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How an amateur botanist became iris royalty

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Florentine Silk Reblooming Iris

Mother Nature is fickle. Try as we might as gardeners, the unexpected is the only thing that’s predictable. I’ve found the best way to give my garden an advantage is to choose plants suited to my climate, plant them in a location that meets their requirements, and give them the regular care they need. But there’s one other weapon every gardener should have in his or her arsenal—proven varieties.

The Dykes Memorial Medal, established in 1927, is named in honor of William Rickatson Dykes, who began growing and breeding irises as a hobby, and eventually gained a reputation as an iris expert. He authored several books and influenced many other hybridizers until a car accident took his life at the age of just 48.

The highest honor awarded by the American Iris Society (AIS), the Dykes Medal is presented to only one American- or Canadian-bred iris each year. The candidates for the award are already AIS medal winners chosen as the best irises in their class. That means the Dykes Medal winners are the best of the best! The British Iris Society also presents Dykes Medals to hybridizers in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

When choosing a new iris variety to plant, I consult the list of AIS Dykes Medal winners first! This gives my garden a little piece of history and a proven performer to add to my collection.

I was quite pleased to find that Breck’s offers seven tried-and-true Dykes Medal winners in this year’s Iris Lovers lineup!

Dyke Iris Medal

The American Dykes Memorial Medal

Florentine Silk Elegantly ruffled peachy-pink standards and lavender-blue falls with rosy edging. 2012 Dykes Medal recipient

Drama QueenDisplays rich burgundy standards, and falls of the same color with intricate coppery gold veining and banding. 2011 Dykes Medal recipient

Sea PowerLavishly ruffled, brilliant cornflower blue blooms. 2006 Dykes Medal recipient

Stairway to HeavenA vigorous grower, with prominent white standards and sky blue falls. 2000 Dykes Medal recipient

Hello DarknessLarge, striking blooms of dramatic velvety black. 1999 Dykes Medal recipient

Dusky Challenger Impressive blooms of deep, rich purple. 1992 Dykes Medal recipient

Victoria FallsBright, light blue with a dramatic white throat and beard. 1984 Dykes Medal recipient

Visit the iris category at Breck’s to see all these varieties and over 150 others for fall planting.

  • Florentine Silk Iris Florentine Silk Iris
  • Drama Queen Iris Drama Queen Iris
  • Sea Power Sea Power Iris
  • Stairway to Heaven Iris Stairway to Heaven Iris
  • Hello Darkness Iris Hello Darkness Iris
  • Dusky Challenger Iris Dusky Challenger Iris
  • Victoria Falls Iris Victoria Falls Iris




About Mary Pat

Mary Pat has written 23 post in this blog.

June 4, 2015