The Development of the Tall-Bearded Irises
From the "The World of Irises" Chapter 4 by Melba B Hamblen and Keith Keppel. © 1978 AIS
IRIS: mention the word to the average person and he will think of tall bearded irises. There is good reason for this, as the tall bearded irises are truly the extroverts of the iris world. They are the largest of the bearded irises, with flowers arranged in a magnificent architectural form in a series of three parts, at their best formed with balanced, sculptured grace. They are flamboyant in a spectrum of colors that must be seen to be appreciated; and over most of the iris growing world they command a most intense admiration and devotion.
Irises were grown for centuries before the idea of classification of types was conceived, but with the increased interest and increasing number of varieties available to gardeners, a systematic arrangement of species and varieties was necessary. Our present classification defines the Standard Tall Bearded class as including all bearded irises over 71 cm (27 inches) in height. Typically they bloom later than the smaller bearded irises, but strains under development will commence blooming with the early dwarf irises (Randolph pers. com. 1976). Included within the classification are species, naturally occurring hybrids, older garden varieties, newly created species hybrids in their height range, and the modern hybrids that give such class to
Their inheritance is compounded of genes from nearly all of the bearded iris species including a few of the arils. As breeders succeed in adding additional species to the melange, undoubtedly additional colors and patterns will emerge.
But consider what we already have! We are enjoying the result of a hundred years of breeding. We now see flowers of large size and full form, but with ruffles and lace to keep them from looking coarse. These have sturdy stalks to hold the blooms upright without staking, and the stalks carry branches that hold the flowers effectively so that their form may be enjoyed. Improved substance makes the flowers last for days, with brilliant nonfading color. We have clearer colors free from the veining of the older varieties, colors that run the gamut of the rainbow and colors the rainbow never carried.
Each year brings the charm of new color combinations as well as refinements of the old. No matter how complete and up-to-date a collection of tall bearded irises may be there is always something different and lovely to add. Many of these beautiful flowers are illustrated in the color pages of this book.
In the following review of tall bearded color developments, comments are primarily based on irises representing specific tone variation or some unusual characteristic or quality, and are further narrowed down to irises that have received Awards of Merit. It would be impossible to list all worthy tall beardeds and the best solution seems to be to cite those that have been judged superior in the AIS awards system.
World of Irises Chapter continues with White Irises
Tall Bearded Development of a Color/Pattern
COLOR PATTERNS __BITONES, BICOLORS, AMOENAS
DEVELOPMENT OF FORM/SHAPE
"The World of Irises" continues with chapter 5 The Median Irises
For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at http://www.historiciris.org/