The American Iris Society

The Flower Grower p.9 January, 1921

The American Iris Society.
Greetings to our new members and I trust that I may greet also every one of our old members and find none who have lost their interest in the Iris and in our Society. It was just a year ago that the first announcements were sent out. January thirty-first will mark the anniversary of our meeting for organization as guests of the New York Botanical Garden. We now number over five hundred members representing not only almost every state in the Union, but many of the Canadian provinces and Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Belgium and Holland. Surely with such a wide-spread interest we may well hope that every member will, in his own circle, make new converts to our Society and the Iris.

I wish also to announce that we shall continue the use of THE FLOWER GROWER for the coming year although to comply with the postal regulations (and 0f course with our finances) the 1920 members will not receive the February issue until the 1921 dues are paid. I have enjoyed editing our page each month and wish to express my hearty appreciation of Mr. Cooper's cooperation. I think that we owe much of our success to this opportunity for getting in touch each month and to his generosity. His interest has not been mercenary ; he has offered splendid suggestions and I rather suspect has had
to show considerable forbearance with my inexperience. If any one had asked me last year if I could write a page about the Iris every month for a year I should have said No, and again No, but it is done, largely because of the assistance of many members during these last months. Either through Mr. Cooper or myself I hope that you will continue to contribute and show the American public that they do not have to go to an English garden magazine to find an expression of opinion by a real gardener with a hobby.

Mr. Mitchell from Berkeley, California, writes me that I. stylosa is in bloom and that Archeveque, encouraged by recent rains, is preparing to give a few flowers, while here in Massachusetts there is rain and sleet and even snow. Such days, however, are most provocative of Iris thoughts, and not only has a budget of notes come from members, but also comments, personal comments on my own and on some of the letters in the last issues of THE FLOWER GROWER.

Mrs. Cleveland, whose seedlings of this year's introduction we are all looking forward to, numbers Isoline, La Neige, Alcazar, Jeanne d 'A re, Dalila, Ed. Michel, Black Prince, and Queen Caterina in her list of favorites, and one of the loveliest of all, Caterina, in spite of Mr. Groschnor's impatience with it. Why, I cannot imagine. Any one who has seen a bloom of this with the slanting rays of the afternoon sun on it would ransom his kingdom to have the same in his own garden! With me it does not need “coddling,” but if it did I would most certainly neglect a great many sterner duties to lavish a little tenderness on Caterina.” Mrs. Cleveland says: “But now I must make a confession and an inquiry, I may have Caterina and Carthusian confused. Is there any difference between the two?" (Yes, though not a great deal in color. Caterina usually has a flexuous stem and always a rather satiny substance, the foliage also tends to droop, whereas Carthusian has stiff, markedly short leaves, a sturdy stem and a big flower of rather more usual substance and form. I have often wondered why it has been so rarely recommended—ED.) “Anyhow, it is a GRAND and wonderfully beautiful flower." “Then I want to make a plea for tectorum alba. I think this is one of the most exquisitely beautiful things in my garden, not sturdy and magnificent but with such a delicacy of charm, such a high-bred look—nothing hap-hazard about it, but as if it had aristocratic ancestors behind it. Gracilipes is another great favorite of mine and I notice that the plants seem to thrive better when they are cuddled up close to the larger Irises. Of the older varieties, Florentina and of course pallida Dalmatica are great favorites I don't believe that many people appreciate the rare beauty of the former when it is given a fair chance to develop, its size and delicate purity of coloring with the opalescent tints on the style-branches are so lovely that it is almost a pity that you should find it in every third farm yard dwarfed by neglect."

“I should like to add Honorabilis to Mr. Weed’s list of discards but why discard Wyomissing—it is a lovely, warm, creamy pink and beautiful in contrast with Jacquesiana or even Kochii if that happens to come late enough."From her collection of 150 varieties, Mrs. Livingston offers a quite different list of ones “I couldn't bear to be without." Archeveque is my first love—for one reason only—its wonderful color and exquisite velvety falls. With me it does not increase rapidly and is a shy bloomer. Caprice is much better in many ways and the two are beautiful planted together. Then Iris King, pallida Dalmatica, Pare de Neuilly, Lohengrin, Kochii, Lorelei (glorious in mass with Sherwin Wright) Perfection whose velvety falls enthrall me and Paxatawny. (Either hers or mine can't be true to name.—Ed.) Penelope and Gajus are pets of mine and I would keep them in preference to more obvious sorts such as Albatross, Mithras, Berchta, or Princess Victoria Louise. Quaker Lady is very lovely and grows in my affections. Tecumseh goes into the discard and also Rose Unique, on account of its atrocious color. I am trying it everywhere to see where it will appear lovely but it is in no sense a pink Iris and should not be
listed as such." (Referred to Ridgeway, it is a rose purple hue and the pinkest of Irises are only a few hues nearer true rose pink, there are none of as deep a tone.) “Queen of May I consider the best pink yet but Her Majesty would be better if it were not for the heavy veining on the falls."

M. Denis, the great French amateur, sends us a few comments on our October news. My knowledge of French permits of only a free translation as follows:
“Mrs. Minto's success with Caterina is undoubtedly due to a richly calcareous soil; that, in fact, is the most important point for all cypriana hybrids and in this connection it is well to remember that Ricardi is really a large flowered cypriana."
“ The note from Florida does not distinguish between I. hexagona and foliosa which alone is known to give white flowers. I have raised seed of this last for some years and white flowers may be found among the seedlings.”
“ Iris Susiana, like all of the Oncocyclus demands a soil rich in lime and no watering during the resting period, that is to say from the moment the leaves start to yellow until the new growths start. In Europe, at least, it is usually lost from a bacterial disease and though no remedies have proved wholly successful, superphosphate of lime is still the best."

