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HYB: Romantic Evening [was: HYB: Black and white ]

  • Subject: [iris-photos] HYB: Romantic Evening [was: HYB: Black and white ]
  • From: "Neil A Mogensen" <neilm@charter.net>
  • Date: Sun, 6 Jun 2004 03:05:09 -0400

Chris, and anyone else interested:
I note that not all crosses involving 'Romantic Evening' produce seedlings of fully modern form, substance and width.  Considering the strong pluses of multiple buds in sockets in many of the offspring, and RE's wide climate adaptability (part of what puts it as high on the Popularity Poll as it is), as Chris noted, makes it one definitely to consider including in ones plans.  Genetically, RE is, among several other things, an "Umbrata"--to use Linda Mann's term for the fall-overlay pattern probably derived primarily, but not exclusively, from *Iris variegata.*  It should be noted that many of the first hybrid tetraploids were strong bicolors, only partly due to the diploid ancestry involved.  Most of the Asiatic and Mediterranean tetraploids do have a definite bitone coloration.
What distinguishes Umbrata from Progenitor-derived bicolor effects is that the Umbrata pattern is in the surface layer of the falls and in outcrosses to selfs or non-umbratas tends to give seedlings with strong "cat whiskers" some of which are very attractive, but us oldtimers were so ingrained with the idea that these markings were "bad" we have a hard time being objective about them, as we worked so hard to get away from them. The 'Progenitor'-derived factor is in the body of the fall tissue, not the surface of the top.  The underside of the fall is itself colored.  As has been noted often, the factor is dosage dependant, ranging from 'Kevin's Theme' to the 'Emma Cook'-type narrow band around the fall--the hybridizing master of which is Fred Kerr.
Since the pigments apparently tracing back to *Iris aphylla* or the interaction between the genetics of modern tetraploid violet/blue coloration with that which stems from "aphylla" are affected differently from the cv's lacking these in any significant degree by either of the two most significant inhibitors--the one from 'Progenitor' or the one affecting falls as well as standards, probably coming mostly from 'Kashmir White.'  'Romantic Evening' has quite a lot of color in its standards despite the presence of at least one dose of "I-sub-s."  Among its seedlings the color of the standards ranges from the white of 'Starring' to the ripe plum color of the standards of 'Wild Wings.'  'Romantic Evening' has several sources of *aphylla* ancestry in remote generations, not appearing until one has reached something on the order of the seventeenth generation or so.  The pedigree is very complex--there is little in modern tall bearded genetic potential that is missing from the family tree.
Fortunately, RE appears to carry *both* the dominants--the I-sub-s derived from Paul Cool's bicolor lines ('Whole Cloth,'  'Melodrama,' 'Emma Cook,'. etc., all tracing this dominant pattern to his F1 hybrid 'Progenitor')--and the Umbrata pattern from multiple sources, but probably primarily from *Iris variegata* or the interaction between *Iris variegata* with the genetic constitution of the collected tetraploids.
One important thing to watch in making crosses with 'Romantic Evening' is, as has been pointed out, it probably has been worked to its productive limit or at least nearly so.  Keith Keppel remarks that the *grandchildren* of RE are even more interesting than its direct offspring. They also offer the possibilities of wider hafts and more varied coloration.  Keppel's 'Fiery Temper' and 'Foreign Legion' have some very strong qualities going for them, particularly considering haft width, as do a considerable number of other first or second generation descendants from 'Romantic Evening.'  Good balance between size of standards and size of falls is another plus.
Many offspring from RE and RE itself have a blackish sheen on the fall (as part of the Umbrata) that changes color depending on the angle from which it is viewed.  This adds considerable interest to the cv's that have the quality.  Often standards are slightly open, but held, a plus in this case, as RE tends to give its offspring very varied and colorful style arms and the coloration of the base of the standards.
'Romantic Evening' also happens to be four-plex "t"--fully expressed tangerine beard *and* a fully expressed blue beard.  Seedlings from the same cross from RE can have beards of light blue, medium blue, rich dark purple , rich red beards, brown (from orange-tangerine and medium blue together), or yellow beards with 'Joyce Terry' patterned yellow flowers, and even near-white beards.
'Romantic Evening' is very modestly ruffled, quite pleasing to a number of people, as the typical recent iris tends to be quite ruffled, some going to extremes in this regard.  I happen to like them, but don't want *every* iris in the garden to have that extreme in its form.  RE and its offspring are refreshingly different, but far from tailored.
Seedlings even show up that are neither umbrata nor I-sub-s bitone or bicolors.  They are just simple selfs, but the majority of the influence of at least some yellow in the base of standards and in the hafts.
It has been noted that RE rarely will set a pod, but has pollen that is potent.  'Romantic Evening' pollen will set pods when practically everything else fails.  The some quality has been noted in seedlings.
The one most important thing to note is the choice of the *other* parent.  Haft width and deep branching are qualities that are imperitive if one desires modern quality.
Neil Mogensen   z 7 western NC mountains.

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