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HIST: SPEC: January Bloom: Iris pallida in Richmond VA

On the third of this month I wrote to this list:
<<For some time now on my walk I have been watching a stalk that  emerged 
a streetside planting of bearded iris rhizomes[ . . .]  Today, the bud began 
to open and, as I had  surmised, it is clearly Iris  pallida, or something 
pretty closely  related. 

Blooming at a  height of three feet, on a straight stem with two very  short  
branches, no visible PBF, wholly scarious spathes, the plant has  put forth 
apparently undamaged lavender blossom with a beard  conspicuously tipped  
yellow. There is a mild fragrance of grapes.  

- - - - -
And I thought perhaps someone might be interested in the rest of this  story. 
It has a twist, you see, namely that the aforementioned is not the  only 
clump of Iris pallida blooming in the area. Let us agree  to call it Iris pallida 
in a conversational sort of way, just for  the nonce. I have found two more 
within a mile of here.
I returned to clump on Monument Avenue, which had produced a second  stalk, 
and took a picture of the first faded bloom, assuming it was likely to  be the 
plant's final hurrah. 
Then life intervened, and I was unable to visit again until several  days 
later, when I discovered two fully developed buds showing  color. 
The weather held nicely until  Wednesday, but then the forecast  was for 
temperatures in the lower twenties. I decided to cut the stalk, which  was growing 
in  the public verge, and bring it home. This I did in the  early evening, 
with temperatures just above freezing.
As I write, it is January 12, and the stalk is in a vase on my  dining room 
table. It measures thirty seven inches from base to the bottom of  the terminal 
blossom. Two fine flowers are open, and two more buds show  color. I've 
arranged a winter landscape in its honor with small  vases of camellias, winter 
honeysuckle, daphne, and pansies.  
I hope to get another photo, but the only digital camera to  which I have 
access is a primitive one, and sometimes uncooperative. If  I manage anything 
useful, I shall send it to John  Jones that it may be posted, if feasible.  
Now, the other two instances of bloom to which I referred are  these: 
On the south side of Floyd Avenue, above The Boulevard,  a substantial 
residential street which runs perpendicular to Monument  Avenue, I found a clump in 
front of a turn of the century  stone house. One stalk was up, and there was 
one undistorted  blossom, with a good bud alongside. I doubt there is anything 
left  now.
Also: On the east side of a brick house on Nansemond Street, two blocks  from 
my home, is a line of Iris pallida, sorely in need of division. Late in  the 
fall someone laid on the proverbial six inches of mulch. There I  saw a half 
dozen stalks with numerous buds, shorter than the stalk on  Monument Avenue, 
but with taller foliage. The cold clearly got  these, as a couple of the stalks 
There is no reason to think these plants are the same clone.
Some incidental information which may be apposite: 
I think the earliest I've seen Iris pallida bloom in these parts was in  
March, this in a forward season. I've never heard of it reblooming, as  such. 
Neither Dykes nor the BIS book speak of winter bloom.  I  thought the plant was 
considered more or less winter dormant, indeed Dykes  suggests it does not 
behave like a warm weather plant even in warm  climates.That said, the definition 
of the species is pretty murky. 
I am not noticing much else blooming out of season this  year. The sasanquas 
are about spent, hellebores are  blooming, I have not yet seen any crocuses, 
but I've noticed one  daffodil bud. True, the cydonia is blooming, and there 
are a few blossoms  open on forsythias, but these open whenever there are a few 
warm days.  

So has anyone seen this sort of thing elsewhere? Am I the last  to notice? 
What about in California? Phil Edinger told me that Iris pallida was not  as 
widely found in California as it is in the east, with the exception of some  
wine producing areas to which it was first carried by Italian  immigrants who 
came to work with the vines. 
Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA USDA Zone 7b, Urban 
Longitude 77 Degrees, 25 Minutes West, Latitude 37 Degrees, 32 Minutes  North 

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