Sunday, April 3, 2011

Iris Season Has Begun!

As April begins, so to have the iris! Starting with the standard dwarf bearded and miniature dwarf bearded iris the arilbreds are now starting to emerge. Soon we'll be seeing the Intermediates Bearded, the Miniature Tall Bearded followed by the Border Bearded. Then the Tall Bearded Iris will steal the show come the the last couple of weeks in April and well into May.
Here's a few of our favorites to bloom this year.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


  This is an example of an intermediate iris 'ZING ME' we crossed with a standard dwarf bearded iris 'KILARNEY GREEN'. You never know what you're going to get but in this case we have an intermediate sized iris with the slight spot around the beard of 'ZING ME' and the yellow ground and lavender beards of 'KILARNEY GREEN'. This was it's first year of bloom last year but we liked the size and color as well as the more closed standards. We'll be watching it to see if it pans out for introduction.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


  Winter time and inclement weather is the time I spend going through seedling pix and notes to see what to really watch this year. I'm happy to say there are many babies out there in the seedling patch worth a second (or third) look.
Beyond the pretty pictures comes the more detailed scrutinizing of the plants. I feel I'm pretty strict when it comes to introducing a daylily. There's way too many out there that shouldn't have been put out there. I want mine to be around for a long time.

   So, what do I look for? When the plants are in bloom I keep a yard stick handy to measure both the height of the stalks and the width of the flowers. I constantly count buds per stalk and average out the totals. Rebloom is almost a requirement (unless it is truly a new pattern, color combo or unusual form), meaning we  want the plant to consistently send up new shoots as old stalks bloom. Disease resistance, strong vigor and floriferousness all are mandatory.

So, here's just a few fun ones I hope will pan out this year. (Remember we have contests on our Facebook page when we need names!)...

Sunday, March 13, 2011


'TRIPPY HIPPY' is a new introduction this year. It is very showy in the garden and glistens in the sunlight. Makes great clumps! Here's the specifics on it.  
Height 30", flower 5.5", EM season, Diploid, Dormant, Rebloom, 3 Branches 20 buds. 
Flowers are dark violet-red, lighter sepals with large amethyst purple eyes. Dark edge on eye blending into lemon yellow throat.(Step By Step X Red Eyed Fantasy)
Thanks to Brock Heilman for the name. He won our "Name This Seedling" contest on Facebook!
Brilliant play on purples in the garden. Reminds us of tie die tee shirts!

Friday, March 11, 2011


   Median Bearded Iris are the smaller classifications of iris. They come in a few different shapes and sizes as you can see in the diagram below.  The best reasons to add them to the garden is the earlier bloom season and the shorter sizes. They tolerate wide varieties of conditions with the MDB's and SDB's being much more cold tolerant (not as heat tolerant) and ideal in rock garden type conditions.

   The IB's bloom next and fill in the garden until the tall and border bearded iris bloom. Often, IB's and BB's are a combination of SDB's crossed with tall beardeds, giving them more tolerance of weather conditions.

   We are big fans of these babies and highly recommend trying some in your garden. For more on the medians go the Median Iris Society website. We offer many different varieties at our own site, Stout Gardens at Dancingtree.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, March 6, 2011



The first deadline to register for this wonderful event is March 15th. Registration before then is $120 then goes to $140 after.

   Registration includes two banquet dinners, garden tours, lunches, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum tour, plant auction, silent auction, great programs & judges training (both exhibition and in-garden training with some of the top judges nationally).

   We received well over four hundred guest iris from top hybridizers in the USA and Canada two years ago and now they'll be putting on a show for you. Arilbreds are included with the medians and are looking very good thus far.

   More info and registration.

Hope to see you in OKC April 14 through 16!

 Happy Gardening!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


2011 Intro DUSK TO DAWN with over 30 buds and 4 branches 

   Once the initial thrill of seeing what happens when one wild looking flower is crossed with another, hybridizers should be thinking about building better flowers. How do we do this and what does "better" mean?  Having some idea of what's available out there, knowing the specifics of the parents to be used and keeping foremost in our minds that the goal isn't just to make a flashy daylily or iris, but to make a perennial that is an asset in the garden all year.

   When selecting parents we want healthy plants with disease resistance, good bud count and branching to handle all the buds and the flowers. The foliage is important as it's what hangs around long after the flowers are gone. Remember if one stalk of a daylily only has ten buds and a couple of branches, that's a maximum of 10 days of flowers (if they open one at a time) out of 365 days in the year! I hope you love that foliage as it will have to do for the next 355 days! We need plenty of buds and rebloom to make plants worthy of purchasing.

   Fancy flowers are the bonus and a smaller bud count can be tolerated if we have some kind of break through. For instance variegated foliage in iris is starting to make progress and would be a huge asset in the garden after the flowers fade. But the flower form is lacking as is bud count and variegation consistency.

   The goal is simple, improve the daylily or the iris by combining good habits in one plant to the good qualities of another. Put the gorgeous flower that's low on buds with a strong grower with prolific habits.

Pod parent 'STEP BY STEP'  so so flower, lots of buds & rebloom.

'JOHANNA KLEIN STRACK' great flower form and eye pattern, bud count okay.