“I should like to make a few observations on the subject of the ‘Black Iris.’ ”
“Firstly: All the seeds of the Oncocycli are very slow to germinate; they almost always take some years. In a letter from Sir Michael Foster I was counciled to be patient as one of his seeds had taken eighteen years to germinate. I have seeds of Regelias and Oncocycli that have not germinated for four years and yet are still good. The Black Iris is probably atropurpurea var nigricans whose flowers are of a shade that really approaches black. For an Oncocyclus it is relatively hardy."

Flowers are crowded on the stalk. Of Mr. Wister's substitutes, Parc deNeuilly might be better compared to Ed. Michel, it is good; Mrs. H. Darwin is an almost indispensable white, it is so cheap; Mithras, Petit Vitry and Gajus are not either objectionable nor exciting and to me Montezuma and Mary Garden are just curious. Personally I could never restrict myself to twelve varierst is shy, t full apprecinish for close inspection. As to the dozen novelties, Oriflamme is clumsy and often a poor grower.

I hesitate to say anything about Miss Sturtevant’s seedlings, though I might warn you that the stock of Reverie is so low that I doubt if it will be listed again for some years, and I might add that Shekinah is something you will all want WHEN the price becomes anywhere near reasonable. I might remark that Iris sibirica should be spelled with an i although the e in Siberian is perfectly correct.

Mr. Johnson’s list I can find little fault with although I agree with Mr. Wister in considering it slightly out of balance, though neither Lohengrin or Eldorado has ever been among my favorites, the first because of its crowded stalk, the second for its narrow petals. I was glad to see the announcement of Virginia Moore. It just happens to have been the first Iris to receive an Honorable Mention from the Society, partly because Mr. Morrison wouldn't accept one as yet for his first year's seedlings. I am willing to acknowledge that I was one of the judges. but whether the public will second my judgment remains to be seen. As grown in Mr. Shull's garden it is the best variegata yellow in size and height yet introduced and as such deserves mention, but—and it is a big but—I myself don’t like variegata yellows, probably because I have a vision of a yellow comparable to Caterina. That would be something to crow over though I sometimes doubt if we will ever get it.

I hope that all our members noticed the recent editorials on “Cataloging Irises" and “New Varieties." They are both much to the point and it is up to the buying public to make the nurseryman realize just what the gardener wants.

It is a pleasure to make a public acknowledgment of gifts to the Society for the purpose of awards at our 1921 exhibitions. Miss Marian Case, who has done such splendid welfare work for boys on her farm, Hillcrest, at Weston, Mass, and has proved her interest in the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, offers a Silver Cup. Mrs. John W. Paris, acting for The Park Garden Club of Flushing, L. 1., has also offered us a cup or other prize. You may remember that the cup given by Mrs. Horatio Gates Lloyd for competition at Philadelphia, was not awarded, and through her generosity may be used in 1921. I think these examples point the way to what other members may do to foster our exhibitions, not that we want a battalion of cups, but we do need prizes, small cash ones, plants of fine varieties, or what you yourself would like to compete for. Our schedules are still in the making, even the places of exhibition are undecided with one exception, that of the Annual Meeting, which will be held at Columbus, Ohio, about May 27, in conjunction with an exhibition, and at the invitation of the Iris Club of which Mrs. A. D. Filler and Prof. Alfred Hottes were the organizers.

Carmelo—Reglio-pogon hybrid. Gray-blue, vigorous. Wm. Mohr.
Dolores—Fine blend, darker than Quaker Lady.Wm. Mohr.
Mombasa—French grey flaked purple. Wm. Mohr.
Prince Lohcngrin—Improvcd Lohengrin. Wm. Mohr.
Silvemdo—Silver gray and peacock blue. Wm. Mohr.
Soledad—lnterrnediate bloom, 18 in., soft yellow. Wm. Mohr. ,

The American Iris Society Merits Your Assistance.
As members of the American Iris Society, I think we owe a vote of thanks to our officers. I am sure all Iris lovers read with grateful and approving comment the “end of the year” letters of our President and Secretary appearing in the December issue of THE FLOWER GROWER.

This supporting vote can best be expressed by a pledge on the part of each of us to get at least one new member and to write for THE FLOWER GROWER a note, query or complaint (this last would show interest at least.) The high quality of work done by the young Iris Society has been a subject of frequent comment by the gardening folk whom I have chanced to meet this summer. “The Bulletins issued are well worth the annual dues," a declaration made by the President of one of the leading garden clubs of our state, sums up the feeling. The amount of work that can be done, our President tells us, depends upon the number of members we have. Funds depend upon members. Members depend upon the interest and enthusiasm of individuals already members.

I, for one, desire that the work which will redound to the credit of American gardening equally with that of the Peony Society or with that of the Rose Society shall go on unhampered. Because of this earnest wish, I am out this afternoon for my new member in behalf of the flower we all love and which, to quote Mr. Leonard Barron of Country Life, “is just getting its foot over the threshold of American gardens where, because of its beauty and wide adaptability, it is destined to become one of the most important of our flowers."

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

-- BobPries - 2014-08-11
Topic revision: r2 - 27 Sep 2017, BobPries
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