Tuesday, October 18, at 6:30, come hear Doug Kanarowski of Mariposa Iris.
Originally from Michigan, Doug met and married his wife to be in Mariposa, California, a small, sparsely populated community on the edge of Yosemite National Park. Both gardeners from a very young age, Diane was the “flower person” while Doug’s priority was growing all of the family fruits and vegetables. “They’re pretty but you can’t eat them.” But that is not how this story will end.
Around 1995, three pivotal events took place in fairly rapid succession. First, Diane got a bit overwhelmed with the upkeep of her flowers. As an act of kindness, Doug volunteered to help her with part of her flower work. So she delegated the growing of her iris to him. Second, during one of their joint visits to Superstition Iris Gardens, Rick Tasco showed him how to breed an iris. “At that moment, I felt like the recipient of the secret recipe for Coca-Cola,” and clearly remember practically shouting out loud, “Do you have any idea of what you’ve just done?”
The third event occurred during a trip to the nursery of a world-renown rose breeder, Ralph Moore. Moore shared that of the hundreds of promising seedlings that he gets each year, he would only introduce a rose that was either 20% different or 20% better than what was already on the market. To Doug, that made perfect sense.
Doug is hypercritical of his own seedlings and therefore only introduces an average of three irises per year. As an aid, he has designed his own seedling evaluation form that reminds him to look at more than 50 different aspects. While minor faults can be tolerated, a major fault will always result in a one-way trip to the compost pile. “My goal is to advance the iris world.”
Warm summer days are for iris chores: Dig-divide-plant rhizomes, ship orders to customers, pick seed pods and plant seeds in pots, and……….take time to enjoy the rebloom. Ghio’s ‘Lady Friend’ (top of page) is an old favorite among rebloomers. She’s a pretty lady with reliable RE.
If you made crosses earlier this year, now begins the Long Wait to see the results. With rare exception, irises grown from seed typically take two years to produce their first bloom. To avoid the waiting game, make at least a few crosses every year. Once you get rolling, you’ll have new seedlings blooming every year.
Take a break from garden chores and come to our annual potluck and auction on August 20. The auction is a benefit of OTIS membership and provides members with the opportunity to add newly introduced irises to their gardens at well below market prices. Cool deal.
Naturally, we eat first. Bring a favorite dish to share (appetizer, vege, entrée, or dessert) and your own place setting. We’ll open the room at 11 a.m. to arrange the tables for auction plants and the food buffet. Consider bringing your iris catalogs to look up photos of varieties you don’t know.
If you grow and sell irises, please bring some of your newly released varieties to include in the auction and thank you for doing so. We are deeply grateful for your donations.
Come hungry and bring your wallet. Cash or check only. No IOUs. No reselling of auction irises.
Don’t stop there. Iris Fever has been referred to as a disease by some avid iris lovers. Can’t get enough of them! You’ll find terrific irises at our iris sale on September 17 at Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn.
What a Month!
With eyes barely peeled open at O’Dark:30, we arrived at Center 50+ to set up for the show. Luckily, lots of helping hands were there and the show floor was ready for exhibitors in record time. Eager exhibitors sailed through prep of their entries. Even the judges, though off to a slow start, finished early—a first! The 150 or so entries of all sorts made judging a pleasure. Congratulations to Keith Keppel, who garnered Best Specimen of Show for a jaw dropping, monster stalk of ‘Blind Ambition’ and Best Seedling for 08-25A (orange ground dark plicata TB).
With the judging over, we settled in for a hearty sandwich lunch. It was so nice to relax and enjoy a leisurely chat with our iris friends—nothing better. At the end of the day, volunteers whipped through tear-down in 40 minutes—another record. THANK YOU all for participating in this memorable gathering.
Two weeks whizzed by and we gathered again, this time at Keith Keppel’s to learn how to evaluate tall bearded seedlings. We crammed almost 40 people from Oregon, California, and Australia into Keith’s packing shed for training by the master on the key features of promising TB seedlings and those that head to the compost pile. His comparison of bare stalks was particularly valuable. One stalk had a slight S-curve to it, a feature he likes because it allows the flowers to stand away from the stalk. He also advised, “You can have too much of a good thing.” Making lots of crosses and looking at lots of irises is essential to discerning the differences.
