Sir Michael Foster on Milesii (1883) Gardeners' Chronicle
This is part 1. in a six part article on "Hybridization" for other parts click on number part 2
; part 3
; part 4
; part 5
; part 6
1. [Iris Milesii
] On a New Iris (Evansia) from the Himalayas -Some time ago Mr. Frank Miles received seeds of an Iris,
gathered by his cousin from plants growing in the Kulu Valley of the Himalayas at about the height, I believe, of 14,000 feet, and also seed from apparently the same plant growing in the Parbutta Valley. The seeds and seedling plants Mr. Miles has very liberally distributed, and a roct which he kindly gave to me has just bloomed. I am not sure whether it was from the Kulu or Parbutta source ; but this does not matter, since the plants from both sources seem to be identical. 1 believe Mr. Max Leichtlin has already bloomed it (as he does everything which cf mes into his hands), but I understand that it has not yet been described or named. Sir Joseph Hooker proposes to figure it in the Bot. Mag., and Mr. Baker will give the formal description of it under the name of Iris (Evansia) Milesii ; but perhaps a few words may not be unacceptable here.
The plant belongs to the crested or Evansia division of Irises, and comes perhaps nearest to Iris tectorum (tomiolopha). The foliage resembles that of I. tectorum
, but is far ampler ; the leaves, indeed, are some 2 to 3 feet or even more in length, and from 2 to 3 inches in breadth, but are less stout than those of tectorum. So magnificent is the foliage that one expected a very handsome flower indeed ; but unhappily this is not the case. The scape, rising some 3 or more feet in height, is much more branched than that of tectorum, the main axis and laterals ending in small green spathe- valves containing each several flowers opening in succession. Each flower, which is very short-lived, opening at dawn and fading at sunset, is formed after the fashion of I. tectorum, but is smaller, and of a different colour. The fall is only some 24 inches long, and the flowers, instead of the splendid blueish- purple of I. tectorum, have a more reddish-purple hue, or are even plum-coloured. The blade of the fall is marked, like tectorum, with striking blotches. I do not wish to go into details now, but I may point out that the crest of the falls is of interest, being much more cut up than is that of I. tectorum
or of I. fimbriata
, so much so that it almost becomes a beard. In its small fugacious flowers, several enclosed in the spathe-valves, in the character of the spathe-valvcs, in the more branched scape, in the manner in which the scape starts from the top of a large tuft of distichous leaves, and in the conspicuous ring-like scars left on the rhizome by the leaves, I. Milesii resembles I. fimbriata rather than I. tectorum, but it differs from the former in the characters of the foliage and in not being stoloniferous. In a certain way it is intermediate between the two, and is interesting as being a westward extension of this form of Iris, for I am inclined to think that I. decora of the Himalayas is in many ways distinct from the above, though classed with them as an Evansia.
I wish I could have praised Mr. F. Miles' Iris as a valuable addition to our garden Irises, but I must confess that, as far as beauty goes, it is far inferior to both I. tectorum and I. fimbriata. And, moreover, it seems difficult to grow. Two years ago I had a splendid plant in a cold frame, and just as I was expecting it to flower it died right away without any obvious reason. Mr. Miles tells me that in the open it sometimes goes through the hardest winter and lives, and sometimes dies outright. The plant which has just bloomed with me was grown in a pot, kept somewhat dry in the winter in a cool greenhouse (but not dried right off), and exposed to the open during the summer, but never allowed to be stinted in water. If the end of July or beginning of August should prove to be its natural time of flowering in this country, it will be useful as a means of extending the Iris season. --Sir Michael Foster
Continued here as part 2
To see original article in Biodiversity Heritage Library click on "Notes on Irises", The Gardeners' Chronicle August 25, p. 231-232
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