Sunday, March 30, 2014

Public Sale / Member Pre-Order = SAVINGS!

Our Public Sale is scheduled for July  27th at the Cooperative Extension.  While many of those rhizomes offered for sale will be from members, we do plan to order from hybridizers again this year. 

Mid-America Gardens introduces the new cultivars from Paul Black and Thomas Johnson.  Mid-America provided us with a great selection and at wonderful savings in 2012.  We are also ordering from Keith Keppel who has agreed to include some Barry Blyth introductions.

While we cannot count on specific rhizomes, these orders always include new introductions which we can offer at significant discounts. The specific savings are calculated when we receive the orders.

As a benefit of membership, you get first pick of the club order.  To assure a larger selection, we ask that you commit a pre-order amount.  

Whether it is $10 or $200, please make a check payable to GRIS, bring it to our April 13 meeting, or send it by April 30th to:

GRIS c/o Neil Houghton, Treasurer
3873 Rush Mendon Road
Mendon NY 14506 
If you have not paid your dues, please include $10 to maintain your membership. You’ll more than make up that in savings if you pre-order $20 or more!

This is a great chance to add exciting new introductions by multiple top award-winning hybridizers to you garden!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Advice for Beginning Hybridizers

Advice for 
Beginning Hybridizers
by Clarence Mahan
(article submitted byChris Hollinshead)
The most difficult problem facing an iris hybridizer who is not an established name inthe in the field of iris breeding is not one of obtaining a seedling worthy of introduction. Getting an excellent seedling is, believe it or not, the easy part of an iris breeder’s task. Dr. D.C. Nearpass told me many years ago that if I wanted to get some outstanding seedlings, I had two ways to go about it. First, I could choose only outstanding irises as parents and then raise thousands of seedlings. Cross two outstanding pink irises and grow several thousand seedlings from that cross. The odds favor getting at least one distinctive seedling that has many good attributes. Second, I could study iris genetics and pedigrees and make planned crosses toward specific goals. One benefit of the second option is that one does not have to raise so many seedlings.
There are other decisions a beginning hybridizer can make to increase the odds of getting seedlings worthy of registering and introducing. These decisions involve the types of irises one chooses to breed. If one is going to work in the field of once-blooming tall bearded irises, the competition is going to be keen. There are many people breeding once-blooming tall bearded irises and the established “names” are many. So to increase the odds of getting worthy seedlings that will be competitive; you might want to work with types of irises that not many people are breeding. Work with rebloomers, space- age irises, spuria iris species that do not go dormant in the summer, setosas, interspecies crosses, regeliabreds, miniature tall bearded irises or some other “target of opportunity” where few or no other iris breeders are working.
Resisting the temptation to register and introduce a seedling that is not truly worthy is perhaps a little more difficult than obtaining an outstanding seedling. Do not rely on your own judgment in deciding whether to register an iris. Recruit some experienced judges to give you advice on this, and listen to them. If the experts tell you to use the seedling for future breeding but do not introduce it, do what they say. If they tell you to compost the seedling, you can keep it but do not register it. This takes will power, but it is not the most difficult problem that a beginning iris breeder has to confront.
The most difficult problem a new iris hybridizer has is how to get his or her outstanding new iris distributed, recognized and into the running for awards. This is a subject about which I think I have learned a thing or two, and will presume to offer some advice. The first piece of advice is this: Forget about making money on your iris. If you are not an established name in the field or do not have a large iris nursery and a catalogue with color pictures, you are not going to make much money on your seedling. Even if you are lucky and do make a few dollars, it is probably going to be at the expense of getting wide distribution and recognition of the iris.
Get the seedling distributed before it is introduced. If the iris is a tall bearded, border bearded, miniature tall bearded or some other type that is likely to be blooming at the time of national conventions or regional spring meetings, send it as a guest to these affairs two or three years in advance. There is always a call for guest seedlings for future conventions in the AIS Bulletin. Many regions have spring garden tours and put out calls in their newsletters for guest irises. They usually invite well-known hybridizers to send guest irises by sending them letters. As a beginner you will not be getting such a letter. So write to the various RVPs and ask them to be put on the list to get these invitations. The RVPs will gladly give your letter to whoever’s handling their guest irises for future regional meetings, and you will get a request to send your seedlings or newly introduced irises as guests. There will be a limit as to how many rhizomes of each iris. Send the maximum number allowed. Even after your seedling is registered and introduced, keep sending it as a guest to national conventions and regional spring meetings.
