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Hybridizer Serlena Reynolds (1889-1968), Mrs. Leo

Memphis, Tennessee, USA

It was a significant day for AIS when Serlena Reynolds joined. From that day on she was their best salesman, a real love affair that was to last for the rest of her life. She was so sold on AIS that she wanted everyone who loves irises to share her pleasure. In 1956 alone she added more than 125 members to the Society from more than eight states. As her prize she chose a ten-year family membership rather than the life membership offered, saying that Leo, her partner in all she did, made it all possible.

She suffered her first illness in 1949, and was ill for the better part of a year, but the love of irises and iris friends never dimmed; in fact, all of her accomplishments and honors iriswise came after age sixty. She was an outgoing person, chose her friends for their varied outlooks and thoroughly enjoyed the sharing of ideas; seldom did I come to Memphis but the house was aglow with guests. Their home and garden always were open. Most of the iris great and near-great were their house guests at iris time in the forties and fifties. Their friends were legion, as well as world-wide. Both had a keen sense of humor and ready wit; it was a real joy to be in their midst.

All of her hybridizing occurred after she attained her three-score years. For the first few years she pulled them out ruthlessly; then one day Richard Banks found PURPLE HAVEN. Her joy was boundless. Then, in 1957, she introduced the first group, the birth of the "HAVENS". That year VIOLET HAVEN lead the list of HMs with 50 votes. At the 1957 Memphis convention she received five HMs. In 1958 VIOLET HAVEN led the Judges Choice list with 57 votes. Perhaps the most famous of the "HAVEN" irises was found in her seedling patch by the California group - FLUTED HAVEN. This won the HM in '58, the AM in '62, a number of foreign awards, including the Gold Medal in Vienna; and last year won the Clara Rees Cup for the best white.

Around 1958, she sent the first of her irises to the Florence Trials, and through 1966 when the Firenze irises were announced, one or more "HAVEN" irises won awards. In 1958, MOHR HAVEN won the Wisley Trial Garden Award in England. These "HAVEN" irises won awards on four continents and seven countries, all in a seven-year span of activity. One of her last irises, LOMBARD HAVEN was a real breakthrough; but rather than selling it, she felt that it should be in the hands of those who would use it in that color break. The greatest pleasure was received by her friends here in Memphis when the President's Cup was awarded to the beautiful blend, LEO HAVEN, named for her husband and helpmate. Thus the 1965 Memphis convention was made a little more perfect for us.

Well do I remember your many requests to slip the bus by Twintrees. We feared for her health. How nice you were to realize just how much she meant to us in the Memphis Iris Society. All irisdom shares in our loss; seldom in a lifetime does one meet so vital a personality. [Bulletin of the American Iris Society, No. 190(July 1968)]


Arilbred: 'Heather Haven', 'Mohr Haven'.

Tall Bearded: 'Azure Haven', 'Belle Haven', 'Blond Haven', 'Blue Damson Haven', 'Blue Haven', 'Bon Bon Haven', 'Brown Haven', 'Butterfly Haven', 'Carnival Haven', 'Dawn Haven', Felicity Haven', 'Fluted Haven', 'Gay Haven', 'Gold Haven', 'Gold Top Haven', 'Hermosa Haven', 'Honey Haven', 'Jewel Haven', 'Leo Haven', 'Lombard Haven', 'Marine Haven', 'Miss B. Haven', 'Overseas Haven', 'Parma Haven', 'Pink Haven', 'Polara Haven', 'Pretty Haven', 'Purple Haven', 'Rose-Haven', 'Sea Shell Haven', 'Steel Haven', 'Sun Haven', 'Twilight Haven', 'Violet-Haven', 'Wedgewood Haven', 'White Haven'.

-- BobPries - 2012-05-18
Topic revision: r17 - 09 Jan 2019, DavidPotembski
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