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.
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.