Fabian In The Garden

Iris ‘Fabian’ (Tall Bearded) -May 4, 2021

This spring the irises have bloomed with gusto and vigor beginning with Iris ‘Crimson King’ on March 30, 2021. Throughout April there has been a succession of different ones.

One of the last to appear opened just a few days ago on May 1, 2021. By scouring the Historic Iris Preservation Society (HIPS) website recently I have tentatively found its name: Iris ‘Fabian’.

Iris ‘Fabian’ (Tall Bearded) passalong from Henrietta -May 1, 2021

I’ve grown this passalong iris since the late 1970s and brought it to my current garden in May 2001 (that’s 20 years ago this month).

According to the information I found from HIPS, Salter collected this Tall Bearded Iris in England in 1868.  The American Iris Society Checklist of 1939 listed this iris as “extinct.” It is said to have been later rediscovered growing at the Presby Memorial Iris Garden in Montclair, New Jersey (which I would love to visit by the way). Described as a “smokey purple diploid” I have always referred to mine as “dusky.” Sweetly scented, the flowers are smaller than those of most TB iris.

At one time I. ‘Fabian’ was more prevalent in this south-facing border, but I. ‘Helen Collingwood’ is more dominant now. This current view is from just a few days ago, May 3, 2021. There are only three Iris ‘Fabian’ visible in front.

In front are I. ‘Fabian’ greatly outnumbered by I. ‘Helen Collingwood’ -May 3, 2021

By contrast there were only a few I. ‘Helen Collingwood’ five years ago in this same border. Below is the view at that time (May 3, 2016, seen from the opposite end of the border).

In this picture I. ‘Fabian’ has not yet opened, but is in bud between the meditation circle and the pink rose bush. Phlox and Meadow Sage were in bloom as well in this bed.

Garden View With Meditation Circle -May 3, 2016.  Purple and white I. ‘Helen Collingwood’ stand guard.

A large number of Fabians had opened after that picture was taken. One can spot a few Helens visible at the top center of this image. (Spiderwort was blooming and spreading out of control.)

Iris ‘Fabian’ crowded by spiderwort -May 11, 2016

This is the view that year from inside the border, standing near the rose bush, looking south across the meditation circle. (This time five years ago is about the last time the meditation circle was presentable. It was frequently underwater during the heavy rains this past winter and it needs a serious makeover.)

Iris ‘Fabian’ was predominate -May 11, 2016

Iris ‘Fabian’ -May 13, 2016

Through the years this border became not only infested with spiderwort, but the irises were intertwined with a dreadfully aggressive aster that to this day I am battling. So I had dug up a lot of the irises in order to eliminate the interlopers. In the process I lost track of which rhizome was which. I know at least one from this group of passalongs is missing now. Fortunately I did save Iris ‘Fabian’.

I will be vigilant to ensure its continued presence in the garden.

Iris ‘Fabian’ -May 4, 2021

21 thoughts on “Fabian In The Garden

  1. krispeterson100

    You have what I can only describe as a miraculous touch with Iris, Susie. I think you received some good karma with those passalongs.

  2. Beth@PlantPostings

    ‘Fabian’ is beautiful, as are all your Irises. And that meditation circle is beautiful. I’m sure you will work your magic again. You are way ahead of us now. We had an early start to spring, but several cool stretches have put many plants on hold, including irises. It’s always a joyous time in the garden when they bloom!

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Beth. Irises are really special. We’re colder here as well and rainy, just as the peonies have opened. Hope to rescue some!

  3. Sel Calderbank

    Interesting to read about the evolution of flowering of your irises over the years. Would you say that iris is not a reliable bloomer year-on-year? I ask because I was given several iris last year, all planted in a sunny border, but this spring only one has flowered! I do like the way the white of your Helen Collingwood picks up the white of your picket fence, very harmonious.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      How disappointing to have only one bloom. Where are you located Sel? Generally my irises have been quite reliable, but that said last year they were horrible and this year they’re exceptional. We had so much rain over the winter I was afraid everything would have rotted (and the foliage has brown spots probably from a fungus). Helen Collingwood lights up the garden in early morning and evening.

      1. Sel Calderbank

        Am in Brussels, Belgium, quite hot summers and usually damp winters, but the climate is becoming more unpredictable. I say one bloom but to be exact one flowering stem, so today I’ve got two flowers and another on its way. Better than nothing!

  4. Chloris

    Wonderful irises Susie and Fabian is a real winner.You are ahead of us, I am eagerly awaiting mine, including two new babies about to bloom for the first time.

  5. Cathy

    Fabian has lovely soft colouring and would be ideal for a still life painting. I miss seeing your meditation circle Susie. Revamping it would be a lovely summer project… 😉

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Cathy. I’ve missed it too. I’m hoping to revitalize the meditation circle. I’ve allowed too many plants volunteer in there that didn’t belong and they (and weeds) have taken over. Plus I built it on a whim without a good foundation so parts are settling unevenly.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      I have always enjoyed the feeling of connection to someone who gave me a plant. Recently I have become interested in the history of the plants themselves.

  6. gardeninacity

    Well, your Irises are beautiful. As for the interlopers, the worst of mine are various grasses and asters. I haven’t had the energy to dig up everything and tease out the unwanted roots.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.