If your seedling is a type of iris that is not likely to be blooming at the time the national conventions or regional spring meetings are held, send it to the mini-conventions held by the various AIS sections. Ever since the Society for Japanese Irises started having its own conventions back in the early 1980’s, more and more sections are having these events. Calls for guest irises for future conventions of the various sections are announced in their publications. Once your seedling is introduced, do not ask for the increase back. Donate the increase to the section for its auction. Ask many judges in different regions if they will grow your iris and evaluate it for you. Assuming the evaluations are positive, ask the judges to donate increases to local and regional sales and auctions. Most judges will be happy to do this. In this manner your iris will get wide distribution. Also, send your new iris to test gardens such as the Dr. Loomis Memorial Trial Gardens in Colorado. Your iris will be seen by many judges at these gardens and if it is good, it will stand a good chance of picking up votes for AIS awards.
The most important thing you can do to get recognition for your wonderful new iris is to get some really great slides made. If you are not a competent photographer, enlist the service of someone who is to take these pictures. Do not be satisfied with pictures that are mediocre--have slides that show the iris at its best. As soon as your Iris is introduced, send these great slides to both the AIS Slides Chairman and the person who handles slides for the appropriate AIS section. If your region has a Slides Chairman, send a slide to this person as well.
Finally the single most important thing you can take to gain recognition for your iris is to take out a color ad in the AIS Bulletin - This is not cheap, but it is cheap for the benefits to be gained.
When I was introducing irises for myself and for others through The Iris Pond, I never took out a color picture ad that did not pay for itself. I cannot guarantee you that you will have the same result, but I did not care whether it did or did not pay for itself, and I suggest you should not care either. By far the most important reason for taking out a color ad by a hybridizer who is starting out is to get people to see a beautiful picture of your iris.
I will be the first to admit that I sometimes took out a color ad when I did not have a great picture. So I used what I had. Do better planning than I did—get that good picture in advance.
On one occasion I had a great picture of a new introduction that I used in the Bulletin but it was the wrong picture. When The Iris Pond introduced the Siberian iris SHAKER’S PRAYER for Carol Warner, the picture I used was of a single stalk of the iris. SHAKER’S PRAYER has relatively small species-like flowers, and my friends who are “into Siberians” let me know rather quickly that they were not impressed with the iris pictured in the Bulletin. I should, of course, have had a picture of a clump of SHAKER’S PRAYER showing off its magnificent landscape value. Fortunately, soon after the
ad appeared, many people saw SHAKER’S PRAYER in the tour gardens at the 1991 convention. The rest of this story is now in the realm of the legends of irisdom. And as I previously wrote, even though the picture I used was not the best choice, I sold enough SHAKER’S PRAYER the first year to pay for the ad. Advertising pays.
Those who think that the great era of iris breeding is in the past are wrong. The opportunities for advances and improvements in all types of irises have just begun. Breeding irises is a fun hobby; most people who hybridize irises for a few years get some interesting and meritorious results. Unfortunately, a majority of these good results probably do not get much recognition. What a shame. It need not be so.
(Note from Chris Hollinshead: This article was written a number of years ago so some items may be slightly dated in their references but the majority of the content and advice is still very relevant and useful to the aspiring iris hybridizer.)
From the Canadian Iris Society Newsletter,  Autumn 2013

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winterberry: The Spoons 2014 Intros

In northern Virginia, Winterberry Gardens specializes in reblooming irises.  They also have, to our delight, a fine collection of historic iris.  Looking to fill in your Dykes Collection?  You may find some of the ones you're missing here!
This is our favorite for best dressed from Ginny Spoon! Perky falls with the wind-blown look that would make Marilyn jealous with a whipped dollop apricot standards.  The colors of photographing a canyon at sunset are stunning.  Bravo, Ginny!

'Rainbow Canyon' TB (Ginny Spoon 2014)37" M yellow orange standards; medium rose purple falls with glowing yellow sunburst and greyed orange borders (Conjuration X My Ginny).. $50

'Rainbow Canyon' TB Ginny Spoon 2014
Here's something that will brighten up a garden. Simple elegance.

'Kaw' TB (Ramon Jones 2014) 35" ML diamond dusted bright yellow flowers with pure white centers and bright yellow 1/4" borders; white beards tipped orange red (Chariots of Fire X Bombay Gold).. $50

'Kaw' Ramon Jones 2014
Fireballs.  A favorite as a kid and a big bucket was on my desk as a treat for the well behaved student, until that became frowned upon.  I can taste the sweetness and watch the red dissolve to white.