Attendees were then tasked with picking a favorite seedling out in Keith’s field and defending their choices. People took the task seriously, as evidenced by the intent looks on their faces as they searched for The One. After discussion of some of the favorite selections, Keith compared two similar dark brown plicata seedlings and pointed out how more intense yellow ground color on the falls of one was distinctive. Such a small step forward may take years to develop, but as Keith said, “It’s SO much fun!” He closed the session by pulling the falls off a whitish iris blossom so that we could feel the ridges formed by the veins at the top of the fall—something new. The ridges weren’t apparent by sight, but we could sure feel them. Just as the clock struck 12 Noon and it was time to go, rain started to fall—perfect timing. What a great way to spend a morning!
THANK YOU, Keith, for sharing your many years of iris wisdom with us.
Now we can look forward to some iris R & R—or rather D & R—while we Dig and Replant our gardens this summer. See you in August at the potluck/auction!
You may wonder why your bearded irises don’t always bloom. Some possible reasons include:
The best way to get consistent bloom year to year is to try different varieties, grow them as well as you can, and replace the ones that don’t do well for you.
Mid-America Garden Expands
Thomas Johnson has added a 10-acre lot about two miles east of Mid-America’s primary location on Lakeside Drive. The new field currently is filled with named varieties from the Mid-Am catalog and some seedlings. Iris visitors will appreciate that the land is FLAT—easy to walk. To visit the new location, travel east about two miles on Lakeside Drive from the main Mid-America location. Look for the huge iris field on your left.
LYNDA MILLER’S SHOW EXHIBIT PREP TIPS
Walk your garden two days before the show. Look for well-balanced, straight (vertical) stalks. To achieve ideal balance, you can wedge branches apart with short stem sections of a spare stalk. Remove dead buds now.
Show supplies needed: sharp knife, scissors, cotton ball, cotton swabs, BALLPOINT pen, and writing pad to make notes.
The night before the show, cut stalks with buds about to open or partially open. Avoid leaning stalks. Leave wedges in place all the way to the show.
Write the iris name on the bottom end of the stalk with a ballpoint pen.
Store stalks upright in cool water and in a dark, cool location, e.g., a garage.
Leaning stalks: Cut and store with a light shining on the back side of the flower(s). Flowers will straighten up as they lean toward the light.
Prepare transport system, such as plastic crate filled with empty bottles. Use various size bottles, based on size of your stalks. Fill the bottles halfway with cool water. Use stem segments or wads of paper towel to wedge show stalks upright in the bottles. Another system: Fill a large bucket halfway with cool water. Cut two layers of chicken wire slightly larger than the mouth of the bucket. Bend the edges of one wire layer under and push it down into the bucket. Then bend the edges of the second layer and push it down into the bucket, leaving a 4-6” space above the first layer of wire. Align the wire holes over each other. Place stems in the wire holes. Wedge stems upright with wads of paper towel or newspaper. The goal is to transport your stalks to the show without their moving around in your vehicle.
At the show, hold the stalk by a leaf to avoid leaving fingerprints on the stalk.
Select a vase appropriate for your stalk. We have vases for tall, medium, and short irises.
Cut the stalk to be proportional in length to its vase: about 1/3 vase to 2/3 stalk.
Cut off brown leaf tips in a natural line with the leaf edge.
Do not use green paint to cover leaf or stalk imperfections.
Do not pin, tape, or glue a flower to a stalk.
Lightly brush the stalk with a cotton ball to remove fingerprints from the waxy coating. Do not polish the stalk until it’s shiny.
Place completed exhibit tag on the vase in the same plane as the front of the stalk. The front is the stalk’s side you want facing the judges.
Dark flowers: blow them open. Use cotton swab to carefully remove debris on petals.
