Popularity Poll 1917
Appearing in Florist Exchange, 1917
THE bearded, German or rhizomatous Irises are among the most splendid and valuable of all the hardy flowers. They are super-excellent. They are perfectly hardy; they are vigorous and healthy, free-flowering, stately, yet of a fragile beauty and of chaste, unique and uncommon colors. They are never common; on the contrary they are regal. In order, if possible, to ascertain by vote what the best varieties are. The Exchange early in June sent a letter to a selected list of representative growers of Irises. The results show a considerable range as to choice, and several voters made no distinction as to the best for garden decoration pure and simple, and those that are best or most choice for cut flower purposes. The following 12 appear to have pride of place as good general Irises for either use:
I What is a Beautiful Iris? By H. W. GROSCHNER
I have some very decided notions as to what a beautiful Iris should be. My ideal is a variety with a flower of a fair or good size, and a good clear color, allowing of course for a certain amount of netting or variegation in the throat. In my opinion too much variegation ruins many varieties. This applies especially to the bronze and maroon shades, also to some of the shot colors and the smoky and clouded horrors. Because a variety is distinct or very distinct is no reason that it is beautiful. Some of the very distinct varieties are a miserable conglomeration or conflagration of colors, like crazy quilts, bizarre, kaleidoscopic in pattern, mere freaks or curiosities. I throw them away.
How to Make the Iris More Popular
I consider it an impediment in the way of popularizing the Iris to keep on foisting off on the public varieties that are positively hideous in color or varieties having only an imaginary difference or washed out colors. It is certainly high time to discard a large number of varieties. No doubt some growers feel as I do about this matter; but they do not seem to have the courage to throw away something which they have paid for. The thing to do is to resolve to eliminate some varieties every year and to keep up to date by adding new ones. My own collection which consists of carefully selected and very distinct varieties, is so beautiful that visitors often exclaim that every variety seems to be more beautiful than the other. And for that reason in every locality where I sell a collection of Irises, they excite the entire neighborhood and of course that means more orders.
Iris for Cut Flowers
It has been well said that the one Memorial Day flower for northern latitudes is the Iris. Take the whole country over, there must be some species of it in bloom. While there is some doubt regarding its being appropriate to call the Iris the National flower, there certainly cannot be any objection to its being adopted as the oflicial flower for that particular day. No bloom is more beautiful, no plant more hardy. And with the flowers coming in all the colors of the rainbow every taste can be gratified, except the taste of those who crave bright red or scarlet colors for this occasion. Concerning these I venture the assertion that their taste needs improving or revising. By having early and late varieties one is sure to have flowers in the garden for the 30th day of May, no matter in what part of the country he may live. Last Spring, the most backward in my recollection, I had some Germanica (type) (one of the most beautiful early tall varieties), in bloom on that day. Despite all the opposition of some florists, it is slowly but surely beginning to dawn upon the public that Iris blooms are worth while for decorative purposes and they are being used in increasing quantities for entertainments of all kinds, banquets, socials, weddings, etc. And of course one should not forget their mission of cheer and inspiration which flowers always bring to the sick and aged. There is no other perennial flower that florists like to knock so well as tlie Iris. It must be a thorn in their side. An intelligent way for them to meet this competitor, which has come to stay, is for them to plant a collection of choice improved varieties of the Iris, where they can be seen. They can sell both flowers and The Iris is also handled easily by the grower of cut flowers, for it opens perfectly in water. One needs to wait only until the buds are large. In the house the tints are more delicate even than when the blossom is allowed to develop in the garden.
May Queen or 'Queen of May'
is, in my opinion, the most practical and beautiful pink Iris at a moderate Iris fiavescens, pale yellow Iris price. It has a long and stiff stem, the color is beautiful and always gives satisfaction. 'Her Majesty'
is a darker shade with a slight netting in the throat. I do not consider it more beautiful than May Queen, probably not as good, but it is a good color and if you want more pinks, it is a good try. Trout-lieb (= 'Purple King'
) is a shade between these two and possibly more beautiful, but it could be a better grower. Garibaldi (= 'Boccage'
) has not even a trace of pink. I would call the color a rosy dark lavender. 'Rose Unique'
has no excuse for being, except that it blooms early, but if we cannot have a beautiful variety, what is the use. 'Windham'
is the most beautiful pink Iris I have ever tried, but the flower is only medium in size, the stem is short and the plant a weak grower.
