Thursday, August 16, 2012

Siberian Iris Season 2012

Spring Beauty

The 2012 season began weeks ahead of the prior year. When I began growing Siberians decades ago peak season was around June 15th, the season began at the end of May. I attended my first Iris show in the mid-90s, the show was scheduled for the first weekend in June I brought a couple early bloomers and won the Siberian section with  “Heliotrope Bouquet”.

This year the first to bloom was I. typhifolia “Caitlin’s Smile”, it opened May third. By June third the season was nearly over which typically finishes around Independence Day.

Iris typhifolia was discovered in 1928, it was introduced into the US in the late 80s. Today less than a dozen selections and hybrids have been registered with the American Iris Society.      

Shakers Prayer, a near species hybrid was next to flower. It looks similar to the species I. sibirica but shows many more irridesent shades of blue. Both early blooming Sibs have the typical butterfly form cherished by many gardeners.

Shakers Prayer
My SI season lasts about six weeks. Some of my favorite new cultivars were spectacular this bloom cycle. “Fond Kiss” is white with a big pink blush emanating from the signal. The large flowers have flaring ruffled standards and recurving falls. The plant is about 36” tall. Fond Kiss won the Morgan-Wood medal in 2008, the highest award given a Siberian Iris.
Fond Kiss
There are a number of new yellows, far improved, more colorfast than Butter and Sugar, an old standard found in most nurseries. “Lady’s Chain” has medium sized flowers, a yellow bitone with light yellow standards, golden falls, open form, flaring standards and overlapping falls which comprise the modern model.   
Lady's Chain
“Dance and Sing” has upright yellow petaloid style arms, light yellow standards and dark yellow falls. A large all yellow flower. The plant is roughly 32” tall and noted as a rebloomer, not yet in my garden. “Summer Revels” is another yellow bitone which makes a marvelous clump and adds  contrast to many blue-toned SIs. I also recommend the following yellow cultivars; Just Cruising, Kiss the Girl and Lucy Locket mostly bitones or bicolors. Light yellow or white standards and yellow falls. 
White Amber
“White Amber” is a new departure adding pink over a base of yellow. The falls open pink and fade with age to yellow.

“Miss Apple” is stunning, smallish rounded flowers with violet standards and reddish falls. These contrast with large yellow signals surrounded with white.

Miss Apple
I rejoice that the Society for Siberian Iris created garden judging guidelines which allowed for all forms of SIs. Few dwarf Siberians have been registered, only a couple have been multiplied for the retail market. “Baby Sister” is available through many nurseries. It is blue, about eight to ten inches tall and blooming just above the foliage. Dwarfism is a recessive gene; many small Sibs are weak growers often with many additional poor traits.

Summerchase Advent
A few years ago I introduce “Summerchase Advent”. A dwarf daughter of Baby Sister, the plant is eight to ten inches tall. The flower is white with a green throat. Flaring flowers are large and allow viewers to look down at a mass of white. The clump shown is two years old, it is a vigorous grower. After blooming the blue green foliage is an effective groundcover, much like ornamental grass. SC Advent has been an effective parent of dwarf Siberians.

At the opposite spectrum I was impressed by a tall SI with large white flowers. I saw “Swans in Flight” in a couple gardens.
Swans In Flight
A mid- to late-season bloomer with erect blue-green foliage. Sib foliage creates more than one season of interest turning brown after frost. It adds another effect when mixed with ornamental grasses.
Siberian Iris are excellent landscape plants. Sibs have many desirable traits:

·       Few insect and disease problems.
·       Tolerance of many soil types and conditions.
·       Low maintenance requirements.
·       Varied foliage heights and color.
·       Growing range of flower color and form.

Clump of Swans In Flight
One trend in breeding are multi-petalled cultivars. Breeding efforts begun in Japan have inspired American hybridizers to create new varieties.
Rikugi Sakura

Imperial Opal
Some gardeners see these as novelties of passing interest. My favorite is “Tumblebug”, wine-red with yellow signals. It has roughly twelve petals. At a distance it looks like a simple rose. “Imperial Opal” is a late season bloomer with large lavender-pink flowers of twelve to twenty petals. This plant is very showy an excellent late spring accent.

These are tough, easy and reliable plants for any perennial garden. Please search out these modern hybrids through specialty iris growers. Check the American Iris Society or Society for Siberian Iris websites.
If you have any questions about Siberians please leave a comment or question.
Check out my recent post Siberian Iris 2013! Don't forget to check out my culture sheet also!

1 comment: