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HIST: SPEC: Donald's Homested Purple

From: HIPSource@aol.com

Donald Eaves, who writes a lovely post, said:

<<Well, the first new and improved TB bloomed - ELECTRIQUE.  While I was 
admiring it standing tall and stately in grandeur, I couldn't help but think 
it had a hard act to follow after the old homestead iris.  In the next bed 
over it is still in bloom.  They might as well be different species for the 
differences in effect.  The homestead iris posesses a natural grace that the 
others I grow simply lack....  In my quest for new irises to try and see, I 
forget from year to year just how much I like the one I knew first...  I 
don't know the name, but my best guess from looking at photos would be I. 
germanica.  Does anyone grow this one and does it sound at all like the 
homestead iris?>>

Evening, Donald. I guess you've found the very nice picture of I. germanica 
on the HIPS page [http://www.worldiris.com]?

One can rarely be sure of identities from looking at photos, but one can 
often eliminate possibilities. All of us here know the HIPS position on 
guessing at iris identities and how that evil activity drags civilization 
down, so I won't haul out the gospel plow on the subject tonight. 

I'd say I. germanica was a real good candidate for an unknown shorter 
two-toned purple homested iris in the South. It is ubiquitous here in 
Virginia, although not as often found as I. pallida, which is so prevalent 
that some folks think it is a native flower. Mike Lowe wrote an interesting 
article in the Spring 1995 issue of ROOTS about I. germanica called "I've 
seen this Mug Everywhere!" in which he celebrated its vitality. It is a 
lovely purple and a nice size and it looks real pretty with other seasonal 
blooms. Oh, certainly, it is a modest thing in comparison to the modern 
hybrids, or in comparison with the astonishingly beautiful classic irises of 
the 'twenties and 'thirties, but there is something about it that keeps one's 
attention, and one's affections. This something goes beyond nostalgia. My 
germanica is not an heirloom, except in that it is implicitly an heirloom in 
all gardens of European descent, but I cherish it. I'm not sure which form I 
have. The species complex is pretty variable, and as far as I can tell the 
taxonomy is all screwed up. 

I grow ELECTRIQUE as well, and it is an astonishing and improbable iris. 
Looks just like they said it would in the ads. Slate rose and grey blue. Tall 
and sturdy, with heavy substance. I really don't care for the form, and I 
felt like I got my fill of it all pretty soon, but I respect it for the high 
class piece of genetic tinkering it is. But, I understand what you mean about 
qualities, and I agree with you. I. germanica does have something ELECTRIQUE 
lacks. Bluntly speaking, I. germanica, like many Iris species, and like many 
of the  bearded antiques, looks, well, like a flower rather than like an 

Anner Whitehead
Commercial Source Chairman
Historic Iris Preservation Society
"Preserving irises, iris documents, and Iris artifacts for the future."

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