Sunday Journal – Names For Two Irises

This is a record-keeping entry, following up on my iris flowers from yesterday.  Sweetbay identified two of my passalong irises for which I am very grateful: Crimson King and Helen Collingwood.  Thanks Sweetbay!

These are among the irises my Wave Road neighbor Henrietta gave me between late 1970s – early 1980s. She received them from her mother who had obtained them from a friend who grew them for a local florist in her hometown (Henderson, Hendersonville? NC)—true passalongs! I brought them to this garden in 2001.

As much as I love irises I do not really understand the categories. I have been calling all the bearded irises “Tall Bearded” although one of these is “Intermediate Bearded.” Someday maybe I’ll learn more about them but for now I am saving some information on these two irises. The descriptions are quoted from The American Iris Society’s Iris Encyclopedia.

(IB) ‘Crimson King’

Iris ‘Crimson King’

Iris ‘Crimson King’

(Barr and Sons, 1893). (Germanica). IB, Early bloom. Color Code-R7D.

From Treholme Gardens catalog 1928: CRIMSON KING 89 (Hallock) E. 82 G. 87 32″ E. Same coloring as Kochii but the rich deep purple flowers are larger, the stalks taller and the growth more open. A very desirable flower. 25c.

Cornell Extension Bulletin #112: “Color effect an intense violet-purple, self. Standards pansy violet, lighter to yellowish on claw and wavy along edge. falls cotinga purple, almost velvety in texture. The veining is boldly spaced on the whitish outer haft, while those on Kochii are not so prominent. Its fragrance is very good, its color very intense, and its spathe valves deeply tinged. The persistent green foliage is attractive in winter. Rating 89.”

Royal Iris Gardens 1933: 83. 30″. beautiful deep red purple. As deep as Kochii but redder. Tall, floriferous and a good grower.

Iris ‘Helen Collingwood’

Iris ‘Helen Collingwood’

(TB) ‘Helen Collingwood’

‘Helen Collingwood’. (Kenneth D. Smith, 1949) TB. Midseason to late bloom. Color Class-R3D, height 40″. ‘Extravaganza’ X ‘Louise Blake’. Honorable Mention 1950, Award of Merit 1952. Smith 1950.

From AIS Bulletin #117, April 1950. Introducing HELEN COLLINGWOOD (1949). A truly brilliant creation in the neglecta class. Well branched 40 inch stalks with light lavender standards and brilliant violet purple falls. Entirely different. 4 branches. Late midseason. $25.00. K.D. Smith.

From Iris Test Garden Catalog, 1955: HELEN COLLINGWOOD. (K. Smith, ’49). M. (Extravaganza x Louise Blake). Beautiful, superb neglecta. Almost an amoena –will be highly useful for hybridizing, surely. H. M. 1950. Award Merit, ’52. $6.00.

From Cooley’s Gardens catalog for 1955: “A very brilliant Iris in the neglecta class. Standards are light lavender, the falls bright violet-purple .. a decided contrast. Stalks are 40 inches tall, sturdy and vigorous.”

‘Helen Collingwood’ is a very hardy variety, well known to be a good survivor of neglect and hence likely to be passed around over the decades. It helps that she is quite lovely and a ready bloomer, giving her much garden value. Understandably she often shows up looking for a name. — MikeUnser – 2014-05-11


16 thoughts on “Sunday Journal – Names For Two Irises

  1. sweetbay103

    You’re welcome.

    I first saw Crimson King in the yard of a house turned university building at the edge of the UNC campus. All along the road and up the drive under the dappled shade of a large tree. I did some research, ordered CK and it was indeed the same iris!

    Both are wonderful iris. Helen Collingwood is so tough yet beautiful and really good in this humid region. My neighbor has clumps of it too.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      I was going to offer you some but sounds like you’re all set. I can’t quite picture which house that might have been. Are the irises still there? Very cool that you were able to figure out and order CK. I had another Iris almost like HC from my same friend except it was reddish, slightly rusty. It has disappeared in the past couple years.

      1. pbmgarden Post author

        **I’ve tried 3-4 times to post a comment on your site but blogger refused connection was the message. Great post on your site about Raulston in spring. I haven’t been to this arboretum in several years. Must make a point to go this spring. The mourning iris is interesting. Your descriptions of the irises make me want to have some of all of them.

      2. sweetbay103

        The iris are or were in front of Hickerson House, which is behind the Love House on Battle Lane, a small lane that connects Franklin Street to Country Club Road. It’s quite hidden. Last time I was there when they bloomed was at least 4 years ago.

      3. pbmgarden Post author

        I haven’t walked back there in several years but will be on the lookout. Thanks. (I see the comment came through on your blog without emptying cache, etc. Glad it worked. Thanks.)

      4. sweetbay

        Sorry that you’ve had problems leaving a comment! I’ve had the same problem leaving a message on other people’s blogs. The only answer I have is to clear my browser cache, which I think you’ve discovered already since you successfully left a comment.

  2. Beth@PlantPostings

    Beautiful irises! I have a tall purple one that may be Crimson King: I’ll have to do some research. They’re such great cut flowers, too, aren’t they? Thanks for the descriptions and the background information.

  3. tonytomeo

    Bearded iris are not easy to identify. There are just SO many of them, and many of them are variable. I got my favorite from the garden of my great grandmother, and grew it since I was a kid, only to find out that it was not a bearded iris at all, but a common Iris pallida! It is still my favorite.


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