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TB: HIST: my grandfather's orange iris


Hello all. My name is Kendal. I have been off the chat list for a spell.
Some of you may remember my postings about my grandfather and some orange
iris that he hybridized back in the early 50's. The postings are in Oct 04
if you want to look them up. I will just summarize.

I made my first posting to confirm or refute a story that has been told by
my father about his father. In short, my father story was that my
grandfather, a botanist/teacher/farmer, was a backyard hybridizer of
gladiolas and iris. He loved the grads, but played with iris too. He often
sold his creations to seed companies. My father's story goes on about how
there were no true orange iris back in the 40-50's. And that my grandfather
came up with one and was approached by a seed company to purchase the plants
but my grandfather refused to sell the orange. You would have to understand
my grandfather to understand why he would sell his other flowers, but not
the one that everybody wanted. Soon after others developed and introduced
some oranges and his was no longer unique. But as as family we have always
guarded and even horded them. After my grandmother's death a few years back
we removed all the orange irises from the yard before selling the house, but
left the dozens of others.

My goal in posting was to settle a bet between myself and my sister as to
whether my father was full of compost or not. I thought it was possible, but
my sister was convinced it was a yarn. The postings that followed seemed to
confirm the plausibility of the story with a surprising degree of agreement
with dates and geography. My father insists it is true, but as a young
teenager with hay fever, was more interested in hot rods than what my
grandfather was doing in the garden and so he cannot answer half the
questions I have about the story.

Myself I grew up hating irises. I think this might be rebellion against
something that was tied to the family or that ours were planted under peach
trees and I had to clean the rotten fallen peaches out them every summer.
Something happens as you get older and things you hated become things you
are passionate about. About the time my grandmother died and my father
removed the orange iris from my grandparents yard and offered them to his
children I fell in love with the iris. Maybe it is nostalgia for those
summer vacations spent with my grandfather and for his stories about which
iris crosses made which other irises. He never kept a record of anything,
but he knew all of his iris and their family history. He was very proud of
them. Understandably so, some are, in my opinion, some of the prettiest I
have ever seen.

I have decided, with the blessing of my father, to introduce them, name
them, and hopefully show them. I think they are worthy of merit and my
grandfather worthy of the legacy. He would show his cut flowers at the Utah
state fair and Payson flower show as cut flowers, and would often win. He
never named anything officially or showed them on a grand scale. I don't
think he ever had the opportunity. I want to do this for him on a grand
scale. I don't want to sell some at a farmers market, file some paperwork
and the iris loving world not have a chance to see, own and enjoy these iris
as we have. I can probably get a few hundred rhizomes of the two oranges and
maybe a little less of a purple. I am looking for help. Maybe a hybridizer
who wants to help me make these public. Any interested parties can contact
me directly. Or if anyone else has advice on how I should proceed it is very
welcome. Like I said I am new at this, but plan to spend the next 40yrs
enjoying and continuing the work my grandfather left me.

I will be posting photos shortly at iris-photos (as soon as it will let
mehaving a little difficulty). I can e-mail them to someone to post for me
if there are any takers.

There are three. I will describe them here, but will appreciate help in
better descriptions for naming purposes.

The first (my favorite) looks like the opposite of "English charm" but a
softer lighter pink/orange. The falls are darker on the edges and fade to a
creamy peach in the center, but there is a distinct orange stripe on the
edge. The beard is a dark orange with a pink/redish overtone. The standards
match the center of the falls. Very subtle orange but very beautiful with
detail you have to be close to see. Does not photograph well because of the
subtleties. Very hardy for something that looks so tender. Mine have been
lifted three times this last year because of a move and are currently
blooming in buckets. We had a wet warm winter and half the irises I bought
from a very reputable iris nursery rotted. None of grandpas were lost even
as the others rotted next to them.

The purple. Not really purple. More of a peachy cream fading to a soft
violet? With the same orange/red beard as the oranges. Very eye catching.
You will have see the pictures.

The dark orange. I asked on several occasions for my father or mother to get
me a photo this spring, but they always had a an excuse. Too dark, raining,
they forgot, they don't look good anymore. I finally went out last night and
photographed the last one in bloom. It is a little folded over after a day
of hot wind, but we all know what an iris is supposed to look like the photo
will show the color. All parts are the same color, Some have asked me if
this one too is very hardy. We still have them after being all but abandoned
after my grandfathers death and my grandmothers blindness. I would say they
are somewhere between hardier than most and tough as nails. Although all
three have rhizomes that are much thinner and smaller than those I have
ordered from Oregon but grow just as tall. Maybe this is geography more than
anythingeverything is small and skinny in the dessert.

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