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Hybridizer Walter E. Welch (1887-1980)

WalterWelch (1).jpg

Middlebury, Indiana, US

Death claimed Walter Welch on January 11, 1980. Having spent most of his life in Middlebury, Indiana, failing health several years ago caused him to move to Texas to be near his son. At the time of hIs death he was 92. Mr Welch was a noted breeder of Dwarf Irises. He was the organizer of the Dwarf Iris Society. He was also an artist and interior decorator. He started Round Robins and did much writing on iris subjects. He was awarded the AIS Hybridizers Medal in 1957 and the Foster Memorial Plaque in 1964. A number of his irises received the Caparne Award. From the Region 6 Newsletter comes the following tribute by Frank Williams of Kalamazoo, Mich. "He lived and breathed dwarf iris, they were his great love—a love passed on to many. He was dedicated to dwarf iris as few are to any other iris. Yes, we shall miss him greatly, but his work will live on". [Obituary, The Bulletin of the American Iris Society, No. 239 (October 1980): 79.]

Received the American Iris Society Hybridizer Award in 1957. The highest award for Minature Dwarf Bearded iris, the Caparne-Welch Medal, is named in honor of Walter Welch and William J. Caparne.

To the long list of honors and awards which Walter Welch has received now comes the 1964 Foster Memorial Plaque, awarded by the British Iris Society. Walter Welch's Middlebury, Indiana, garden long has been a mecca for the devotees of dwarf irises. He studied art at the Chicago Art Institute for five years, and is a capable musician, playing both the piano and the violin. But it is in the feId of iris growing as an avenue of creating beauty that he has won fame, and from his Middlebury garden and to him have come innumerable recognitions, including the AIS Hybridizer's Medal and the Caparne Medal in 1964 for his FASHION LADY. To these now is added this signal honor from the British Iris Society; and the BULLETIN and indeed all of the members of the American Iris Society join in congratulations for this well deserved honor. [Walter Welch Awarded Foster Plaque, American Iris Society Bulletin 175(October 1964), 10.]


Border Bearded: 'Plictissima', 'Super Variegata'.

Minature Dwarf Bearded: 'Ablaze', 'Anonymous', 'April Morn', 'Atomic Blue', 'Baby Green Spot', 'Black Top', 'Blarney', 'Blazon', 'Blue Spot', 'Blue Whiskers', 'Blue Wish', 'Blue Wonder', 'Bricky', 'Bright Spot', 'Bright Spring', 'Bright Sunshine', 'Bright White', 'Butch', 'Cherry Spot', 'Commencement', 'Cream Supreme', 'Crispy', 'Cup and Saucer', Delicious Apple', 'Dirty Face', 'Dizzy Dame', 'Dream Child', 'Enamel Blue', 'Fashion Lady', 'Flashlight', 'Fortissimo', 'Gay Lassie', 'Glow Gleam', 'Greenie', 'Green Petals', 'Half Pint', 'Hullabalu', 'Jasper Gem', 'Lavender Dawn', 'Little Agate', 'Little Balkan', 'Little Joe', 'Little Red Wagon', 'Little Villain', 'Marine Blue', 'Maroon Doll', 'Micromaina', 'Middlebury', 'Morning Fresh', 'Morning Light', 'My Daddy', 'Orange Glint', 'Orchid Sheen', 'Pansy Acres', 'Pastal Dawn', 'Perky', 'Primus', 'Purple Rider', 'Red Gem', 'So Fair', 'Sparkling Eyes', 'Spectrum Violet', 'Spot Pattern', 'Spring Joy', 'Stylish', 'Twinkling Star', 'Veri Gay', 'Violet Night', 'Violet Ribbon', 'Walter Welch', 'Wee Blue', 'White Light', 'White Mite', 'White Owl', 'Whitone', 'Yellow Daisy'.

Minature Tall Bearded: 'Amethyst Sunset', 'Blue Trimmings, 'Brown Crown', 'Consummation', 'First Time', 'Flossie Flakes', 'Jill Welch', 'Lavender Frills', 'Lemon Frosting', 'Lucky Orchid', 'Ornate Pageant', 'Pale Amoena', 'Sassy Butterfly', 'Topsy Turvy', 'Tutone Elegance', 'Welch's Reward'.

