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Development of Tangerine Bearded Tall-Bearded Irises

From the "The World of Irises" Chapter 4 by Melba B Hamblen and Keith Keppel. © 1978 AIS





During the 1930s hybridizers, concentrating on eliminating lavender from the so-called pinks of that era, created pastel beauty in tones of orchid, amethyst and lilac; but true pink was tantalizingly elusive. When it appeared through the tangerine pinks, another mystery was added to irisology, for no one has established beyond doubt when or how the tangerine character evolved. The mystery is further compounded by its almost simultaneous appearance in widely separated areas of this country with one report of its appearance in England. But this is a problem for geneticists and cytologists; we can only trace its development from the first recorded variety to the present-day wonders, which eclipse the most extravagant dreams of the pioneer pink breeders.

In 1925 Wareham registered 'Gold Fish', a small tangerine bearded pink bitone. As far as can be determined, 'Gold Fish' did not contribute to improvement in the tangerine-bearded class and its only claim to fame is its registration as the first tangerine bearded pink iris. Douglas (1944) mentions others that bloomed in this period, but records fail to indicate any contribution they may have made to the development of pink irises.
First Recorded Variety

‘GoldFish' (1934) TBGoldFish

'Seashell' bloomed in the garden of P. A. Loomis in the mid-1920s. Small, with light pink color and tangerine beards, it was the first clear pink iris that, even in bud, carried no blue. 'Seashell' was followed by Mitchell's 'Isabellina', a large pongee pink with 'tangerine beards and the same parents as 'Happy Days'. Because of poor substance it was not registered, but was widely distributed and became the grandparent of Lapham's deep pink bitone, 'Paradise Pink'.

Elizabeth Nesmith, Massachusetts, introduced the ivory-pink 'Melitza' in 1940. The parentage of 'Melitza' is in doubt, but it probably came from two Nesmith seedlings, a variegata blend tracing back to 'Gold Stream', 'Reverie', 'Sunlight' and 'Coronation', and a white seedling from 'Airy Dream'. 'Melitza' became the grandparent of DeForest's 'Frances Kent', a luscious blend of light apricot, cream and chartreuse with deep tangerine beards; 'Dawn Crest', a child of 'Frances Kent', has deeper color and wide, flaring falls.

Sasses introduced their first pink, 'Flora Zenor', in 1942, from 'Dore' x unknown. Jake thought the pollen parent was 'Midwest Gem', but he could not be sure for the parentage tag was eaten by grasshoppers. 'Flora Zenor' was high branched and had small flowers, but friends convinced Hans that it should be introduced as a breeder's iris.

In England, Sir Cedric Morris was using 'Sacramento', 'Golden Hind' and 'Mary Geddes' in his pink breeding program. A series of yellow plicatas resulted. By crossing and recrossing their progeny he obtained 'Edward Of Windsor'. It was similar to 'Spindrift', rather short, with large flowers, fairly deep color, and violet texture veining in the falls.



'Seashell' came from a plicata seedling of 'W. J. Fryer' x 'Ricardi', and a variegata seedling, probably of 'Ricardi' origin. Although Loomis was working for a true pink, he considered 'Seashell' ". . . an accident, or perhaps a mutation .... Certainly there was no plan behind its breeding. One of the old English hybridizers once said that plicatas produced selfs, so I crossed this plicata with a variegata just to see what would happen" (Douglas 1944).
'Morroco Rose'

Regardless of the importance Loomis placed on 'Seashell', it was the paramount break of his iris career. When 'Seashell' was crossed to a red seedling from 'Lent A. Williamson', the great progenitor, 'Morocco Rose', resulted. 'Spindrift', the deepest toned early pink, had 'Seashell' and 'Morocco Rose' as parents. 'Pike's Peak Pink', widely distributed as SQ-72, was another Loomis contribution to the development of tangerine-bearded irises. All who saw the first pinks were not believers. In Region 20's 1974 fall Bulletin, Eula Shields tells us: "Dr. Loomis exhibited some of his early pinks at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933-34. Horticultural experts are reported as saying the color was not possible in nature, that he must have used a dye material in the soil."



