Griff asked: but what motivated
you to make that particular cross? ((Best Bet X What Again) to obtain
'Midsummer Night's Dream')
Here's the story (as I wrote it for the Region 20 Newsletter):
ABOUT 'MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM'
There is one fact about 'Midsummer Night's Dream' that I
think is truly amazing: It was the first seedling of mine
ever to bloom!
1992 was the first spring that irises bloomed in my new
garden in Douglas County.
I had purchased rhizomes of some recommended new varieties and was
intending to make my first attempts at hybridizing. One of
my early goals was to work with reblooming irises, and to this purpose I had
obtained Schreiner's tall bearded 'Best Bet' and Ensminger's standard dwarf
'What Again', along with several others.
I duly made some SDB crosses in mid-May and was making TB
crosses in early June when I was surprised by a very late bloomstalk on 'What
Again'. I applied pollen from 'What Again' on a blossom of
'Best Bet' with the idea of getting an intermediate rebloomer.
That cross led to a nice seedpod with about 20 fat seeds.
That first year of hybridizing was the only time I started
my seeds indoors under lights. Several baby plants from the
Best Bet X What Again cross poked through the potting soil in
January. All my new seedlings seemed big enough to plant
outside by April, and I guess they were, but they were not ready to cope with
the bright sun and cold nights. Consequently many of the
new seedlings died, but there were about 10 survivors from the reblooming
Throughout the summer of 1993 the new babies grew
rapidly. We must have had a mild autumn that year because I
was very pleasantly surprised to find bloom stalks on two plants in
October. The weather continued to cooperate as I eagerly
awaited the first bloom from a hybrid iris of my own. When
it finally opened, it was a smooth dark purple self.
Cold temperatures were predicted that night, so I cut the stalk and
brought it inside.
Well?. Over the next few years that
seedling showed itself to be a dependable midsummer and autumn rebloomer here
in Colorado. As I learned more about irises I realized that
the deep vibrant color, the lack of haft markings and the wide ruffled form
were very positive attributes also. I sent rhizomes to iris growers all across
the country and received a lot of positive feedback.
Eventually, in 1999, now named 'Midsummer Night's Dream', it became one
of my first two iris introductions.