'Fireball Candy' TB Re zone 6 (Don Spoon 2014)34" M & Re greyed red standards; cardinal red falls with greyed orange edges and undersurfaces, creamy white to yellow sunburst around orange beards... $50

'Fireball Candy' TB (RE)  Don Spoon 2014
Can't tell you exactly what caught our eye here.  Maybe the gentle inward curving architecture of the standards and the radiating white on the falls.  We just like it!

'Clipper' TB (Don Spoon 2014) 35" ML medium violet blue self with showy white zonal; white beards tipped orange (Tall Ships X Suky).. $50

'Clipper' TB Don Spoon 2014
In the pursuit of red this looks pretty darned... red!

'Red Hot Momma' TB (Don Spoon 2014) 36" ML flag red complete self; flag red beards tipped orange (Rogue X Dynamite)fertile both ways... $50

'Red Hot Momma' TB Don Spoon 2014
The intermediate, 'Ricochet Rabbit' has sweetness with a heart of flame.

'Ricochet Romance' IB 27" E-M buff pink standards, edged light orange, pale violet plicata markings; pastel yellow falls, pale pastel violet plicata rim that darkens to soft wine at hafts; tangerine beards, small horns(Paul Hill/Winterberry 2014) $30

'Ricochet Romance' IB Paul Hill/Winterberry 2014
Yep.  Hunger Games can be in your garden with this standard dwarf.  A flash of vibrant color to think of Jennifer Lawrence in a dress of fire darting through your garden.

'Katniss' SDB (Ginny Spoon 2014)10" ML vibrant purple violet with darker fall spots; prominent white beards tipped spectrum red (Zap X Cara)fertile both ways...$20

'Katniss" SDB Ginny Spoon 2014
All photos are from the Winterberry website.  Find out what else is new by clicking here.

Keith Keppel 2014 Intros.

Keith Keppel has been a consistent award winner for many years.  Visit his website to learn more about his scaled back operations. We are happy indeed that he continues to introduce some fine new hybrids.  This year he introduced 7 TBs and 2 IBs.

Some of our favorites:

So many introductions are bold and flashy.  Here is a 'Gentle Reminder' of the pastel combination that brought us 'Celebration Song,' a Dykes winner.  Here pale yellow standards and lavender falls create a beautifully shaped bloom.  The beard highlights the blend of these two colors.  Lovely.

'Gentle Reminder' TB Keppel 2014
Here the color combination of 'Celebration Song' is brought to mind but with richer tones and with incredible ruffles and delicate veining.  The orange on the beard draws the eye into the center of the t 'Arrivederci' a ravishing confection.

'Arrivederci' TB Keppel 2014
'Boston Cream' is creamy fluff ball.  The full standards and broad falls come together in perfect form.

'Boston Cream' TB Keppel 2014
Want some Keppel elegance in a more manageable size? 'Love's Moment' is an intermediate bearded with gentle drama.  It appears that this cultivar produces a beautiful clump.

'Love's Moment' IB Keppel 2014
See all of Keith Keppel's new and recent intros visit his web gallery.

Monday, March 3, 2014

New at Schreiner's: TB's and Paul Black's SDBs

Schreiner's has introduced 19 new tall bearded iris for 2014, but the big surprise in their catalog was driven by the new interest in medians.  A collection of 5 new introductions by Paul Black ($79.95) will certainly be well received by aficionados and general public. For many Schreiner's catalog may be their only exposure to newer introductions. They will be made more aware of the under 27.5" classes of irises.

Visit Schreiner's website.

'Wings at Dawn' is a space age beauty with fully formed spoons.  For those that like bright, multi-colored and showy, this is sure to please!  (It's offered a a free bonus with minimum purchase of $50).

'Wings at Dawn' TB Schreiner 2014
 Schreiner's offers newer TBs at prices as high as $65.  This top dollar offering is 'Glorious Sky.'  It certainly has interesting features.  Erect yellow standards and a two layered rim around a 'glitter dusted' fall are featured on this 40" TB.

'Glorious Sky' TB Schreiner 2014
In the amoena category, the deep blue-violet falls and radiating white pattern make this a beautiful 40" TB iris! 'Tidal Raves' is nicely ruffled and has the lighter under-colored falls that make ruffles more dramatic.  $50

'Tidal Raves' TB Schreiner 2014

One of the 2014 Paul Black Collection, 'Fire' is a 12" SDB eye-catcher. $20

'Fire' SDB Paul Black 2014