Standard Dwarf Bearded: 'Blue Sparks', 'Brown Spectacle', 'Deep Lavender', 'Lilli-Amoena', 'Lillibicolor', 'Lilli-Bitone', 'Lilliblack', 'Lilli-Blue', 'Lilli-Bright', 'Lilli-Brownstone', 'Lilli -Flora', 'Lilli-Green', 'Lilli-Purple', 'Lilli Richtone', 'Lilli-Var', 'Lilli-Violet', 'Lilli-White', 'Lilli-Yellow', 'Red-Lilli', 'Tantalizing Sun..

Tall Bearded: 'Blue Blazes', 'Halleluiah', 'Haughty', 'Heart's Content', "White Parvenu'.
DWARF PROBLEM. Now that we have a new classification which recognizes dwarf iris as an individual entity and not merely a nondescript group of homeless orphans, I think it is time to take inventory and clarify some of the issues which have prevailed in the immediate past. I am sure that the intermediate enthusiasts will welcome any such adjustments as much as the dwarf zealots. Unless it is specifically brought to their attention, many will continue on their wayward course, entirely oblivious of the new order of things. And this is especially pertinent as to the judges who in the past have concentrated their attentions upon the tall bearded and judged everything from that standpoint.
Dwarfs are not merely miniature replicas of tall bearded iris, but comprise a distinct group having very definite characteristics which are easily recognized. Before he is qualified to evaluate the merits of the dwarfs it is necessary for a judge to see and study these characteristics. I well remember an article in the BULLETIN, not so far back, in which a recognized authority on iris gave a report on dwarfs which left me in a state of utter futility. I have great respect for the party's opinions when commenting on the tall bearded, but she simply had no conception of what constituted a dwarf. Misinformation has more serious consequences than lack of information. The article states "unexpected pleasure" over 'Zua', which is an Onco Table Iris and listed in the Check List as an intermediate. Another "darling" was 'Lagunita', a cross of Puck x Dogrose, a first generation hybrid intermediate. Others mentioned were the intermediates 'Spot' and 'Jack', and 'Treasure Trove', a tall bearded! [now classified as a MTB]. The article even criticizes Mr. Hill for intimating there is a lack of white dwarfs and states yet he makes no mention of 'Pewee', which I think has everything. 'Pewee' is a Table Iris of tall bearded parentage and has not one characteristic of the dwarfs. Only two dwarfs were mentioned in the article and one of them is on the doubtful line. This illustrates what I mean by saying that a judge of tall bearded is not necessarily qualified to judge a dwarf. Is there any wonder that dwarfs have remained in an obscure position so long?
I am hoping that since our new classification states rather definitely what the specifications are for a dwarf, it will be studied carefully and an effort made to see and apply these specifications in a practical manner upon the dwarfs before venturing to elaborate upon their merits. Some of the worst offenders in the matter of misinformation are the dealers. They list under the heading of dwarfs most anything that isn't a tall bearded; the public buys it under that impression and is most often disappointed, and not knowing differently, often condemns the dwarfs as a whole or retains them under a false impression. The dealers should now do a little study and research and revise their lists of dwarfs, purging them of such things as Gorgeous, Snow Maiden, Zua, Vendor, Autumn Queen, Elizabeth Huntington, Sapphire and many others. Another form of misinformation which should be corrected now is the custom of referring to all dwarfs as pumilas. Pumila is a species and most of the dwarfs have no pumila blood in their makeup. I have before me now a catalog which lists: I. pumila La Fiancee, I. pumila Orange Queen, etc.' Let's call them dwarf bearded iris and start keeping the record straight. - Walter Welch, Indiana. [“Our Members Write . . .” The Bulletin of the American Iris Society, No. 109 (April 1948): 70-72.]

I still insist that the use of dwarf species such as pumila, mellita and arenaria onto the chamaeiris varieties is the only way to get new colors and patterns and better form into the dwarfs. It is useless to keep on crossing the present named chamaeiris among themselves, as the results will have the same faults and variations of the same old colors as the parents. If pronounced swelling is as a rule more enough of these hybrid seedlings are female; it will usually set seed readily, grown, some will be found that will breed, and once this barrier of infertility is passed the next generation will improve, and it will be but a step to really better dwarfs. (Walter Welch, Middlebury, Ind., 1949). AIS Bulletin 116(January 1950):54.

-- Main.RPries - 2012-03-19
Topic revision: r22 - 28 Jan 2023, TLaurin
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