Although improving the so-called pinks of the 1920s became one of Hall's primary objectives in breeding irises, his initial crosses in 1924 were wide crosses with no particular goal in mind. When the seedlings bloomed in 1926 he described them as, "The worst lot of dirty faced iris brats I had ever seen! Not one of them was as good as either parent! I would have given up right there if I hadn't had another lot of seedlings due to bloom the following spring." At this time Hall owned a half interest in a horse and cattle ranch near Calgary, Canada, and he realized that the finest parents rarely produced first generation offspring that were outstanding, but when bred back to their offspring, in most cases the second generation showed marked improvement. After some study of the subject he concluded that the laws of heredity that apply to the breeding of animals also apply, in a large measure, to the breeding of plants.

Hall's 1927 seedlings were more encouraging; and ten years later commercial dealers introduced four varieties for him: three, 'Spring Prom', 'Salutation' and 'Modiste', were sister seedlings from the cross of ( 'Rameses' x 'Dolly Madison') x 'W. R. Dykes' ; 'Coronet' was also introduced that year. The following year six varieties were introduced, and this was the average number of Hall introductions each year until his death in July 1965, one month before his 93rd birthday.



Hall's first crosses to improve the pinks were made in 1926. He selected Dykes's highly rated lavender-pink blend, 'Aphrodite', and three additional near-pink varieties, and linebred them for eight years. His goal was not realized and he discarded the entire series. However, he decided to make another attempt to prove his theory of linebreeding and for his new program selected irises of larger size, with better substance and stem, even though they were not as pink as those he had been working with.

In 1933 he crossed 'Dauntless' and 'Rameses'; the next year, 'W. R. Dykes' and 'Dolly Madison'. A number of seedlings from these crosses were saved and in 1936 'Morocco Rose' was added to the melting pot. Pollen from 'Prairie Sunset' was obtained and used in 1938. Hall's first tangerine bearded, pink-bud irises bloomed in 1942. In one of his rare articles he says, "Imagine the thrill and satisfaction in achieving this objective after 17 years of work and growing about 20,000 seedlings" (Hall 1958).

Hall asked two commercial artists who were in his garden when these first pinks bloomed' to ·describe the color in terms the general public would understand. They suggested "Flamingo Pink": Three of the 1942 pink seedlings were selected for introduction: 'Overture', a clear light pink with medium-sized flowers; 'Dream Girl', smaller but with deeper color; 'Fantasy', lavender pink with bright contrasting beards.

From the lines involving 'Prairie Sunset', Hall's 42-10 and 42-07 were decided improvements in color, form and other basic qualities. Although they were not introduced, both figure prominently in later Hall selections, as well as those of other hybridizers. A cross of 'Fantasy' resulted in the 1951 Dykes winner, 'Cherie', a bright medium pink with large ruffled blossoms. Later Hall pinks included the beautifully fashioned 'Vanity Fair'; the large, flaring 'Happy Birthday' and 'May Hall' with its graceful form and style.
'Cherie' 1951 Dykes winner and later Hall pinks'

'Cherie'(1948) TBCherie 'Vanity Fair'(1951) TBVanity Fair 'Happy Birthday' (1952) TBHappy Birthday

Several color variations appeared in Hall's pink lines: 'Radiation', in rosy violet; 'Frost and Flame', a popular red-bearded white; and 'Limelight', yellow with a chartreuse flush. 'Palomino' was a color break, with light pink standards and creamy falls banded with coppery orange; 'Wine And Roses' represented a long-range plan for an iris with pink standards and rose-red falls.

During the 20 years following David Hall's first flamingo pink introductions, irises from his tangerine-bearded lines received 19 Awards of Merit. Equal in value to the beauty Hall's irises brought to our gardens is their unprecedented role as parents in the development of a fascinating array of tangerine bearded varieties in self colors and blends that even Homer would find difficult to describe. Of the hundreds of introductions from tangerine pink breeding, by the middle 1970s approximately 110 had received Awards of Merit. With the exception of 'Cloudcap', 'Frances Kent', 'Dawn Crest' 'Paradise Pink', 'Flora Zenor' and 'Melitza', all trace back to Hall varieties. Iris catalogs with colored photographs have contributed greatly to the popularity of irises. After Rholin Cooley began to introduce and distribute the Hall flamingo pinks, they soon gained worldwide recognition.



