Yellow With Black Stripes... Impossible! By Alan McMurtrie
This year's biggest innovation was yellow with black
stripes. Impossible you say! I would have thought so, but presto 05-GQ-4
opened for the first time and all of a sudden the impossible, was possible.
The next most
interesting new hybrid was 06-AK-2, an amazing green on yellow, which opened
coincidentally on Easter Sunday. You couldn't think of anything more
lovely for Easter!
The colours seemed to
pop. If your eyes were scanning the garden you couldn't miss the way it
stood out. I was quite surprise at how electric it seemed when the sun
Another notable new
hybrid was 05-EP-3. It continued on a theme started two years ago by its
sibling 05-EP-2: wine-red on a yellow ground, with lighter yellow style lobes.
Last year's addition to the group was 03-GQ-3.
When 05-EP-2 first
bloomed I thought, "Wow, a new colour combination / pattern," however
I didn't really like its shade of wine-red. Then, in 2012 when 03-GQ-3
bloomed I thought perfect! The ink-like wine-red seemed to sit like a
thick layer on top of the fall.
This year's 05-EP-3 is a lovely solid wine-red with slightly
gold style lobes. The wine-red is flat as opposed to 05-GQ-3's slightly more
I was quite surprised when I first discovered 07-HA-1. My comment on Facebook when I posted its
noticed this one hiding in the straw until today
Then I got a bit of a
shock a few days later when 03-GR-1 also bloomed for the first time: what a
weird colour. I tend to like it a little
bit better because it's slightly brighter.
Unfortunately it hasn't done well!
The main bulb is gone and there may just be one bulblet left. C'est la vie.
05-HG-1 is a lovely bright
blue and white combination, with distinctive yellow around its ridge.
05-CF-2 is a nice white
with a bit of an orange glow around its orange ridge. Myself, I prefer 03-FQ-1 with a bit more
orange on the fall, and it's purple and brown markings. It's currently under test in Holland, however
Wim had flagged one of two plantings to be returned last fall (fortunately he
didn't get around to returning it, and simply replanted it). This shows clearly Wim is not properly
testing my hybrids. Either he likes it,
or he rejects both batches. Wim promised
to more carefully evaluate my hybrids this spring...
As far as I'm concerned
Wim and Mark are on probation in terms of getting any of my new hybrids.
Often Wim will say my
hybrids are too small (for the large-scale market), and he doesn't like that
they don't tend to have proper standards.
Mark has told me, "your hybrids are not complete."
I understand what he's
trying to say. He's not trying to be
mean. He's just voicing what he believes
exporters will say. As a result I've
initiated some expensive lab work to hopefully resolve at least some of the
I know also Wim and Mark would say there is need for only
one white with blue markings. I don't
believe that. I think there should be
several; ahhh, how about 10 or more. I
might have previously said 3 or 4, but to be truthful it's probably at least
From Wim and Mark's
point-of-view, they'd rather harvest a hectare of Avalanche, rather than 1/4 of a
hectare each of Avalanche, 98-YS-1, 05-BL-4, Snow and Sky, and 06-C-2. Yes, I've listed 5 varieties, because I think
they'd ultimately be able to sell more.
Who knows, it might even be ⅓ or of a hectare of
If someone buys one and
they like it, a year or two later they'll possibly buy another variety. They wouldn't be interested in buying more of
the same one that they already have.
06-C-2 continued to do
well. In my mind it's a nice improvement
Oh darn, look at
06-DF-1, another white with blue markings.
How terrible (terribly nice that is).
I'm happy to be in the position I'm in: with too many nice things,
rather than not enough.
05-HW-1 bloomed for the
second time after missing last year because I sliced up the main bulb when I
went to replant it for the first time in fall 2011. I consider it one of
my best hybrids to-date. Why, because its an apricot butterfly.
It is amazing: in bud it
is soft orange (apricot). When it opens you see amazing dark brown
markings, unlike anything you could imagine.
The colour does fade as
the flower ages. Is this a good thing,
or a bad thing? You tell me.
Normally we want colours
that are sun-fast, but sometimes colour change can be a nice, and give the
This year's bulb started
off about 46mm in diameter, and then actually became smaller as the falls arched
slightly downwards. By the 4th day it was only 40mm in diameter, but stayed
there for the remainder of its 10-day bloom (protected by an upside down tin
The fall blade width was
a respectable 12.5mm, increasing to 14mm by the 4th day.
I would of course love
it if the overall colour was truly orange.
2013 A Strange Spring
I thought we were in for
real trouble this year when on January 31 two buds of 05-EN-1 were up and
showing colour. How can that be possible? That would have been in
the middle of winter! Well by that point we had been through two significant
freeze-thaw cycles where several inches of snow came and went, and then came
and went again.
I had never seen
anything like it before. I thought bloom might end up even earlier than
last year. And last year was incredible with bloom coming on in full
force in mid March, and finishing before the month was over. Normally
that's just when the Reticulatas are just starting.
I covered the two
05-EN-1 buds with an upside down dishpan to protect them from the weather.
As a result the flowers opened March 23, and lasted beyond March 29. The dishpan was protecting them as if they
were still underground protected by their sheath
2n = 20 Hybrids
The hybrids above are all
from Iris danfordiae. They are providing an amazing new range of
colours. One of their characteristics is
they bloom early. I have also done work
with more typical Iris reticulata
clones, some of which I collected in Turkey back in 1985, and 1986. They tend to bloom in the latter half of the
season. The catch 22 is they tend to be
blues and purples, and there are already lots of blues and purples in the
market. So Dutch bulb growers aren't
really that interested in them, even though some are quite nice.
have been able to do is, create some that are mixtures of blue and purple in a
single flower, as well ones that include separate portions of both purple and
I will try again to see
if I can interest any growers in them.
They are quite different from anything else in the market.
Naturally I do get some
blues from my danfordiae hybridizing.
Most aren't anything special, but occasionally I do get something very
nice. One that I've liked from the day
it first bloomed is 03-CV-4. I would
like to see it in the large-scale market, but at the moment I'm thinking I may
just put it into a smaller market. The
reasoning being that I have so many others I should get into the large-scale
market ahead of it.
Pièce de Résistance
This is a bicolour
hybrid from 2000. Its particular claim to fame is the flower is huge; not
so much in diameter (it was triangular: 60 - 70 - 60mm), but its falls were
initially 21 mm across, increasing to 23mm, and its standards were 13mm
increasing to 14 as the flower aged. The
fact its falls are so flat helps make the flower look super large.
I had noticed it back in
2011 and intended to send it to Holland for testing. I believe when I
went to dig the bulb I couldn't find it. So I assumed it had simply died out.
That sometimes happens, but when it does, the thing to keep in mind is it
means the variety was not a strong one.
Turns out I had put the
tag marking it on the wrong side of the bulb. Now I've doubly flagged it
so I don't make that mistake again
When it might have
bloomed for the first time in 2005 I didn't bother to take much note of the
2n=20 hybrids because the Dutch bulb grower really wasn't interested in them.
I had moved it and a number of others in the fall of 2010.
Unfortunately in its case the cross number was lost at that time.
So many lovely unique
How can you pick just
one or two? Yes, you could if you had
to; like picking candy in a candy shop.
But if you come back and pick another two, and then come back and pick
another two. You'll come to find you
like many of them for different reasons
It's frustrating not
being able to get them into your hands sooner.
For More Information
and in particular look at The Big Picture.
You may want to also look at the three "Named" web pages. I will eventually update the website with
2013 bloom information.
You can also check out
Reticulata Iris on Facebook. If you
don't have a Facebook account, simply Google "Facebook Reticulata Iris"