I consider the most beautiful at a moderate price and uniformly reliable. It is a fair grower and the stems are of fair length.'Mrs. Neubronner'
I do not consider so good and so beautiful. The color is deeper, almost orange. The flower is medium in size, the stem is short and the plant is a weak grower. 'Sherwin Wright'
is the most beautiful of all the yellows I have ever tried. Some of my small plants bloomed this Spring for the first time. If this variety has a fair sized flower and the plant a good grower, it will eventually displace all yellows.
It is a curious fact that the true type is not so well known. The variety 'Crimson King'
is often supposed to be the type. I consider the true type as being one of the most beautiful, very early, tall blues.
Although bearded or German Irises will grow in the thinnest sandy soil, they are at their best in a heavy soil. Grown in such the flowers are larger and brighter in color and the plant is more vigorous. If prize flowers are desired, a shallow pocket or trench should be dug, about lOin. or 12in. deep, and filled with good heavy garden soil.
Time to Plant. Irises can be planted in any month of the year, but there is always a best time and that is right after flowering. At that time they throw out new roots.
I should suggest planting and dividing all Planting of German Iris to give the naturalistic and artistic appeal of the expensive kinds at Iris time. Naturally they will need some moisture occasionally. Of course it is not practical to make large plantings or to dig a whole field at this lime. .About the best time to do that is in .August. If possible they should all be planted by Sept. 15, depending on the season, in order to get the benefit of the early Fall rains. Then they will have time to form new rootlets, and the frost will not throw them out.
Location. Although the German Irises are sun lovers, they will succeed in partially shaded situations if the shade is not dense and the soil is well drained. I have made plantings under trees where the full sun was received until past midday. This I consider an ideal situation, because being shaded from the hot afternoon sun the flowers last much longer and as the plants are not forced into bloom by having the sun all day, the flowering period is extended at least a week.
Fertilizers. By all means keep all fresh rank manure away from the plants. I know one instance where even the fumes destroyed some valuable plants. Bonemeal is best and is always safe. It can be worked in around the plants if not put in at the beginning. Lime also is very beneficial, especially if the soil is at times inclined to be soggy.
A Choice from York, Neb.
Hereunder we publish the lists. C. S. Harrison sends the following:
Macrantha, very large purple; Dorothee, large pine head flower; Lorely variegata, very attractive; Fairy, tall white, very fragrant; Pallida dalmatica, tall blue; Prosper Langier, bronze red; Caprice, red, looks like a mass of Roses at a distance; Pare de Neuilly, rich royal purple; Caterina (Katerina), very fragrant purple-crimson; Mrs. Alan Gray, beautiful red; Dr. Bernice (squalens magnifica), coppery-bronze; Mrs. Neubronner, golden-yellow; Mrs H. Darwin, white, late; Perfecta, rich lavender, falls purple, grand, floriferous; Queen of Mav, pink; Mad. Chereau, tall and stately, white frilled with" blue; Lyrishi-ana, tall and stately; Florentina Alba, early and fragrant; Am. Black Prince; Honorabilis, golden.
The following are Mr. Groschner's (Napoleon, 0.) lists:
Dorothee (Ger.) ; Lohengrin, Cattmauve, one of the finest; King of Iris, yellow and maroon, best of this shade; Victorine, white, mottled purple, extra choice and dainty; Rhein Nixe, as beautiful as Victorine, only different; Mrs. G. Reuthe, as beautiful as Mme Chéreau; Amas. blue and purple, large flower, good; Glory of Hillegom, light blue, fine; Fairy, well named, dainty and sweet; Perfection, blue and purple. fine; Ossian yellow and claret red, beautiful and distinct ; Atropurpurea (spectabilis), claret purple. Very rich and striking color. (Confused with Kotchii.)
There are some varieties in this list that to the untrained eye would appear similar, but they are quite distinct. These are all extra fine. Caprice, wine red; Archeveque, blue and purple; Caterina, large blue; Blue Boy (Foster), bright blue and purple; Isoline, lilac and old rose; Oriflamme, blue and purple; Tamarlain. purple and blue; Perfection^ bright blue and purple; Her Majesty, darker shade than Queen of May, beautiful.