You can leave small stem wedges in place on the stalk, but they must not be visible.
Wedge the show stalk upright in the vase with sections of spare stalk.
OUT AND ABOUT….
Kevin Vaugh recently flew to Iowa, where he was the key note speaker for the Iowa Arboretum’s Spring Fling symposium. While there, he also gave two lectures: “Not Your Grandmother’s Irises”, which covered all the iris groups he hybridizes, and “Hybridizer on the Loose” in which he described all the other plants he hybridizes. Many iris members from various groups attended, including several from Minnesota. His hosts arranged for a book signing event, too, giving Kevin the opportunity to autograph copies of his new book, Beardless Irises.
Locally, Kevin was the subject of a Garden Time video at his Salem garden. He was interviewed about his sempervivum hybridizing, which he’s been doing since he as nine years old. See the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvVHjM5u5eM.
Our iris show is May 7th, a day we get to show the public what Iris Fever is all about in a beautiful indoor setting at Salem’s Center 50+. Iris shows let the public see different types of irises up close and personal in a sheltered setting. That’s why LYNDA MILLER is our guest speaker at this month’s meeting, April 19th. Lynda’s an Emeritus AIS judge who’s won many awards, both for her show exhibits and for her iris introductions. Her tips on what to do (or not) will result in your entries looking their best, adding to yours and the public’s enjoyment of the occasion. Lynda happens to be a great public speaker, too. Prepare for a fun and informative meeting!
If you grow irises, you have no excuse for not entering some exhibits at our show. Yeah, yeah, some of you say the competition doesn’t matter to you. But consider this: Having the exhibits judged by AIS accredited judges adds another layer of interest for us--and the public. You don’t have to covet big show ribbons to have a good time at the show. And be honest: If one of your entries wins a big ribbon, you’ll be beaming with pride, won’t you?
But wait! There’s icing on the cake: The Capitol Arrangers Guild is going to be at the show to craft gorgeous artistic displays with irises. The Guild makes dazzling arrangements using natural materials and some manmade items—incredible creations. We are thrilled to have this awesome group of talented people join us again at our show.
One of any iris lover’s rituals every spring is to visit commercial iris gardens to check out new iris varieties and revisit old favorites. On the flip side of the coin, selling irises, whether in a commercial garden or as OTIS does in our annual fundraiser sale, requires the involvement of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ORDA). Our guest speaker this month, Susan Schouten, is a Nursery Inspector for the ORDA and she’s going to tell us what we need to know about the ORDA and nursery inspections. Last year she joined OTIS and planted 500+ irises in her home garden. She has Iris Fever for sure! Here’s Susan’s story in her own words:
“I was born in Boise. Moved to Portland for the first time when I was four. My dad was an avid gardener and taught me to love plants and gardening. Irises were some of his favorites. My dad worked for the USDA and we moved around a lot. After stints in Portland, Reno, Salt Lake City and Ames, Iowa, I moved back to Oregon in 1991 with 3 boys and a soon-to-be ex-husband. I got my bachelor’s degree in Ames at Iowa State in horticulture and ten years later received a master’s degree from Portland State in plant biology. Carol Wilson’s husband, Clyde Calvin was my major professor. Spending time and taking classes from both of them really added to my plant and iris interests.
While working on my Master’s I worked at the state health lab doing pulsed field gel electro- phoresis on E. coli 0157H7 and Salmonella sp. to trace the source of food-borne outbreaks. Using that experience and my horticulture experience, I applied for a job at the plant lab in Salem for ODA. A year later I applied for an inspector position. I’ve been working for ODA for going on 19 years.
I started growing Louisianas, Siberians and PCIs around 15 years ago. I always had a few TBs but they were less exciting to me. I met Jim Craig and Bruce Filardi soon after I started working for the ODA, probably 16-17 years ago. I loved walking around Jim’s garden with him while he explained his hybridizing plan to me. I knew then that someday I would really like to do that. Later I met Will Plotner and the Millers. A couple of years ago I decided it was time to get serious. I now had the space and a little more time. You know the rest.”
