(1925) Work in the Iris Test Garden by Peckham

Journal of the New York Botanical Garden p.198, 1925


The work on the replanting of the American Iris Society's Test Garden for bearded irises at The New York Botanical Garden is just about completed. The centre group of beds numbering from one to twelve inclusive, has been rearranged to color. Instead of a hit or miss medley of twelve hundred varieties, good, bad and indifferent, these beds now contain two hundred and sixty-one varieties, twenty-five being dwarfs, twenty-three intermediates and the others, tall bearded irises. None of these varieties "rate" below 7 according to American Iris Society standards of excellence, so the quality of the plantation is greatly improved.

An effort has been made to put in a number of plants of each variety; in many cases, large blocks, so that their true value as garden subjects may be shown, and while the new color classification of the American Iris Society has been very generally adhered to, portions of the planting which would have appeared dull or insipid have been enlivened by the addition of colors that should properly be in another group. Thus, in the white and plicata beds dull, dark blends have been introduced and into the dark blends, pale blues and yellows, pink into the light end of the blue bed, and pale blue into the mauve and pink end of the red-purple bed. Some fine kinds have been omitted owing to a shortage of plants, but may be added when these can be procured. Beds 12A, 12B, and 12C of dwarfs, and 5 of intermediates were planted last summer and corrections made this year. These beds are small compared with those dealt with this year and in addition to the color-planting five large beds of bearded irises have been cleaned out and replanted. These beds are situated below the walk and are now being used as a reserve for varieties still under observation. Where there are plants enough available, three of each variety have been retained. Varieties on the Official Black List have been "scrapped" and may now be found only in the Alphabetical Test Garden for identification and reference. The Alphabetical Test Garden has been checked over, corrected and the gaps fairly well filled in. The surplus plants of good varieties of bearded irises have been labelled and distributed to other test and show gardens at Cornell, Brooklyn, St. Louis, Rhode Island, Storrs (Connecticut), Springfield (Massachusetts), New Brunswick (New Jersey), Yale University, Larchmont, Mt. Vernon and New Rochelle, N. Y. A truck-load of more ordinary varieties was sent to Central Park and another to Staten Island. The labelling and distributing of this surplus has been no small item and has consumed much time. All beardless irises are now in their own section of the garden and not mixed among bearded ones as before. Four new beds have been made for Dr. John K. Small's collection of native irises to test their hardiness in our climate and comprise about one hundred and twenty different " labels." This word is used in preference to " variety " as certain plants, supposed to be of the same variety but from different localities, may turn out eventually to be distinct.

Statistics follow: Color Planting, Bearded Iris
  • Number of beds replanted. . .10

  • Number of plants set (about) 4150

  • Number of varieties 219

In the Test Beds
  • Number of beds replanted 5

  • Number of plants set 668

  • Number of varieties 201

Native Beardless Irises
  • Number of beds planted 4

  • Number of "labels" 120

  • Number of plants set 473

In the Color Beds for Bearded Irises There is Still Space for:
  • Bed 1. 6 plants.

  • Bed 2. 6, 27, 9 plants.

  • Bed 4. 21, 18 plants.

  • Bed 6. 15 plants.

  • Bed 7. 12, 8, 6 plants.

  • Bed 8. 6, 12 plants.

  • Bed 9. 72, 15 plants.

  • Bed 10. 12 plants.

  • Bed II. 2i, 15 plants.

Received from Mr. John C. Wister, 8 Mary Garden, 12 Caprice, 9 E. L. Crandall, 8 Nokomis, and 8 Albert Victor; from Mr. Arthur H. Scott, 45 Lady Foster, 9 Isoline; from Mr. Robert Wayman, 3 Ambigu, 3 Anna Farr; from B. F. Farr & Co., 6 Georgia; from Mr. Lester S. Lederer, 6 Caprice; from New Rochelle Show Garden, 9 Lent A. Williamson; from E. A. S. Peckham, 9 Innocenza, 21 Powhatan, 18 Montezuma.

About twenty plants of dwarfs of doubtful nomenclature were planted in Mrs. Hitchcock's garden for study.

Ethel Anson S. Peckham.

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

-- BobPries - 2014-07-17
Topic revision: r1 - 17 Jul 2014, BobPries
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