The following Farr seedlings are of wonderful beautv and are worth the increased price asked for them: Trout- liebe, fine; Anna Farr, Pocahontas, Aletha, Glory of Reading, Chester J. Hunt, Minnehaha, Pauline, Marv Grey, Blue Jay.
These are variegated and very distinct. The colors are very clear and bright. Some of them are verv striking, but I cannot say that I like them. Nakomis, Red Jacket, Gagus, Mithres, Lorely, Prosper Langier, Mrs. E. Eardley, Princess Victoria Louise, Albatross. (Victorine is a weak grower, but has a stem of good length.)
Germanica (type), s., violet blue; f., royal purple, somewhat paler "toward edge; the most beautiful tall early Iris. Florentina, white-Flavescens, cream yellow; Mandralisca, dark lavender'; Katchu (syn. Black Prince and Parensis), bright violet purple.
The following are at their best on Memorial Day, where the Peony officinalis rubra plena is in bloom ; Madame Chereau, white, frilled blue, most popular Iris in the world; May Queen or Queen of May, lilac, almost pink, always gives satisfaction; Mrs. H. Darwin, charming free blooming, white; Honorable (Gaiety), yellow and maroon, next thing to King, very popular; Madame Paequette, bright, rosy claret, a very good Iris; Aurea (Ger), fair shade of yellow, gives satisfaction; Pallida dalmatica, the best of all, lavender; Othello, dark purple; Khedive, soft lavender, very free; Celeste, pale sky blue.
All of these varieties are good for massing. There is considerable confusion over Kotchii. Several English and .American specialists describe it as a dark purple, that is the way mine was described and I will let it stand at that.
Irises for the Middle West
Erith N. Shoup, Dayton, O., names these:
Pallida dalmatica, Mrs. H. Darwin, Leda, Plicata, Rhein Nixe, Princess Victoria Louise, Her Majesty, Crimson King, Windham, Mme Chéreau, Aurea, Iris King, .Mrs. G. Keuthe.
Pallida Dalmatica (True), Mrs. H. Darwin, Her -Majesty, Windham, Aurea, Mad. Chereau, Innocenza (white), Violacea Grandifl., Attraction, Mrs. Reuthe, Perfection, Dalmarius.
The Rainbow Nurseries, St. Paul, Minn., write: For cut flower purposes we strongly recommend the following:
Purple King, full purple, large flowering, tall, and among the earliest of the Germanicas to flower; American Black Prince, standards purple lilac, falls rich velvety black, a tall, early-flowering variety, large flowers; Her Majesty, standards rose pink, falls bright crimson tinged a darker shade, large-flowering, tall and beautiful; Leonidas, standards clear mau^'e, falls rosy ni;iuve. tall, beautiful and large-flowering variety.
Regelio-Cyclus Iris, Mars. These Iris seemingly do well in the United States when given reasonable care
Pallida Dalmatica (Syn. Princess Beatrice), standards lavender, falls clear, deep lavender, flowers large, tall and beautiful; Juniata, standards and falls beautiful clear blue, huge, sweet-scented flowers, one of the tallest of the Germanicas; Perfection, standards light blue, falls dark violet, black orange beard, a handsome, large-flowering variety; Fairy, white, delicately suffused soft blue, a beautiful large-flowering, sweet-scented variety; Madam Chereau, white, elegantly frilled with a wide border of clear blue; Darius, standards canary yellow, falls lilac margined white, rich, orange beard, large-flowering and beautiful; Jacquesiana, standards bright croppery crimson, falls rich maroon, tall and beautiful; Sambucina, a very fragrant species with the odor of Elder, from which it derives its name. Standards coppery rose, falls rose purple with an orange crest, tall.
For 12 extremely fine varieties for the home garden
we recommend the following, viz.:
Purple King, full purple, very effective, large-flowering and early; .Alcazar, a giant in flower and growth, standards light bluLsli violet, falls deep purple, bronze veined at the throat, very beautiful flower, 3ft. to 4ft.
