Japanese Iris seed

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Mon, 21 Dec 2009 14:51:08 PST
I can’t help Ina in her quest for Japanese iris seeds, but I can tell a few
Japanese iris themed stories. 


The Japanese iris I grow now are named cultivars, comparatively huge flowers
which rarely if ever seem to set viable seed. They do make malformed seeds
in small numbers, but I have never planted them. These plants can be
over-the-top gorgeous. 


On the other hand, the first Japanese irises I ever saw came from plants
raised from a pack of seed from Park Seed Co. long ago. For decades they
sold Japanese iris seeds as the ‘Higo’ mix. I had seen them in the catalog
for years but had never tried them. But then the late Henry Mitchell, the
Washington Post writer, mentioned how easy they were to grow in one of his
Sunday pieces. So I eventually tried them. 


The seeds germinated readily and in the second year began to produce
handsome flowers. To my inexperienced eyes they were magnificent; little did
I know what was in store for me when years later I finally grew modern
quality cultivars. But back then those seedlings were the only ones I had
ever seen, and to me they were wonderful. When the iris seedling patch was
blooming, the first thing I would do in the morning is go out and inspect
the day’s new blooms.  One such inspection tour provided a truly beguiling
experience. On that day, a white flower was opening. It was still very early
in the morning and the sun was still very low in the sky. It was, in fact,
the morning edition of “magic hour”. The white iris was not yet fully open,
and as I stood there admiring this pristine bloom, something enchanting
happened: the low rays of the sun turned the white flower a soft pinkish
orange for about fifteen minutes. 


This happened long ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.   


Ina, when you get your seeds, I hope your irises provide you with similar


Jim McKenney


Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

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