We were saddened by the recent passing of long-time iris grower and OTIS member George Lankow. We will miss his sunny smile and cheerful attitude.
Rest in peace, George.
Thomas Johnson of Mid-America Garden is our guest speaker this month. He’s developing incredible irises that are easy to grow and a feast for the eyes. Come and see his choice seedlings and much more. You won’t be disappointed.
Thomas has come a long way, since he moved to the U.S. from his native Canada. Mid-America Garden in Brooks should be on your “must see” list every year. With his partners Paul Black and Kirk Hansen, and a lot of hard labor, Mid-America has become a beautiful botanic garden filled with superb irises, endless varieties of hostas, white peacocks, and friendly dogs. He’s not called “plantaholic” for nothing. His TB ‘Paul Black’ won the prestigious Dykes Medal. He also won “Best in Show” at our 2013 and 2014 iris shows with his TB ‘Rumor Has It’ (photo). If you want to win at an iris show, sounds like that’s one iris you ought to have in your garden.
Sticking a rhizome in the ground and watching it grow into a plant that produces stalks loaded with gorgeous irises is a transformative experience. Ask any OTIS member. We don’t spend all our time with our hands in the dirt, however. When we get away from the garden, we like to check out online resources because that’s a great way to learn from iris experts and find out about this year’s new iris introductions.
For example, our FB administrator, Susan Schouten, has shared on the OTIS FB page a selection of Keith Keppel’s FB postings about plicata patterns he’s seen in his seedlings with a photo of each example. Some commercial growers put photos of their introductions on FB, while waiting for their catalogs to be printed. Good idea. Susan has been doing this for OTIS hybridizers. Check it out at www.facebook.com.
NORTHWEST FLOWER AND GARDEN SHOW Feb. 17-21
You may want to add this huge garden show to your travel plans. It’s going to be at the WA State Convention Center in Seattle. Some Seattle area iris societies plan to exhibit there. OTIS members who volunteer at the information booth will get a free pass the day they volunteer. Contact Bill Williamson (PCIS-Seattle) email@example.com for further information.
Welcome to another year full of new iris introductions and surprises in the seedling beds. These last few months of winter are the hardest to sit through, waiting for species irises, MDBs, and SDBs to pop open. Can’t wait for the 2016 catalogs to appear and bloom season to begin!
A lot of great things happened for OTIS members in 2015: Will Plotner gave a super program on species irises; Jeanette Graham flew in from Idaho to tell us how to take first rate iris photos; Paul Black gave a preview of the iris enhancements he’s developing; Patrick Spence conducted judges training on Japanese irises, including evaluation of some of his JI seedlings; the AIS held its convention in our backyard, featuring tours of many OTIS members’ gardens; Susan Schouten received her first AIS photo contest award; irises introduced by several OTIS members won AIS awards, including Keith Keppel, who won the coveted Dykes Medal for ‘Gypsy Lord’. What a year!
What’s in store for OTIS next year? Well, how many 6-time Dykes Medal winners do you know that conduct judges training in their seedling field? That’s right. On May 14, Keith Keppel is going to teach us how he evaluates TB seedlings, and then he is going to evaluate our evaluations of his seedlings. This is a special treat. In addition, OTIS will have an iris show May 7, featuring artistic iris arrangements by Capitol Arrangers. Other programs scheduled include Hybridizer Show & Tell and Susan Schouten on nursery inspections—good stuff all around.
We iris people love to spend our days in the garden and evenings buried in iris catalogs. With so many phenomenal irises being introduced nowadays, it’s hard to narrow it down to which new ones to add. By the time you read this, you probably have finished digging, dividing, and planting for next season. Now it’s time to sit back with a cup of hot, spiced cider and watch your irises grow through the winter. Best wishes for bountiful bloom next spring.
