Amongst the many
thousands of summer Iris cultivars, it's usually the flamboyant bearded irises
that get most of the attention. But the recent trial of Spuria irises again
proved what valuable perennials they are.
Spuria irises are
tall, up to around 1.5m/5ft, and while the flowers lack the rainbow colours and
patterns of the Tall Bearded Irises their colours can be intensely penetrating
in colour. They also have a more imposing habit than bearded irises, their
slender deep green foliage setting off the flowers well.
The trial of
Spuria irises has just ended after three years and the results fall into two
An Award of Garden
Merit has been confirmed for ‘Hickory Leaves' (above). Raised by Dave Niswonger of Cape
Girardeau , Missouri, who has been breeding Spuria irises for over forty years,
the plant reached 1.1-1.3m/43-51in and carried vivid yellow gold flowers with
the falls slightly deeper in colour than the standards. It reminded me of an
improved version of the old favourite ‘Sunny Day'.
In the second
group were three varieties whose quality was such that the Iris Sub-Committee
recommended an AGM for them but the award could not be finally confirmed as at
the time they were not yet available for sale to home gardeners. Availability
is an important factor in finally confirming the award. These three Spuria
irises whose awards are awaiting confirmation are 'Ambesten Sarah Alice', ‘Clara
Ellen' and ‘Lenkoran'.
Alice' is taller, reaching 1.5m/5ft, and a much paler almost primrose yellow
toning to rich golden orange in the centre of the falls. Both falls and
standards have a noticeable wave to the edges.
1.25-1.35m/50-53in ‘Clara Allen' reveals the brilliance of patterning which is
possible in Spuria irises but which is seen less often than in bearded types.
Basically bluish purple in colour, in the falls this is reduced to a band
around the rippled edge, the
remainder being bold yellowish orange, veined in purple. The standards are
purple with gold streaks and dark veins towards the centre.
has more slender flowers, the standards in pale violet blue, the falls a
slightly paler shade at the edge and yellow veined in purple towards the
centre. It reaches 1.1-1.35m/43-53in.
easy-to-grow perennials enjoying plenty of sunshine and any reasonably fertile
soil. When these final three become available, I'll let you know.