No, Will, that isn't HELEN COLLINGWOOD. Even
though classed as an amoena, HC has a character that really makes it borderline
as an amoena. There's enough coloration in it that the standards do not
come off sparkling white as in Phantomfyre's Wabash-wannabe.
I agree, this isn't WABASH, but are you sure this
isn't BRIGHT HOUR? I take it that you (Phantomfyre) have made some serious
effort to compare it with BH.
Different growing conditions, fertility, newness of
the set and lack of disease, toxins and competing roots can make quite a
difference in how an iris looks.
Despite the great difficulties in breeding with
classic (Wabash-type) amoenas that made Geddes Douglas and others so frustrated,
and led to the embryo culture work of L. F. Randolph (Douglas' BRIGHT HOUR being
one of the results), other people DID breed amoenas, and a number of really good
ones appeared now and then.
I recall seeing a tall, large amoena seedling that
I thought was really first rate in the seedlings of Melvina Suiter, out near
where Chadwick's SAND HOLLOW gardens are now north of Caldwell, ID. I
would have been thrilled if it had bloomed in my seedlings! Mel, however,
said it wasn't distinctive enough and passed it up.
It would not surprise me if this same scenario was
echoed in many other iris breeder's gardens. Your amoena may not even be a
named iris--or it may be one of the obscure Wabash-types that just never caught
A comparison using careful point by
point examination of the pattern of haft marks can be helpful in saying a
certain specimen is or is not a match. The over-all flower may not look
quite the same--due to differences in culture--but haft marking patterns are as
good as fingerprints in identifying an iris. If they are exactly the same,
you've got a match.
On the bleed-through of color on these dark, rich,
saturated amoenas, yes, they do have what we've been talking about as
the "Umbrata spot." The intense color shows through somewhat, as is
apparent in your photo, but that isn't really surprising, as the petal really
only has a three-cell-layer structure--a middle, translucent structural support,
and a surface skin (epidermis) that wraps around the edges and covers both sides
of the petal.
Because of the translucency of the layers, once the
flower is open the color can be seen *through* the petal to the other
side. While still in bud, the light you see is more reflected light from
the outside/underside of the petal, and will look much whiter than when
open. You can tell there is color on the other side, but it is more
obvious that the pigment is not located on the unopened bud's outside
The Progenitor (et al.) derived dominant amoena
pattern is quite the other. *Both* sides of the fall petal are
colored. Oddly enough, a dominant amoena can *also* have the Umbrata
spot--as is true in many modern irises, both amoenas (Whole Cloth type) and
non-amoenas. Judging from the photos of some of the collected wild
tetraploids, they have the same thing--a violet-blue or blue-violet ground
color, but also have the fall overlay pattern with a border around it like most
"Umbrata spot" types among modern irises.
Neil Mogensen z 7 western NC
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