Now and then we look at something other than irises, and this month we welcome Dave Eckerdt as our guest speaker. His topic, A Garden Appreciator, covers some of his favorite landscapes, plants, and garden art in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. He’s also going to include an exciting, new (for Dave) garden in West Salem. Many of you know Dave and his excellent presentations. We’re in for a special evening.
Dave and his wife Pat live in Salem in a 120-year old house surrounded by a two acre “collector’s garden”. The 20-plus year old garden known as Deerly Missed has been featured on television, in newspapers, and in magazines. Dave and Pat also are members of the American Conifer Society, the North American Rock Garden Society, the International Clematis Society, The American Rhododendron Society, and several Oregon plant groups. Dave is a past president of the 200 household Salem Hardy Plant Society. An engaging speaker and photographer, Dave is a frequent presenter to Northwest plant organizations. You can visit their garden online at www.deerlymissed.smugmug.com. The photo above is from this site.
We have a photography winner among us! Susan Schouten won an Honorable Mention for her first ever entry in the AIS photo contest this year. She’s one of our newest members and she planted lots of new irises this summer, including Japanese and Louisianas --should be plenty of winning shots ahead of her right in her own backyard. Below is her winning photograph of Roaring Jelly.
The American Iris Society has announced its 2015 awards and OTIS members received many of them, including the big daddy of them all, the Dykes Medal, awarded to Keith Keppel’s ‘Gypsy Lord’. Wister Medals went to TBs ‘Money in Your Pocket’ (Paul Black) and ‘Snapshot’ (Thomas Johnson). Paul’s IB ‘Man’s Best Friend’ won the Sass Medal. The Cook-Douglas Medal was shared by Paul’s SDB ‘Zooboomafoo’ and Terry Aitken’s SDB ‘Maui Sunrise’. Paul’s arilbred ‘Desert Snow’ received the most HM votes of any iris in any category, earning it the Walther Cup—a remarkable achievement for an AB. Thomas’ MDB ‘Keeno’ won the Caparne-Welch Medal. For a complete list of award winners and photos,
go to the AIS web site www.irises.com.
The awards don’t stop there. Lynda Miller’s TB ‘Football Hero’ won the President’s Cup for Best In-Region Iris at the 2015 AIS convention and was featured on the cover of the Summer 2015 AIS Bulletin. Her MTB ‘Moose Tracks’ won the Ben R. Hager Median Cup for Best Median Iris at the convention.
Congratulations to all for your well-deserved awards!!! It’s an honor to know you and grow your irises.
We would love for every person on the planet to be growing our Favorite Flower. OTIS’ annual sale to the public on September 12 at Al’s Garden Center is a good place to start the ball rolling. Invite your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors because we will have fabulous irises for sale. The sale opens at 9 am.
Early birds get the best selection. All rhizomes $5.00 each. Cash or check only. No IOU’s.
AIS Announces the 2015 Dykes Medal Winner! OTIS hybridizer Keith Keppel has won this coveted award for Gypsy Lord. Congratulations to Keith and to all of the other winners this year.
Every August auction makes me reminisce. It was 10 years ago in mid-August 2005 that Dennis and I joined OTIS at the potluck and auction, which took place in the packing shed at Mid-America Garden. We had just moved to Salem from California two weeks earlier. Paul Black kindly introduced us to everyone there, many of whom are still in OTIS today. What I remember most is how welcoming the people were and that the auction was so crazy wild. I never saw such fast and lively bidding in my life! We had a wonderful time.
Well, here we are again. The dog days of August are upon us and it’s time for another auction and potluck. Food, friends, and freshly dug irises up for auction make for a great way to spend a day. The auction is a benefit of membership in OTIS, making it possible for you to plant newly introduced irises from top hybridizers. If you have a friend who’d like to join OTIS, bring them. They can join at the potluck, just like Dennis and I did 10 years ago. Your friend’s membership fee will carry until the end of 2016, since it’s so late in the year now.
You know the drill: Bring a favorite dish to share (with serving utensils) and your own place setting(s). Any kind of food—appetizer, vege, entrée, or dessert. We’ll open the room at 11 a.m. to arrange the tables for auction plants and the food buffet. Consider bringing your 2015 catalogs to look up iris names and photos.