'Orville Fay', an accomplished hybridizer of various plants, began breeding irises in the early 1930s. Fay was a careful and selective hybridizer. He did not make a large number of crosses or raise thousands of seedlings; his yearly goal was 1,000 seedlings from 20 well-planned crosses. His first flamingo pink introduction was 'Pink Cameo' in 1946, from Hall's 42-02 x 'Overture'. With good color and classic form, 'Pink Cameo' quickly rose to stardom. 'Mary Randall' from 'New Horizon', x ('Pink Cameo' x 'Cherie') bloomed in 1948. Of this vibrant, deep rose-pink Fay later wrote: "I knew as soon as I saw the first flower, this plant was exactly what I wanted ... combined with 'Snow Flurry', 'Pink Cameo', 'Fleeta' and 'Native Dancer', it produced all my blue-orchids with red beards .... 'Mary Randall' carries enough genes for red to produce orange when crossed with yellows from pink breeding" (Fay 1964).

Many hybridizers used 'Mary Randall' with happy results. Its numerous progeny include: 'Firenze', violet with red beards; 'Mission Sunset', golden apricot with a chartreuse overlay; 'Golden Masterpiece', a heavily substanced, rich yellow with white areas in the falls; 'Pretty Carol', rose orchid; and 'Melbreak', rose opal. In parental value, 'Mary Randall' was the 'Snow Flurry' of tangerine bearded irises until Fay introduced 'Rippling Waters' in 1961.
'Rippling Waters'




Meanwhile, in Utah, Tell Muhlestein was making iris history. In 1943 he visited the Hagen garden in Spanish Fork; Dr. and Mrs. Hagen, whose daughter had married Hall's son, Richard, were growing many of Hall's seedlings including the new 42-10, and for the first time Muhlestein saw a true flamingo pink iris. The Hagens gave him pollen from 42-10, a generous gesture that advanced his pink lines considerably. Muhlestein wrote to Hall for 42-l0's parentage, and Hall's reply included additional information that prompted Muhlestein to write to Loomis, who immediately sent him plants of 'Seashell', 'Spindrift' and SQ-72. With such exceptional tools at hand, Muhlestein was soon raising exciting pink seedlings from the Hall and Loomis lines, as ,well as from outcrosses to 'Lancaster', 'Gold Ruffles', 'Nylon' and other carriers of the tangerine character. In 1949 the tall, deep-toned 'Pink Formal', from 'Golden Eagle' x Loomis SQ-72, was introduced. When the 1954 national convention was held in Salt Lake City, a trio of Muhlestein's newest pinks made their debut in the Fisher Harris garden. 'June Meredith' ( 'Party Dress' x 'Pink Fulfillment'), with lovely form and true pink color, became the general favorite. 'Pink Enchantment', from 'Raspberry Ice Cream' x 'Pink Papa', was a reddish pink, and for many years the criterion by which depth in pink coloring was measured. 'Pink Fulfillment' ('Gold Ruffles' x ( 'Alice Harding' x Loomis seedling)) x 'Pink Formal', with polished blossoms of medium pink, tall and well branched, received the Frankllin Cook Cup for the best clump seen at the convention.

With the arrival of pink irises the tempo of iris interest and enthusiasm quickened. Muhlestein's help and encouragement introduced many Utah iris fanciers to the Rainbow Trail; his friendly assistance was not limited to Utah breeders-Hybridizing Hints, a feature of his catalog for several years, reached out to irisarians in all parts of the iris world.



In Illinois, Hall and Fay were equally generous. Fay shared his knowledge and plants with Romona Blodgett, Clarence Blocher, Steve Moldovan, Bro. Charles Reckamp and Nate Rudolph. Pollen from Hall's newest pinks was given to English iris enthusiast Harry Randall in 1946, and a day or so later was shared with Sir Cedric Morris who used it on his pink 'Edward of Windsor'. In 1948 he exhibited a fine pink seedling from this cross at the British Iris Society show. The Queen Mother, impressed with its quality, consented to Morris's request to name it 'Strathmore', honoring her childhood home.

With their roots firmly established in the Hall and Fay lines, the Rudolph pinks evolved through careful linebreeding and occasional outcrossing. Carved Cameo, from 'Cream Taffeta' x ( 'Moon Crest' x 'Yellow Chiffon') in ivory pink with lighter areas in the beautifully ruffled fall petals and with flamingo red beards, has peerless form, and has proved itself as a parent. 'Pink Sleigh' (tracing to 'Pink Taffeta', 'Crystal Blaze', 'Pink Ice', 'Fleeta' and 'May Hall') is a lacy creation in a delicate harmony of pink, orchid and blue with bright cerise beards. Its lovely coloring is often inherited by its children. In 1975, Rudolph's tall, queenly Pink Taffeta (from seedlings; sibling to 'Arctic Flame' and Pink Ice) received the Dykes Medal, the first pink iris to attain this honor since 'Cherie' in 1951.

In Oregon, George Shoop' 'One Desire', 1960, pure pink with light ruffling, has long since proved its worth as a parent. Opal Brown crossed 'Buffy', pink standards, falls of ivory fringed with light orange buff, to a seedling from 'Grandiflora' x 'Christmas Time' to obtain the exquisite 'Queen Of Hearts', with coral-pink standards and flaring white falls edged in lacy coral buff. Schreiner's Peach Frost, with a wonderful blending of coppery peach pink accented by large, frosty white spots on broad, ruffly fall petals, also has Christmas Time as its pollen parent, with May Deligh for the pod parent.

Additional tangerine bearded irises that have been used successfully in the quest for perfection include: Corlew's angelic 'Cherub Choir; Bob Brown's sparkling rosy violet 'Caro Nome'; Niswonger's rose pink, well-branched 'Raspberry Ripples'; Tompkins's beautifully formed 'Pretty Please'; Gatty's lacy 'Princess'; and Moldovan's lacier 'Irish Lullaby'.



By-products were an unexpected bonus from tangerine bearded, breeding. Yellows appeared among the progeny of initial crosses for pinks, and hybridizers were amazed and pleased with their quality. These yellows had a sheen and brilliance and a degree of laciness rarely found in conventional yellows.

Muhlestein's 'Queen's Lace', a creamy white deepening to yellow in the center and at the petal fdges, is the most lavishly laced iris of 1950 vintage. Its pedigree includes 'Chantilly' twice, Hall's 42-10 and 'Gold Ruffles'.

'Queen's Lace' = ('Gold Ruffles' x ''Chantilly') X 'Clara B':('Chantilly' x seedling 46-2F)

'Queens Lace' (1955) TBQueens Lace 'Gold Ruffles' (1947) TBGold Ruffles 'Chantilly' (1945) TBChantilly

In 1952 Hall introduced the first Award of Merit yellows from pink lines: 'Limelight', a self in canary to greenish yellow with yellow beards; and 'Temple Bells' (from seedlings), a sensation in deep yellow flushed apricot, flaunting bushy, tangerine-red beards. Temple Bells was followed by a sister seedling, 'Top Flight', with a richer infusion of apricot and brighter beards. 'Techny Chimes' from Bro. Charles Reckamp was the first clear yellow self with tangerine-orange beards.

Hall's 'Golden Garland', from a seedling crossed with 'Palomino' pollen, was the first introduction from tangerine breeding with yellow standards and white falls bordered yellow, a color pattern that has always been popular. Eight varieties from tangerine bearded ancestry with this pattern have received Awards of Merit; Mrs. Kuntz's 'Debby Rairdon', the ultimate in refinement in this class, received the 1971 Dykes Medal. The parentage of 'Debby Rairdon' is unknown other than that one parent was a Fay pink. 'May Melody' (( 'Valimar' sibling x 'June's Sister') x 'Cotlet') was one of the first tangerine bearded varieties with this color combination.

tangerine breeding with yellow standards and white falls bordered yellow

'Golden Garland' (1957) TBGolden Garland 'Debby Rairdon' (1965) TBDebby Rairdon 'May Melody' (1965) TBMay Melody