Gold Crest, flowers bright violet blue, with a delightful self-color and unveined, with conspicuous golden yellow beard which gives the variety its name; 2% ft. to 3ft.; the stems sometimes carry five flowers; very large and handsome.
Caterina, one of the best hybrid of Irises. Massive lavender flowers on 4ft. high, flexuous stems; the same colored flower as Pallida Dalmatica, but larger and more noticeably veined at the throat, very beautiful.
Ed Michel, a grand Iris of imposing appearance, tall spikes with flowers finely held and of splendid shape, the standards broad and frilled, the falls of great width, self-colored flowers of a distinct, deep wine red, an improvement on Caprice; 3ft.
Juniata, standards and falls beautiful clear blue; huge, sweet-scented flowers, one of the tallest of the Germanicas, 3ft. to 4ft.
Perfection, standards light blue, falls dark violet, black orange beard, a handsome-flowering variety.
Mount Penn, standards lavender rose, falls crimson lilac, deep orange beard, tall and handsome, 30in.
Monsignor, distinct, beautiful piece of rich coloring, standards pale unveined violet, falls a groundwork of the same shade but richly overlaid and veined (except for a broad margin) with deep purple.
English Black Prince, a rare and grand Iris, the latest to open and the deepest of all in color; nearest to a black Iris; standards in tints deep violet blue; falls velvety purple black. Beautiful beyond description.
Ma Mie, white frilled with blue, a great improved Madam Chereau ; itself one of the most beautiful German Irises; 2%ft. to 3ft.
Prosper Langier, a fine plant on the lines of Jacquesiana but with larger flowers and brighter in color; falls very broad of deepest velvety crimson; richly veined at the throat.What New England Calls For
The list of the Mount Desert Nurseries, Bar Harbor, Me., is as follows:
Twelve best varieties of German Irises for the home garden:
Rose de Chine, a beautiful, pinkish lavender; the nearest approach to pink in the German Irises; 2%ft. tall. Canari, standards pale yellow, falls cream with faint, greenish-yellow markings, whole effect primrose; -'ft. tall. Caprice, rosy violet, falls have a little deeper shade; 2ft. tall.
Heine des Iris, standards saffron yellow, falls maroon, shaded with violet, about 2ft. tall. Princess Victoria I.oui^e, standards pale yellow, falls rosy violet, about '.'"oft. tall, general effect fine. Rhein Nixe, standards ]nire white, falls violet. This combination of color is especially good. About 3ft. tall. Asiatica, standards deep Lobelia blue, veined dark violet and tinted yellow at the base; fall violet-purple shaded violet. Perfec-ine; 2ft. to SVjft. tall. Mandralisca, a deep rich blue, one of the best, 2i/2ft. to 3ft. tall. Pallida Dalmatica, tall and free-flowering, rich lavender blue. Pallida Tinea, lavender blue, with pale violet shading.
Loflowering; 2ft. to -'oft. tall. Rhein Nixe, described above. Atropurpurea, a deep, rich purple; very early. Mme Chéreau, white and lavender, veined at the edges, yellow stamens; 3ft. tall; one of the best. Lorely, standards yellow, marked with rosy scarlet, falls rosy purple, reticulated white, and edged with yellow; plant 2ft. to 2y2ft. tall. Lord Seymour, white, tinged and margined with azure blue; like Mme Chéreau, but stronger growing; 2ft. to Zy^ft. tall. Perfection, described above. Napelensis, standards a very deep shade of lavender; falls rich purple, iiticulated white; flowers large; 2ft. tall. Mandralisca, I'.iUida Beatrice, Pallida Dalmatica and Pallida Tinea.
M'. E. Fryer, Maiitonville, Minn., gives these as his twelve best varieties for the home garden: Celeste, Comte de St. Clair, Flavescens, Fairy, Gertrude, Harlequin Milanais, Her Majesty, Madam Chereau, Mrs. H. Darwin, Parisensis, Queen of Gypsies and Velveteen. John De Witt is one of the most vigorous German Irises grown, but is not quite good enough in color. Ulyssis, a fine flower, but the plant is lacking somewhat in vigor. Florentina and Mrs. H. Darwin are two' good whites, but I believe I prefer Mrs. H. Darwin.
