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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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Australian irises: New at Chelsea from Claire Austin Hardy Plants

Posted by Graham Rice on 20 May 2011 at 01:34 PM

Iris,Claire Austin,'Louisa's Song','Spice Lord','Wearing Rubies',Chelsea. Images ©Claire Austin.

Irises are a regular feature at the Chelsea Flower Show and this year Claire Austin expects to have ten new tall beared irises including three from top Australian iris breeder Barry Blythe.

On her blog post about her latest visit to Barry’s farm in Victoria, Claire says: “Barry has become one of the world’s most important iris breeders…. his irises always break the accepted mould of what is currently accepted. They are always interesting…”

Barry’s family has been in the nursery trade for five generations, he’s related to the Prichards who gave us Campanula lactiflora ‘Prichard’s Variety' and Geranium ‘Russell Prichard’, and he specialises in irises in unusual colour combinations.

If the weather is kind, Claire expects to have ‘Louisa’s Song’, 'Spice Lord' and ‘Wearing Rubies’ at the show. All have noticeably ruffled flowers.

The strongly scented ‘Louisa’s Song’ features unusually large, heavily ruffled flowers in rosy purple with paler standards and a matching pale ring around the falls. The beard sparks in orange in the throat.

'Spice Lord' displays ruffled cinnamon brown standards, and chocolate brown falls centered in white with attractive stippling in the zone where the two shades meet. It also, I’m told, has a chocolate scent.

Finally, the rather sultry ‘Wearing Rubies’ has pinkish purple standards and rich velvety textured burgundy falls highlighted by an orange beard.

Look out for these, and Claire’s other new irises, see them on her Chelsea Flower Show exhibit in the Great Pavilion (stand GPE6), fingers crossed. To see more of Barry Blyth’s irises, take a look at his latest introductions on his website.

You can order the irises ‘Louisa’s Song’, 'Spice Lord' and ‘Wearing Rubies’ from Claire Austin Hardy Plants


Foxnfirefly said:

Wow--"Spice Lord" and "Wearing Rubies" are really stunning in their color and design.  Thanks for the updates on Chelsea.

on 23 May 2011 at 03:50 AM

Graham Rice said:

And check out the Chelsea plants coverage ( for details of some gorgeous late additions to Claire Austin's iris display.

on 23 May 2011 at 01:33 PM