Jeannette Nelson's 'Soaring Kite', a cool primrose self with ruffled, flaring form, made its debut in 1958 ( 'Party Dress x 'Snosheen'); and a year later Muhlestein's 'Cream Crest' (seedling x 'Yellow Tower') x (seedling x 'Spring Sunshine'), with broad petaled, flaring form, was released. Tompkins's 'Tinsel Town', involving 'Herald Angel', 'High Note' and seedlings, is enchantment in warm white and gold and is producing fine seedlings including pinks. The large, attractive 'Buttered Popcorn' from Dorothy Palmer inherited the overall quality of its well known, pink pollen parent, 'Lilting Melody'; and 'Cream Taffeta', tracing to 'Arctic Flame', 'Dancing Bride' and 'Yellow Chiffon', became the pod parent of the improved 'Lemon Mist', another forward step in the procession of Rudolph's superb creamy yellows.

Among the medium tones, Steve Varner's 'Miss Illini', from 'Illini Gold' and 'Rainbow Gold', can be depended upon for excellent garden performance. From 'Moon River' crossed to 'New Frontier', Sexton's 'New Moon', with lemon yellow flowers of unrivaled splendor, attained widespread popularity and the 1973 Dykes Medal. Dorothy Palmer's 'Starring Role' (( 'Denver Mint' x 'Riviera' lines) x Rainbow Gold) is a vibrant, glittering medium yellow, and was runner up for the 1974 Franklin Cook Cup.

Plough's 'Rainbow Gold' from 'Butterscotch Kiss' x (( Innes's 'Ruth' x 'Rainbow Room') x 'Mary Randall') is a favorite in the deep goldencolor class; Rainbow Gold's intricate lacing, a legacy from its pod parent, is a contributing factor to its popularity as a parent. Tracing to 'Bright Forecast', 'Glittering Amber', 'Golden Valley', 'Gold Torch', 'Tobacco Road' and 'Golden Spike', Hamblen's 'Royal Gold', a nonfading, deep velvety yellow, also produces quality offspring. From the California garden of Maynard Knopf came another worthy addition to this class-the ruffled, lacy 'West Coas't. In 1962, seven years after the introduction of 'Techny Chimes', Noyd's 'Ultrapoise' became the second tangerine bearded clear yellow to attain Award of Merit status. No iris in this class has received an Award of Merit since Ultrapoise, and the possibility of another winner is remote because of the scarcity of tangerine bearded yellow selfs-a puzzling and challenging situation.



Less than 20 years after Hall bloomed his first flamingo pink irises, we were enjoying beautiful pinks with excellent color, substance and growing habits. And the pinks had been combined with the yellows, bringing variation and improvement to this color class. But although apricot and peach toned irises bloomed with the first flamingo pinks, this desirable color class has not made comparable progress. By the mid-1970s, only five varieties had attained Award of Merit status.

Hall's 'Melody Lane', a glistening golden apricot, was the first variety in this class that received an Award of Merit; his 'Temple Bells' (1952) and 'Top Flight' (1953) are also AM recipients. Muhlestein's 'Apricot Glory', a smooth, heavily substanced light apricot self with matching beards and deeper toned hafts, is our fourth Award of Merit winner. Apricot Glory (( 'Golden Eagle' x Hall 42-05) x 'Gay Orchid') has been used extensively in the search for improved apricot toned irises. Among its numerous progeny are: Suiter's 'Apricot Sheen'; S. Jensen's 'Gail'; Rundlett's 'Mary Ella'; Noyd's 'Apricot Dream' and 'Cotlet'; J. Nelson's 'Magnet' and Plough's 'Apricot Cream'.

A 1958 introduction, 'Valimar' ( Helen McGregor x 'Radiation') x 'Palomino'), is the last apricot-toned iris on the Award of Merit list. Apparently, in their efforts to produce pure pink irises hybridizers have worked to eliminate apricot, and have overlooked the possibilities for perfecting this color class that harmonizes with brown and dark red and contrasts so beautifully with blue.



====================================================================================================== The World Of Irises continues with DevelopmentOf OrangeIrises ====================================================================================================== For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at

-- BobPries - 2015-11-04
Topic revision: r26 - 25 Nov 2017, Betsy881
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