23 September 2011

Friday Video: Bearded irises through time

I'm fascinated by how plants change through time in the hands of human breeders and gardeners. So I decided to make a little video to better visualize it. I went through the American Iris Society Wiki (http://wiki.irises.org/) and grabbed images of 189 varieties introduced in the last century, more or less distributed evenly across the decades. String them together in a video, and you can watch how breeders have modified bearded irises over the last 100 years. Most dramatically, the falls get shorter and rounder, and the petal edges get ever increasingly frilled and ruffled.

It is pretty cool, if you are a breeding nerd like me. I'm sure the flowers are getting bigger as well, though you can't see it in this video, since the flowers are not to scale. I'm also realizing that I think I like the mid-century varieties better than the super frilly modern ones. Which did you like best?

16 comments:

Laura said...

wow! loved it. i'm with you on as a fan mid-century.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. I appreciate the simplicity of the antique cultivars, but I must admit I'm seduced by the mid-century types, which remind me of the Irises of my childhood. (Not that I was around in 1950, but you know what I mean.)

mr_subjunctive said...

Antiques for me. Even the mid-century types are a little over the top.

Fairegarden said...

Yummy, Joseph, thanks! I love them all, have many of the old ones that my neighbor passed along, many from her own mother.

Frances

Alison said...

I love them all, from simple to Baroque!

danger garden said...

I guess this is why the ones I remember growing in my Grandmas garden are my fav! They just don't make them like that anymore...

Gail said...

I like the older less ruffled ones~The simpler the better.
gail

Layanee said...

I like them all but the ones with fragrance...the best!

Carol said...

Layanee (commenter above me) could smell fragrance in the video? Dang, I need a new laptop. I actually liked the older ones the best. Simpler irises from a simpler time. The new ones are too fancy for me.

Val said...

what fun! Frustrating, also. I need to go waaay slower and get into each blossom. dp you know of a nursery that sells older varieties? Must have them all.

Tom said...

I'm not gonna lie, I don't mind the super frilly modern ones. I've never really cared about the shape as much as I have about the color. I HATE HATE HATE all the ugly muddy brown iris varieties. When I was at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum their collection was full of brown ones and I wanted to puke. I wish I knew the name of my favorite Iris... it's yellow and white and smells exactly like black licorice. It's absolutely divine.

Greensparrow said...

So interesting to hear everyone's comments on which colors and forms they like best!
Val, http://www.rainbowfarms.net/ is a good source of a lot of varieties, old and new.

Louis Raymond said...

OMG: Irises en-masse, like somebody described the Hindu religion: "too much of a muchness." But how remarkable to see the trends in breeding, indeed. And to see how specific flowers, in specific spots w/ congenial partners instead of being jumbled together in an iris garden, could be a thrill.

Hanna at Orchid Care said...

Hi Joseph,

I must have watched this video at least half a dozen times. It’s stunning to see the enormous variety of colors, shapes and textures in a single species of flowers.

I believe that the pitch black iris with the bright yellow tongue is my favorite (appearing at the 0:57 mark). I have actually never seen these in nature, do you know where they are found?

Hanna

Scott said...

super idea, showing how cultivars and horticultural fashion change over time. Do more, please! How 'bout looking at peonies or camellias?
The progress in Phalaenopsis orchid breeding in the past 30 yrs has been phenomenal. Yellows, peach, harlequin, and all sorts of strange color forms are now available. They were even imaginable a decade or so ago.

John said...

Besides fertilizer I also use liquid seaweed extract on my orchids.It seems that they look healthier now since I started using it.It is not a replacement of ferts,but just nice natural addition that orchids do appreciate.