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’.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.