If you grow and sell irises, please bring some of your newly released varieties to include in the auction and THANK YOU for doing so. We are deeply grateful for your donations. Auctioneer John Ludi is bringing convention guest irises to add to the mix--many thanks, John. This is a great opportunity. Grab it.
Come hungry and bring your wallet. Cash or check only. Let the bidding begin!
As I’ve been outside watering my plants during the heat waves, I’ve been planning which irises I want to divide and/or remove to make room for newer varieties. If you have clumps to divide or remove, our sale to the public on Sept. 12 at Al’s in Woodburn is a good way to put your extra rhizomes to work for OTIS. The auction and the sale are our only fundraisers each year. Thank you in advance for your contributions. All proceeds from the auction and the sale go toward paying OTIS’ operational costs.
We had a small turnout for judge’s training June 20. Perhaps it was post-convention fatigue that kept so many away. If you weren’t there, you missed a great meeting because Patrick Spence, the current president of The Society for Japanese Irises, gave a fantastic program on Japanese irises. He brought two vases full of stalks with gorgeous flowers cut from his Cascadia Garden near Seattle. He discussed each flower in detail, gave a comprehensive slide presentation, and gave a preview of changes being made in the Japanese Iris (JI) section of the judge’s handbook.
We learned about Edo, Higo, and Ise flower forms. Using a blossom of 9-petaled ‘Chidori’, he demonstrated how to strip a JI blossom in preparation for hybridizing. That included removing the petaloids, which have pollen on them. Then he sliced open the ovary to reveal the three chambers of eggs. More petaloids might have been in there, but we didn’t see any on this specimen. Finally, he demonstrated how to pollinate the stigmatic lips on the style arms.
Patrick makes many crosses on his Japanese irises and among the specimens he brought were some of his seedlings, which he analyzed for us. As well, he mentioned hybridizers Lorena Reid (present), Lee Walker, Chad Harris, and Terry Aitken often for their contributions to Japanese irises. The waxy substance of Lee’s ‘Craola’ series received high praise. We got to feel a ‘Craola’ flower’s petals compared to the petals of a flower with non-waxy substance. The difference was amazing! Patrick’s all-time favorite JI is Lorena’s ‘Freckled Geisha’.
The day after our training, I helped judge the GPIS late show at the Portland Nursery. Most of the entries were Japanese irises. What a treat after Patrick’s training! Believe it or not, there was one MDB entered, a ‘Miniseries’ rebloom. Great show.
The convention is over and we can breathe again. Based on the feedback I heard during the garden tours, the convention was a success. Congratulations to John Ludi and his large team of volunteers. I had a great time helping out at the Millers, whose garden was simply gorgeous. I hope you got to see it.
Kevin Vaughn’s new book, Beardless Irises, will be released this month. We’ve needed a good resource on this class of irises. He’s filled the book with up to date information and beautiful photographs. It will be available on the AIS Store Front web page and at Schreiner’s Gardens. Ask him to sign your copy!
One of the gardens I visited in May was Larry Lauer’s. Since he moved to Independence a few years ago, he’s been building his garden and developing some eye-catching hybrids. A-33-32’s color was so hot that it almost melted my camera:
My John Taylor Pacific Coast seedlings didn’t bloom this year, but they’re growing well. Maybe next year. One of Kevin Vaughn’s J. Taylor seedlings did bloom. Kevin also had a couple pretty PCH seedlings of his own that stood out: T128-1 and V173-1.
Although I didn’t see this one in person, I want to share one of Mirena Oberg’s seedlings with you. She’s trying to create a turquoise TB. This well-formed beauty with nicely branched stalk popped up—wow!
We have so much talent in OTIS! I saw lots of exciting seedlings this season and plan to include photos of as many as I can in future issues.
We are the Oregon Trail Iris Society and we meet monthly in the Salem area. Each meeting has a new and fun topic. You don’t need to be a member to join us.