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Mystery heritage irises

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Mystery heritage irises
  • From: Chris Hollinshead <cris@netcom.ca>
  • Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 20:34:29 -0700 (MST)

Chris writes:
I wonder if our most learned irisarians on the Iris List could give me their
conjecture as to what this iris described below might be. This letter was
written by Reid M. Pinchback presently of  Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Just post the information and I will forward him the answers as he is not on
the Iris List. My thought is that they are what is known as Dutch iris. What
do you all think...
Thanks in advance. Here is his letter to me:

Here is a challenge for you, particularly since I don't have
a picture of the iris I'm looking for.  Even slim pointers
to help me in my search would be appreciated it.

There is a kind of iris that was planted in a house I lived
in as a kid (in Vancouver, BC), and I've been trying to find
that iris for my home.  I know that the irises grew from
bulbs because I had to weed those flower beds; they were
definitely bulbs.  From a picture in a tiny Taylor's book
on bulbs, I'm pretty sure that they were English irises
(I've never seen a Spanish iris so I haven't ruled them out
yet); I haven't yet seen a Dutch iris quite like the one
I'm looking for. I've hunted for hours through catalogues
and web pages and one or two specialty books written about
irises, and have yet to find a source for English irises;
I was hoping you might have some suggestions for sources.

My step-father just called this iris a "florist's iris";
the major color of the petals was a medium blue mixed with
a touch of purple (ultramarine?), with some yellow (and-white?)
patterning towards the center.  The result was a bit like the
Siberian iris "Caesar's brother", also a bit like Iris
setosa.  Each stalk was very thick and strong, produced I
think 2 or 3 reasonably large blooms.  The plant was probably
about 2 feet high, maybe a little taller.  Given that the rest
of the property contained plants that would be thought of
heirlooms, possibly brought over from England, the iris I'm
looking was probably available before World-War II, maybe even
before World-War I.  If you have any ideas from my description,
I'd be interested in hearing them.

Thank you very much for your time.

 P.S.   If it helps, I'm pretty sure that this
this bulb flowered during the early/mid summer. I think that
the blooms continued for a couple of months, though my memory
is faint on that point.  The lot was situated in Burnaby, a
"suburb" of Vancouver.  The lot had several inches of decent
topsoil, but beneath that was probably a deep layer of
extremely dense clay.  The iris bed received almost full sun
from the south for part of the day, was completely protected
on southwest-to-west by the house, would receive filtered light from the
east-to-southeast through the fence, had a bit of
winter shelter on the north side by a fence and other taller
plants. The bed didn't get particularly water-logged or
particularly dry.  The irises produced a fair number of tiny
seed bulbs, so overall the conditions must have agreed with
this species/variety.

name: Reid M. Pinchback e-mail:  reidmp@mit.edu
home: Plymouth, Massachusetts (US hardiness zone 6b)
previously of: Kitchener, Ontario

Christopher Hollinshead
Mississauga, Ontario  Canada  zone6b
AIS(Region 16), CIS, SSI
Director-Canadian Iris Society
Newsletter Editor-Canadian Iris Society
e-mail:  cris@netcom.ca
CIS website:  http://www.netcom.ca/~cris/CIS.html

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