The 12 best varieties for cut flower purposes would he about the same of the standard varieties, but I would substitute John De Witt for Harlequin Milanais. -As I understand it, a cut flow'cr variety should produce plenty of flower and have a good spike, as well as color, to be profitable. For a fancy trade there are many expensive varieties that one could include.
Of the Siberian Irises, a few of the very best are as follows: Grandis, Lady Godiva (this variety bloomed this season before many of the German Irises), Snow Queen and Superba. Oriental is an old standard that is Very good, and Blue King is a good blue. I have a seedling of Snow Queen that I have named True Blue that is the best of its color in Siberian Irises.
There is no end to the good varieties, but the number cataloged by myself as well as others is altogether too long, and should be revised and shortened.
Vaughan's Seed Store, New York and Chicago
, names these:
Archeveque (Archbishop), deep velvety-violet; an exquisite Iris; scarce. Crepuscule, standards and falls delicate violet purple, quite devoid of markings; an immense flower on long stem; early. Eldorado, standards bronze shaded yellow; falls violet purple touched at sides with bronze-yellow; one of the most distinct and richest colored of all. Isoline, standards lilac-pink; falls purplish old rise, with golden throat and yejlow beard; very handsome.
Jeanne d'Arc, flowers large, sepals broad, of a fresh, clear lilac; falls pure white, bordered lilac; 3ft. King of Irises (new),standards lemon-yellow; falls deep brown and yellow; one of the most beautiful of all Irises. L'Avenir, a beautiful shade of satin blue. Lohengrin, large, handsome, silvery-mauve flowers. Lorely, standards light yellow; falls ultramarine-blue, bordered cream. Loute, standards light blue and heliotrope; falls reddish-purplish and bronze. Mme Pacquette, bright, rosy claret, early and beautiful. Nuee d'Orage (Stormcloud) (new), very large flowers of a grayish-slate blue with bronze shading; falls purplish-blue, very fine.
Pallida Dalmatica, one of the most beautiful of all the German Irises; perfectly hardy, strong grower and very free-flowering; exquisite shade of lavender-blue. Princess Victoria Louise, standards immense sulphur-yellow; falls plum color, shaded jirimrose; a very uncommon and pleasing shade. Queen of May, standards lilac-pink; falls lilac, blended with white; distinct. Rhein Nixe, standards white, very large; falls rich violet-purple with distinct, narrow, white edge; a charming flower. Tamerlane, standards pale violet; falls deep purple; magnificent, tall, bold.R. & J. Farquhar & Co., Boston, recommend the following for cutting
Florentina Alba (Queen Emma), standards and falls soft shade of gray, almost white, very free and early-flowering; fine for cutting; height 2ft. Boccage, standards soft lavender; falls maroon and veined maroon on a white ground; very free; height 2ft. Bridesmaid, standards white, shaded silvery-lilac; falls reticulated at the base, and slightly frilled soft lilac; height 2y2ft.
Due de Nemours, standards pure white; falls white, beautifully marked with rich maroon; height 2 ft. Edith, standards porcelain-blue; falls veined dark velvety-blue on a %vhite ground; very free-flowering; height 2 ft. Florentina Purpurea, standards violet; falls purple; very early-flowering; height 2ft. Lorely, standards light yellow; falls ultramarine-blue, bordered cream; height 2ft.
The following are their choice for garden cultivation and ornament: F'ontarable, standards violet-blue; falls violet-purple; very early; height l%ft. Gracchus, standards pure yellow; falls crimson reticulated white; most effective; height 2ft. Honorable, standards golden-yellow; falls rich mahogany-browm ; height 2%ft. Dr. Bernice, standards coppery-bronze; falls velvety crimson; height 2ft. Fro, standards deep gold; falls brilliant chestnut-brown. King Edward VII (Plumeri), standards soft rosy-lilac; falls crimson, very free-flowering; distmct; height 3ft. Mirahlea, standards coppery-rose; falls pretty shade of soft rose ; very distinct ; height 2ft. Johan de Witt (Spectabilis), standards light lilac-blue; falls purple; height 2ft. Madame Chereau, standards and falls white, frilled azure-blue; very free and fine for cutting; height 3ft. Miss Maggie (Hermione), standards silvery-lavender; falls suffused soft rose; height iVift.
For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at