I have always liked these old Irises, and thought I might be able to ID
this one, but so far I've not come up with a match. There are several that
are close, but no cigar. One of the most similar, but not it, is
'Celeste'. It is possible, that if it has really been growing there since
the turn of the century, that you have found one that has been "lost" to
cultivation; however, odds are better that it is a common one (though I have
photos of most of the common ones).
You are correct that it is not I. pallida. I. pallida would have a
somewhat different appearance, the falls would probably be a bit longer and tend
to hang down more, but the most obvious distinction is the papery spathes of I.
pallida (the "wrappings" of the flower buds) when the flowers open. The
spathes are usually white in I. pallida (sometimes a tad brownish), not like the
ones in your photo at all. The grape smell of I. pallida flowers is not
present in all selections of the species, but it is in most to some
degree. In some it is spectacularly wonderful (to my nose anyway).
While it is not usually allowed for in literature, I. pallida is quite varied in
size and color, but the flowers are usually basically solid in color,
and mostly vary through white, "blue" (a bit purplish), or "pink" (also a
bit purplish, basically "rose"). There is great debate about the "plicata"
I. pallida selections, whether they are really pure I. pallida or not, but they
have the grape smell, and they sure look like I. pallida. A great species
- one of my favorites.
Your's is probably an old hybrid of I. pallida with I. variegata (of which
there are many). A lot of these have flowers that smell (according to the
books) like Elder. However, to me they just smell like Iris, and
absolutely nothing like Elder. A lot of the older ones are garden hybrids
from France, but not all by any means.
As for yours, I like it! Nice photo.
Statements made on and attachments (including but not limited to photographs of irises or people) sent to this list are the sole responsibility of the individual participants and are not endorsed by, or attributable to, or under the control of the moderator of this list.