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TB: Suzanne's Selection

From: HIPSource@aol.com

Suzanne in USDA Zone 5 asked about her new irises:

<< Batik
China Dragon... Edith Wolford... Spartan... Chinese Treasure... Study in Black

I hope at least some of these are real beauties! >>>>>>>

Yes, they are. 

All but one, BATIK, are TBs (Tall Bearded Irises). BATIK is a BB (Border
Bearded Iris) which means it is registered as blooming shorter  (26") than a
TB but blooming at the same time as a TB. In my experience it is pretty close
to being a TB in scale. BATIK (Ensminger '86--which means hybridized by Alan
Ensminer and introduced in 1986) is officially described as a white ground
striped royal purple. I would say that it is a dark blue violet purple with
white stripes. Certainly, as I know it, the purple predominates visually. We
call this "broken color". We save the use of the words "variegated, or
variegation" for striped foliage. 

CHINA DRAGON (Shoop '79) 36" Tall. A "ruffled" deep orange "self" (which means
all petals of one color) with a bright red beard. It is a pretty good tough
orange--of which there are not many-- and you will find that the color  will
really snap up the planting. Also has some fine "lace", which is a tiny
fringed edge to the petals. 

EDITH WOLFORD (Hager '86) 40." It is indeed lighter yellow at the top--the
"standards--with  medium blue violet "falls". It is very ruffled. It won the
Dykes Medal, the highest honor any iris can receive. Irises which are yellow
at the top and some other color (usually red or rust, but it can also be brown
or blue) at the bottom are called "variegatas", named for the species IRIS
VARIEGATA which has this color pattern. Do not confuse this color pattern with
"variegation", which refers only to striped foliage. EDITH WOLFORD iris may be
an acquired taste. The colors in the photographs look a bit more saturated
than they are in the flesh and some folks are disappointed. I myself have come
to consider this a very sophisticated and beautiful iris.

SPARTAN (Schreiner's '73) 35."  A dark red self. This means a brownish red.
There are no true red irises. SPARTAN is not ruffled. It is "tailored". It has
splendid color, but it can burn badly in the direct sun, so try to position it
so that it receives some protection in the heat of the afternoon. 

CHINESE TREASURE (B. Blyth '83-4) 36" is an Australian iris. Standards white,
often with a pink infusion, falls rosy pink, red beard. Irises with white
standards and some other color falls are called "amoenas". This is pronounced

STUDY IN BLACK (Plough '68--pronounced Plow) 36". Deep red black self with
brownish "hafts"(the shoulders of the falls) and brown beard. 

Now, none of the irises you have selected are obscure although several of
these are irises that some people have reported having trouble with in one
part of the country or another. I observe, however, that each and every one of
these grows well enough under optimum conditions to have made it deep into the
wholesale market and thence into your local garden center. So you may very
well suceed, too. Many factors enter into how well an iris grows for you, but
few will grow well without your help. I would pay very close attention to what
iris folks in your neck of the woods say about how to care for these this
winter because Mark Cook is correct: it really is too late for nurseries to be
offering bearded rhizomes to folks in Zone 5 for fall planting. They always
show up much too late here, too. I think they think of them in the same
category as fall bulbs, which of course, they are not. Also, do not be
disappointed if all your irises do not bloom the first year. This is entirely
normal, and there is also some correlation between how early the rhizomes are
re-planted and the incidence of first year bloom. They are perennial plants
and sometimes need some time to get themselves settled.

We hope this helps.

Anner Whitehead

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