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Development of Blended Tall-Bearded Irises

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



In the early days of hybridizing, many violet and rosy violet flowers had a great amount of yellow at the haft or incompletely blended into the flower. As breeders worked to clarify the colors and to develop more pure "selfs," the blends fell into disfavor.

Interest in the blends as a class has recently reawakened. Many of the early Sass blends, such as 'Rameses' which won the 1932 Dykes Medal, and 'Matula' and 'Midwest Gem' are in the ancestry of the best pink, rose, or red blends. Agnes Whiting relied heavily on Sass lines. Crossing 'Matula' with Milliken's 'China Maid' gave her 'Three Oaks' and 'Tea Rose'; later generations yielded 'Campfire Glow' and 'Gypsy Rose'. 'Campfire Glow' and 'Lady Albright' contributed to the makeup of Mayberry's 'Jungle Bird', a rich blend of claret, amaranth and violet. Successive generations gave 'Martel' for Muhlestein, and 'Pagan' for Dunn, both glowing red to plum blends.

‘Rameses’ (1928) Rameses ‘Matula’ (1939) Matula ‘Midwest Gem’ (1937) Midwest Gem ‘China Maid’ (1936) China Maid
‘Three Oaks’ (1940) Three Oaks ‘Campfire Glow’ (1946) Campfire Glow ‘Gypsy Rose’ (1946) Gypsy Rose ‘Lady Albright’ (1949) Lady Albright
‘Martel’ (1961) Martel ‘Pagan’ (1973) Pagan    


Carl Milliken made use of the red 'Dauntless' to create the bronzy pink blend, 'China Maid'; for Carl Salbach 'Dauntless' yielded the lightly blended pinkish lilac 'Miss California'. Both were introduced in 1936. Salbach continued the blend line, producing 'Sultan's Robe' and 'Oriental Glory' in later generations.

‘Dauntless’ (1929) Dauntless ‘China Maid’ (1936) China Maid ‘Miss California’ (1937) Miss California ‘Sultans Robe’ (1937) Sultans Robe ‘Oriental Glory’ (1952) Oriental Glory

Meanwhile, Tom Craig had crossed 'China Maid' with the Sass plicata 'Tiffany', getting a red blend he called 'Redboy'; 'Redboy' crossed with 'Sultan's Robe' gave the famous bronzy red 'Savage'. Schreiners combined 'Savage', 'Oriental Glory', 'Inca Chief', and 'Lady Albright' to establish a red blend line which resulted in 'Royal Tapestry', 'Glowing Tiara', and 'Paris Lights'.  Gaulter's modern blend line is interesting. From the lavender rose blend 'Mademoiselle' and the peach-apricot 'Glittering Amber' came the strangely colored raspberry and tan 'Claudia Rene'. Later developments from this line include 'Baccarat', 'Cape Town', and 'Grape Festival'. As parentages have become more complex, blends have at times occurred unexpectedly; Hamner's 'Gypsy Belle', a blended violet with rusty plum standards and fall margins, came from the yellow and white 'Debby Rairdon''' and the yellow 'New Moon'. Plough's plum to reddish brown 'Punchline', with its lighter falls and dark fall margin, involves 'Good News', 'Pretty Quadroon', and pink derivatives.

‘Gypsy Belle’ (1974) Gypsy Belle ‘Debby Rairdon’ (1965) Debby Rairdon ‘New Moon’ (1968) New Moon
‘Punchline’ (1968) Punchline ‘Good News’ (1946) Good News ‘Pretty Quadroon’ (1948) Pretty Quadroon

A similar pattern is found in Blocher's 'Louise Watts', which goes back to 'Amethyst Flame' and tangerine-bearded orchids,whites, and pinks.

====================================================================================================== The World Of Irises continues with The Search For Fire Engine Red ====================================================================================================== ----

GALLERIES OF BLENDS (under Construction}

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

-- BobPries - 2015-10-20
Topic revision: r9 - 14 Jan 2016, BobPries
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