The Garden 80(2334): 395-396
(Aug 12, 1916)
By R. W. Wallace
MR. E. A. BUNYARD'S interesting notes on these on page 346, issue July 15, invites one to write further on the subject. Much attention has been paid to this fascinating family of recent years, and large numbers of new forms are in cultivation. In writing of Irises I always like to refer to the late Sir Michael Foster, who was so enthusiastic in their culture and to whom the raising of new forms and hybrids was his chief delight. It was my fortune for many years to visit Shelford in May and June when the garden was full of masses of Iris in every direction, also bold clumps of Eremurus robustus standing clearly outlined against the dark Yew hedges. These and many other pictures in the garden are a treasured memory, but, above all, the Professor himself, the keen, intelligent and kind face, the old brown velvet jacket, the inevitable pipe, the quite chuckle when he showed you one of his treasures flowering for the first time, such as a Susiana x iberica seedling or some other wonderful creation; then one felt the presence of the master mind. All these memories come back when sitting down to write a few notes on this wonderful family.
The introduction of Iris Trojana (or, as it was once called, asiatica) gave us a new group of garden forms the value of which has not yet been fully demonstrated. Trojana is a plant of vigorous constitution with upright spikes, 4 feet high, much branched, the lowest branch sometimes springing from near the bottom, so much so that we have panicles of flowers instead of spikes. This species was largely used by Sir Michael in his later years in developing new garden forms, and we now have grand garden plants in Lady Foster, Crusader, Kashmir White, Ringdove and Shalimar. All of these have tall, branching spikes, large flowers and stout, erect stems (I have seen on Ringdove twenty-one flowers and buds). Messrs. Vilmorin have distributed many fine new forms during recent years, one of them being Alcazar, with tall, branching stems and very large flowers, light bluish violet with dark purple falls. It is literally a giant, and more pronounced on account of its early flowering. Oriflamme, referred to by Mr. Bunyard, is certainly the finest Iris in the so-called Germanica group; its immense pale blue standards and darker falls are beautiful beyond description. I. germanica Amas is not so good, but this and Kharput are essential in the May-flowering group. Mr. Bunyard is, I think, looking for trouble when he speaks of pallida Princess Beatrice and the Rev. W. Wilks as being distinct. Now, what is his Princess Beatrice? If it is the same as Mr. Barr's Princess Beatrice (he gave the name), well, then they are both identical to what I have known all my life as pallida dalmatica, and I think I am betraying no secret in mentioning that this opinion was upheld at the Iris trials this year and last.
I do not know Mr. Bunyard's Rose Queen, but there are many rose pink forms on the way, including some new American seedlings. Of new varieties in cultivation, the following are first class: Ed. Michel is a grand wine red pallida, a real aristocrat; Eldorado, a striking combination of yellow, bronze and heliotrope defying description; Goldcrest (Dykes), a Cengialtii cross, tall, upright stems, bright violet blue, a self colour, with as many as five flowers out at once; Isoline, a very large lilac pink and purplish old rose, quite a unique variety; Lohengrin and Rhein-Nixe, Hun introductions of beauty which, being flowers, can only reflect their loveliness. Lord of June, Neptune and Asia are of Mr. Yeld's creating, large flowered, branching, tall spikes, quite away from the old forms.
As already indicated, Irises are undergoing a period of great development, and the next few years will show a still greater interest in these fine garden plants. I fancy the outcome of the recent Iris trial by the Royal Horticultural Society will serve a great need and be only an indication and a forerunner of much good work that will be forthcoming from the new movement at Wisley.