. All are about three feet high and may create drifts of colour unique in the garden picture. Among the seedlings there occurs an almost perfect gradation from light to dark, and (in three consecutive years there have been such similar results that 75 per cent, blended selfs and 25 percent, pale lavenders might be counted on. Theoretically one pale yellow would develop, but it was in F2, in an outcross, that ‘Shekinah’ was produced, a pale lemon yellow of typical pallida height and habit.

In the other cross mentioned, the parents are also clear blue-lavender and yellow self seedlings (on one side at least) of pallida and aurea respectively, and again we had flowers of very similar shape and colouring, though of less height. When we consider the uncertainty of result in practically all Iris hybridization, this coincidence, if I may term it such, is worth noting ; it suggests that could we develop a sufficiently pure pink both in colour and heredity, such an Iris might vie with the soft blends of a Tea Rose.

At present the variety 'Wild Rose' approaches within a hue of our American wild Rose and has much of its texture or surface, points of importance in any colour comparison. Unfortunately the variety does not seed easily and quite likely the purity lies only in the colour. However, much of the fascination for the breeder in the horticultural field lies in anticipation.

Robert Swan Sturtevant, Wcllesey Farms,


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

-- BobPries - 2014-06-18
Topic revision: r1 - 18 Jun 2014, BobPries
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