The Louisiana Iris Suite
Images and reflections by Dick Sloan

The Haymon Irises

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Above is 'Lafayette Honey', Dorman Haymon of Duson, near Lafayette, LA,, 1999. Some people don't care for brown flowers, but I like them and both irises and daylilies have beautiful brown cultivars. Several older Louisianas, such as Arny's 'Dean Lee', are still beautiful, but we have two excellent new, fancier flowered entries. 'Lafayette Honey' opens with considerable yellow in the flower, as shown in the picture. As the bloom matures the yellow disappears and the flower is a true brown. It's a very nice somewhat shorter statured plant, perhaps 30".

Ron Betzer's 'Honey Galore', 1999, is much this same color and retains the same tint throughout its bloom life. It is about the same stature. In bloom at Marie Caillet's guest beds, during the 2000 American Iris Society convention, it had five open blooms on a stalk. It was the first time I'd ever seen so many open at once, and stalks with five bud positions are rather uncommon.

'Praline Festival', Haymon 1992, just won the Debaillon Medal of the AIS. Their highest award is the Dykes Medal, named for W.R. Dykes who in 1913 published his monograph The Genus Iris. This volume, large in both size and content, was published by Cambridge. It contains superb color illustrations of the species. Copies now sell in the $1500 and up range. A smaller sized reprint was published some years ago by Dover, and is available at more reasonable prices. Dykes obtained two seedlings from I. fulva crossed with I. brevicaulis and named them in 1910, Fulvala and Fulvala Violacea. Much of this same breeding was used years later by Frank Chowning. Dykes died young. The American Iris Society is primarily concerned with tall bearded irises so no Louisiana is ever likely to win this medal, which is authorized by the British Iris Society for annual awards to British, Australian and American irises. Prior to WWII they were also awarded in France. However, the AIS does award other classes of irises medals and the highest, beneath the Dykes, for a Louisiana is the Debaillon medal.

  'Miss Gertie's Bonnet' is another from Dorman Haymon 1999. Some brown veining makes it a very different and lovely flower.

 There is a good number of truly beautiful white Louisianas. This is 'Longue View', named after a park, from Dorman Haymon in 1999.

'Bubble Gum Ballerina', Haymon 1989, was named to honor a granddaughter. It is a vigorous rose pink -- he registered it as lavender pink, but I say rose pink. One of the parents was a seedling resulting from a cross of 'Faenelia Hicks' and 'Marie Caillet'. I love the name 'Faenelia Hicks'. She was also a professor at the university in Lafayette, and shared an office with Marie, being drawn into the society as a result. I enjoyed driving her up from Lafayette to Marie's in north Texas a few years ago. Her company made the time fly during the miles. She is another deceased member and I miss her. The iris named for her was registered by Charles Arny in 1969, a medium rose self that still appears in gardens.

'Great White Hope' is a 1999 introduction by Dorman Haymon, of near Lafayette, LA. The story behind the name is interesting. About 100 years ago, Jack Johnson, an African-American, was the first black World Heavy-weight Boxing Champion. The promoters of the time had as a main focus, finding a white boxer who could beat him -- the Great White Hope. An interesting movie is available on VHS and DVD. So we have a near black iris with a name that always needs explaining. It is a tall, strong plant, presumably like the man. I grow it with a lovely white from Australia, 'Dural White Butterfly'. They bloom at the same time here, making a great contrast.


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