1921, The Development Of The Iris by M. Gibson

The Garden p.239, May 14, 1921


Has the Double Flower Come to Stay?

ARE there, among readers of The Garden, many wooers of the more coy Irises ? If so, they are not few who regret the infrequency of reference to those incomparable blooms, to the experiences of those who woo, to the triumphs of such as win. The literary neglect of Oncocyclus and Regelia distresses me, and in this state, although my contact with horticulturists is limited, I know myself to be not singular.

Surely in these days of renascent wonder and delight in the cult of flowers, there shall arise a new champion of rare Irises! Silent now and for ever are Ewbank and Foster; Mr. Eden Philpotts, his tribute permanently recorded in the most delightful chapters of a delightful book, is no more the journalist of iridiculture; and on no Elishas have the mantles of these Elijahs fallen.

One feels the more astonished at the fact when one has just been privileged to see the exquisite perfection of some few Cushion Iris blooms. Half fearful of overnight disaster, half tremulous with anticipatory joy, I go a-tiptoe these mornings to the little greenhouse that fills a sunny angle of my home. For weeks a row of pots containing the relatively unfastidious Susiana has kept me on tenterhooks. Day after day the buds maintained their smug torpedo form, swelling imperceptibly, reluctant, as it seemed, to open to the caress of our unardent northern sun. But yesterday two had burst forth fully. At this sudden beauty who had not stood stunned ?

Out of the long, lean torpedo buds had leapt since dawn these spread wings of silver, purple veined, these sabled falls, each blossom a grown hand's width across. I do not like to hear of Susiana as the Mourning Iris. Reverie rather than sorrow does she induce. She is the grey lady, the lady of dreams.

To-day another strange thing has happened, and I know not whether to be shocked or jubilant. Perhaps a more experienced Iris-lover can give me light. Hecate, a so-called Oncocyclus wherein, methinks, Regelian influence is visible, has just borne a monstrous twin-blossom from a single bud. There are six distinct standards, and six falls, and — here is the oddest thing of all — one of these latter, evidently unable to be certain whether it should be fall or standard, takes the standard's upright attitude, but, hesitating still, effects' a compromise by taking on the coloration of both, so that one half of it is rosy-purple, while the other is the orthodox brown-veined cream of all the other falls. 'Now, who will tell me what this means ? Am I to rejoice at the advent of a double Iris, or should I deplore a vulgar prank, a freak, an undesirable monstrosity ?

Anyway, the plant shall be photographed, so that all interested 'may see at least the form of this (to me) strange thing.

M. Gibson.

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

-- BobPries - 2014-10-07
Topic revision: r1 - 07 Oct 2014, BobPries
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