Sunday, February 27, 2011


  First of all to all my buddies to the north, still shoveling snow and huddling by the fire to keep warm, I apologize for piling more spring fever on you. Here in the great state of Oklahoma (zone 7) we're enjoying some above average temperatures which is letting us get a little head start on the gardening chores. With our garden a master planting at this years Median Iris Society convention in Oklahoma City (April 14-16) we need a little head start! I personally am in hog heaven crawling along the iris and daylily beds weeding and cleaning up last years leaves and dead foliage. It's so good to be outside! (Again, my apologies for those still in the frozen tundra. ;)

  I just wanted to suggest to my friends that as soon as you can, you should work on cleaning up the old stuff in the beds, especially around your iris. The worst enemy for iris is excessive winter moisture and as long as the old foliage is there, acting like a thick mulch, the better the chance of rot and leaf spot latter. Coupled with it are the cutworms and sow bugs finding the mulch a perfect abode. Of course the old foliage does have its purpose, especially for the daylilies. It protects them from the cold and can be helpful for insulation if a late freeze hits you, so I leave it to each of you to figure when it's safe enough.

  Some spring cleaning now will go along way in helping you keep your plants healthy and pest free without the use of pesticides and fungicides and that's stuff we all need to avoid.

Happy gardening!

Friday, February 25, 2011


  'BACKDRAFT' is a 2010 tall bearded iris introduction from myself that I think brought together some of the best qualities of it's parents and thus became an iris worthy of introduction. (Most seedlings don't accomplish this and quickly become compost!)
  In this example the pod parent (mother) was 'HEARTLAND' (below), A 1995 intro from Kerr that had three important qualities. Great stalks, vigor and a rather unique warm salmon pink color with a slight gold band on the standards. Unfortunately it's form was lacking with narrow falls and flowers a little weak on substance.
  The pollen parent (or dad) was 'BROAD SHOULDERS' by Keppel in 2001. (below right) At the time I made the cross, it had by far the widest standards I had in the garden. It's color was also very rich and velvety. Unfortunately, 'BROAD SHOULDERS' remained short in my garden and had weak vigor in Oklahoma. Hopefully crossing the two would give the best of both worlds, ie., better form, rich color, substance, vigor and great stalks. 
   Many times in a hybridizers efforts to combine the good qualities of parents, we often bring together the bad. Weak flowers, weak growth or just plain ugly colors. Poor disease resistance, bad form or crowded buds all make for compost. Fortunately, once in a blue moon, a seedling comes along like 'BACKDRAFT' that is a very pleasant surprise. It's those few babies that keep us going and this is one I think you'll enjoy lighting up your garden!   

Happy gardening!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

FLOWER PHOTOGRAPHY- Getting down to their level

   I confess, I'm no professional when it comes to photography. However, running a website with a thousand varieties of plants and needing photos to sell them, requires one to take thousands of pictures in all kinds of conditions, all over the country, every bloom season. So simply through repetition, I feel I can at least offer a couple of suggestions.

   My number one tip would be to get down to the flower's level or even a smidgen under. They just look more impressive when you're on their level. Of course when you're taking the little 10" tall buggers, it requires some major bending, crouching and crawling! It's a work out, but well worth the effort.

   In ideal conditions I want to catch the flowers at their freshest, usually in the morning hours. Late afternoon would be great, but most daylilies just aren't that great then. (They are called daylilies for a reason, they only last a day.)

   As for cameras, I love my Canon Rebel XTi. I simply set it on close up and it's good to go. When focusing, there are several little red lights in the viewfinder that light up to show you what part of the subject you're actually focused on. This saves on a lot of useless shots which the camera said was focused, when actually it was focused on a weed nearby, or the outhouse in the background. (Another important tip, be aware of your background!)

   I've also found a monopod is a big help in getting well defined shots. It is easy to move around with and get into odd spots to get the shot. Tripods are great, but take a lot of time & space, something there's not a lot of when traveling on buses in large groups. Beware though, not to ask the uppity camera store salesperson for "a tripod with one leg". Mine replied, in the most degrading way, "oh, you mean a monopod."

   When on a tour we lose control of simple things like lighting and angles as we're on someone else's timetable and not allowed to trounce through garden beds to get the best angle. This is a challenge and sometimes requires a little editing to tone down an afternoon sun or brighten up a rainy day. I use a very old program from Adobe called 'Photo Deluxe' that's awesome for straightening out, cropping, and MINOR fiddling with sharpness, contrast and brightness.

  So, that's it, now we just need some blooms. Happy gardening!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


  I have been known to spend up to $175 on a daylily and just this past week-end won a new daylily that was selling for $300! So my question just expanded to "and who's crazy enough to pay that much?"
My newest introductions are $100. Why?
  1. I'm lucky if I have 15 to sell and in some cases there are only 7 or so. Daylilies are much slower to increase then iris so the fact is these are the only ones in existence on the planet! Most hybridizers want to keep some around to extend the breeding lines so numbers are even more limited. Exclusiveity is the rule, at least the first year.
  2. Taking a plant from one little seed to an introduction takes me about six to seven years. That's simply a lot of TLC growing it, evaluating and sending around to places to see how it performs. If I actually put all the expenses to paper, I'd probably be shocked!
  So, the newer the plant, the more expensive, simply because of sheer numbers available.
   Now honestly, most of those that are "crazy" enough to spend that much are other hybridizers looking for something that's an improvement over older varieties and might fit into their breeding goals. Others are simply connoisseurs that want the best new stuff in their garden.
   Before I end don't think there aren't any good, cheap lilies out there. I have several on my website under $10 that have proven themselves worthy over the years that I'd highly recommend. So enjoy no matter what the price! DAYLILIES UNDER $10