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CULT: 25 Faves

From: Mike Lowe <mlowe@worldiris.com>

My list may appear out of date, however, the first qualifier for 
inclusion is that the cultivar has grown in my garden for at least 
ten years. How else could I honestly testify to 'a great garden 
iris?' Or, how could I admit that, while miffy and demanding, a given 
cultivar rewards the effort by a splendid garden presence? On to the 
list! (In no particular order)

HOLY NIGHT  (Ken Mohr, TB, 1983) A superb garden iris. Extremely 
healthy and attractive foliage, excellent growth without rampancy, a 
late season rebloomer, and, to top it all, an attractive flower.

PLUM WINE  (Weiler, SDB RE, 1986) It is hard to over praise this dark 
beauty. It is an extremely well behaved garden iris in a class where 
many of the remontant types will turn into a thicket of choked plants 
when adverse weather conditions prevent normal blooming. It is the 
most dependable Spring and Fall blooming SDB in our Virginia garden. 
The flower offers a excellent garden presence despite its dark color.

I. unguicularis (Poiret 1785) What other iris can give almost 
continuous bloom from late October until early March? For us the 
species is the most free flowering and dependable. Resents division, 
the established clumps just get better and better.

TAWNY  (Thomas Pray, IB RE, 1974)  In good times and bad times, this 
iris throws exquisite flowers and perfect stalks. It could be used 
for the definition of an ideal Intermediate Bearded iris. The foliage 
does not appear robust but is always equal to the task of producing 
show winning stalks, Spring and Fall.

THREE OAKS  (Agnes Whiting, TB, 1943)  An elegant iris with loads of 
class and charm, worthy of its name honoring Mrs. Blake's garden. It 
shows an evanescent, hard to photograph, blue-lavender flash under 
the beard that resembles Jean Cayeux's seldom mentioned feature.

CAESAR'S BROTHER  (F. Cleveland Morgan, SIB, 1932)  I visited an 
establishment with an overgrown planting of over 250 Siberian 
cultivars -- one had a huge, tall, clump teeming with flowers. My 
reaction was, "It has to be Caesar's Brother." On walking up to the 
clump I verified C.B. indeed. I got off the bus at a National 
Convention and looked over the beautifully manicured, well designed 
garden. A large, tall clump of a royal blue flower was in bloom at 
the edge of the plantings. I remarked to several people hurrying over 
to see the wonder, "Dollars to Doughnuts -- it's Caesar's Brother." 
Indeed, it was, 'nuff said.

QUEEN OF HEARTS  (Opal Brown, TB, 1974)  The best spot in the garden, 
vigilance to nip rot early, abundant water and fertilizer, good air 
circulation, frequent dividing, no crowding and other cultural 
pamperings are necessary to keep this temperamental lady happy. "But 
Oh, the heartbreakingly lovely flower!" I persist even though the 
plant sometimes does not. All gardeners have "a project" and she, 
despite all, is mine.

GAY PAREE  (Gordon Plough, TB, 1956)  I have grown this for well over 
a quarter of a century and, God willing, will do so for another. Its 
pedigree belies its cast iron toughness and its odd beauty is 
captivating over time. One of the cleanest amoenas ever, once the 
chartreuse cast on the falls segues to creamy yellow set off by a 
vivid tangerine beard.

I. pallida (Lamarck, TB, 1789) What other iris could you throw down 
on the edge of the lawn and come back in a half a century and find 
the original clump thriving? A selected clone, GERTRUDE (William 
Peterson, TB, 1907) has done just that in front of our home, growing 
on the top of a low rock retaining wall. Shaded, weeded only with a 
string trimmer, undivided, unfertilized, burned over annually since 
the 1930s--what other garden perennial not found in 'Weeds of the 
United States' would take this treatment and thrive? The pretty, 
small, blue-lavender flower is lagniappe.

PERFECTION  (Barr, TB, 1880)  The name says it all. This small 
beauty, neglecta by color class, unsurpassed in impact on viewers, is 
eminently 'garden worthy' despite its age. The usual comment, on 
first viewing, is -- "Wow, that's a great MTB -- is it new?

More to come, time permitting...

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