Many years ago, when I was still an active iris judge, I was invited
to judge at a show in Phoenix. I was a guest with one of the locals and
she grew beautiful iris. Most but not all were grown in filtered shade.
She had a lot of foliage trees/shrubs scattered about her yard from
psalms to other trees that flourish in that climate. Since there is an
active Iris society in the valley, one must realize that iris are grown
There is a lot of misinformation floating around among irisarians. Many,
many years ago A judge put on a training session at the National (we
were there) and just derided our tetraploid MTB's. Many, if not most
judges attending that session, believing this judge, carried on that
same misinformation to training sessions that they put on in their home
areas. Some judges continue these falsehoods to this day.
At a much later convention, we heard this same spiel at another
National. Now this well known judge is growing, selling and hybridizing
with our iris..
So for years our MTB's out of I. aphylla were TOUTED as undesirable, did
not fit the class, and weren't worthy of awards.... all this based on
one judges early opinion expressed at the Nationals. A judge who had
never visited our garden, and I doubted ever grew one of our iris, Now
that judge is growing our iris and not only that, a member of their
family has already introduced one, a tetraploid, MTB
The truth is and has been for many years, our tet MTB's grow and remain
in the classes and fit the requirements totally. The petals are wider
and the form is more like the TB's of today. They have the same genetic
background as most of todays TB's. In fact a lot of TB's are in their
background. Yet they totally fit the very stringent class requirements
for MTB's. They grow well in the cooler climates but also do well in
fairly mild climates. With filtered shade, they can and do grow well in
climates with little winter cooling. They do not do well in the lower
South Eastern portion of the US. Hot humid climates are not good for
most bearded iris. After all these years, Jim is finally getting some
well deserve recognition.
So judges in the future, don't malign the works of others to promote
your pet projects. You may be just hurting yourself or your friends.
Furthermore, if an iris is introduced in say the MTB Class but is alway
too tall...or has blooms that are too large....please don't give them
awards just because they are introduced by a well known grower. No
matter how pretty...if they are out of class they don't deserve an award.
Jim Craig began working with I. aphylla, his goal to miniaturize the
iris regardless which class they fit over 40 years ago. He was working
for and succeeded in producing very small iris that are fertile and
contain the same chromosome count as the TB. This allows any variety of
color and form, branching, bud count, ruffles and lace as well as
rebloom in well proportioned iris that for most average 21"-25" tall.
Many fit the MTB class, many others are IB and we have some nice BB's
and once in a while a SDB.
As Jim is no longer able to carry on with his life long program, I have
picked up the 'slack', I am quite willing to work with anyone
interested to pursue expanding this project. As we are both up in age
and I am not as agile as I once was, I am cutting way back on the number
of seedlings we grow. Will Plotner of Wildwood Gardens in Molalla,
Oregon is growing and introducing our newest iris.
Thank goodness, there are more and more irisarians that are now growing
and hybridizing with aphylla based iris and some are really getting